Sunday, November 30, 2008

ONE STEP AHEAD OF CHAOS


Part 2 of my series on menu planning, shopping and organization. I'll post every Monday until I run out of helpful ideas!


Now that the freezer is full, time to pull out the cookbooks and paper for lists. My mom had a small pantry which she carved out of a broom closet. On the door was a pad of paper and a pencil. If you took something out of the pantry, you had to put it on the list to be replaced. Death to you if she counted on a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and they were all gone and not on the list!! I think this is a great method. I keep a list in plain sight and if someone uses something up and doesn't put it on the list, then we may be out of it for a long time.
I plan at least 4 meals in advance. I go through the cook books, make a list of the meals and add needed items to the shopping list. Make sure sides are part of the planning. I post the meals on the frig on a post it, it helps reduce the "What's for dinner?" calls at work!

I also have 3 or so meals that I have as back-up. For instance, the Orange Chicken from Trader Joe's, I have one in the freezer to serve with rice and a veggie. I also make sure I have canned tomatoes and pasta. Tortillas and cheese can be used for many meals. I always have lots of chicken broth on hand.

I buy things like rice in bulk, both brown and white. I get things like rice and pasta sides when they are on sale and keep in the pantry to add to simple chicken breast meals. I buy the fresh tortellini and keep it in the freezer. Tortellini is great with sauce, but also in soup and added to a Caesar salad!
I usually need more fresh veggies and fruit mid-week, so I do an additional menu plan, and shop again.
More organization ideas next week!

IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME

BORN DECEMBER 1, 1953




GRADE SCHOOL 1963



HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION 1972




IN MY PRIME 1982



40TH BIRTHDAY




WITH MAGGIE 2006




If I could turn back time, where would I stop the clock?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

HOT OR NOT






The Daily Beast conducted a poll of 1000 women and found that the majority of them feel that women are not treated "fairly" in the workplace, in politics, in the armed forces and in the media. Only 20% of these women said that they consider themselves feminists and fewer look favorably on their daughters considering themselves feminists. Anyone else see the problem here?




Feminism is the belief in the political, social, and economic equality of women.

If women cannot lay claim to that belief - how do they think the workplace, politics and media will? If women continue to behave as if their "hotness" is their most valuable asset, the attitudes that create these "unfair" environments will continue.

In most television shows, the females are dressed in low cut, figure hugging clothes paired with stiletto heels. If they (the actresses) question the wardrobe, they are told the producers decide what the look should be, whether it is realistic or not. And of course, most of the producers are men.

Even if our girls see these shows and think law enforcement, science, law or medicine seem like great career paths, they are instructed by TV that their appearance is more important than their skills and education. If you think that is going too far, look at the relative attractiveness of most the the male characters to the female characters on the shows you watch. How often are remarks made about the appearance of the women compared to the appearance of the men? I am not saying that there isn't some "beefcake" added to some shows, but that roll is generally a caricature or obviously flawed in some way.



In recent politics, Sarah Palin is the perfect example. At the convention, the first time the country had the opportunity to hear her speak, the cameras kept cutting to men with buttons reading "Hottest VP from the Coldest State." The term MILF was proudly bantered around as if that was just what they wanted for the ticket. A big difference from the way they talked about about Hillary Clinton. That was all about the cankles, that she was a bitch and couldn't control her husband.



I just believe that women are the ones who have to put the brakes on this focus on appearance.


As a young woman you want to show your newly acquired curves and enjoy the attentions of the boys. Later it is part of the dating an mating scene. And I don't think anyone has to succumb to being out of shape and style as you grow older. I just think this obsession with maintaining hottness all the days of your life is perpetuating the belief that our appearance is our primary power.
There is so much more to us than our cleavage. And since, so far, the men remain in charge of most of our media, medicine, law enforcement, politics, military and education. It's time we women elevate the focus from the chest to the brains.

Friday, November 28, 2008

TIME TO MYSELF

Well, it looks like the folks still turned out for Black Friday shopping. I look forward to hearing the numbers in the next few days. In the news shots there were many people, but few bags in their hands.

At 5pm I dropped Ally off at the movies in a shopping center with a few large stores, Circuit City, Bed, Bath & Beyond and TJ Maxx to name a few. There were police out directing traffic, so it must have been busy, but didn't look more crowded than on any other I did a little cyber shopping, but will not venture out to the stores until later in the weekend, if at all.

I went to the gym in the morning and then spent most of the day working on my handmade gifts. I got caught up on my Tivoed shows - Top Chef, Eli Stone and a bit of Oprah.


My traditional pot of post-holiday clam chowder is on the stove, the rolls are in the oven and I still have 2 more days to relax and get things done.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

THANK YOU TO ALL THE WOMEN, FOR ALL YOU DO



We women take on so much. especially at this time of year. We do a LOT for our families, our community and for many of us, the world. I want to say Thank You - because even if the people in your life remember to say it , you can never hear it too often.



Remember to take care of yourselves while you're doing all the things you do for others. Even though your family needs you, your community needs you, and yes, the world needs you, take your vitamins, get plenty of rest and exercise and stay healthy.


And have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I AM THANKFUL


I am thankful for many things this year. I am thankful that business has increased and we can breath a little easier, in fact we can be nervous about keeping up!

I am thankful for the woman I work for and my co-workers, a nice, dependable, dedicated group of people.

I am thankful that my daughter was invited to spend Thanksgiving with the family of her freshman year roommate. That she has the opportunity to visit a new place and spend time in a family setting.

I am thankful that my son will be joining us for a few days this weekend, that I will get enveloped in his hugs several times.

I am thankful that my youngest has been pleasant so far this week and actually agreed to clean (some of) the house for pay.

I am thankful for my little loving Hilda dog.

I am thankful I am not slaving in the kitchen alone for days to make a meal my family with eat in minutes.

I am thankful we are sharing our Thanksgiving dinner with my sister and her family and for the champagne we will drink while we cook.

I am thankful I will not be at the mall this week.

I am thankful that NaBloPoMo is almost over.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SHOPPING FOR THE HOLIDAY BIRD


We are having Thanksgiving, just the four of us here. I went to the store at about 7:30 on Saturday morning and filled the cart with feasting foods for us. I was in line behind another woman doing the same thing. The clerk was chatting with her as I unloaded my cart. I heard her say "I love you people who shop early. I don't understand those people who wait until Wednesday night to shop."


Just after I emptied my cart, a man came up behind me with just a couple of items. He said to me "Is that already a turkey and Thanksgiving stuff?" I said I have a busy week and wanted to get the shopping done early. He said "Oh, I never even think about it until Wednesday night."


The clerk and I exchanged meaningful looks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

ONE STEP AHEAD OF CHAOS


I was looking around and found a lovely woman called JCK over at Motherscribe. She has the kind of busy life I have had for a long time, though now that the twins are in college, I am down to one teen and spoiled husband in the house.

She is looking for ideas about menu planning, shopping, last minute meals, etc. Plus, they are starting to cluck from all the chicken - actually, so are we, so I won't be much help on that one. But I have a penchant for planning and I will enjoy passing on some things have work for me. Not all of them will work for your family, but maybe it will give you your own inspiration.


My first topic is:

SHOPPING THE BIG BULK STORES

I have a second refrigerator in the garage. My husband is a Diet Coke addict and it is always full, so I do not feel guilty about the extra energy use. It has been an essential for me. If you don't have one, you will have to pick and choose some of these tips.

I usually do this trip once a month or so. I go to Costco when it opens - before the samples are out and the crowds clog the aisles.

The frozen hamburger is already in meal sized portions of 5- 1 lb. "chubs". Pop in the freezer. I also buy ground turkey which is in 1 lb packages.

Buy flank steak. It is relatively inexpensive, lean beef. It usually comes in 2-3 per package. The flank steaks should be laid out flat and put in freezer baggies and frozen. They thaw faster flat and take up very little space. You can also open the baggie and pour in a marinade, put in the frig and it will marinate as it thaws. Flank steak BBQ's in about 10 minutes. If you use it for a recipe, it usually needs to be sliced thin, do that when it is not fully thawed, it's much easier. Same with butterflying it.
I buy stew meat in the winter. Divide the package into 1-1.5 lb. baggies for the freezer. If I have time, I trim and cut the meat before I freeze it so that it is really ready to go when it is thawed. I am new to the slow cooker - but I understand that you can put the meat in frozen for stew, etc. So that would be a big time saver. Freeze flat like the flank steak.

Costco used to have bags of boneless skinless chicken breasts that were not individually packages. No more, at least in my location. If you can get those - this is what I do. Let them mostly defrost, pour off as much water as possible. Pour in about 1/2 cup of inexpensive Italian salad dressing (not one with a lot of flavor) and marinate 6 plus hours.


If you can only get the individually packaged ones, I defrost, open each damned little package and the follow the marinading directions above, only using a large dish. Cook all the breasts on the grill , cool and then individually freeze them on a cookie sheet and then bag them up for the freezer. In nice weather, I cook them at dinner and serve them for that meal and freeze the rest.


If it is the dead of winter and your grill is unusable, use a stove top grill or bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The cooked chicken is good for salads, casseroles, quesadillas, pasta dishes, panini, etc. an way less expensive that buying pre-cooked chicken.

I also buy eggs in the 24 pack. I hard boil 6 or so for lunches, salads and snacks.

The rest of the stuff is up to the individual family tastes. I don't have a ton of pantry space and rarely buy canned goods or super sized boxes of cereal.


Next Monday - Menu planning and grocery shopping.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SUNDAY SUPPER


My boy is coming home for a few days - so tonight I am making his favorite Sherry Meatballs. Ally will have a chicken breast. I will also make a berry crisp for dessert.


ZAC'S FAVORITE MEATBALLS


1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 t cornstarch
dash allspice
2 eggs, beaten ( may use egg substitute or egg whites only)
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 t salt


1/3 cup flour
2 cups water
1/2 sup dry sherry
4 beef bouillon cubes
oil for browning


Combine meat through salt and mix well. Shape into balls, brown in hot oil. Transfer browned meatball to warm plate. when done with browning, add flour to pan drippings (add more oil, if necessary, should equal about 3 T). Whisk in water, sherry, bouillon cubes and add salt as necessary. Cook until smooth. Arrange meatballs in sauce and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. I serve with wide egg noodles, can be served with rice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

THIS IS HOW TODAY WAS


Blue and gold. Bright and cool. Relaxed and productive.

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF - OR TOO POOPED TO POST


It's been a long week. The good news is that we have seen some increased holiday business at work - which is great because stress is bad. And there is a lot of stress about what "the economy" will do to our little company.
I am looking forward to this weekend. I will get the spare room ready for Zac - he will be here for part of the week. I will plan out our holiday meal and lay in beer and groceries for Zac's favorite dinners. I suppose I will have to clean - but then again, Ally is off school all week - perhaps I can pay her to do it!

Tom set up the printer to scan photos - I am looking forward to learning how to do that to add to some of my posts. I have 3-4 drafts working and I will complete a couple of them so I don't have anymore of these rambling posts to meet my 30/30 obligation. That's more good news!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THE PRINCE OF OUR DREAMS



When I was a girl, the eligible prince was Prince Charles of England. Many girls I whiled away the hours thinking of ways to get to England and meet him and become a princess.


Eventually he married a beautiful, much younger woman and had a family. The first little prince seemed to be a wonderful match for my oldest child, but she had no interest in pursuing him.

Tonight at midnight millions of women, young and old will flock to the theaters to see the young man pictured here play the perfect man - a vampire named Edward. My younger daughter loves the books about this young man, but she remains faithful to:


Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame. She whiles away the hours thinking of ways to get to England and meet him and become a movie star's wife.





Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PASSING GAS THROUGH THE YEARS


When Sex and the City went into syndication with all the juicy bits cut out, I wasn't so sure it would hold up - but I do enjoy coming across it at odd hours when I am looking for something to watch.


There was one episode where Carrie was with Mr. Big and she passed gas. She acted all humiliated and worried that their relationship would suffer because of this slip. That episode bothered me on many levels. First, I am the oldest of 5 kids. We shared one bathroom and came and went without a lot of concern for personal space and modesty. There was one thing that we all teased about and that was "who let one?" Even the parents got in on it.

It was light hearted and it didn't create any phobias about this very human occurrence. One memorable night, my mom jumped up from the couch, charged over to the sliding glass door, backed her fanny out the door and, by the look on her face, saved us all from certain unpleasantness.

So years later when a good friend turned lover told me, as part of his list of reasons we shouldn't see each other any more, that I was uptight and withholding. In what way? He said I never had gas when I was awake, just when I was asleep - so I must be holding it, therefore not being natural with him. I still think I may be the only woman in the world who was broken up with because I didn't fart enough.

I think of him with some frequency now that I am in menopause, because for some reason, menopause sets the gas production into high gear. Now that I am suitably gassy for him - should I give him a call?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HAPPY SHOPPING


On my way to and from work, I listen to K-FOG radio. I love the morning show people. They are funny and smart and kind. The lead DJ is Dave Morey. He is a gay man with a personality which frequently makes me want to be an attractive gay man so I could be his boyfriend. Sigh.


Anyway. They were interviewing someone this morning and doing their best to avoid talking about Christmas because "it isn't even Thanksgiving yet." I work in a business where we start talking about Christmas in July. Actually we call it "holidays" because we do not discriminate when it comes to celebrations which involve giving of gifts.
I do understand the rebellion against walking into Costco in August and seeing the gift wrapping, LED wreaths and electronic reindeer. It is disconcerting to think that people buy that stuff so early. Yet - would they haul it out and put it up if people didn't? I doubt it.

I have always attempted to get my shopping done early because I don't enjoy what happens to crowds of people when they are under stress. I would rather avoid the malls in December. So the early start is ok with me.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 17, 2008

8 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME


I am taking Dcup up on her tag offer on the 8 random facts about me meme because I am plumb out of inspiration today.


1. I have 5 red purses and 8 pairs of red shoes (including flip flops).

2. I get a pedicure every 6 weeks all year round.

3. Showers, never baths.

4. I can and do eat pickles, I cannot eat cucumbers.

5. I can't stand lasagna - especially the smell of it.

6. I iron most of my clothes.

7. I can perform simple toilet repairs.

8. There are at least 3 purchases I intend to return in the back of my car. A couple of them have been there for over a year.


I hereby pass the favor of a tag to anyone who is in need.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

SUNDAY SUPPER





This recipe from the Top Chef website. It was done by Antonia on Season 4. I have not been able to find the veggie rice specified in the menu and have made it with the wild & brown rice. Also, I have forgotten to buy the cilantro, substituting 1 minced garlic clove. Sometimes I can't find the mache and make it with a whole package of arugula.



RICE SALAD WITH SKIRT STEAK
1 lb skirt steak
salt & pepper
olive oil
Uncle Ben's 90 second veggie rice (or wild rice w/herbs)
sliced cherry tomatoes
1/4 red onion sliced very thin
1/2 package mache
1/2 package baby arugula
Cilantro to taste
2 egg yolks
2 T rice wine vinegar
sugar
salt & pepper

Vinaigrette:
Blend cilantro, egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar to taste and drizzle of oil
Salad:
Mix greens, onion, tomatoes. Microwave rice and let it cool until warm.

Salt and pepper skirt steak, drizzle with olive oil. Grill to desired degree of doneness. (Usually about 3 minutes per side.)
Dress salad, add rice and sliced steak.



Really good leftovers for lunch...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

PANTRY DINNERS ALL WEEK



I have been attempting to compete in the The Great Subsistence Experiment conceived of by Suburban Correspondent over at The More, The Messier. Her idea was to live off what is on hand for 2 weeks.




Now I admit, my participation is largely because I just didn't feel like going to the store last weekend and because I have been short on cash due to early holiday gift shopping. Also, the pantry and the freezer are very full, so there has to be enough to eat for at least a week of meals. And I'm curious about what is lurking in the back of the cabinet.




THIS IS WHAT I COOKED THIS WEEK:

Monday - Spaghetti and salad
Tuesday - Chicken with Stuffing and broccoli
Wednesday - Tortellini Soup with Spinach and bread
Thursday - Chicken Paprika with noodles and lima beans
Friday - Take out Greek food

Saturday - Turkey Burgers, oven fried zucchini




I plan to go on for a few more days, but went to the store for fruit, veggies, cream cheese, eggs and toilet paper. The pantry doesn't look much different, but the frig is bare and the freezer looks like it's time for a Costco trip.

Friday, November 14, 2008

AN ENCOURAGING WORD


I ran the Kaiser gauntlet today. We finally got to see a specialist about the stomach pain Ally has been experiencing for 2 years. We had to drive for over a hour to get there, then they sent us to the wrong building and floor. Fortunately the GI doc was great and helpful and I am hopeful.


Outside one of the elevators was a little poster with a full page of things to say to "Encourage Your Child". The quick glance I got included "Good job!' "Keep going." and other inane things that it is hard to believe have to be written down.


I have been noticing many parents who seem to be dragging their kids around, speaking to them in the gritted teeth kind of anger and berating them for walking a few feet away in the store. It makes me sad, but I also remember that I was tense with my kids so much of he time, too. When you are in the thick of it - it is hard to see how harmless so much of their behaviour is.


But to make a list of the most simple things? Like people don't already know how to praise or encourage their kids? Then I realized. I've never seen that flyer in the Kaiser where we live. It was posted in Oakland where a largely minority population lives. Their lives are probably a lot more stressful than mine ever was. And if they were raised in the same difficult environment, maybe kind words were few and far between and so those words of encouragement don't come so easily.


So Ally and I both had an enlightening visit to the doctor.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

WHAT IS YOUR FANTASY?



It was a bit slow at work today. It is worrisome, because we are a business which relies on the revenue from the holiday season to help pull us through the slower months.

Today we had time to chat. I have been discussing my daughter's struggles to finalize her major and minor status in school and make decisions about her future career possibilities. So that lead to a discussion of DREAM JOB. Qualifications, references, skills and resources are all set - what would you do?

Co-worker A said she wants Judge Judy's job. She thinks being a judge would mean everyone listens to you and you can ask all the questions you want. Co-worker T said she would be a nature and travel photographer. She would live in a tropical place, but travel the world. She would return home from her travels to write and produce her photos. She wants to meet people and learn about different cultures and traditions. The owner of the company Kyle would do just what she's doing. she has always loved designing and running her own company.

I realize I would want to be a writer - a columnist with unlimited topics so I could travel and write about food and politics and family and whatever strikes my fancy. The thing I learned I loved in law school was research. I would love to follow my interest in something and then write about it - then follow another whim or fancy, learn and write about that.


I love hearing about people's fantasies. One time I was talking to my sister about a fantasy of mine to have a place of my own to go to. Like that song in My Fair Lady - a room somewhere with one enormous chair. She said she has that same fantasy, except her room is all white. We had a laugh that it sounded like her fantasy was to land in an asylum!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I MADE IT TO MENOPAUSE

My favorite blogger, Mrs. G mentioned in a recent post that her doc suggested she was embarking on the long hormonal jag journey called perimenopause. My fervent best wishes. As of this very month, I have graduated to full menopause. The end of the journey - or is it?

By some serendipitous quirk of the universe, I started having symptom at the same time my younger sister had breast cancer treatment which put her into early perimenopause. So we have had years of sisterly sharing.

Actually it has been amazing how in step we have been. We tended to very frequent, but short periods, rather than longer time between them, we had the same type of hot flashes, which varied over time from the all over flush of heat lasting 5 minutes to the quick flash heat lasting less than a minute but came one after another all day. she woke up during the night, I couldn't go to sleep'till the wee hours.

I didn't think I was having mood swings until my husband was setting up a new computer and logged my name as "Moody" with a little storm cloud icon. I tried to pay more attention after that, but when you are having PMS and periods twice a month, there is not much time for rational thought.

Last year I was in the waiting room at Kaiser and saw a magazine article called "Why Menopause Starts with Me". It was by the author of "The Female Brain", Dr. Louann Brizendine. I recognised myself immediately. I knew my interest in housekeeping and menu planning, cooking and, heaven help me, shopping had noticeably waned. She explained that my brain had shifted to a place where child rearing and all things domestic had diminished in importance. Just knowng that was a relief. I cut myself a break about those things, realizing that I hadn't become lazy, just interested in other things.

I must say that after 9 years of symptoms, realizing I had not had a period in a year was really nice. However, I am still having hot flashes. Everyday. Some nights. Is this one of those things they don't tell women? Like those details of childbirth and what it is like to share a bathroom with a man?

After all that my body has been through, all that my mind has had to cope with, you'd think reaching the end of the childbearing portion of my life would be rewarded with some sort of golden glow or gift certificate or something. I know! I'm going out to buy all new undies!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WHY BLOG?


When I was in high school I was a writer for the newspaper. I was also into the idea of being a writer. To that end, I loved to read quotations by famous authors and I even copied them down and pinned them to the bulletin boards I had artfully arranged to cover the hated wallpaper in my room. My interests ran from the Beatles to The Prophet. I had books of quotes about love that I poured over, trying to find out what love would be like if it ever came my way.


When it was time to go to college, I decided I should be a journalism major. I knew I didn't have enough of a creative spark to be a fiction writer, but I was good with facts and writing plainly. After I had devoted several years to my J degree (as we cool J people called it) I realized that I didn't really want to chase stories in some little town until I could chase stories in a larger town, until I could chase stories in a place I would really like to live. But by then, it was too late to change majors and I really didn't know what I would change to, anyway.


So right out of college I went into sales. Yuck. Then I went into restaurant management. Better, but long hours and not intellectually satisfying. Then I went for career counseling and found out I had a lot of interests. Duh. Since I didn't know what to do, I went to law school. I liked it for 2 years then it dawned on me that it required a certain amount of picky meanness that I couldn't summon up.


I finished it and found a job in the marketing department of a small company. My writing ability, my law background and my creative side all came into play. It was a really great fit. They even said I could come back part time after my twins were born. Then the company was sold. I had the babies and realized I didn't want to go to work, and we could afford for me to be home.


Why, oh, why I am writing about this? To try to figure out why I am blogging.


When I had to go out to find work after 12 years of being home with kids. No one knew what to do with me and I didn't know what I could do anymore. In the job I have, I have been able to rediscover the writer in me. First by answering e-mail. Later by writing articles for our site and others. Then we started blogging. I am a "ghost writer" in some of the work that I do, but other things are in my name - all in my "voice."


I know that I am not a superior writer - I have seen too many blogs that are wonderfully written to suffer that delusion. I just know that I want to write and I seem to think of things to write about. This forum of blogging makes it possible to do something beyond scribbling in journals. Maybe people other than my friends and family will find me and enjoy something I write - that will be cool.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A FASHION GENE?

This photo took me hours to find - not too many photos of 1969 fashions out there! This is Maria Shriver!


Ally and I were hitting the sale at soon to be defunct Mervyns. She needed khakis for a drama thing, and since she swears she will never wear them again - I wanted to get them as on-sale as possible. She feels that she has a certain style reputation to uphold - skinny jeans work, khaki's don't.


I would react negatively to this concern for her daily look, except that I was similarly obsessed at her age. There were no skinny jeans for us, though, no pants at all for most of my high school years. We wore tights, pantyhose or, I can't believe I am saying this, knee socks with our short, short skirts and Mary Jane flats.


I read the fashion magazines and tried to add the little touches to make myself look with it, though my budget was pretty far out of it. I learned to sew and spent many hours at the fabric store and sewing machine to recreate the right look. I was lucky because I had straight, straight long hair. The one natural thing about me that fit in. The glasses and curvy figure were not in style, but the hair was perfection. It was Cher hair.


I realize that I am a bit indulgent of Ally's interest in her look because I know how much I would have enjoyed being able to have more fun clothes at her age. When she picked out zebra print shoes for the Homecoming Dance, I was so pround.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

SUNDAY SUPPER


CHICKEN MILANESE


1 T minced shallot

2 t red wine vinegar

1/2 t dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic (mash to a paste with 1/4 t kosher salt with side of chef's knife)

salt and pepper

2 T plus 2 t extra virgin olive oil

1 medium tomato sliced in 8 wedges

3-4 boneless chicken breast halves

1 large egg

1 cup plain breadcrumbs ( fresh if you want to go to the trouble)

2 T unsalted butter

4-6 oz fresh baby arugula or mache


In large bowl whisk the shallot, vinegar,garlic paste, mustard and a large pinch of pepper. Add 2 T olive oil in steady stream while whisking. Add the tomatoes to the vinegrette and set aside up to 2 hours.


Pound chicken between sheets of wax paper to about 3/8 inch thick, Season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl, spread crumbs on a plate. Dip chicken in egg and then crumbs, shake off excess. Heat pan with 2 T butter and 2 t olive oil until hot, add chicken and cook until golden brown, shaking pan and keeping breast separate. Turn and cook on other side, Season. Drain for a moment on paper towel.


To serve, add the arugla to the vinegrette and toss. Arrange cutlets on warm plate and top with a tall pile of salad.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

SOCCER FULL CIRCLE


I first experienced soccer in the cold and wet Pacific Northwest. My twins both decided they wanted to play this somewhat suspect European game. I, up to that point, was a baseball mom - for both my girl and boy. That's the way we rolled in Cali.

Soccer was immediately incomprehensible to me. It looked like they just bunched up kicking at the ball and making good use out of the shin guards we bought. Games involved running around, kicking the ball. Then there were oranges, then running around some more. This was done on a hard sand and dirt packed field in all weather. The parents roamed up and down the sidelines following the play - (actually, trying to keep warm.)

Zac figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't for him and we let him drop out. Maggie stuck with it for YEARS, rain, cold, snow - she played. Then Ally took it up, too. At least by that time we were back in California and it was warm and they played on grass. Here the parents line up down the sidelines in folding chairs with umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun.

So I have been going to soccer games for 13 years. I hate soccer. I have never understood the rules, stategies or undying love people have for this game. Including Ally. She LOVES to play, but today may have been her last game. She is not playing for the school team, and the rec teams sort of peter out after this year.

So today, in the unseasonable rain, wrapped in a blanket and under an umbrella, I may have attended my last soccer game.

Friday, November 7, 2008

THIS WILL BE OVERCOME


Every work day for over 5 years I have enjoyed the company of our parcel delivery service driver. We have talked about our kids, families, neighbors, politics and sometimes shared a little gossip. She is a great person and we have become friends.


During the summer she told us that she was going to get married. We were all so happy for her. She was getting married on the 10th anniversary of her commitment ceremony to her partner. They are lesbians. They have 2 wonderful children, a boy and a girl. I attended their reception and met other friends and neighbors, some gay, some straight all thrilled that our friends could be married.


The day after the election, and the passing of Prop 8, all of us at work were very sick at heart, very down. When our friend came in, we commiserated a bit.
But the next morning, she came in and said she was feeling good about things. A couple of lawsuits have been filed and, more importantly, the area where we live had not passed the proposition, in fact, almost the entire Bay Area had defeated it. She said it made her feel so much better knowing that the place that she lived and worked was supportive of her marriage. She said they have been through so much over the years, it was nice to have that.


Her positive take on what feels like such a soul crushing outcome made me even more determined to do whatever I could to help her and others who just want the same rights that I have.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

BOOK CLUB MEETING




I love to read. I always have. As a kid when the bookmobile came around and they would only let you check out 2 books, I made the other kids check out books for me.


I am the newest member of a book club made up of 12 women. I have been a member for about 18 months, some members have known each other for years, we all have kids and most of us work outside the home.

We meet once a month, usually at the home of the member hosting. The host chooses the book and then leads the discussion. We usually arrive and visit and eat for a while before we sit down to talk about the book. I really enjoy our discussions because we come from so many backgrounds and points of view. It is always lively, usually we are talking over each other.

There is a lot of laughter - like about the time D bought a selection at the used bookstore, started reading, thought it sounded familiar, looked in the back of the book and found her name. She bought back the book she had sold to the bookstore! Then there was the time K couldn't quite follow the discussion and finally realized she had read the wrong book - right author, but a sequel with a similar name and cover.

At the end of the discussion we rank the book by writing style, character development, research, degree of involvement and ending. It is interesting that even the books we dislike, after the talk we find things we actually did appreciate.

Last night we had fun picking a name - forced upon us by the local bookstore in order to get a discount. Once we dismissed the theme of moms, housewives, and boobs - we came up with "books, friends, discussion" - discussion was changed to dessert. Great! The BFD. Uh, oh. Some of the ladies in the group didn't like the idea of presenting themselves as members of the BFD club. Those of us not ladies thought it was a hoot.

The next round was all W's. Women, Wednesdays, Words, Wine, Whine and Whatever. So it was decided that mathematically that was 6 degrees of W. Or W6. Which I can't type properly here, but you get the idea.


This month we read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I'll review it when I am done. January is my month - let me know if you have any book suggestions!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

NO MORE EQUALITY

I am so sad and disappointed by the voters in California. A majority of votes have been cast for Proposition 8 which removed the right to marry for same sex couples.

The Christians did an excellent job of spreading lies, hate and fear through the state. Their relentless attack fueled by the Mormon church, abetted by the Catholic church and others. They have removed civil rights from residents of California.

Who will they go after next?

I WAS THERE FOR MANY THINGS PROMPT

History’s being made, can you feel it? The bubbles in the atmosphere? The sense that when they pop, the air around them will change? Or else the they’ll float into space, bouncing like sound waves, carrying the news of today into tomorrow?

So where were you when history was laid down? Was the TV playing Nixon in the background while you ate an innocuous chicken dinner? Were you born the day Kennedy was shot? Did you watch the falling Challenger from a classroom full of fifth grade students like you?

This PROMPTuesday, share where you were when. Tell the story any way you want.


This prompt makes me feel so old. I was 33 and at work when the Challenger went down. Someone had the radio on and turned it up so we could all hear. There was no TV in the office, so I didn't see the images until I was home that evening.


I was in the third grade when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. We heard about it at school and I remember being out on the playground and wondering if that meant the Russians were going to come get us. Those were paranoid times - our neighbor had a bomb shelter dug into his back yard. We were allowed to go down to see it. There were cots and canned food and it smelled of the damp.

I was in junior high when Bobby Kennedy was killed. That is the most stinging memory for me. I was at an age when I understood the enormity of his promise and loss to our country. Coming so soon after Dr. King it made me wonder if the world was going mad. I had recently moved and didn't have any friends except for the librarian. She comforted me and lead me to books to read to revive my faith in humanity! That's when I fell in love with Eleanor Roosevelt.

I continued to high school as the Vietnam war raged. I was babysitting for a neighbor when the Chicago police were shown on TV beating protesters outside the 1968 convention. When the shooting of students at Kent State by the National Guard occurred, we asked the principal to move the flag to half staff, and to his credit, he did.

I was so looking forward to the opportunity to vote,to have my point of view represented. I registered the year the 26th Amendment was passed granting 18 year old's the vote.

And this morning I voted for a black man for president and this evening, I heard him speak about the future of this country and I had tears in my eyes. My sister called because she was crying, too, and she knew I would understand. And I do.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VOTING


The 26th amendment, changing the voting age from 21 to 18 passed the year I turned 18. I went to school early on my birthday and registered as a democrat. My parents were staunch republicans. I can't remember if they had a reaction to my party affiliation - but the political fights at the dinner table definitely gave them a clue it was coming.

In 1972, I voted in my first election. I voted for George McGovern. He was the anti-war candidate. Richard Nixon won that election in a landslide - that was the election year of dirty tricks and the Watergate break-in. Interesting times. My best friend revealed to me over a year later that she had voted for Nixon. I was shocked. I could not understand how anyone of our generation could vote for Nixon.

This feels like a similar election year. Emotions are high. Points of view are running to extremes. I was so disheartened to see McCain signs on so many of my neighbors yards that I was in a funk for days. I know that the opportunity to disagree is what makes democracy work (ahem, Bush administration) but I still feel as I did when I was 18 - "How could they?"

I am off to vote as soon as the polls open at 7am. I want that little "I voted" sticker and I am willing to get up early and stand in line to get it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

RAINY WEEKEND

It finally rained. Friday we had the door open at work and the smell came before I saw or heard it. That smell of asphalt getting drenched - so distinctive after a long time with no rain. Big fat drops came down and we walked out under our awning to take deep breaths of the freshening air.
It took a break for the kids on Halloween night, then it rained all night. It was so odd to get up to grey skies. It was kind of exciting. The house felt a little cave like. I noticed that Tom and I were not up and out so quickly, we sat and talked and watched a little TV and had breakfast together.
I went up to our deck which is home to my little mosaic work area. I wanted to get a project done and tarps up before it really started to blow as the news indicated it would later in the day. It seems that the moment I climbed up on a stool to hoist my tarps - the storm hit. I was blown around and got soppy wet and eventually I got things covered up.
The rest of the day I puttered around doing housework and goofing off intermittently. The movie The Shining came on and since Ally had never seen it - we watched together. We lit a fire.
Then Sunday morning, the sun was shining bright, the soccer tournament was on and the spell of the rainy weekend was broken.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SUNDAY SUPPER


The cool weather inspired me to make some soup for dinner. We all like salmon and I don't grill in the rain - so I made




SALMON CHOWDER




3/4 - 1 lb Salmon (fillet or stew pieces from the butcher)

3 pieces bacon

1 T butter

1/4 c diced onion

2 celery ribs, diced

1 bay leaf

2 medium Yukon potatoes, diced

1 T chopped parsley

1/2 c white wine

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

salt, pepper, tarragon


Poach salmon in salted water (start in cold water just covering salmon, simmer until opaque and flesh flakes with a fork, drain, cool and cut into bite size pieces. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.


Place bacon in heavy bottomed pot on medium heat to render the fat. Remove the bacon and save for another use. Add 1T butter to pot and when it is melted, add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.. Add the celery, potatoes, parsley and bay leaf and cook until celery is soft, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high and add the wine, scraping the sides and bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits. Pour in milk and cream and reduce heat to simmer, place lid on pot and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes, depending on size of diced potatoes.


With the back of a fork or immersible blender, crush some of the potatoes to help thicken the soup. Add salmon and gently stir. Allow to heat through. Add salt and pepper and tarragon to taste.


Serve with crackers or bread and a green salad.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

TWO TIMES 21

Senior Ball, June 2006

Halloween 1987


The trick or treaters are done for the night. It's a warm October evening so we decide to walk down the hill to Main street and see what the grown-ups are doing. We wander into a bar full of costumed revelers and find a seat. Tom has a couple of cocktails and I sip on a glass of grapefruit juice that tastes of tin can. We walk back home and go to bed.


Midnight - I wake up in a puddle. My water has broken. You see - I was 38 weeks pregnant with twins. They decided not to wait for the scheduled c-section a couple of days away. I woke Tom and sent him to the kitchen to make himself some coffee while I showered, changed the bed and packed. Oh, and I called the doctor.


We arrived at the hospital and Tom asked the nurses to remove their cat ears, flashing pins and other Halloween accessories - "Time to be serious!" A fleet of doctors arrived to usher our little ones into the world. At 3:11 am Zachary and at 3:12 Margaret were delivered and my life was doubly changed.



Today they turn 21 - the days are long and the years are so, so short.


Last December they had each other's initials tattooed near their hearts....


The Birthday Party