Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September blahs

We've had a TIME of it here.

Plumbing problems, rodent problems, a/c problems (related to the rodent & plumbing problems). Double down on the gross factor because we're Hot too, since we haven't had a/c for a few weeks.

Fun times.

I never thought we'd get rats in our a/c system!! I don't know whether to be happy or disgusted that they were pretty much there just to eat the possums that crawled in to the ducts and died. It's all so gross. And, my GOODNESS, how did they all end up getting in there, dying, eating each other, befouling our whole house to the point where we had to replace every stinking (literally) inch of the system in the TWO FREAKIN' DAYS between when the plumbers were here and the a/c guys came out to fix the ducts in the first place? ugh.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Repeat.

Monday, September 06, 2010

My kitchen - A to Z

I've been helping Anders learn to write his letters. He's doing great! He really, really, really wants to learn, probably so that he can write stories about Ben10 alien force meets Star Wars. Or write Dagny notes. Or letters to his grandparents, which is one of his favorite afternoon activities.

At the same time I noticed he was also really intent on learning the phonetic sounds to the alphabet, so hey why not kill two birds with that stone? Presenting Mommy's Kitchen A to Z! Now he can learn his letters and sounds while associating them with stuff that he is surrounded by every day - and since the kitchen is my favorite room in the house, why not?

A - Avocados
B - Bread
C - Cantaloupe
D - Dill
E - Eggs
F - Frozen french fries
G - Grapes
H - Hot sauce
I - Ice cream
J - Juice
K - Ketchup
L - Lemons and/or Limes
M - Mustard
N - Nuts
O - Oatmeal
P - Pasta
Q - Quinoa
R - Refried beans
S - Spices
T - Tuna
U - Us (the family)
V - Vinegar
W - Water
X - "X" marks the spot - I make it out of string cheese
Y - Yogurt
Z - Zucchini

Friday, September 03, 2010

Take the cake

I am baking a cake for my Mom's birthday this weekend. It is delicious, and I know that because I previewed recipes before deciding on The One. It is going to be a buttermilk layer cake (a white cake) with raspberry/blueberry filling and whipped cream cheese frosting.

The major thing will be keeping it cool til Naples. Big cooler? Check!

Happy Birthday Mom! We'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


The kids know by now that the one thing I'll always cave in on, the one thing I can't help buying for them, the one thing that all they have to do is ask semi-politely for and they'll get, that I just can't say no to is...


I love books! I love to read! I love that my kids love them too! We do go to the library just about every week, but they also know that I'm a complete and utter pushover for any kind of reading material.

Right now Anders is all about action, adventure, even things that are a little spooky. Dagny is totally into Egypt & mummies.

Pretty cool.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An apple a day

Honeycrisp apples may be back in the stores as early as late September! Woohoo! I don't care that they don't grow locally, they are the BEST eating apple ever.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Easily pleased

Mr. J had a trade show a few weeks ago and had to buy a bunch of supplies: tablecloths, gift cards, candy, etc. For a candy bowl he bought the coolest Pyrex bowl - just the perfect size. I immediately traded the Pyrex for one of my Target cheapo plastic serving bowls (cute design though) and now I have the PERFECT mixing, storing, cooling, nuking, holding, chopping, serving bowl.

Happy me!

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Have you ever had this conversation at the dinner table?

"If you're going to talk, let's talk to each other, not just yourself."

It's, like, our #1 rule because both kids are inclined to talk endlessly to themselves at all times. Dags talks about imaginary creatures, our in her own imaginary language. Anders sings or talks about epic battles. It gets loud.

TGIF -- week 1 of school is done!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Organized? Or neurotic?

I love to plan. It is both my biggest strength and a major weakness. It's a strength when we need something done both right and on time. It's also a weakness because sometimes Mr. J has a problem or situation at work and I automatically go into DEFCON 4 planning mode...when all he wants to do is talk.

So yeah. I plan. I make plans for my plans. I'm also a good organizer, but in a big picture kinda way. I hate clutter and confusion, I dislike piles o' crap. So I make the big piles go away. Do I care where? Notsomuch. As a result right now we have two "overflow" rooms almost overflowing with peoples piles of stuff. I need to get on that, STAT. The other area that I need to attend to is the garden, which is now pretty much just a weedfest.

So now that the kids are back in school and we are settled into our routine, I'm using my strengths to bring some order to the chaos. Starting next week, Monday & Friday are going to be dedicated to 1) cleaning out and organizing the two sunrooms and 2) attending to the garden, bed by bed. Tuesday will be errands/grocery shopping. Wednesday is my baking day. Thursday is cleaning and laundry. Starting in October, my book club will be meeting Friday mornings, so I'll fit that in as well. I love my plan; I hope I stick with it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reading list

For my soul:

For fun:

For book club:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Quite possibly the coolest tableware I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farmers are fabulous

I didn't know much about farming before visiting my BIL & SIL this summer. I mean, I'd been on farms before, but mainly horse farms. And then there was my Uncle's chicken/goat/cow farm in Jamaica. Which was way different than a dairy goat farm on the Kansas prairie. But being out there in KS for a week and observing the routine gave me a whole new appreciation for farms, farming and the farmers who are dedicated to upholding the farming tradition in America. It is way, way harder work that you could imagine. However the rewards pretty much equal the work. Fresh milk (and other dairy products), fresh meat, fresh eggs, fresh produce are all things that city dwellers can't imagine. It's one thing to buy organic or join the local CSA, but you are still getting a commercially produced product. But the chicken my BIL grilled our last weekend there? Was walking around the yard in the morning. Now THAT'S fresh.

On the other end of the spectrum of "family" farms is Blackberry Farm. Obviously this could only be considered a family farm if your family includes 300 people, 14,000 acres and a huge bank account. But, really, if you exclude the spa and child restrictions*, is it really so different from what my BIL & SIL and their four kids do a daily basis? Notsomuch. I bet they still get up at crackofdawn, still tend the animals, still do the twice-daily milking, still have to weed the gardens and orchards. But you can fish, hike, bike, walk, ride a horse, and stare off into the prairie sunsets just as well in KS. I feel that to have a proper basis for comparison, I would have to visit Blackberry Farm one day. It's going on the Bucket List. Even if you can't go there, visit their website and drool over the amazing stuff they produce.

In lieu of going there anytimesoon, I will settle for the cookbook.

*Sensibly, they only allow children under 10 during certain periods of the year. And as a mommy of two kids under 10, let me say I totally understand and do not hold it against them in ANY WAY. I can imagine the people at the next table enjoying their snack of artisanal cheeses and locally produced wine while Anders throws a tantrum because they don't have Ritz crackers. I totally get it. If your children are not old enough to appreciate and participate then please STAY HOME.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This time I'll be a winner

Confession: I've entered the Sutter Homes "Build a Better Burger" contest for the last three years. I thought I had pretty good recipes all three times; everyone that helped me taste-test said so too. But I know when I'm not wanted. So, stuff it, Sutter Homes and your measly $100,000 grand prize.

I'm aiming for the big $1,000,000 Pillsbury Bake-Off this year.

p/s - Who wants to be a taste tester?

Friday, August 20, 2010

So long summer

The kids go back to school Monday. Talk about bittersweet. I'll miss sleeping-in, staying up late, playing games after dinner, no homework, not having to pack snacks & lunches, swimming every day, playing with kids, watching the kids play, and, in general, the slow and easy pace of summer.

But on the other hand (or as Anders says, "hold the other hand!"), there are some things I'm looking foward to:
  • Cooler weather (we can pretend it's just around the corner, even though it will be October before we see mornings not in the high 80s)
  • Electric bills under $500
  • Wearing jeans again (I love jeans. I don't wear them in the summer unless I'm visiting family on their dairy goat ranch in the middle of the prairie. Too hot & sticky.)
  • Sweaters.
  • Boots.
  • Jeans with sweaters and boots.
  • Five mornings a week to clean, organize, exercise*, get crafty, read, cook, bake - WOW
  • Cafe con leche and a slice of toasted, buttered cuban bread for breakfast
  • Fresh veggies from the CSA
  • Sitting on the porch in the evenings
  • The new season of Amazing Race
  • Anders starting t-ball
  • Soups, chili, roasts, stews and getting back to baking my own bread
  • Planning for the holidays
But my very, very, very favorite thing about fall? Heeeeeeeeere come the Gators!!

Football!! Any football, but mostly Gator football. And SEC football. And maybe Denver football so I can watch my boy Tim Tebow play with the grown-ups. I picked up Gator tees for the kids when we were in G'ville a few weeks ago, so now everyone's ready for the season! (Now picture those same stands filled with orange-and-blue clad fans. LOVE IT.)

*Yeah. There. I said it. The "e" word. Mr. J and I have a pact to exercise and eat healthier. I can't believe I'll finally have the time to do it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eat pray loathe

I'm sure I'm not alone among women in America -- maybe the world -- who hated Eat, Pray, Love. When it first came out I was eager to read it because I'd read such glowing reviews (probably should have considered the sources more carefully) and it was about exotic faraway places. I put in my request and joined the huge queue at the library. Many times I came close to canceling the request and just buying it, but I stuck it out and almost a year-and-a-half later I got the notice that it was available. I ran out to get it and that night got ready to read.... and was almost immediately disappointed. I stuck it out: grimly wading through the pages full of treacly self-help cliches; grimacing over her sanctimonious embrace of new age gimmickry; wondering how anyone could ruin trips to Italy, India and Indonesia (it can't be a coincidence that she chose places beginning with "I"); wondering how anyone can take themselves that seriously. Good grief!

Unfortunately her self-indulgent attitude overshadows just about everything in the book. She epitomizes what's broken with society today: "ego" trumping morals, values and principles; the prevalence of a culture where nothing is definitive and where individuals get to pick and choose the moral code that suits them; a culture that allows people to redefine just about anything that they don't feel applies to them. (Go google moral relativism if you need more info.)

So a big thumbs down on the book and I'll take a pass on the movie too.

I will, however, be spending some time with Jen Lancaster this fall.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One step forward, one step back

Well the plumbers did a fabulous job! They got everything hooked up, they cleaned up* as best they could and we now have totally new hot & cold water pipes! Woohoo! Unfortunately due to the tight crawl space, general lack of wriggle room and other issues they ended up crushing or displacing a good bit of the duct work under the house. Inevitable? At least they told us about it and repaired what they could. But we'll have to get the a/c guys out here next week. After, that is, we get the humongasaurus dead tree limb hovering over the roof taking out.

Never ends 'round here.

* Service companies! Listen up! It would be awesome if you had a clean up team that could come in after particularly messy jobs to clean up the house after your fixit job is done. The last thing I wanted to do after three days of having plumbers crawling under my house and dragging tons of grit, dirt & debris through my kitchen, hall & foyer was to clean, vacuum & mop. I would gladly have paid a bit extra (what's another couple hundred when you just spent multiple thousands?) for that service just so that I could get to the store tonight. But instead I spent two hours mopping and the kids are eating frozen pancakes. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Now for something completely different

We finally got around to having our house repiped. Quite the big job. Big time, big materials, big $$. Big everything except space. Small space. Very small. We have a weight/height requirement for anyone working in the crawl space below the house - not only is the access door only about 18" square, but the crawl space itself is extremely tight and filled with dirt, sand, pipes, plaster, etc. At least so they say. It could be the size of the Taj Mahal and I'd never know it because I'm not going down there for anything.

Anyhoo, among the various surprises we DIDN'T plan for was when the plumbers dug up a whole pile of bones last night. At least there was no skull (good thing? bad thing?) and it definitely wasn't a complete skeleton or anything. So the plumbing company, whom I'm sure thinks we're serial killers, said that they had to call the police. So today I enjoyed a nice visit with two homicide detectives. They interviewed the plumbers, they talked to me, they wanted to go see the crime scene (?) but were dressed very nicely and there was no way either of them would fit down the trapdoor (see height & weight requirements above). They tried their best to assure me that 9 out of 10 times these things turn out to be animals. Big animals, but still, animals. And that other 1 time? Well, that's what we're waiting for the medical examiner to tell us.

In the meantime, to be on the safe side, we will be having the house blessed.

And praying that it was some poor cow, because the last thing we need is a full-on homicide investigation happening under our house. Especially with school starting next week and everything.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Why can't you find classic penny loafers for girls anymore?

p/s - If anyone knows where I can find them let me know.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Topless no more

Despite my well-documented love of desserts, I am not a big fan of dessert toppings. I don't like whipped cream on my ice cream, I don't like sauces, and I especially do not, and doubt I ever will, like hot fudge sauce.

But I DO like buttermilk and it's a staple in my fridge. So I was very happy to see a recipe for Buttermilk Syrup making the rounds on the internet. I figured at the very least it would be a nice alternative to maple syrup, honey, jam and all the other stuff the kids like to load on their pancakes and waffles. Who knew that it would be the most awesome, delectable, lip-smacking stuff EVER on ice cream (especially a cup of homemade vanilla, but it would also rock out on butter pecan).

Try some today!

Buttermilk Syrup


1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking soda


In a large pan (make sure it is large, this syrup will grow when you add the vanilla and soda), place the butter, buttermilk, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and soda. It will foam. Now it is ready to serve. Try it warm over ice cream, on your pancakes, waffles, or scones. Yumm-o. Keeps in the refrigerator at least 3 weeks.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Johnson's Law

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong all at once."

I don't mean to complain, but....

In retaliation for all the time, money and attention we've been lavishing on our plumbing lately the upstairs a/c unit crapped out this afternoon. Good thing it's only 97 today and not 100! (Trying hard to be optimistic here folks.) We haven't needed a/c service in forever... Mr. J usually takes care of minor emergencies (ie clearing clogged drain pipes on the a/c unit) but he's out of town until late tonight. So luckily I got someone to agree to come out tonight... the first place I called couldn't make it until MONDAY morning. I know it's your busy season and all... but COME ON. Monday? Really?

Note to future self: Add "updated plumbing, electrical and a/c" to my list of requirements if we ever move again.


I love my Apple wireless mouse. Except it EATS batteries.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If I had a million dollars....

I would so totally redecorate. Ok, maybe not everything, but almost. Like 93% of the house. The rugs. The upstairs curtains. Every blessed thing in our bedroom. The dining room*. I'd replace the horrible ceiling fans and definitely the "period" light fixtures in the dining room. I'd repaint. Redo floors. New kitchen. New indirect overhead lighting. Retile bathrooms. Oh, and I'd DEFINITELY put in a pool and nuke the entire garden. I'd keep the new downstairs curtains, the cute black demilune in the living room, the porch furniture, the awesome gas grill, the dining room rug, the kids' bedroom/playroom furniture and the TV/media console. I'd probably keep my new little front window sofa, but only because it is so cute and comfy and I fit perfectly on it when I want to lie down for 5 minutes.

And I'd buy all new stuff from here.

Check it:

Sideboards (see above, for office, and below, for dining room)

New dining room chairs
Office desk

King size, please

Cabinet for dining room

Dining room table

See their site for more drool-worthy goods.

* Well, maybe our current dining room might stay. It is very pretty and I still like the "British Colonial" look, but I think it worked a lot better in our old bungalow (which was a very feminine house) vs. our prairie style home (which has lots of horizontal lines and is sort of a masculine house). Does that make any sense or am I just overtired?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Picture this

We are the most incredibly lame picture taking family in America. Not for lack of equipment, mind you. Our phones may be pure 90s, but we both have digital cameras and Mr. J has a very expensive Sony digital video camera that got stuck on an undesirable setting about 4 years ago and hasn't been used since. He refuses to refer to the manual for such things preferring to believe, I believe, that things will eventually work themselves out. I'm still waiting. Meanwhile, in this digital age, our youngest child goes sadly unvideoed. He might as well have been born in 1906, not 2006.

Anyway, the main reason we have so few photos of trips and events and stuff is because we're the kind of people that forget to bring our camera to events. Actually, that's just me. Mr. J will bring his camera, but after snapping 3 or 4 "candid" pictures of the kids -- and by candid I mean he yells at them to smile for about 5 minutes while he sets his exposure, light meter, focusing lensy thingys and then gets frustrated and angry when they forget what they're doing and move at the very second before he snaps the shot -- he finds an interesting leaf or flower or fungi or insect and then will take 344 pictures of that. And while I love his artistic vision and all, I really don't want 344 identical pictures of a pale purple coneflower taking up valuable space on my hard drive. Which is OK because he hardly ever downloads pictures anyway.

Then there's the fact that often we're not doing anything worth photographing, even while we're in some of the most beautiful and interesting places on Earth. We're not big on crowds and we loathe lines, so quite often our idea of sightseeing is to linger in outdoor cafes drinking beers and Fantas. Or walking around, semi-lost. We take pictures of doors and chairs and leaves and almost everything but ourselves. If you don't believe me I'll show you the pictures from our week in Aruba. Pictures of the wild Aruban landscape? Beautiful secluded beaches? Interesting early Dutch architecture? Aloe farms? Forget it. We've got 4 sunset shots, 2 of palm trees, 1 of a boat and about 165 of an iguana savaging a box lunch under a beach chair.

We do have some good shots from our recent road trip - we actually went to places like The Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, St. Louis Arch and Mr. J has many of his canoe trip in the Ozarks and of the beautiful Kansas prairie. (Many of which you'll just have to imagine for yourself because he will NEVER EVER EVER get around to downloading them to the computer.) But, like I said, I'm not much with the camera and as a result, from an 18 day road trip, I only have about 45 pictures. Here are two of my favorites:

At the Georgia Aquarium with my BFF Lisa and her eldest son (my godson). Note my brilliant job catching everyone looking in different directions. Skillz!

Here are the kids & Mr. J at the Union Station Marriott in St. Louis. My mom remembers taking the train out of Union Station when she attended college in St. Louis, so I thought there was a certain serendipity to us staying there. It was very, very beautiful and the Marriott people managed to keep the grand architecture and interior artistic details intact. Pictures? Oops. Sorry, no. You'll just have to believe me.

Friday, July 16, 2010


We've been swimming 'bout every day this week. And no, not in our leaky old house. At real pools with friends and stuff. It's niiiiiiice because it is really, truly, I kid you not too hot to do anything else outside, including weeding my weedy garden of weeds. At least the weeds are green, thus giving the impression, at least from half-a-block away, of a lush expanse of lawn. Up close? Notsomuch.

In other riveting news, I've been round the block with T-Mobile because, while my phone is pure 90s, I don't think my ringtone has to be -- I'm more a classic rock girl (I'm also more of a 80s new wave girl, but I am having a terrible time trying to find "Charlotte Sometimes" by The Cure.) ANYWAY I'm thinking something cool like the gong sound from the beginning of "Hell's Bells" or a snippet from "Over the Hills and Far Away." But it turns out that although T-Mobile SAYS my phone can download ringtones, I have to pay an exorbitant price to them and they still can't guarantee it will work because my phone's browser is old, old, old. It might as well be a Tandy. Time for an upgrade? Eh. Not yet. Guess I'll live with what I've got.

Next week stay tune for the update on Anders' wild Birthday Bash 2010. These 4 year olds are going to throw down!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Ah the lovely sound of a fountain tinkling gently. If only it weren't INSIDE the house.

More after the plumbers come bearing wrenches, pipes and estimates.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

5 years in

I've been keeping this thing running for 5 years! Zowie! And here I thought it was just going to be a temporary journal of our lives in Kosovo, you know, so our family in the States could keep up with us.

Pardon my lack of posting lately. It has been hyper-busy what with our ginormous road trip, homecoming transition issues, Mr. J starting up a law firm and other whatnot.

It has been uber-hot and rainy here and I'm just not in the mood to add one more thing to my plate. I'm already regretting that I laid down the "no-cereal challenge" at the beginning of the summer because, although most breakfast cereals are full of dubious -- albeit delicious -- ingredients and make equally dubious nutrition claims, they are unquestionably convenient. Making your own granola twice a week? Notsomuch. Oh well.

See you over on Facebook.

Monday, June 07, 2010


School's not even out yet and the house already looks like it is. Flip flops piled by the door and misc. toys and library books and bits and pieces of the kids make-believe games everywhere. They were playing Ben 10 Alien Force all weekend. Anders stuffed about 25 teeny-tiny Star Wars guns, blasters and sabers into his snack bag. This morning while packing snacks, I dumped them on the couch 'cause I didn't want to send him to school with contraband weapons. I hope I got them all and that he doesn't whip out a Boba Fett blaster with his snack this morning.

I'm a good mom that way.

Despite the fact that both kids have blueberry cake for their snack today. I'm also out of snack/lunch mojo and will resort to whatever is on hand vs. what is good for you. Dagny has penne a la vodka for lunch. So, obvs, I won't send guns with my son, however I've no problem sending alcohol-laced pasta with my girl. Both kids love, love, love, pink-puffy-heart adore penne a la vodka. Good enough for me!

Road trips, sleeping-in (sorta), and relaxation ahead!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mom at her limit

Please stop the ride. I want to get off.

(Image of the Kingda Ka at Six Flags New Jersey. Follow the link to check out a YouTube video of the ride. I almost threw up just watching.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The thing about summer...

While the rest of the country is enjoying the first tastes of local produce after the long cold winter, we're winding up the commercial growing season here in Florida.

This was our first year of belonging to a CSA and it was wonderful. Sweetwater Farm is a local (well, Tampa), organic community farm and I was delighted with the quality and quantity of food we got. We joined with a group of three other families, all with young kids, and the amount of food was just about perfect. Next year only three of us are in, so we ought to be swimming in fresh carrots, lettuce, kale and radishes by next January. Hopefully, supplemented by our homegrown tomatoes and herbs.

So, eat up Florida! The Florida blueberry crop is great this year, as are the local cantaloupes and the delicious Florida corn. By July all you'll be able to get is stuff brought in from elsewhere. Unless you need some scotch bonnet peppers. Then I can hook you up from our garden.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So. Tired.

Three almost-sleepless nights in a row. Anders still running a small fever, so although he's got plenty of energy, no school until he's fever-free. I'm guessing he won't go at all this week, which is fine. If only he'd sleep at night!

On the up side, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," the final book in the amazing Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy just shipped from Amazon. Can't wait to read it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The cook is in the kitchen!

Mondays are usually a "me" day since Anders is in school in the morning. My day to clean up from the weekend, put things (i.e., toys) away, and run personal errands. However Anders has been pretty sick since early Sunday morning and so I've kept him home today with his high fever & stuffy nose. He's very lethargic too, rare for him, so I'm indulging him with some Disney while he lolls on the couch.

But, despite getting a total of about 4 hours of sleep since Saturday night, I am raring to go! It's a beautiful hot morning and I'm in the mood to get stuff DONE. So after I buzzed through my chores I turned my attention to the produce I have lingering around the house: some almost-too-ripe bananas; a bunch of tomatoes & scotch bonnet peppers; some plums & blackberries*. I'm making roasted banana ice cream using a cool new ice cream recipe that doesn't use a custard so no slaving over a stove praying that your egg yolks don't curdle. Then I threw together a plum & blackberry crisp. I can't wait to have this for dessert with some whipped cream. And then the kids can eat it for breakfast. And finally I made a humongous batch of salsa using green scotch bonnets from our garden. They've got a little more intensity than jalapeno, but a fruitier, crisper taste than if they were totally red/orange-ripe. I've never made salsa before, but this stuff BLOWS AWAY the jarred stuff. I can't wait to have it with some tortillas & guacamole for lunch. Or on quesadillas for dinner. Or as a side with some jerk pork later this week. Or as part of a seven-layer salad for Memorial Day. Or on a late night bunch of nachos with pepper jack. Yum yum.

Definitely got the creative cooking juices flowing today!

*Plums & blackberries being the odd man out in our fridge. Watermelon, cherries, cantaloupe, and blueberries are eaten almost as fast as I can unpack & wash them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Eat mor chikn

Free chikn!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St. Gaetanus

St. Gaetanus is the patron saint of job seekers (also an attorney, so apropos for our situation). We are praying non-stop. Mr. J is trying to keep his spirits up; he's had tons of first interviews. Just can't convert to second meetings or close the deal with an offer. We are fighting off the fear and anxiety, but it is hard. Some days harder than others.

Did I mention that after our torrential rain last night a huge crater opened up in the backyard? Nice timing, huh? It's definitely not a sinkhole (thank you Lord) but now we have to figure out what/why/how to fix. All things that take money. Yikes. Our landscaper, bless his heart, volunteered that it might be a leaking sewer line. I guess I should say some prayers to the patron saint of plumbing.

On the menu this week

  • Sauteed shrimp with carrots, squash, zucchini and thyme; yellow rice
  • Oven fried chicken, green beans, noodles, fennel and orange salad
  • Pancakes & sausage
  • Tuna melts on homemade English Muffins; summer chopped salad
  • Vegetarian pad thai
I've only one dessert planned: pavlova with lemon curd cream and strawberries. I might make some mint chocolate chip ice cream later this week, but we've got a lot going on: end-of-year meetings Mon, Tue. & Thurs. night.

Monday, May 17, 2010

There's going to be a floody, floody

Have you ever heard the super cute song "Rise & Shine" (aka Arky, Arky)? Anders' class put on a Noah's Ark play for their end of the year project and this was the highlight. Anders was an elephant (so funny, since he's the smallest boy in the class) and it was just great. What's that? You want pictures? Well, Mr. J was the photog for this event, so maybe in about 5 years he'll get his camera offloaded. He's terrible about that stuff.

Anyway, all so apropos today since it is POURING here. Good for the garden; good day to stay inside and chill, relax, laze. Or clean. I could clean.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ripe for the pickin'

One of the few benefits to Matt being home these days is that stuff is really getting done around here. Our yard is fenced about 60% of the way, curtains hung, and the backyard is looking awesome! In March we decided to put in a small vegetable garden that has since grown to be quite a good size.

The first of the tomatoes are just coming in. Talk about DELICIOUS. They're even better than the ones from the Farmer's Market (for some reason our CSA farm doesn't do tomatoes). Last night, in addition to a great grilled flat-iron steak, we had a wonderful yellow-boy tomato, sliced, sprinkled with fleur de sel, and served with buttered bread. Yummy! (Note to self: this would taste even better with homemade bread. Might be worth heating up the house one or two days a week.)

Plus we've got sproutlings/seedlings everywhere! In the next few weeks we'll have LOTS more tomatoes, including some little cherry tomatoes (homemade salsa anyone?), radishes, green onions, scotch bonnet peppers, pole beans, yellow squash, watermelon, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, mint, lemon balm, dill, chives and sunflowers! I can't believe we can actually grow all that stuff in our own backyard! If everything goes well, maybe we can even do lettuce and carrots one day and at that point we won't even need to belong to a CSA share anymore.

Plus, even though I truly dislike gardening, it's different when you can eat your work.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who's your daddy?

There are two kinds of husbands*:

One that will, when told at 12:30 a.m. that there is a rustling, crackling, creepy sound coming from the corner of their darling daughter's bedroom, will grab a shoe, a roll of paper towels and a can of Raid and hunt mercilessly for the offending critter; a hunt that will only end when, to the relief of all concerned, proof-positive in the form of a corpse is presented and then unceremoniously thrown out the front door.


The other kind that will, when informed of the same scenario, poke around in the corners for 2 minutes and then declare that is was "just the window shade rustling from the ceiling fan."

* Honey, I love you no matter what you do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Countdown to summer

22 more days of school! Woohooo!

Dagny adamantly refused to participate in any camps, Vacation Bible Schools, sports, classes or other organized activities this summer. Anders isn't quite ready for sports or lessons either (although he'll do swim classes and T-ball in the fall when he is 4, thus officially starting my life as a taxi cab mom. I'm glad Dags is pretty lazy low-key and I haven't had to drive around to too much yet.). So what's a Mama to do? We're ROAD TRIPPING!

First stop to see my BFF and her family in Atlanta to do some major catching up (we haven't been up in two long years!) Then on to Kansas to visit my BIL, SIL and their family on their farm, give the kids a taste of country life, learn how to milk goats, and stock up on homemade soap and jam. Woo! Then, from Kansas, we're driving to Denver for a few days for a mini-reunion with some of my sorority sisters! I haven't seen these ladies in about 20 years, so it will be a blast! 1H1W!

In between friends & family I'm hoping to do a bit of exploring and I know I'll enjoy checking out America from the driver's seat instead of from 30,000 feet up in the air. We were planning a stop in Nashville, but given the flooding we might pass. Definitely St. Louis for the Arch though and other than that, we're playing it by ear.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to the two special Moms in our lives:

Grandma J, Anders & I at Pisgah National Forest in 2007. Dagny took the pic.

My mom & I at Anders' baby shower in 2006.

We love you very much!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Squeee! Talbots giveaway!

Puttin' on the G.R.I.T.S. is hosting a giveaway for a Talbot's gift card! To enter I have to post a link to (one of) my favorite looks from their new collection. So hard to choose! I already posted the beaut green dress that I have to have, so I'm going to pick:

paisley crops! so cute with a crisp white shirt
straw tote! great size.
possibly the cutest one-piece I've seen in a while

Check out the Talbots' blog Red Chair Confessions! (Jenn - scroll down to check out the cool aqua cuff! I see you in that!)

Friday, April 30, 2010


Is there anything more embarrassing than getting home from running errands and changing out of your spotless white jeans THEN realizing you have been sashaying all over town wearing hot pink underwear? I'm mentally making a list of all the places I've been.... ugh.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aha moment

Day 10? 9? 14? of the cleanse/diet. I had an a-ha! moment last night when, as I stared at a loaf of forbidden bread, that I really would rather work out than diet. So, I'm going to finish up the next 5? 6? 1? days and then I'm going to throw this crap out and buy a summer pass to our local pool.

In other news, Dagny is making her First Communion this weekend at church. She is first in line... will literally be leading the other children in and then, later, up to Communion. No, not 'cause she's such a great leader. Because she is teeny tiny and they're lined up by height. It's going to be a lovely day, but extremely hectic. Our priest told us last night that this is the largest Communion class our parish has ever had - 50 kids! Multiply than by, let's say, 12 family members in attendance per kid = 600 people just for the class. Plus the rest of the parish. Someone told me yesterday at practice that they're literally packed into the church, through the vestibule and into the choir loft. Yeah, someone's going to be left standing the whole time (most likely Mr. J outside with Anders).

But as Msgr. said last night, it doesn't matter where you are sitting (or standing), it's all about the kids. Amen.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How I Met Your Father

(This post is for a link back to Kelly's Korner where she is doing a "How I Met My Spouse" day.)

For five years in the early 90s, my (future) husband and I lived in the same town, hung out at the same bars, went dancing in the same clubs, liked the same bands and never met each other.

Then he moved to San Francisco and eventually Budapest, Hungary with no intention of ever returning to the Tampa area. I, meanwhile, continued to hang out in the same bars, same clubs, with the same people, while working in the staffing industry and then, eventually, in HR for a tech company.

Then, as fate would have it, my Mr. ended up deciding to go to law school and so moved home to take the LSATs. He decided to make some extra cash by working a temp job... at my company.

It was absolutely, 100%, no-doubt-about-it, love at first sight. In fact, after the interview (of course I hired him!) I sent his resume over to a friend of mine with a cover sheet that read: "I'm going to marry this guy!" (Haha, said Teresa. You can't date coworkers, remember?)

Despite my company's "no dating" policy we snuck around for about 6 months before he left to start law school. Fast forward one year and we were indeed engaged. Fast forward 1o and here we are married with two kids.

I do believe in love at first sight!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bravo Talbots!

In late breaking fashion news, three cheers for Talbots for completely revitalizing their look!! Their spring collection? A. Ma. Zing. I've always shopped at Talbots, but in the last few years have stuck with basics like tshirts and chinos (items that I used to buy at J. Crew before they decided their target market was anorexics/winos/uninterested in hairbrushes). But their new line is soooo cute. Although much more dressy, the new Talbots stuff kind of reminds me of the new LLBean Signature and Land End Canvas lines. They are a little more polished & pretty than the everyday stuff.

I'll take one of everything, please! Especially this dress. I can so totally rock that color.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chew on this

Day Two of the Cleanse is DONE. This method of diet control is extremely hard if you like food. My general plan for this week:
A.M. - "Energy" beverage 30 minutes before breakfast
Breakfast - 1 c. oatmeal w/ berries; "cleansing" tea
Snack - Yucky little fake-chocolate chewy things that TOTALLY kill the munchies
Lunch - Protein shake, cleansing tea (this is hard. I want a sandwich.)
Snack - Bunch o' random veggies or some grapes
Dinner - Healthy meal w/ protein & veg
Before bed - More tea!!

Also about 63,000 glasses of water.

My take away so far:
1) I'm not really that hungry. All that liquid and the protein shakes fill me up (not necessarily satisfying, but at least I'm not starving) and they don't taste completely horrible.

2) The "cleansing effect" has been very mild. No nastiness. But I do feel a lot better! My skin is freaking out, but I understand that is normal when you're body is detoxing.

3) I don't crave anything except sugar. Oh how I want a piece of cake; ice cream; whipped cream. I'm in severe withdrawal and am contenting myself with looking at pictures of desserts on Tastespotting.

4) Despite my fears, I've had no problems giving up coffee at all! Surprise, surprise! I've not missed it, I haven't had headaches, I don't feel draggy. In fact, I think I have even more energy! I've already estimated if I can stay caffeine free we'll save about $30 a month at the grocery on coffee.

5) I could never do this more than a week. I'm hoping it gives me just the kick start I need to get a more healthy diet in place and most importantly, kick the sugar habit. I fully admit I'm dependent on desserts, my sweet tooth is my downfall, and I need to change!

So basically, I think this has been a good idea. It's really got me thinking about what I eat, what I want to eat, how I want to look and feel, how I've become a classic "comfort eater". Pretty unusual for someone who isn't usually introspective, even about their food.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Their loss, my gain

Mr. J is out of work! He lost his job on, no kidding, April Fools Day. At first he DID think it was a joke - enough so to ask, "Is this for real?" but alas, it was.

We're OK with it though. The managing partner was totally squirelly and was making life hard for Mr. J and the other non-equity partner anyway. So we've spent the last few weeks finding a good search firm, redoing his resume and hanging out A LOT with the kids. If you're going to lose your job you might as well do it during primo beach weather.

Also? In the last 2 weeks he has cleaned windows, hung curtains, watched the kids for hours while I run errands and, today, he's putting up the F-E-N-C-E!! At long last! So I can't say I'm totally sorry he's out of a job. At least for now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On second thought....

I don't want to know how those "supermoms" do it all... then I could no longer claim ignorance.

There is an article going around from Yahoo! News about "why we can't do three things at once" which was clearly written to make my husband, personally, feel better about himself.

It has nothing at all to do with Moms, or I dare say, parents in general whether you are a mom or dad. If you have a kid you had BETTER be able to do a lot more than three things at once. Not that I'm saying you always have to, but in crunch times? Like right now as I blog in 3 minutes of "downtime" before I have to race out the door to school, while I supervise the kids putting on their backpacks, referee their argument about mechanical pencils, stop Dagny from trying to eavesdrop on my post, and I do a last minute check to make sure no one has toothpaste on their face, has brushed their hair and, dear God, am I wearing a bra? Yeah. I'm multi-tasking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

English impatient

I spend Wednesday mornings volunteering in Dag's second-grade class. I like the gig -- it gives me a reason to do my hair (and maybe makeup) and get relatively dressed up at least once a week. By relatively I mean instead of my usual uniform of tee-shorts-flipflops, I wear a tee-skirt-sandals. And by makeup I mean blush and lip gloss.

Anyway, it's a win-win for her teacher and I. Her teacher needed someone to help with the kids during school Mass on Wednesdays, then help with their Daily Language (aka Grammar) and I was looking for a way to spy on spend more time with Dagny.

It's also afforded me tons of time to observe other people's children which in turn helps me make better parenting decisions. And also helped me decide to relax my snack options for the kids just a smidge. A girl should have some fun -- and store-bought granola bars -- once in a while! And I decided that the occasional juice pouch wouldn't hurt either.

It has also made me realize I'm pretty much just as impatient in a classroom as I am at home. I really, really, really gotta work on that! I'm fine with the kids who have their hand in the air, ready with an answer, stay on task and/or make funny, unintentional jokes. I'm not so fine with the slacker kid who clearly isn't even trying, or who isn't listening, or asks to go to the bathroom four times an hour. (Maybe I should try to find out why?Nah.)

So props to all our great teachers, patient teachers, teachers who love their job -- and man, whether you teach at P.S.136, private school, Harvard or homeschool, it's a job you better LOVE -- and teachers who know how to reach any kid. The rest of us? Better off volunteering as needed and then going home to thank our lucky stars that we have teachers in the first place.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring cleaning

I am spring cleaning next week... not your usual closet-carpet-baseboard spring clean; I'm doing a nice, natural 7-day internal cleanse. (TMI? Sorry! Just wait until next week as I journal this thing!)

I've actually been meaning to do it for about a month, but we had a couple of dinner parties to go to and I didn't want to have to show up and then only drink my "special" tea. And then I didn't want to start right before Easter 'cause, well, I know this is just another excuse but let's sum it up in three words: chocolate, coconut, ham.

And then before that I was in the middle of my yearly battle against the dreaded Live Oak Pollen and my allergies left me feeling so awful I knew I couldn't stick to a diet. And then this past week I had a horrible sinus infection/chest cold and although it would have been the perfect time to cleanse since I wasn't eating hardly anything anyway, I didn't think that "gentle cleansing ingredients" would mix well with my 24/7 diet of NyQuil.

I'm mostly better now though and ready to face the Challenge! Starting Monday!

Some of the restrictions of the 7-day Cleanse are:
  • No wheat
  • No sugar
  • No dessert!
  • No dairy
  • No Dessert!!
  • No added oils
  • No DESSERT!!!
  • and, most challenging of all, No Caffeinated Beverages!!!!!&*^^@^*!
I can handle all of those things - even dessert! - but coffee? That's just scary. To help my system get ready, I have cut back from my usual six cups in the a.m. to a more human two. It hasn't been fun. I'm definitely in withdrawal and my stomach is wrecked, but I haven't had any of the other more scary side effects like lack of energy, splitting headaches, or the urge to kill. Maybe it's the tempering effects of all the leftover Easter candy I've been scarfing. (My diet for the last week has been limited to decongestants, Mucinex, NyQuil and chocolate bunnies. See why I need to cleanse?)

Anyway, I'm planning my menu for next week very carefully so that I can be sure to have all the ingredients on hand to make the foods I am allowed to eat - which is pretty much all the chicken, fish, oatmeal, vegetables and fruits I want. I think I can have polenta too -- which means I should be able to eat grits (although without the addition of heaping handfuls of sharp cheddar and/or sausage and/or shrimp).

Oh, and I can eat eggs. And all nuts except peanuts, which aren't my favorite anyway. So really it's a pretty good diet. Lots of variety.

But the no coffee thing? Eeeek.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Au bon pain

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to bake all -- or most -- of our bread from scratch. Pretty big goal! And up to now I had been doing GREAT. I've been making 1-2 loaves of regular bread a week, supplemented by a batch of bagels or English muffins here or there. I did end up having to buy Anders his must-have Nature's Own Honey Wheat, because trying to force a picky three-year-old to eat Artisan Bread is not my idea of Big Fun.

However, when I made the resolution it was January. And then we had the Mother of All Winters here when heating the oven to 500 a few times a week was no big deal because the house was barely 60 anyway. But now. Now it is summer! Today it is 90. The house is barely holding at 78 without running the a/c (I can't bear to put it on in April). Heating the oven to 500 would turn it into a sauna and/or steam room. And this is just April. I don't even want to think about baking bread in August.

So, like many resolutions, it looks like this one will be abandoned too, at least until the fall.


On the upside, it did give me freedom to head over to Whole Foods and indulge my inner carb addict with loaves of crusty sourdough (which I can't make to save my very life), cranberry-walnut boules, ciabatta and yummy yummy whole wheat baguettes.

And I also found this:

The Vosges Barcelona Bar - deep milk chocolate*, hickory smoked almonds and fleur de sel. The Trifecta!

*Deep milk chocolate = 45% milk chocolate. So creamy. Perfectly balanced chocolate. It will change your mind about dark chocolate, I swear! I've been off that wagon for more than a year.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My soapbox is a lunchbox

One of my pet peeves is school lunch. I make Dagny her lunch 4 out of 5 days a week (she's allowed pizza on Fridays if she has good behaviour all week) because the small Catholic school she attends, while excellent on the academic front, has a truly abysmal lunch program. I've talked with the principal a few times, but she says it all comes down to three things: money, volunteers to man the cafeteria/cooking/serving lines, and what the kids will eat. I'm sure that's the standard response whether you are in public school or private. It's true; getting kids to eat well can be tricky. Paying for it straps the parents. And getting volunteers for anything is nearly impossible.

Enter Jamie Oliver and his glorious, amazing Food Revolution. If you haven't seen his new show, and have previously been turned off by his Food Network programs, I urge you to reconsider and check it out (Friday nights, ABC, check your local listings). What he is attempting to do is truly revolutionary: he is overhauling the school lunch program for a school district in Huntington, WV -- a town that has the current title of the Unhealthiest Place in the US. And not only is he attempting to get the kids to eat real, freshly prepared food, he's also attempting to change the mindset of the community. A community that currently considers french fries a vegetable. A community that didn't even have utensils for the children to use - all the food was "finger food." A community where the Kindergarten kids he visited couldn't identify 90% of the fresh vegetables he showed them -- including tomatoes. A community where the mom of a family he visited -- a family where every member was obese -- admitted that she served fried or fast food for every meal.

Obviously, he's meeting some resistance and I'm sure there are even a fair number of viewers (Hi Mom!) who consider him arrogant and bossy and that the schools have more to worry about than if the kids are eating properly, you know what with drop-out rates, test scores, social problems, etc. But I say let him try! (He attempted the same makeover in the UK and it is a resounding success, with students grades way up, less illness, etc.) At the very least, it will ensure that the kids are getting at least one nutritious, balanced, fresh meal a day. In the best case, families in Huntington will start eating better and eating together and everyone will benefit.

It's a great concept. I hope it works. In the meantime, I'm "homeschooling" my kids when it comes to food, cooking, eating healthy, and making good food choices. I'm lucky that I had parents that thought mealtimes were important. I'm lucky that I am able to afford quality fresh ingredients (I'm sure some people would disagree, I think everyone can do this -- some people will always make bad, uneducated choices and the children certainly do suffer for it. But COME ON, you can't tell me that anyone thinks a box of snack cakes is a better choice than an apple.) And, although creating and packing school lunches can be time consuming, thankless, and frustrating, I'm happy to be able to do it.

My six rules:

1) If you're going to allow snacks, make sure the kids have healthy snack options. Get the processed foods* out of their - and your - life now!
2) Portion control
3) A vegetable and/or fruit of some sort every single night - sometimes this is as easy as iceberg lettuce or mandarin oranges. Sometimes I serve TWO veggies. Sometimes it's just apple slices or carrot sticks. But I do it every night.
4) Buy whole foods whenever possible. My kids know what carrots look like with the greens on; they've seen a whole watermelon; they know that fruit doesn't come from a can; they LOVE the Farmer's Market. (Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with buying a convenient prepared cup of mixed melons and berries. I'm saying do BOTH.)
5) Let your kids help in the kitchen! My sis was amazed when Dagny picked up a whisk like a pro to whip up some hot fudge sauce. (She knows all about ganache, egg washes, and proofing dough.)
6) Make it homemade as much as humanly possible. It's not about convenience -- it's about survival. I want my kids to be able to provide a nutritious homemade meal for themselves, their friends, their future families. I get a real kick when I hear my kids ask "Is this homemade?" when they eat something.

*Full disclosure: Anders is a very picky eater and has a thing about Ritz crackers. I know one day they won't be considered a whole food group at our house, but until then I will buy them. I did however, wean them from processed, sugary breakfast cereals. And they haven't seemed to miss them at all!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Welcome spring, er, SUMMER!

And just when we thought winter would never end here in sunny Florida, Easter weekend we magically went from chilly- still-wearing-fleece spring to dead hot SUMMER. We left for Easter weekend with long sleeves and sweaters and came back yesterday and had to turn on the a/c. Love it.

No kidding. I do love it. It's so nice to feel the warmth of the sun again. I'll love it for at least another 30 days (or until I get my first electric bill) before I start complaining.

And thank goodness that, now that Easter has passed, all the major candy-centric occasions are behind us until next October. Dags & Anders are way more into collecting candy than actually eating it -- which explains why their "special" candy from last Halloween is still in the treat basket. So I give them until Memorial Day to eat it, then whatever is still around gets pitched. Except of course for any remaining "special" peanut butter confections, which get pitched into my tummy.

The kiddos have been on Spring Break all week so we have been enjoying the beach, sleeping "in" (6:45 for Anders), afternoon movies, and staying up a wee bit later so I can read the first Harry Potter to them before bedtime. Lovely! Next Monday we're back to routines, schedules, snacks and lunches (>shudder<) but for now, we relax!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week

This is Holy Week, the most glorious week in the Church year.

In honor of such, and in the spirit of sacrifice and family, I am observing a break from all media. No blogging, no Facebook, no Word Challenge. (I'll still check my email from time to time though.)

Have a happy & joyous Easter!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Count on it

A warning to D & K: I'm about to go off on your favorite four-legged member of the J family. But she deserves it.

Three, no, FOUR things that consistently happen when a major holiday is right around the corner that will necessitate us boarding The Dog:

  1. Mr. J will have to be out of town on business at least one night which means I am on 24/7 dog n' kid duty.
  2. A lizard will get into the house. Even if the freezing winter here has drastically reduced their population, the hardy survivors continue to make valiant attempts to find their way indoors.
  3. One or both kids will have about 23,000 things going on, a major test, and/or a fight with their so-called best friend.
  4. The Dog will develop a sudden and disgusting illness that will include any or all of the following: sudden diarrhea, total incontinence, unexplained vomiting, a giant hotspot, stinky fur.
Items 1-3 I can handle on my own, because I am a Mom, and everyone knows Mom can do anything. Item number 4 is the kicker.

I came downstairs Thursday morning in the midst of my tightly scheduled and highly efficient morning routine that allows us to get out the door to school. I was immediately assaulted by a crying doggy and the most foul sinus-clearing stench ever. At first glance it seemed that every corner of the wood floor (Praise God we don't - and never will - have carpet) was covered with some type of doggy-related accident. On second glance it was just the downstairs loo, the fireplace hearth, both doorways, behind the couch and on our old upstairs sunroom rug, which was enjoying what turned out to be a very short-lived trial run in the Awkward Front Window area of the living room.

Let it be known that I have very little compassion for any creature that consistently befouls my living area(s) resulting in me on my hands & knees employing my holy trinity of cleaning products. Plus there is no obvious reason for her doing this: she is not allowed outside unsupervised anymore; she hasn't been to a dog park; she didn't eat anything crazy off the kitchen floor.

So now I'm trapped at home, afraid to leave her because I don't want her to mess all over everything again. And worse, I will either have to take her to the vet where they will immediately want to run $1800 worth of tests on her and provide her with 45 days worth of medicine that I will have to give her three times a day, 'cause I don't have anything better to do with my time or money OR I will have to omit fudge the truth outright LIE when I board her and say she is fine or they probably won't let her in without the aforementioned $1800 of tests and meds. I will bet that we had a large part in funding the vet's office renovation last year. As long as Fizz lives they have a guaranteed income source.

Disclaimer: Lest you think I am a heartless, careless, irresponsible dog owner, please note that she does this roughly once a month. If she was having one of her pancreatitis attacks we would recognize those symptoms immediately and get her to the vet. All this other stuff is, I believe, largely psychosomatic and no tests have EVER conclusively pointed to a cause. And we have spent untold thousands testing her. And there is never anything wrong.

Okay. I've vented. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm dreaming of....

Spring fever! After this long, cold-for-Florida, damp winter I'm ready for some spring sunshine. It's finally warming up during the days and I'm thinking our house might just break into the 70s this week! Yay! Soon I'll be complaining about the heat and the a/c and our horrendous electricity bills, but for now I'm enjoying the moment and loving the beautiful weather.

A few things on my mind for Spring:

1) Iced tea
2) Limes! Limes! Limes!
3) Angel food cupcakes (on my to do list as soon as Lent is over)
4) Lounging on the porch
5) Homemade granola
6) Fresh cut flowers for the house
7) Spring cleaning the closets
8) Getting out the warm weather linens and packing away the down comforter
9) New swimsuits for everyone
10) Picnic breakfasts at the beach

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life skills

Ten (Random) Things That My I Will Make Sure My Kids Know Before They Leave Home:

10) How to cook a chicken
9) The importance of dental health
8) How to balance a checkbook
7) How to make a budget & a savings plan
6) How to make cookies
5) How to wash the dishes
4) How to ride public transportation
3) How to write a real letter (on paper!)
2) How to shop in a grocery store without loading the cart with processed food and junk
1) Families are forever!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Got milk? Goat milk!

My BIL & SIL in Kansas just opened an online store for their wonderful, homemade, handmade, all-natural, amazing goat's milk soap! And get this: every bar is made with real goat's milk from their very own goats. We were lucky enough to receive a package of soap (and equally amazing body butter and shaving soap) for Christmas this year and I can totally attest to their amazing moisturizing properties. You will truly never want to use store bought soap again. And if dry skin is an issue, like it is for me, your skin will never look or feel better!

They get a FIVE STAR recommendation from this beauty product addict!

Go check 'em out!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Toy takeover

I don't really need further proof that the kids' toys have taken over the house, but I will say that my favorite vase is now being used as a "garbage chute" for Anders' Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and C3PO toys.

That is, until I buy some Gerbera Daisies and reclaim it. Luke, Han & Co. will have to find somewhere else to play.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sweet land of liberty

Wake UP America. Mr. J and I are watching breathlessly as the Government attempts to take over the American health care system. It is sickening.. the shenanigans, back-door deals, meaningless promises and utter corruption of the great American legislative process. Meanwhile, we will have a health care bill shoved down our throats that will most likely bankrupt the American economy and, in the process, create a whole new class of institutionalized entitlements unlike anything this country has ever seen.

Nice, huh? Not exactly change that I can believe in.

The brilliant Alcee Hastings (D-FL) said it best: "There are no rules. They're making it up as they go along." What more do you expect from an impeached federal judge who now sits on the House Rules Committee. That's just one example of the fine leadership the Democratic party has shown this week.

Next up for this Government:
1) Health care
2) Immigration "reform"
3) Education
4) Gun control
5) Term limits (mark my words)
6) Media control?


Friday, March 19, 2010


It's Live Oak Pollen Season here in sunny Florida. I long to open the windows and let in the fresh air, the sunshine and the warmth. I am afraid to also let in the dreaded yellow-green Death Dust.

Since I hate all Rx allergy meds -- no one here needs a repeat of my severe ALLERGIC reaction to Claritin (seriously. do you know anyone who is allergic to allergy meds?) -- I take regular ol' OTC Children's Benadryl. Grape Meltaways, to be specific. One first thing in the a.m., one at noon if needed, one right before bed. It doesn't make me woozy, takes the edge off the symptoms AND I get a real good night's sleep.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yes, please!

I've got a Brownie meeting, gymnastics, furniture shopping and a whole bunch of nothin' on the menu today.

But I did see THIS over at Summer is a Verb:

I think I'm in love. Cake Monkey. Have I mentioned that I. Love. Cake. Drroooool.

Sorry about the weird and random caption at the top of the photo. Don't let it distract you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three more days!!

Liberty of London at Target opens Sunday....I'm so excited! I'm stalking the Targets in the area today to try to guess who is going to have the best selection:


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I bit the bullet

Tired of my un-pretty utilitarian wardrobe.

I just placed my first order for some Boden dresses. And, I can't believe it, but I also ordered a TUNIC. What?! There may be no item of clothing ever invented that is less "me" than a tunic. But I was sucked in by the print, the colors and how easy it looked to just throw on with some great sandals and GO. (This summer, that is. Still cold now.)

I'd never have done it 'cept they've got free returns in case I look as ridiculous as I've always imagined I might in a tunic.

Need to lie down now.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Give me Liberty!

March 14 is the opening date for Liberty of London at Target!

Teapots, cute plates, and ohmygravy, did you see the BIKE? I don't even ride and I want one.

Liberty prints are some of my very favorite in the whole world, as far as prints go. Yay!

Friday, March 05, 2010

What I should be doing

I should be....
  • Vacuuming
  • Weeding and pruning our pitiful yard
  • Finishing the laundry, of course
  • Cleaning out our master sunroom
  • Organizing the Girl Scout stuff which is starting to take over the laundry room
  • Cleaning the bathrooms
  • Baking some bread for this weekend
  • Washing the MomMobile
  • On my way to the Mall to buy a new Sunday- best dress (I can tell you right now that I'm NOT going to do this and that I already know I'll be so angry at myself come Sunday morning when I want to wear a pretty dress and all I'll have is my black dress pants that I've been wearing all winter anyway.)
Instead I'm making batches of lemon, lime and orange curd. Our fridge is full of yummy tangy citrus curds, homemade Irish Cream and Girl Scout cookies. And asparagus. The first of the asparagus was in this week and I am SUCH a sucker for it. I love lightly steamed asparagus dipped into soft-boiled eggs. Or w/ a poached egg and thick cut bacon on a homemade English muffin topped w/ hollandaise. Or tossed with penne, gorgonzola and a little lemon juice. Or grilled with a little garlic oil.

I could go on and on. But someone's got to vacuum.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


I just bought these jeans:

They are by Kut from the Kloth at Nordstroms - my most favorite brand of jeans ever. I already have a pair of their regular straight leg jeans and they are even better than Levis. They have the perfect rinse, stretch, rise, etc.

The ever-helpful sales staff at Nordies spent hours with me (and entertaining Anders) while I tried on jean after jean looking for the perfect comfy pair to replace my aging Ralph Lauren jeans which are so saggy-baggy-washed-out that they might as well be sweatpants. They finally sold me on these K.F.T.K. "boyfriend jeans" -- they are a great dark wash, nice straight leg and soooo comfortable! The only problem is that they are made to be worn with the leg slightly rolled up, which I normally never do. I've been wearing these with t-shirts and cardigans, but what shoe is best? Ballet flats? Sandals? Espadrilles? Wedge heel? ANYTHING but sneakers, which I detest. Advice?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bucket list

My little sis just completed her first marathon. Way to go D! What an accomplishment!

Made me think though... what have I accomplished lately? Have I put my heart into anything? Gone all out? Can't remember..... so I think not! It's easy to brush it off as part of being a mom to young kids (although lots of moms to young kids run marathons). Then there is my excuse that Mr. J works very long hours, and is often called away suddenly since he's at the mercy of the court system. It makes it hard to plan things except for waaaay in advance or schedule large blocks of "me" time. I also don't have any children old enough to babysit so any time away from home usually involves sitters. I tried to get active playing tennis in the evenings at a local club, but after a month or so, it just got too hard to schedule or predict Mr. J's schedule. And I couldn't justify hiring a sitter (plus picking up, taking home) for me to play tennis for an hour in the evening.

As for actually going anywhere.. HAH! The law is a harsh mistress. Defense attorneys are all about billable hours, so vacations and trips can only be taken once your billables are secure (NOT the case with Mr. J's firm this year -- or a lot of defense firms in general in this economy).

That said, I've formulated a short "bucket" list of things I'd like to do (preferably with Mr. J and/or other family members) in the next 7 years:

  • Safari in Botswana - note, I don't NEED to do an Abercrombie & Kent trip, although that would be nice, no? I do want to go to Botswana because 1) it's family friendly, 2) it's a relatively politically stable country and 3) Okavango Delta & Victoria Falls!
  • Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage - while probably the most affordable and least physically taxing item on my bucket list, it's also the most far-fetched. Why?Because it's a 30 day pilgrimage so the kids would most likely NOT come along. So I would need someone to watch them for a whole month. Yeep.
I set a goal of 7 years because I'd really like to do these things before I turn the big 5-0. Mr. J and I think it is HILARIOUS that we'll qualify for AARP before Anders is even in middle school.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


On the upside, the prolonged cold weather has meant my seasonal live oak pollen allergies have been delayed! Maybe until June!

Our church/school Festival is March 11 -14 -- I hope we have great weather by then!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Do I need them? Do I want them?

Do you like Anthropologie? I do! Their clothes are so very pretty! The dresses and skirts are beautiful! But I can't really wear their clothes. I'm a bit over their target market's age (and, ahem, size) and also their clothes could be best described as romantic and whimsical, two things which I totally am not. Sporty and tailored? Check. Practical and comfy? Sure! Plain and jane? Yup. But ruffles, tiers and sheer make me look crazy. So I do a lot of lookie-looing to see what I would buy there if I were 5'9 and 115 lbs. (or if I were my dear sis Jenn who-- being tall, slim and FANCY-- looks FABULOUS in their clothes) but I've never even considered buying anything.

But their housewares? Oh. My. Gravy. They are to die for. I love them all! I guess I AM romantic and whimsical when it comes to housewares. Especially:

Orquidea tea set

Fleur de lys dinnerware

Cockatoo cocktail napkins (oh whatver, I'm just going to order these right now!)

Preening teapot

Nile delta tumbler

Fleur de lys tea cup & saucer

Birdwatcher dessert plates

Plus, pretty much any and all of their linens and those whimsical plates with the octopi and owls. So cool. Maybe I'll sell all my current stuff (8 place settings of Pflatzgraff and 10 settings of Pottery Barn Emma) and go romantic and whimsical for Spring!

And their bed & bath collection? Swoon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Amazing Race!

Can we talk about how much I love love love love the Amazing Race? It is hands down my favorite show. There is no other reality-competition show like it as it usually rewards the good and honest while ousting the bad and the ugly. We call it Amazing Race Karma, because it happens so often that the snooty, sneaky, lying, arguing, griping teams get their comeuppance during the course of the Race -- sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but it usually happens. The teams that pull together? That earn good Race Karma by helping out a team in need? That work cohesively even when they disagree? They WIN. Backstabbers* need not apply.

So it is no surprise that I anxiously await every new season. By the end of the first episode Mr. J and I have stereotyped (Angry Married Man/Meathead is usually our first pick to get busted by the karma police) and/or judged every couple and usually already have "favorites."

This year? I LOOOOOOVE the Cowboys. Oh my gravy, indeed!!

*On the Amazing Race you have to draw the line between strategy and lying. Not telling someone where the clue box is? Good strategy. Out and out lying about where it is? Bad Race Karma!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the menu

Tonight: Taco soup w/ cheddar biscuits
Friday: Potato tortilla (for grown ups) AND mac n' cheese from a box (for the kids), because we have one of Dagny's friends staying with us for the weekend and Dagny assures me that "everyone, well not me, but everyone else likes the box kind"
Saturday: Hamburgers and french fries; salad
Sunday: Roast chicken, smashed potatoes, broccoli and rosemary rolls
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: pizza
Thursday: leftovers
NEXT Friday: Cheese grits and fried eggs (breakfast for dinner!)

Now that my menu is planned I have to go clean up the playroom so that Dagny and her friend have somewhere to sleep this weekend. I don't normally have a sleepover for an entire weekend but this little girl's family is military and her mom & dad have to go to a pre-command conference so I offered to take her in. I did however pass on watching her utterly precocious 12 year old brother, who is going to his BFF's house. I don't know jack about 12 year old boys (yet) and I was AFRAID. Although I am quite confident that by the time Anders is 12 (NINE years) I'll have my act together. Or at least my menu.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've discovered that one of the downsides to baking homemade bread is that you actually eat more of it. Oh well.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gone fishin'

Be back soon!