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!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I am a capitalist

I have a feeling that the Big Brother Government auto industry watchdogs are about to start barking and chasing Toyota down the street.

Why? Because they are the largest automaker in the world? Because they have outstanding safety, performance and customer satisfaction records? Because they make great cars? Because they came clean about their safety problems, said they were sorry (without making lame excuses), and got down to the business of fixing those problems?

Nope. Because they can. Where in the world does Congress get off thinking they have a right to pull executives from Toyota in for an inquest? Good grief.

Hey guess what? Toyota only needs to make amends with its consumers (who will vote with their pocketbooks if Toyota doesn't fix the problem) and its shareholders (ditto). Congress has no business in the boardroom. They wish they could run GM half as well as Toyota is run.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I know it's Ash Wednesday, but...

In the interest of full disclosure my Lenten sacrifice, and by extension the whole families, was giving up baking treats/goodies. I'll still bake our daily bread, but nary a cookie, cupcake, cake, pie, tart, torte, bar, puff, etc.

So of course, I've thought of NOTHING BUT baking for the last 24 hours.

What if you took a s'more and coated the whole thing in chocolate? Kinda like a Mallomar, but crunchier? Yes, yum. Been thinking of that.

I also had a dream last night that I was delivering batches of homemade cupcakes to all our friends. I had stacks and stacks of those plastic cupcake carriers in the MomMobile and I had baked what looked like (in my dream) about 300 cupcakes: toasted coconut, red velvet, vanilla w/lemon buttercream, Whopper, chocolate w/ vanilla buttercream, chocolate w/chocolate ganache and sprinkles. Everyone got one of each and then when I got home I realized I had given them all away and I didn't have any for us.

It's going to be a long 40 days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's cooking: Shrove Tuesday version

I've been testing meatless recipes for the upcoming Lenten season. Here's a rundown*, along with the judges' reaction:

Fresh tomato sauce w. whole wheat pasta: PASS
Homemade french bread pizzas w/cheese: PASS
Baked salmon: FAIL
Tuna noodle casserole: FAIL and I think everyone will move out if I ever make this again. My family? Hates casseroles.
Fried fish sandwiches: PASS
Baked potato (toppings were broccoli, cheese, sour cream): FAIL
Banana pancakes: PASS
Fruit salad with yogurt: PASS
Black beans and rice: FAIL
Ceaser salad: FAIL
Veggie stir fry: FAIL
Omelets: PASS/FAIL - Dags & I enjoyed. The menfolk? Notsomuch.

The tuna casserole is my latest abject failure. I loved tuna casserole when I was younger and I can't imagine why they won't eat it (oh yeah, cause it's a casserole!) Dagny wanted to know why we just can't eat Cheerios every Friday. Indeed, why not?

*This list is more for my benefit than anyone else's because my memory is shot and by next week I won't remember if they liked the tuna casserole or not. Anyway, by Good Friday I'm sure I'll have defaulted to Cheerios or pancakes on Fridays. Breakfast for dinner was my second favorite thing about Lent (next to tuna casserole) when I was growing up.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I have a friend who is a major coupon user and routinely saves 80% or so a week at the grocery store. Who wouldn't love to do that?! I think it's great. Once in a while I'll find a coupon for a $1 off my contact solution in a magazine and I'll cut it out and try to remember to use it the next time I go to the store. Invariably I forget. So I thought I'd browse around one of the big couponing sites to see what all the fuss was about and to see if there were any good deals in my area and to see if I could find out the secret to saving big at the grocery.

What do I think? I think using coupons requires patience, perseverance, timing, planning, a great memory for where the deals are. It also requires you to develop a taste for boxed/processed foods based on the items I saw advertised.

There were lots and lots of coupons for kids cereals and boxed mixes. There were lots and lots and TONS of coupons for snack foods. There were none at all for fresh fruits or veggies or meat, except for the ridiculously overpriced frozen veggies-for-one or veggies-with-sauce-in-a-bag. Maybe I hit an off week? But if I didn't, coupons will never pay off for me because we don't use a lot of the things advertised*.

But then I had an a-ha moment: it hit me that coupons are subsidized by the food processing industry who OF COURSE want you to buy their processed foods! Duh!

Do I think that I save more by purchasing fresh foods versus purchasing convenience items with a coupon? Maybe not. But I'm not sure I could eat the other way.

*Full disclosure: While I don't count things like flour, butter or sugar, we do buy some things that I would describe as processed foods. Cheerios, Grape Nuts, once in a while a box of Lucky Charms or Mini-Wheats. Pasta. Canned tomatoes. Cheese. Ritz crackers. Peanut butter. Tortillas. Pickles. Chicken broth. Condiments. So I guess if I focused my coupon search on those items I would save some money. Is it worth the time and effort? Not sure.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy whatever day!

Gong Hay Fat Choy! (Happy Chinese New Year!)

Happy Valentine's Day! (To my valentines... you know who you are)

Love, love, love!

On the multi-culti mixed up menu for today: kung pao chicken, shrimps & veggies in red curry sauce, jasmine rice, bananas foster creme brulee.

The dessert is a tribute to my wonderful Mr. J. It was "our" dessert while we lived in Pittsburgh. We had it on the night we got engaged (at the Gandy Dancer). It is on my Top 5 Favorite Dessert list. It is, for us, sentimental and romantic and delicious. Perfect for Valentine's Day and perfect to welcome in the Year of the Tiger.

Hope you all had/are having a great day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I look at this when I think I'm cold

(Image courtesy of AP)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

(Image courtesy of Life News)

Happy new year I love you

QUANDARY! I don't know whether to celebrate Valentine's Day or Chinese New Year on Sunday. Or should I do both? Boston cream pie and sao bao? Shrimp with black bean sauce and chocolate mousse? What to do.....

Bring on the Year of the Tiger! Dad, if you're reading, I wish you could be here to hand out the red envelopes for the kids. I love that.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Un. Real.

The high today was about 65. That's the warmest we'll see for at least the next 10 days! I just. can't. believe that we will be in the 50s all this week and most of next. Someone remind me where it is I live, because it sure doesn't feel like Florida.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Three Bean Turkey Chili

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium jalapeno, minced (seeded if you don't want it too hot)
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 T. olive oil
1.25 lbs ground turkey (93/7)
ground cumin
chili powder
worcestshire sauce
tomato paste
kosher salt
cayenne pepper
red pepper flakes
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can chili beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce (or about 3/4 c. homemade)

In large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute first four ingredients just until soft. Add ground turkey, stirring to break into chunks, and cook until meat is cooked through and beginning to brown. Add next 7 ingredients to taste. Add beans and tomatoes and stir to mix well. Adjust seasonings, particularly chili powder, salt and cayenne, to taste. Add up to 1/2c. water if mixture is too thick. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Still cold & rainy here in Florida. I don't ever remember a winter like this one and I've lived in Florida for a very long time.

As I was picking Anders up from school last week one of the teachers remarked "Ahh, this weather reminds me of home!"
"Where are you from?" I enquired.
"England!" she replied.

Well, at least no one is worrying about drought right now.

Half day

The kids are off in 20 minutes for a long weekend -- Monday is a Diocesan retreat. What are we doing? We'll be working on our Valentine's Day cards, playing at the park and, oh yeah, eating Super Bowl food all weekend!

On deck: three-bean chili, white pizzas, caramelized onion dip, firecracker shrimp, vanilla bean gelato and double-chocolate chip cookies. And that's just for us! We're not even having a party! Actually, we probably won't watch more than 20 minutes of the game because Mr. J refuses to enjoy football (except as a totally random spectator activity during which he gets to watch ME enjoy the hell out of it, jump around and yell about bad calls, scream for my team, all the while trying to get the kids to cheer too) and I'll betcha $200 he doesn't even know who's playing!

Go Colts!

Monday, February 01, 2010


Our 85+ year old galvanized steel piping? SHOT. Major leaks in at least three places that the plumber could find. Basically the whole system is being held together by our prayers and God's grace. And now clamps, lots of clamps. And the only access we have to any of those systems is through a 24" square wood trapdoor that leads under the house. It looks like the kind of a tunnel you'd use if you're escaping from prison. The plumber tried to get out of going down there (I don't blame him!) but Mr. J managed to convince him it was the only access point. Who knows how they are going to be able to get any pipes or whatnot through that little hole. I can sense that we'll be paying a premium.

I guess it could be worse, like if the leak had been u-p-s-t-a-i-r-s in the w-a-l-l-s.

Pipe wrench anyone?

We woke up this morning to a plumbing problem. That is unless it is OK to hear the sound of rushing and dripping water from the stand-pipe in your laundry room. In which case we're about to drop a load of $$ for no reason. But methinks there is something afoot and I'm not happy 'bout it.

Am I paranoid or do these things always happen after a visit from my in-laws? A visit in which my FIL attempted to repair the downstairs toilet and also cut a metal pipe that previously extended from the house to the garage? (Granted, both projects were undertaken at our request, but now I'm notsosure that was a good idea. Although, the man does have some mad house skills... he built us a bathroom once, but I distinctly remember him hiring out the plumbing and electricity work.)

Anyhoo, plumbers here later this morning. There goes my free time. Which is a cryin' shame since I BUSTED my housework out yesterday after the ILs departed since I knew that would mean extra free time for me this morning, until the plumbing problem anyway, which means I really have NO free time, but whatever. I kind of liked cleaning on Sunday since Mr. J had to go into the office for an hour or four right after they left anyway (nice timing honey) so I had ample time to clean and do all laundry while the kids tried to stay warm and watched G-Force.

So now I have a nice clean shiny leaky house.