Staying Sane: Give it a second chance


If you’ve been reading this regularly you know that I have thrown myself into a new hobby:  gardening.  This is understandable for many reasons.  I’ve been craving a home of my own, a place where I can establish myself and my family in a community, tearing out the old decay from a massive yard and the planning to rebuild and cultivate and grow.   This is also something completely within my control.  If I see a weed, I pick it from the root and it is gone.  If I want to design or plan or hatchet dead branches, I do it and I only have myself to answer to.    So, this new hobby is not too surprising to me – I am enjoying myself despite by pathetic summer crop.

Yes, I tried strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.   All eaten by varmin in the area.  Once I got smart enough to solve the problem with bamboo stakes and deer netting, the season had passed.    My neighbors came over with corn-stalk seedlings.   And these actually grew.  And grew BIG.  Each with several ears of corn.

I would water this corn religiously.   The kids also took part in this duty.   We picked the corn together.   It looked a little suspect, but I was still hopeful.

At dinner, we all bit into our bounty.   And…. it sucked.  Royally.  Even my 2 1/2 year old son who eats dirt, hated this corn.  I didn’t blame the kids.  It was pasty.  It tasted like nothing.   It looked like “Three-Mile-Island corn”.  I cursed at the price of corn in the supermarket (dirt cheap) and the fact that I spent so much time and hope on such a poor crop of anything.

But after dinner, instead of tossing into my compost pile, I decided to cut the corn from the cob and give it a second chance on my own.

Afterwards – I had 3 amazing meals:

  • a corn, black bean and cheese burrito for lunch (delicious)
  • a rice, black bean, and corn combo (used above) over a kale salad
  • brussel sprouts, corn, and kale sautéed with white wine

ALL OF THESE DISHES WERE AMAZING!   Could I have been imagining it?  Yes.  Could my hope been masking the pastiness of the corn?  Yes.  Is it the fact that I buried the corn in other more flavorful foods?   Possibly.   BUT:   Take note.  I ate the corn, and I honestly enjoyed it.

So is there a point to this story?

Give things a second chance.  Take a break and walk away for another day when you have a fresher perspective.  Be persistent but lenient when needed.  Be hopeful.   Or maybe, just drink a lot of white wine.

I hope you all have a terrific week –

– Mama K

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September 20: Gypsy living


It’s been one week since last I wrote a post!   Sorry.  Things have been a bit hectic around here.  I’ve been doing a lot of the same over the past week, but also recalibrating my own life and I needed to take a break from the blog.   But I’m back.

Today is a Thursday where I have Twin Crazy and Twin Husky home with me, while Big Bro and Red go to school/daycare.   We take a drive along 2 highways to get to co-parent’s neighborhood.  Usually the Twins and I go back and forth 4 times on this day.  I decided to try something different today.  I’m not sure if it worked.

Gypsy living.   They travel in groups and have things – they just choose to roam and not settle in any location for a long period of time.   Well, we were gypsies today.   For this experience I had to pack a small bag of extra clothes, snacks for the day, a potty, two pillows, two sleeping bags, two kid blankets, some diapers, wipes, water, a suck blanket/ lovey and one Tiger.

  • Drop offs were fine.
  • Twin Crazy, Twin Husky and I first went to Lowe’s to return some things from a laundry-room project we just completed.   Twin Husky liked carrying some of the gear.   They both liked playing on the big cart in the parking lot and acting like monkeys.
  • I drove by Smart-n-Final and decided to go in since my Costco days have been cut short thanks to my in-laws.  I still can’t believe they stopped my membership when I have to feed 4 of their grandchildren.   Yet I still am paying for their son’s health-care insurance.  I just don’t get it.   Anyway, the deals were great and I’m happy to know that I don’t need Costco anyway, thank you very much.
  • We went to the bank.
  • We went to Kohl’s so I could buy some more kitchen gear that needed to be replaced post move-out.   Saved 20% and also used Kohl’s cash so it was quite a bargain.  The kids at this point were very crazy so I made them each sit down and stay seated while I shopped.  They listened well, thank goodness.
  • I then drove around the complex to a Starbucks.  My intent was to work while they slept.   NOT.    I set them up to sleep – pulled out the other seats and pulled down the mini-van seats into beds.   Spread out the sleeping bags as cover and set up the pillows and blankets.   They each were having way too much fun.  We snacked on grapes and bread and they tried to fall asleep.   Twin Crazy said “this is going to be a fun fun ride”.  She is so cute.   They weren’t doing much sleeping so I went between them to stop their playing.  Bad move.  I wound up falling asleep myself.  I was supposed to be working (big conference next week).   I woke up to Twin Crazy crying because she peed herself.   I’m actually glad she did since we were running late to pick up Big Bro.
  • Pick ups were fine, uneventful.  Ride home was fine, uneventful.
  • We got home, relaxed, I made a pasta dinner, and we had leftover home-made ice-cream from the night before.  We settled in to watch a movie together.  Bedtime was fast.

I’m finishing up my day but I actually have a lot of work to do.   I’m sooooo tired.   Today was too much.  Too many errands.  These poor twins were carted all around and didn’t sleep well.   Next time I try this it will include maybe one errand and a trip to the park where they can play and I can relax.

I also realized that although I love the freedom that gypsy living brings, I think I most cherish the familiarity and comfort of home, of roots, of belonging.

I’m gearing up for the big conference next week which has kept me very busy.   I think it will go fine and I’m actually looking forward to it.

Gotta go and do some work –

– Mama K

Recipe: Sloppy Joes


I’ve been delinquent in my postings of fast, kid and mom-friendly recipes for the working mother.  SORRY!!!

This recipe was submitted by Mama J from Islip, NY.  Sounds downright delicious!   Sorry for getting to this so late Mama J… I’m getting myself back on track.  🙂

Name of Recipe Sloppy Joes
Background description of recipe, any comments This recipe is from the Every Day food “Great food Fast” cookbook. Very easy and yummy. recipe serves 4. I double the recipe and freeze the leftovers. You can also use any leftovers over pasta or a baked potato. I like to serve with pickles and chips or sweet potato fries. Enjoy.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce,
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
Directions In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.Add the ground beef to the skillet and break up with a spoon. Cook until meat no longer pink, 6-8 minutes.

Stir the tomato sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce into the beef mixture in the skillet. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over buns.

Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 25 minutes

Random Thoughts: Breakfast on the go


Now that school has started, I will be driving my four kids during the early AM commute to get Big Bro to public school in time — it will be a 45 minute trip.  I would like to have the kids get up, get dressed, and go… and serve them their breakfast in the car so they can each get some extra sleep, instead of doing the breakfast routine at home.  This will require more planning by me up front, but I think it will work out.   But I’d love some ideas from you!!!!

Photo source:  Parenting.com
This is what I’ve been thinking:

  • bowl of fruit, side of bread/tortilla
  • fruit smoothie
  • cheese sticks, sliced apples
  • pancakes (made in advance, then reheated in micro-wave) and then placed in a “tortilla” warmer container
  • chocolate Nutella roll ups in tortillas (e.g., our Chocolate Tuesday, Chocolate Thursday)
  • home-made granola bars
  • fresh made bread with my bread machine… I can program in advance and have the bread ready and baked for when the kids wake up
  • Yogurt, granola, nuts
  • bagel quarters with cream cheese/jelly

There are also some great ideas I found at Parenting.com.  Some of them won’t work for picky kids or for REALLY needing to run out the door, but there are some good ideas in there.  Check it out.

Any other thoughts?   What kinds of fast breakfasts do you do for your kids?   Which of these are “portable” to your car without too much mess? 

Please share!

Thanks for listening –

– Mama K

Recipe: Foil Fish


Now that we’re getting close to summer-time this one is bound to be a hit with you and your BBQ.  It was submitted by Mama N from Austin TX!!!    “The kids love “undoing” the package ;).”

Foil Fish

Ingredients:

  • Fish filets (“I get the individually vacu-packed tilapia from Costco”)
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • lemon slices
  • spices (basil, etc.)

Directions:

Take the fish  and put the filet in a piece of tinfoil with a some butter and olive oil and lemon slices on top with basil (or really whatever you feel like putting on top) and then just grilling it in its little “packet” for about 7 min.

Prep time:  5 min

Cook time:  7 min (starting with frozen filets)

Random Thought: Martha or McDonald’s?


Our family tends to take the path to least resistance when it comes to meals with our kids.   Since we have four little ones, I usually want to keep things simple and offer only one meal that I hope all will like – instead of being a short-order cook for each one of them.   That leaves me with a few options of good old stand-bys — the “tried and true” meals that I know will (somewhat) work for all.   Or, maybe I’m just not trying hard enough to diversify?   Which brings me to this week’s random thought about the meals we give to our kids.   I’d like to ask the group the following 3 questions:

Time is so limited but I would expect to see variation in answers; and I’d love to hear comments on tricks/tips that you use to keep your meal ideas new and varied…. this is something our household could really benefit from!

As always, thanks for participating!

– Mama K

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