Tag Archive: The hodge podge


Tom and Meg

Tonight I watched one of my favorite movies. It was made in 1998.

When did 1998 become twenty years ago?

It seemed like yesterday in the golden age of romantic comedies. But her I am, twenty years older, just like Meg and Tom.

Yes, I am on a first name basis with these two as are many women my generation. We watched them in Joe Vs. the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail.

I realize that Tom is really busy and Meg is taking time to work behind the scenes. But it is time for them to make a movie again.

Seriously.

They are a part of the Boomer generation and maybe it is time to see these two back in a romantic comedy. A romantic comedy in which the two people are the approximate same age going through similar circumstances with their business and family and life.

And I have the perfect vehicle for them.

It’s called Juliet and Romeo by Jeanne Ray.

Julie and RomeoThis book is about an couple whose families are life long enemies although no one is quite sure why. The both own flower shops and have large families. Julie is divorced while Romeo ‘s wife died a few years ago.

Their attraction begins while attending a seminar for small business owners who are struggling and need new ideas.

After seeing each other across a hallway, the two develop a bond. They fall crazy in love. But now they have to fight against old hatreds and new-fangled shenanigans from their children.

It feels like it could fit these two people who are now older but have feelings that are definitely something from when they were younger.

Now Meg and Tom would be the obvious choices for Julie and Romeo. But there are two daughters for Julie and several sons and a younger daughter for Romeo. And this could be fun casting. Personally, I would love to see Selena Gomez as Romeo’s younger daughter. She could hit that younger boho vibe with an iron will. You will need a few tough guys to play the oldest son and daughter on each side along with some star-crossed loved in that younger set.

I used to think Sandra Bullock would be great as the older daughter. But now I am thinking of someone else, perhaps Eva Mendez or Amanda Peet. Maybe Adam Driver could be Romeo’s older son who is a force to be reckoned with. He needs to lighten up sometimes. And for the old grandmother, you could go for the Italian stereotype or allow Betty White to do something besides the naughty old lady.

All I am saying is that Meg and/or Tom need to read this book and figure out how to make a fun movie out of it.

Is that so hard to do?

I Read Banned Books

Last week was banned books week.

Maybe you are familiar with it, maybe you’re not. It is this week that we celebrate the freedom to read – even if it is something you or someone else would not read. I prefer not to read horror but I am not going to stop someone else from reading it.

As people try to ban or challenge books, it becomes imperative that we continue to fight for this right. At the beginning of September there was a story about a principle in a Catholic school who wanted to ban the Harry Potter books because he said the spells in the books are real. I think there might be many children and adults who would disagree because they have tried with no results.

But this story emphasizes why it is important to fight for the freedom to read. We won’t agree on everything but by reading the book in question, we can discuss the issues brought up by these books. We can discuss the rights and wrongs of bringing it up and explore those issues.

I read banned booksI work in a library and so we take it seriously, including getting tee-shirts. I love mine which is a v-neck football style. I can no longer find it on Cafe Press but they do have similar tees. I tend to wear it once a week, before and after banned book week.

So I was wearing it this past week and after work I stopped at the grocery store. The thing is, people kept looking at me and smiling. I don’t know any of these people. I was beginning to think everyone was happy that it was Thursday and only one more day in the work left to go.

Then I hit the check out line and the cashier mentioned my shirt. He was smiling, too. We talked about banned books while he rang up my order. Once I got to my car it hit me that the people smiling at me loved my shirt. I forgot about what I was wearing. But for them it must have been a clarion call. A signal that it is ok to reject complacency or lemming behavior.

I was telling people, through my shirt, it is okay to read whatever you want. I gave permission to be themselves as I raised my own freak flag.

It made people smile, even for a moment. And I can get into that.

By the way, I really do read banned and challenged books.

What banned books have you read lately?

Rice Pudding

My husband loves to watch cooking shows.

And we watch them all.

Because of these shows, I have worked to try new foods and new recipes. Which can be difficult because the family does not like to try new things. I always make sure there is an old favorite along so the new thing isn’t a total disaster.

As some of you know, I have been fighting Type Two Diabetes for the last few years. I am always trying to find ways to make old favorites amenable to the new way of life. The family is not always happy about these changes. I am the only one who like brown rice. And no one was interested in cauliflower/mashed potatoes mixture.

rice-pudding-end-product.jpg

They don’t really like rice pudding, well a few of them. But while watching Milk Street on PBS, I saw a recipe utilizing mango and knew I had to try it.

The Senagalese Mango and coconut rice pudding also includes coconut milk and shredded coconut.

This is suppose to add more flavor while reducing the amount of sugar in the dish. Sometimes it feels as if I am always looking for the holy grail of foods that allows me to have what I like without the damage of carbs.

Now, there is a small part of me that is fiercely anti-creating old favorites when you have turned a new leaf – voluntarily – foodwise. Vegan burgers, vegan chicken nuggets, vegan cheese make no sense to me. I also don’t understand why you want to re-create the taste and texture of a food you are no longer eating for moral reasons.

We had a long discussion over the dinner table about this in which my daughter who should become a lawyer argued that I am doing the same with my mashed caulifower, dark chocolate, and no bread rule.

rice-pudding-ingrediants.jpgNope, I am not doing the same because I am making changes by force and not due to want. Bread and pasta are slowly being eliminated from my diet. I recently had a unwich from Jimmy John’s and liked it. I didn’t miss the bread, almost.

I used to eat more pasta but I have asked my husband to serve those meals on the nights I am at school. I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. I think about going Keto but the lack of beans really doesn’t satisfy my taste buds. Nor do I want to ask my family to make that huge jump for me.

I am willing to adapt old favorites. So when I printed out this recipe, I was able to decide how to adapt or change based on what was available to me. Coconut milk, right there. Unsweetened coconut. Not so much so I ended up using a sweetened version.

Rice Pudding - toasting coconutBefore I even started the first step, I made sure everything was poured out and ready to go. Knowing that toasting coconut can be tricky, I wanted everything to ready to go.

So when my pan was ready to go. I poured in the coconut and stirred.

Walked away, stirred again.

Tried not to get too anxious. Stirred again.

Took a picture. Stirred some more.

Waited, let more than half of it finally get brown.

This takes place in a minute and a half. Maybe two minutes.

rice-pudding-sauce.jpgSo I pour in the coconut milk, finally. Sugar, vanilla, and salt go into the pot as well.

The recipe says to let it get to a simmer.

Then I am supposed to let it stay on medium heat for five minutes.

So I stir and walk away. I take a nice picture.

Gwen is cutting up the Mango for me and I show her how to score the fruit once the sides are cut up.

I stir a little more and deem it ready for the next step. You want it to reduce a little bit but not too much. Once that is done, you add the rice.

I had a mixture of Basmati and white rice. They were leftovers from a taco meal. The Basmati may have been leftovers from another meal. The point is it needed to be used up. So I put it all in which was just a little more than the two cups required by a quarter cup.

rice-pudding-final-additions-and-simmer.jpgThen I added a cup of water. This is not in the list of ingredients but it was in the instructions. So I put it all in the pot at a nice little simmer.

The directions said to simmer for about 15-20 minutes to get it to a nice semi-thick consistency.

So I stirred and walked away. I put away all of the ingredients. I got bowls and spoons out. I stirred the pot.

I put the mangos on the table. My husband lamented there was no whipped cream. I stirred the pot after rolling my eyes. When there was more rice than liquid and almost but not quite sticking to the bottom, I turned off the burner.

I had decided not to do the camelized honey for the mangos because I wanted less sugar. I am sure it would have taken no time at all. In fact, I could have done it while the pudding was on it’s last simmer. Have two teaspoons of honey in a skillet and at the right moment throw in the fruit of a cut up mango.

But I didn’t.

With a 1/4 cup of reserved liquid of the sauce mixture, we added the mangos to the rice pudding in our bowls.

So good. and there were no leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Change of Face

I have to bite.

I mean, I actually have to write about this.

Renee Zellweger does not look like the girl we knew just a few years ago.

I mean look at these pictures.

Renee Zelweger

No really, look at these picture. Faces do change with age, even from thirties to 40s there can be some change. Faces get more squared off, eyes begin to have bags.

Renee says she looks great because she takes care of herself and is in a better place emotionally. Some of that might be true. I know I am 50 but with some recent weight loss I look more like 40. Pictures of me from my mid-thirties shows a woman with a more rounded face.

Let me put it this way, I want to believe that what Renee says is true. I want to believe that she is happier and it shows. But the problem with that is I can see that her chin is just a touch longer now. Her eyes no longer have that ‘sleepy’ look to them. And her cheeks seem less puffy. Renee’s face has been stretched out just enough to make her look less like a chipmunk.

I know firsthand the hatred of those chipmunk cheeks. I have tried every trick in the book to make them less apparent. I also know it is possible to get surgery to make those sleepy eyes get wider.

Renee Zelwger 2

So while I might want to believe what she says, I am not buying it. I will leave the whys to someone else. I can only imagine in a place like Hollywood where age is a liability, especially for women, why she would consider such a thing.

For the record, I am not judging Renee. I am just sad that the face that made her an individual has now disappeared. She looks like everyone else. Let’s hope that her new projects show that her talent is still in full force.

As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

stormtight

This morning around 4:00 a.m., my husband woke me up to say he thought something was going on with our dog.

I smelled the smell of poop and thought the dog had been sick.

But it was worse than that.

He was dying as he tried to get up the stairs to be with Mom and Dad one last time. I sat with him until he breathed his last. I patted him and tried to be comforting. I told him it was okay to go on.

A google search suggested it could have been a heart attack or a stroke, especially since there had been no signs of problems in the last 24 hours.

Here is a better accounting from my husband’s blog called Rambles With Storm at his Stray Casts website.

Wishing the Best

Dear Jane,

Dear Jane,

Jane AustenAnother year, another birthday. If I could I would grant you a wonderful birthday, as I would to all of my friends and family.

I wanted to write you a nice letter, I really did. But those darn children of mine have given me a cold. I am a bit wheezy and coughing and having plenty of drainage in the sinus.

I am weak and miserable so I apologize for the not so great letter you are reading at the moment.

I simply do not have the energy or wherewithal to make witty comments and stunning put downs.

Not that there have not been a few opportunities.

The Tea Party Republicans have been making silly demands such as one senatorial candidate in North Carolina who thinks public schools should be closed and that women do not need birth control. Then there are the idiots in the House of Representatives who finally admitted they did not think the government shutdown would really de-fund the ACA, only after the government had been shutdown for 16 days.

Image from Wikipdeia

Image from Wikipdeia

When your Republican Speaker of the house finally says “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I think the faction might have taken things too far. Those goofs are about to find out how much they are not needed to get laws passed that needed to be passed.

But enough on politics.

Life at my house has consisted of Christmas activities and sickness. Our 16 y.o. had bronchitis while the daughter and I are in the midst of colds. I watched way more TV than usual today because what energy I had was zapped up almost immediately. Imagine getting winded from sweeping up the kitchen.

Picture by Mensatic.

Picture by Mensatic.

Soon it will be my birthday. I hope that you can stop by as I am sure there will be some delightful bit of cake. Perhaps over a wonderfully hot cup of tea we can discuss the plot points of my book that need improvement. It is nearly done, I need only one or two more chapters.

Then comes the fun part – editing.

Until next year, wishing you the happiest and a healthy birthday.

Your devoted fan, etc…

Sweets for the Sweet

Getting around in the blog world has proven to be a bit difficult this summer.

I was considered under-employed by the Unemployment office which meant I still had to ‘look for work’ while collecting their check. They want you to go into business and ask for applications despite the fact that everything – and I do mean everything including filing for unemployment – is done online these days.

Image by Earl 53

Image by Earl 53

One job application required a survey to be completed as a psychological test. Because of my answers on that survey, I was given a note at the end saying they did not want me. I am not even sure what I said that did me in. To be honest, it made me not care anymore about finding a job because I felt certain I was no longer a wanted commodity.

But this past week, I worked too much even in my part-time part-time job and Unemployment cut me loose. While I had planned on that money, I also knew it was time to start looking in a different direction to get something that would suit my schedule and work with the library job which I really enjoy.

While I plan to rant and rave about how being unemployed really sucks at some other point in time, what I really need to do is share something that was shared with me. And it is something sweet from one of my favorite bloggers, The Daily Compost.  I go to Jennifer’s blog and never know what to expect and that is OK. I like being surprised. It could be photography or poetry or whatever she is thinking about.

 

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Jennifer has informed me there are several things I must do for this latest award.

First off is to answer some questions about sweet things.

 

  • Cookies or cake? Or both? It depends on the cake and the cookies but chances are I am going for the quick snack that does not require a plate and fork. I recently tried Gluten-Free peanut butter cookies that were the BOMB!
  • Chocolate or vanilla? I am a woman with a chocolate addiction. There is no other answer.
  • Favorite sweet treat? While I love chocolate, my favorite pie is actually Key Lime Pie. Go figure.
  • When do you crave sweet things the most? After any nasty day that starts with my husband asking me to do something three times within a ten minute span. At that point I turn around and tell him to do it if it makes him that anxious which leads to a fight which leads me to storm out of the house for a good cup of coffee and an apple fritter.
  • Sweet nickname? I do not have one of these, not sure why or if I care why. People call me by my name and I do what I can for them.

 

The next part here is to list a baker’s dozen list of blog that I feel deserving of this award. I am not justifying why I like any of them, it is simply going to be a list. I only ask that you visit the people and have fun at their blogs.

  1. Fashion for Lunch
  2. Prada for Breakfast
  3. Rufus’ Food and Spirit  Guide
  4. Caffeinated Politics
  5. Broadside Blog
  6. Loves and Stitches
  7. Lego-A-Day: Less often now
  8. The Crochet Crowd Blog: Knot Just Yarn
  9. 4Mothers
  10. Alec Nevela-Lee
  11. Another Stir of the Spoon
  12. Red Pen Mama
  13. 101 Books

By the way, when you get to these other blogs, tell them I sent you.

Who are you reading in the blogosphere?

 

Perhaps this has happened to you.

Your mom gives you some clothes and tells you to use them or give them away or whatever you want.

In the pile are a pair of Bill Blass peach colored jeans. And while they are tight around the waist, they are loose in the legs. I am not sure if this how all Bill Blass clothes fit.

There is a part of me thinking there is no way I am going to wear these pants while another part is thinking this color is really in style and I need a new skirt or two.

So I make plans to convert it from pants to a skirt which will be easier now that I have a new Husquverna-Viking sewing machine. After watching a wiki video, I feel ready to try it but I really need a practice run.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Denim-Skirt-From-Recycled-Jeans

That is when I discover a pair of jeans that my daughter has stretched beyond repair in the rear seam area. Perfect.

First things first, I cut off the lower 12 inches of pant leg.

Pants - Beginning

Then with my favorite tool, the seam ripper, I open up the inside pant seams and seams leading up to the zipper and back yoke. This is the longest task of the project.

Pants - Unsewn

Next up is pinning the back seam and sewing it down. The trick here is to make a straight seam out of extra fabric. If I had to do this part again, I would have laid the pieces flat and drawn a straight line to sew on.

Pants - Pinned

After getting the front seam done, I cut off the extra fabric and use one of my serge stitches on the outside ends before ironing the seam to one side.

Now I make one final mark for the desired length of the hem. My daughter wants this to be above her knees and I want it below the thighs. We find a good compromise so a quick roll through with my rotary cutter gets the right length.

Pants - Final hem cut

I stitch to a different serger stitch on the hem to prevent future unraveling, turn up the hem and sew it down.

Pants - New Hem

Ba-Bam! The girl has a new skirt and we do not have to throw away her favorite jeans.

Pants - Completed

Now all I need is peach-colored thread.

What are you sewing this summer?

 

 

Seven little turkey vultures all in a row.

Six little turkey vultures all in a row.

 

 

Talk about your strange sights that you see along the road. I have never seen these birds lined up on a fence row like this before.

 

Have you?