disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No you inside

"No, you inside!" Demands my toddler as I ask him kindly to come inside. I am cold, his baby brother is cranky and hungry, and I cringe each time he runs into the grass where dog poo tends to hide.

And then, once I drag him in, kicking and screaming, I nearly kick myself. Foster his love of the outdoors, you idiot, I scream to myself, inside my brain. (Does anyone else yell at themselves in their head?)

I end up reminiscing about my own childhood, a big reason why I moved back near home once I had kids. I loved the outdoors and hated being inside, I mean, inside is soooo boooring! I didn't own a gaming console and we only had a few tv channels. Outside was where it was at! I recall twilight as the time you enjoyed like the seconds before the alarm clock or last bite of ice cream, savoring the last seconds before you had to go inside.

As a child, I rode bikes, hiked, climbed trees, built forts. I played "war" and ran through the sprinklers, built snow tunnels, collected mistletoe, and collected wild edibles. I practiced the bow and arrow and atl atl, used power tools to carve designs into wood and rocks, and watched the meteor showers atop huge granite boulders. I made sled jumps and mud pies and rope swings. It was awesome. Oh, and I did all this unsupervised, just "within yelling distance", you know, before cell phones.

It seems we have lost this love of the outdoors, and this trust in our children or the world to let them play "in screaming distance" from us, untethered, unstructured, full of curiosity. In fact, one of my younger relatives actually asked me, "what do you do outside? It's so boring!" For which I about had a heart attack over. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grab her and most every other kid and transport them back in time to my time and show them what child hood is all about.

So when my son begs to come inside, I hesitate and give him just a few more minutes, letting him savor the simple joy of outdoors.

Friday, October 25, 2013

just keep smilin'

Have you ever been inspired by someone you have never met?

I am not talking about some famous leader, mover and shaker such as Gandhi or MLK Jr (although they are awesome!) No, I am talking about someone in a sense, just as inspiring, but not famous. I am talking about my half sister in law.

I have never met her (or her husband, my half brother, for that matter) and only know her from one email correspondence and photos her husband has shared via social media. Sadly, I will never get to meet her because she passed away last month after a battle with ALS.

I don't want to say she lost her battle, even though she has passed on, because she fought that battle like a superhero, down to her last moments. In every photo, she is smiling. I mean sure, who frowns in photos? But hello, if I had ALS, I am not so sure I would be smiling. But even through a photo over the internet, you could feel peace, joy, strength, a certain glow about her that said that she was a winner, a superhero, a bright light with a dark disease. Even after she lost her ability to walk, and probably talk and care for herself, she kept smiling and kept living. She had drinks with friends, dipped her toes in the ocean, enjoyed a sunny day while off-roading. She didn't let ALS win.
A woman I do not know but look up to, has inspired me. I hope I can somehow find her joy inside myself, not just in dark times but in good times too. She taught me strength and that life is, simply, awesome.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sloppy joe pockets

I had a food blog for organic, healthy recipes..well...this certainly does not belong there!

Late night TV beckoned to me, a commercial was using pre packaged refrigerated biscuit dough tins to make sloppy joe pockets. Think hillbilly empanadas.

Who wants the hillbilly empanadas recipe? Here it is. I did my own version not the tv one.

Get 8 biscuits, flaky, buttery, whatever floats your boat. Brown a lb of hamburger and half a diced onion and an equal amount of diced green bell pepper.

Drain excess oil.

Add 1 tea garlic powder
A squeeze of mustard (tablespoon?) I used the spicy grainy deli stuff
2-3 tea brown sugar
Teeny pinch chili powder
Splash Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
About a cup of ketchup...till it looks like sloppy joes!
Half to a cup of water- you are gonna simmer the liquids and spices with the beef mixture for about 10-15 min.

Let cool.

Grab your biscuits and smoosh them out into circles about 6" across. You could use a rolling pin I suppose but I got down and dirty and just used my hands.

Spoon in filling so it fills about half the circle but with an edge about 1/4" around. Not too high of filling! Or it will ooze out and you lose out on eating it!

Add a pinch of sharp cheddar on top.

Flop the other half side of the biscuit atop the meat part and seal with a fork to crimp it. Sprinkle a bit more cheese atop the biscuit.

Oven is at 375 right? Go!

Cook on a greased or parchment papered baking sheet 9-12 min till gold on top. I loooove parchment paper!

Let cool a bit and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

india, land of contrasts

Wouldn't it be cool if this was a travelogue of India? Yeah it isn't as I have never been to India. This post is all informative and nerdy, facts behind the many contrasts of India.

Home to a billion, give or take, manythink of India as sari clad call center women and engineer men in turbans, speaking Hindi and going to Hindu temples. But it is more than that. Over a decade ago, in college, I worked in an anthropology lab, archiving things. I found a magazine that mentioned a tribe in India and while I knew India was more than Hindus and Hindi, i hadn't a clue they had tribes and rare languages. Being the curious nerd I still am, I googled the tribe and learned India had tons of tribes, cultures, languagesmmmwho knew?!?! I embarked on a reseaech trail which ended up warping into an independent study mini thesis on Indian immigrants and their experiences in America. But the whole tribal thing kind of hid in the background. Some tribes are very "tribal" and others are woven into regular society, barely indistinguishable.

Now for some facts. Sure, a lot of Indians speak Hindi and to some extent, English. There are 22 official languages of India and each state is free to choose its own official language whether it is one of the 22 or not. 22, think of that. Sure, America being a melting pot has tons of languages but everything is kind of...English. in India you can hear two completely different languages while standing in line or whatever. You can see many different alphabets written on signs. You could easily end up somewhere, near home, where you do not understand a single written ir spoken word. Sure, about 40% of Indians understand some Hindi but...13 million speak Assamese, 83 million speak Bengali, 1.4 speak Bodo ,a language I never knew of; the population of New Hampshire or Estonia. Even more astonishing is the Bhojpuri language with 33 million speakers, that is the population of Morocco...but have you heard of Bhojpuri? A new language was discovered in just 2008' Koro. Granted there are only about 2,000 speakers but isn't it interesting that we just discovered a language? Researchers believe there are between 415 and 780 languages in India; some have their very own culture associated with them; many are among the tribes of India which make up about 8% of the population.

Religions in India are numerous as well, 80% are Hindu but 13% are Muslim, so that is over 100 million! Less in number are Jainism and Bahai, and tribal religions like Santhal.

So just think...India, too, is a melting pot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I remodeled our small half bath...okay it is still being finished but I painted the white walls a teal...the color of twilight. I hung a picture I had painted. My mom found a small table for me which I antiqued and decoupaged. Everything needs finishing touches but I am happy with the results; my bathroom feels like a fancy hotel! (See the picture and more text below...)

To paint the walls I used a roller that was not quite rid of paint thinner so it went on spotty...not on purpose until I realized I liked the effect.

The table was covered in torn silver paper and then I made a cool stencil design. More accidents ensued and my acrylic paints adhered to the stencil and ripped up paper and got all gummy, but it added a near aged look. Then I made a blackbird stencil and smashed the ink pad I I the table, stencil in between. Yup, more accidents, as ink doesn't adhere to shiny paper so I carefully applied mod lodge to the ink to set it and then sponged some gray paint over it to try and replicate the stamp texture.

I am linking up at... http://www.prowessandpearls.blogspot.com/2013/10/doing-you-well-wednesday-37-and-some-co.html?m=1

frozen foreigner

Never before had I seen cords dangling from windows, attached to cars like tentacles, keeping cars from freezing. Never before had my breath formed ice in my scarf. Never before had I been to a place where people actually freeze to death.

In college, I spent a frozen month with my long distance boyfriend in an infamously dangerous neighborhood where I guess even locals fear to tread. I never felt unsafe; graffiti was hard to find and I never saw gang bangers...but then I'm used to how they dress in 80 degree weather....can you sag your two layers of pants? How easy is it to flash gang signs in thick mittens?

Really, I only feared freezing to death. Seriously, who decided a place that is -40c/-40f (counting windchill) in winter should be a great place to live? The village idiot? Walking to the subway at night meant your legs tingled with cold; it was rumored that you should not stay out exposed longer than 30 minutes or you risked hypothermia. Fully dressed. Ice went tinkle tinkle like glass, it was so cold. Rivers froze over- a novelty for a girl from the desert where rivers evaporated. People shopped underground, it was so cold a virtual gopher world. Everything was gray above and below ground, gray and cold.

I feared the laundry room, afraid some former Soviet Republic immigrant might yell at me in a strange language, for doing laundry during his time. I feared that my 4 years of French would fail me. when jhuh swee pehteet (je suis petite, I am small) becomes schweepeetee, does may day (m'aide, help) become mee way or something?

I feared bad gas. I was vegetarian at the time, on a major budget, and lactose intolerant. I basically ate nothing but bread, falafel, baba ghanoush, ramen, and cabbage for a month straight...but perhaps I kept myself a little warmer, farting the days away.

I feared depression because as mentioned, everything was gray, dull, cold and seemed to dampen the mood.

I never feared the neighborhood or its people. Even the subway prostitute was friendly.

I hope someday to return to Quebec, to see it in a livelier month. I recently google-mapped areas I am sure I had tread, I moved the little street view guy here and there around the NDG 'hood and beyond, and nothing looked the least familiar, covered in summery leaves and sunshine. Even my memories are kind of fuzzy, dreamlike. I don't even have a single photo from my month there, and I am that stereotypical tourist snapping a thousand photos. The only vivid memories are emotions and oddly, smells. The smell of dishwater, cabbage, diesel fuel, and snow mix together and say, Quebec. The feeling of poverty, loneliness, just eeking a surviving in a subterranean frozen world.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The great craft disaster

Ever done a craft and you did everything wrong an arse backwards? If so you will appreciate my efforts. I am super happy about my recent art and yet super bummed.

I took a class in book arts over a decade ago; my favorite art class ever because it united many loves of mine- books, mixed media, art... There are endless possibilities in book arts and it is addictive.

Word to the wise : if you suck at doing things at precise times in precise order with precise results, book arts will be hell. It was for me. Yes I loved and hated the class because it was wrought with mistakes. I can't even cook anything that isn't slow-cooker because halfway through, I remember I forgot three ingredients. Book arts is not forgiving like the crockpot. Book arts means crooked covers and warped pages, and sliced open appendages ever time I use the knife (I should not be allowed near sharp objects).

So one day I got this grand idea, to make a book for my son. I am a do it now or never type of person when it comes to inspiration so I just went at it and worked into the night writing and painting the pages.

I did not research any "how to" and didn't even think to think about how I made books in the past.

I then kind of forgot my book because I had another son shortly after. I slowly accumulated book supplies and got back to work.

Disaster continued.

wrinkles and glue stains oh poo
I ended up having to glue my folded pages together (a no-no), and has to use 99/cent crappy paints. I sewed the binding and lost track and thus a very a,b,a,b precise patterned binding ended p in clumps. I made book cloth and the glue was too clumpy and wet and bled through and the fabric wrinkled. I tried re-setting the paper and cloth and it wrinkled even more no matter what I did.

I have yet to glue the fabric to a board and the book to make a book cover, another potential disaster awaits.

I at least know all my mistakes. I hope to make another identical book with less mistakes, but who knows.

I cannot stitck

super cute! esxcept for errant paint
Rooted In Thyme

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Food snob

(Recipe follows my ramblings)

I finally admit it. I am a food snob.

I could easily demand all my food to be organic, preservative and additive free, and preferably locally sourced. I mean...why does frozen food, a form of preservation, need preservatives? Why do cows need to be fed corn and drugs? But I would go broke trying to live out this fantasy.

Also, I am supposedly picky. I do not like mayo, regular old mustard, ketchup, cold cuts, or cheddar cheese which kinda nixes the typical American diet. Oh and monosodium glutamate gives me a rash and severe migraines. And to boot, my body goes through stages where it refuses to tolerate dairy and or wheat.

I was trying to think though, where did my food snobbery originate?


My parents are both very picky eaters. My dad must have his meats cooked to mummification, and he can and does live off of salmon, toast, oatmeal, milk, cheese-it's, and eggs. My mother has only recently explored the wild side just a bit...at any "Asian" restaurant she gets teriyaki beef, at any Mexican restaurant, cheese enchilada and any other ethnic restaurant..well she never goes. She could easily live off of brownies (guilty pleasure), burritos (which have since been replaced by cheese enchiladas), cereal, and salad. In fact that is all she really eats.

Growing up, my mom was all about health. She never salted a thing (although if she used a processed food which was rare, it contained salt such as chicken broth) and dessert was a rarity; any home made dessert like a pie didn't contain sugar or sugar substitute. Things like ramen, boxed Mac and cheese, hamburger helper were forbidden... Until I learned to make Lipton noodles at age nine, then those were allowed.

We also had a limited repertoire of meals. Until post-college, the only sausage I knew of was the tube of Farmer John's breakfast sausage or hot dogs, and I had never eaten steak or sweet potatoes. Before college, the only ethnic food I had had was pizza and our 1950s style Chinese restaurant in town, and my mom's Mexican food using lawry's slice packets.

I was thinking, what did my mom make for meals? I cannot blame her for her food decisions but they made me picky even into adulthood- now I am the "feed me not ethnic or fancy foods" type.

Here are the foods my parents made or purchased or what have you- we are out maybe a few times a year.

Spaghetti with beef and squash
Frozen peas
Corn on the Cobb
Mashed potatoes
Burger patties braised in A-1
Store bought rotisserie chicken
Leftover chicken and canned bean burritos
Ground beef and red leaf lettuce tacos (no hot sauce or cheese)
Toast with jam
Microwaved hot dogs on toast
Shit on a shingle (canned chip beef over toast, flour and milk shaken in a jar and heated to make sauce)
Boiled dinner (pot roast beef, water, an onion, a carrot, pinch of pepper, a few gallons of water, a few red potatoes, boil all day)
Chicken breast baked with Russian salad dressing and onions

And on holidays, mummified prime rib and my favorite (honest!) green beans booked with broth, onions, bacon.

And then there were a few fads where we ate a certain food a ton and then never again. Milk fish, which was frozen orange roughy cooked in the oven with milk and a slice of tomato. Fish cakes which was tuna, cheddar stuffed into pillsbury dough and dipped in cream of celery soup. And lastly, a split pea, muenster cheese and ham hock puréed soup.

Sure, you may say, my mom never cooked more things than that. But see I a sure she did, even just once, or you went out to eat and ordered something different. Not us.

And also, my mom was the breadwinner and my dad cannot cook well so she was the family chef. Over tired (and the kind if weirdo where one burrito lasts her 3-4 meals, no joke), we would just have Russian chicken. Or salad. Not together. In college I had a boyfriend and went to his home and his mom mad chicken, rolls (heat and serve), rice, and salad. Afterwards, I pulled him aside and said he needed to tell his mom not to prepare a special feast for me. Aside from holidays, we would never have four things on our plate- rarely would there be two items on the plate.

See, my grandparents were...different. One set was a crazy broken family type so meals were not always, well, meals. The other side, the adults never cooked and were in dire poverty so it was kind of "fend for yourself".

So there...my long winded journey of food snobbery. I'm off to eat Italian beef sandwiches, another "new" food for me. Yum!

Mom's green beans (family recipe so it is all a pinch of this a bit of that)

Bunch green beans (when I go to the farmer's market they sell a bunch in a bag..a pound maybe?), chopped into 3" pieces

Chicken broth

Diced yellow onion

Salt and pepper to taste (ok so my mom never used the salt)

3 slices bacon

Cover green beans in broth and begin to bring to a bubbly but not quite boiling temperature. Meanwhile, chop the bacon and fry; you can dice and sauté the onions in the bacon fat or add raw to the beans.
Add bacon and onions to beans, season to taste.

Cook until they are the desired tenderness- some like chewy beans, some like soggy ones. It should be like a green bean soup and you can strain and eat or eat soupy.

Alternate version- my take

Same ingredients plus a small can (12-16oz) diced tomatoes, pinch of cumin, teeny pinch cayenne.

Cook bacon, then sauté onion in the grease. Add the tomatoes with juice and a splash of the broth...this is not a soupy version but you want enough liquid to soften the beans. Add the spices. Cook until beans are desired tenderness.

wordless wednesday

shhh you do not see these words...I wanted to say not say that I am new to wordless weds where you post a picture so here goes.... thanks aquariann for the link up

If Martha were manic

Always in constant motion. I taught him
how to use my camera.
I loathe housecleaning and house wife type things. It's just not my thing and I do not seek pride in a shiny floor. However, stuck with a newborn and toddler and no job, I am learning to accept my temporary fate as a stay at home mom. I can raise kids just fine but the rest....

However, I have to brag because in the past two weeks I cooked and actually made edible food-not just edible but delicious. Herbed lamb steaks, herbed pork roast, Italian roast beef, Portuguese bean soup to name what I remember.

I painted the bathroom, and even
hung a picture I had painted.
I cleaned the house with the help of, well, everyone. One cannot clean and de-clutter effectively with a tornado (I mean toddler) and newborn to care for 24/7. Super busy husband had the day of and took my toddler to see relatives, my aunt watched my newborn, my mom and I got down and dirty cleaning. Yes, the first time I have been kid free since my littlest one was born and I spend it doing what u hate-cleaning. But I did it. My house looked so nice and clean.

Looked. Three days later it looks like a disaster. I kept up the Martha act until today because I have a migraine aura which makes my vision all wonky and so I don't want to clean. And it is really cold, windy, and wet outside so I don't want to take the garbage out. So my house is a mess.

But I did paint the bathroom yesterday, after over 6 months of "gonna paint it", I did it. Whenever I go in the bathroom now it is like a mini vacation to someone else's exotic bathroom. Yep cause I live on the edge here ha ha ha.

So I feel both accomplished and defeated, a regular old manic Martha Stewart.
an F-2 toddler tornado struck
the hallway, cleanup efforts
have yet to begin