Saturday, October 23, 2010

The One in Which We discuss Moderation and My Lack of it.

Mood: Rather Lost. I missed an entire week somewhere.
Listening to: Overload  done by Zappacosta (Dirty Dancing Version)

So…this thing called moderation. In theory, I am the biggest fan. I think moderation is a healthy approach to just about everything. But, and you knew there would be one didn’t you; there always is. But I find it incredibly hard to put this theory into practice. The area of my brain that says, “Ok, B, this is probably enough. Seriously. Stop. Right now you crazy heifer,” is either chronically late or conspicuously absent. As an example, it’s Saturday night.  I’m enjoying some Spanish Rioja with my husband and we have the ipod cranked up as far as two sleeping children allow. I get the munchies and wander on over to the fridge for a snack (yep, this is exactly what you think it is…..unless you think I smoke pot, which would just be ridiculous. I have enough issues already. Hormones, PMS, cough cough ahem.) I notice a thoroughly rotten cucumber has escaped my somewhat diligent attention as to the state of the fridge and has leaked some disgusting green goo all over a drawer. Now, a normal person would probably wince and grab a rag (or even not) and just clean THAT DRAWER. It struck me as an awesome idea to just go ahead and clean out the whole fridge, because, well, honestly it needed it. Badly.  No kidding. It only took 15 minutes, but seriously, who does that?  The whole fridge on a Saturday night. 

Exhibit 2. Hubs and I have friends who (whom?) we love dearly. The husband is a vegetarian which is totally cool with me – we have lots of veg friends  - and the wife is a chicken lover. They live a half hour away in NYC and come to stay for the weekend so we can all indulge in way too much wine, home cooked food, and usually plenty of conversations and laughing.  I have yet to determine why, but every time they come over, I pull out all of the stops and cook up a storm. Let’s stick in a caveat. I love, love, love cooking, I truly do.  I also love nurturing people I care about. But really. 2 days worth of at least 3 appetizers before dinner, dinner, dessert, wine, breakfast,  and other random eats. I’m not talking take-out either – I’m one of those ridiculous people who makes their own hummus. I like making it, but still. Every time they come, they beg me not to make so much food, but every time I end up doing it anyhow, because, well, I feel like that is how you take care of people. No matter how often I can logically agree with these friends that the company is more important than the cooking, that psycho mother hen tendency comes out anyhow.   

Exhibit #3 in the tom-foolery  – I have and regularly write in 6 blogs. 6.  Because throwing every topic I can think of into 1 blog just doesn’t make sense – we have to let the organizing demon take over. We’ll get to him in another blog.  I wouldn’t say he’s due to OCD because laziness saves me from being truly OCD.

I think I’ll go self-medicate with wine. Yeah, moderation doesn’t work with wine either, so it should be an interesting night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mummy in the Carpool Lane

Listening to: The genius that was/is Freddy Murcury singing Bohemian Rhapsody
Mood: Shifty

Let’s file this one under the same type of WTF as having a homeless person living in your closet. My husband told me last night about a woman who had been driving around for a while with a mummy in her car. Of a homeless woman that she was letting sleep in said car. Seriously. Here’s the link for the story if you want to read it:

Just stop and think about this for a moment……….Ok, yeah, so it doesn’t make any more sense than it did before, does it. Let me tell you, the confusion only grows as time goes on. Apparently the living woman was afraid of getting into some type of trouble, so she simply left the body in the car.The only thing that I could get out of my mouth when my husband told me this is “How in the world would that seem like a good idea??” That and to note that it wouldn’t really matter how many boxes of baking soda you drove around with, there is absolutely no way you could get rid of the smell, nonetheless make it tolerable. Seriously, a dead body. Baking soda is just not going to cut it. There goes the resale value of the car. Oh, don’t mind the smell; she just drove around for a while with a dead body. But look at that beautiful paint job! Another thought – who lets a homeless person sleep in their car? I applaud the thought, but who does that? Homeless people aren’t always clean due to lack of facilities, that in and of itself had to be a bit of a bad smell. 

Some people just really make me wonder. We don’t live in a fascist state. The police really are there to help you in certain situations. I think this would qualify. As long as you didn’t dispatch with the poor homeless person yourself, you have nothing to fear. There are laws here about how to dispose of human remains, and I’m pretty sure mummification by neglect is out of the question.


Tomatillo Chicken Soup

I've decided to start including recipes in the blog that I have made and am fond of. I try a LOT of recipes of every shape and size that you can think of. When I am looking for something to make, I always like finding stuff that has been tried and recommended, because I've tried quite a few recipes that ended in a WTF? This is so not good. Marrying into a South Indian family, I have a SERIOUS yen for spicy food. The beautiful thing about cooking is that you can customize food to how you want it to taste. You like less spicy foods? Cut out the chiles, jalapeno, or cayenne. Please note, this does not work with baking, as I have found out on numerous occasions. :-)  I'm also a big fan of slow cooking as it is easy and does amazing things to chicken.  Tomatillos are like small green sour tomatoes. I found them at my supermarket, but you can substitute green tomatoes if you can't find them. Enjoy!

Tomatillo Chicken Soup

6 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 ½ lb skinless bone-in chicken thighs (or chicken breasts, if you lean that way)
1 (32 oz) box chicken broth (low fat/sodium is preferable for your health)
1 medium sweet red bell pepper, chopped
½ C chopped red onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis (find in the Latin section of your store, or wherever they have salsa)
2 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro, or to taste - I happen  to add more because I like it
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced

1.       Chop 3 tomatillos. Place 3 remaining tomatillos in a food processor or blender. Cover and blend until smooth. In a 3 ½ - 4 qt slow cooker, combine pureed tomatillos, chopped tomatillos, chicken, broth, sweet pepper, onion, celery, chiles, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, lime juice, chili powder, and garlic and 1 tsp each salt and pepper. 
2.    Cover. Cook on low 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 3 ½ hours. Shred chicken with 2 forks - it should fall off the bone at this point. If desired, top with sour  cream and add additional chopped red pepper, cilantro, and corn chips.

Status Update

Listening to: Random music on VH1 classic
Mood: Shifty

 So. This is the state of the union at the G household. The (affectionately named) ball and chain is having another protracted “life crisis type thing” as to what to do with his job and his career. Not at all helpful in planning anything beyond….oh…Christmas. The kids are largely unaware, but it puts me on edge because I am one of those people who have to plan everything ahead of time. Bah. 

Eldest daughter is in 2nd grade and we have entered another period of time when every single boundary we have ever even thought of, nonetheless implemented, is being tested. It’s enough to make me want to run away screaming and join the circus, which I have in fact threatened, but to no avail.  My 6 going on 16 year old. I can already see the full head of grey/white hair having that one for a teenager will bring. After all, she is almost just like I was when I was younger and quite a bit of me still is. She is playing soccer, much to her chagrin. This is mainly to do with her having to do anything that she is not instantly good at. Because, you know, it’s HARD WORK Mom! *Shudder*

Younger daughter has started 3 year old preschool in spite of not turning 3 until December. She is thoroughly enjoying herself in her “school.” She’s a pretty happy kid, with some whining thrown in that I swear her sister is teaching her on the sly at night. Not that I can complain though – she is 2. I will count my lucky stars that she is not a tantrum throwing little evil troll like her sister was at 2. I will thank my stars indeed.

As for me, I am rapidly approaching baldness. Ok, not really baldness per say, but hair is abandoning my scalp at a frightening pace. I have been to a few doctors who have informed me that my blood tests and hormone levels are indeed normal (just when I was hoping for an underactive thyroid!) and that my diet is screwed up. Eh, what? I eat barley, salmon and raw broccoli because I like them. I eat that way all the time. What? Let’s get something straight. I’m not anorexic. Not even close. I haven’t cut any food groups at ALL out of my diet, with the exception of sugar and fast food if you consider that a food group, because I don’t believe in unhealthy dieting. What I have been doing is eating smaller portions and really focusing on simple foods – raw veggies, healthy protein (lentils, fish, chicken – nothing fried), plain nonfat yogurt, fresh fruits… etc. So what gives? How in the world do I improve on this??? I wasn’t particularly impressed with this doctor because he seemed to like hearing himself talk, but didn’t offer much support for the advice he gave – i.e. what exactly was in my diet and how to improve it. I keep telling the husband that one of these days I’ll just shave my head and start over, but that seems to make him oddly distressed instead of bringing the smile I was looking for. Other than that, My time is largely taken up by my work (from home) and trying to keep up our house. I’m trying to keep up with the blogs and reading. I spend my 3 mornings a week to myself usually writing. Due to a computer SNAFU I lost my recipe database. I have been working to rebuild.  It’s rather depressing, because it truly was a work of art. At least for me it was.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Voluntary Sterilization

Mood: Bleh
Listening to: MTV music videos

I was watching BBC today and heard a story about a charity group in England that is offering drug addicts/chronic drunks about $300 dollars to undergo voluntary sterilization. Eh, what? I had to sit a while and consider what exactly it was that I thought about this.  The conclusion that I agree with was that I agree with some of what they are doing, but I still have too many problems with the process to be for it.

On one side of the coin, babies need loving stable homes, which are very unlikely to be provided by self admitted chronic drug and/or alcohol abusers. Taking away the ability to have a baby will definitely eliminate the chance of an accident – after all, drugs and alcohol abuse aren’t conducive to being responsible with anything, including sexuality. Babies of chronic drug and alcohol users are also more likely to be born with lifelong problems – see crack babies and fetal alcohol syndrome. Addicts are also not being forced – this is a voluntary process and there is compensation involved.
Let’s dig apart the negatives of the issue one at a time.
  1. Sexuality and the ability to procreate have a defined impact on a person’s psych and sense of identity. Is this really a good change to be offering someone whose mind is altered by chemical substances? Would we offer this choice to mentally or physically handicapped persons? We tried that in an involuntary process years ago and decided that it was just wrong. In a similar vein, how can we propagandize this idea to people who may not grasp the long term consequences of such a heavy decision?
  2.  The latest buzz in alcohol and drug addiction is, contrary to popular belief, that it is a disease. There have been, and hopefully will continue to be, many people who successfully recover.  The person in the throes of this disease may not see a recovery for him or herself at that moment that may come at a later date. What happens when they successfully recover and realize that they have made a huge mistake? With a clear mind, children may seem much more important. There are plenty of addicts that have had their children taken away by DCFS or a similar organization only to get their life back together so that they can care for their children.
  3.  Is someone’s fertility only worth $300?  I understand that the organization may not have unlimited funds, but to a person desperate for more of the problem substance, the short term benefit may overshadow any actual thought about the long term consequences. It seems to me to be a very, very small amount to make up for the loss of any chance at having children one day – even if the person thinks they don’t want any. This too may be subject to time and a change in the addiction. 
  4. I think the thing that offends me most about this idea is that it takes a mercenary, one type fits all, solution to a very difficult situation. I’m not a big fan of an organization touting a quick, cheap solution that solves a problem, but doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the individuals. A big part of this that I don’t agree with is that it is a PERMANENT solution. We have so many birth control options, including IUD’s that only have to be changed every 5 years. Wouldn’t the money being thrown at this situation be better used to council women and men at risk to use a form of birth control that doesn’t need a prescription or constant monitoring? We already have Planned Parenthood doing along the same lines. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion counseling and services should an accident occur. I’m not a big fan of abortion, but I feel there are situation when it would be the best answer in a bad situation. Sterilization is just too broad and heavy a club to wield for this situation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Giving Advice to Friends

Mood: Thoughtful and pensive

Listening to: Who Made Who (ACDC) and the beautiful silence that is one child in school and the other asleep.

Recently, both the husband and I had instances where we felt the need (and in husband’s case was asked) to dispense some life advice. I think most people give advice on things that they have been through, either positive or negative and just want to pass their knowledge along so that someone else can be successful at something or avoid something painful. I usually resist giving advice for people unless really, really pushed. I feel that even if I give solid advice, people will do what they’re going to do and need to learn their own lessons in life. While I try not to grudge them over this, on some level I get frustrated if a person doesn’t listen to my advice. Hubby on the other hand passes life advice out like candy. He’s usually pretty good at giving solid, logical advice too.

My advice was to a good friend about kids. I have some very definite theories that resulted from both my upbringing and having dealt with my own kids for the past 7 years. However, kids are just one of those areas that people just don’t listen to others about and can’t really understand the importance until they have their own kids. Nothing against my friend and whether or not she even remembers the advice when she does have her own kids, it was just something that seemed important to pass along at the time and I would love to see her successful at parenting. I’m not trying to sound like I’m a perfect parent (I’m DEFINITELY NOT!) or have all the right answers (I DON’T), I just have some strong opinions based on what I’ve heard and seen in my kids and others and things that I think are important to raising healthy, respectful children. God knows there are plenty who aren’t!

My husband’s advice to his friend was of a rather different nature. His friend asked him some very hard questions to do with a situation he found himself in. I’m not quite sure why he asked my husband for advice as the situation he is in can only be solved by himself and the other person involved. Either which way, my husband was afraid that I would be upset with him for the advice that he gave as he and I see this situation in two very different ways. I apologize for all of the talking around the actual problem, but privacy is prudent in this story. Anyhow, I did not begrudge his advice, but urged him to carefully consider whether or not he had any place actually giving advice in a such a person and painful situation as his friend found himself in. I told him that people can benefit from a calm, logical friend in a time of crisis, but eventually need to make their own decisions.

There are many things that I’ve found that you can share with close friend and family, but advice just doesn’t seem to be one of them for me. It’s like giving a friend a haircut because you successfully gave your kids haircuts. Just too many things that could go wrong and create hard feelings.


The evilness that is a Rug Doctor.

Mood: Thoughtful and pensive

Listening to: I Alone (Live) and the beautiful silence that is one child in school and the other asleep.

Ah yes. Rug Doctor. I still see you sitting there in Stop and Shop with your shiny red mechanical innocence. “Rent me! You can have clean couches and rugs again!” you seem to radiate.

Never again will I fall for your promises of easy cleaning and fresh smelling couches and rugs. You sir, are much more trouble than you are worth! My couches smelled pretty musty, so I figured I’d rent one of you from Stop and Shop. It seemed much easier than buying a rug cleaner I didn’t need. To the customer service counter I went and rented you, buying soap and all. I wrestled you into my trunk and home I went, excited to clean said couches. I’m pretty sure this is a Stop and Shop policy, but you don’t even come with an upholstery brush or soap. The ladies behind the counter did not tell me that needs to be rented separately, resulting in my need to return to the store with two tired, cranky children and a tired, hungry, cranky husband. After all, you were only mine for 24 hours. It was bad enough hauling your bulky mechanical self out to the car and wrestling you into the trunk the first time. After that, your upholstery cleaner did not even work, in spite of several calls to a suspiciously mechanical sounding customer service representative that resulted in the first tidal flow of soapy water flooding the living room rug. Trip number 3 to Stop and Shop for a replacement upholstery brush only to find out that they all were marked broken – but just take this one and try it. Hmmm. Sneaky of you. Give me some amount of hope in this fiasco. After returning home, things really started going south. You did indeed spray soapy water all over my couches and half heartedly suck some of the dirty water back out. Unfortunately, this did not seem to remove any of the dirt or stains that were visible in the first place. So….more soapy water was sprayed and sucked out. The couches now looked halfway presentable, if still soaking wet. About this time, I was going to move you to the other room to clean another rug, only to notice another puddle on the rug, this one of epic proportions. Seriously, I don’t know how you managed to leak a soaking layer of water over HALF the rug while I used the upholstery tool. If I wanted epic puddles, rug doctor, I would have just gone out and gotten a large, un-potty trained dog. Thank heavens it was my rug and not a borrowed one that I was going to do next! I read the directions, I do believe water is supposed to go out one end or the other of you. Not both. Funny thing is, the more water I tried to suck out of the rug, the more you seemed to leak back onto the rug, even thought the dirty water was going into another tank specifically for dirty water. Maybe that was your game. Let’s recycle some of the dirty water into the wash tank and watch her brain explode as water keeps leaking! It took me a VERY long time to suck up all that water so that I didn’t have to worry about damaging the wood floor under said rug. It’s a very good thing you don’t have ears, my dear rug doctor, or they may have been burned off with some of the words I was screaming at you. At that point, I was done with you. Back into the trunk you were wrestled and then rolled back into the store without so much as a backward glance or a goodbye from me. Good riddance. Next time, I think washing things with Febreeze may not be the worst idea. At least I won’t be sucking water out of soaking wet rugs and couches for 3 hours.