Thursday, 31 January 2013

News, Or Lack Thereof, From Dynna Abbey

I am in the middle of a week off.  That's one of the joys of shift work - you work like a fool for a few weeks, then sit back and enjoy some days off.

I'm having to "find" myself again after a few weeks of go go go.  A week off has that effect on ya - you either have to go like mad to catch up on all the things you've left undone, or else you turn a blind eye to the demands of the household and focus on looking after yourself or else you go hard working on home things, whining all the while because you're too tired to do all that in one week.  Option #2 is rare.  However, on this week off in the -35 and -40 weather, I'm quite happy to be looking after myself and forgetting about the house.  *Warning - should you dare to drop in on us, you probably won't find a tidy house*. 

I've been poking around at a sewing project that is rattling around in my brain.  I was out for lunch with Tracy last week and admired her leather purse that she was lucky enough to win-buy off a successful on-line enterprise named Chicks and Girlies.  When I was a young professional working girl in my 20's, I managed to buy this "gorgeous" fuschia suede jacket off a sale rack downtown.  I wore that jacket as if it and I belonged in a fashion magazine - it was the era when everyone had a leather jacket of some sort and leather/suede in a color was a fashion acquisition to die for.  I was so happy to wear it and I assumed that I looked as good in it as I felt.  For whatever reason, I hung onto that jacket through quite a few seasons in my life.  When we moved to this house 15 years ago, it went into a basement closet for storage - it was no longer stylish, but who in their right mind could throw away a fuschia pink suede jacket?  Anyway, seeing Tracy's leather bag got me thinking that I had some colorful suede kicking around the basement closet that could be re-purposed, and so I hauled it upstairs the other day and modelled the coat for the boys.  Dean remembers "when" - when I wore it and when I looked good in it.  Both boys, however, rolled their eyes and were horrified at the thought of me wearing it again.  Somehow, in those 15+ years, somebody snuck into my basement and shrunk the waistband and enlarged the shoulder pads.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, I ripped that baby apart at the seams and here it sits, waiting to be made into a new bag.

However, I'm not that driven to sew it yet.

Houston, we have a problem.



Meanwhile, from my view on the couch, I have become completely enamored with the BBC series "Downton Abbey".  In less than a week, I have barrelled through Season 1, Season 2 and most of Season 3.  I have become so taken up with this story that I picture myself speaking to my family with a British accent.  I refer to Dean as "Lord Dynna" and have taken to having afternoon tea in a china cup and saucer, while delicately munching on a biscuit.  I mentally refer to my parents as P'pa and M'ma.  I am tempted to purchase the t-shirt that says "Free Bates".  I wonder why I never bought a Downton Abbey calendar from the calendar store at Christmas.  I'm tempted to ask everyone I meet "Do YOU watch Downton Abbey?"  Sigh. 

My interest in Downton Abbey might have something to do with my lack of motivation to do housework and sew.



In other news, Lord Dynna Dean has become highly motivated to exercise.  Since November, he has been completing daily workouts, sometimes even exercising twice a day.  Our daily conversations include Jillian (Michaels, that is) and such strange acronyms as TRX (a crazy fitness system-thingy, ask him).   Along with that, he has started watching what he eats. 

Now I'm all for this new health kick and he looks and feels fantastic.  However, there are a couple of things that I don't like about this new Dean.  For one, when I'm reaching for a few chips or cookies to end my day with, he looks at me and says "You don't really need to eat that, you know."  Harumph.  When I confessed one day around Christmas that I had eaten way too many chocolates at work, he reminded me that "it really wasn't necessary to eat that many."  I know, I know...

And then, to top it all off, HE ISN'T INTERESTED IN HAVING ME BAKE ANY MORE!!!  So, on days off when I would normally make a cake or a batch of cookies, I've been refraining from that, since he doesn't want it anymore.  I practically have had to sit on my hands to prevent myself from bouncing up to the kitchen to bake something.  The other day, I finally blurted out "you're stealing my joy."  And then I baked a batch of puffed wheat cake and a pan of brownies.  And I felt better.

Happier, even.....



On that healthy note, our lunch time treat today was a Spiced Apple Smoothie.  We both love smoothies and I would like some flavor variety now and then. I saw this version on Pinterest the other day and we're both fairly pleased with it:

2 raw apples, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
1 banana
1 individual serving size yogurt (today, I used Lucerne "spiced apple" from Safeway; vanilla would also be nice)
1 cup (approx.) juice
milk to thin
cinnamon to taste

Put it all in a blender and away you go.  Our first attempt was low on the milk and neither one of us liked the texture.  We added quite a bit of milk to thin the remainder and it's much nicer to drink.

Next time, if Dean wasn't watching, I just might top it with some caramel sauce......but, shh, don't tell.  ;)  Wouldn't want Lord Dynna scolding Lady Maureen now, would we?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Quotable Quotes

I was in the car with one of the boys the other day.  We were chatting away about I don't remember exactly something sorta important that was frustrating the boy that was with me, I don't remember which one it was my child.  I started to rattle off one of my favorite sayings - "into each life some rain must fall" and that got me thinking about the motherly advice that we are prone to dispense to our kids during what we might hope are "teachable moments".

I started thinking  - will this be a quotable quote that my son will remember mom saying when he's all grown up and reflecting on his childhood?  Will this be one of those "I remember" moments that will help mold him when he is grown up and searching for mom's voice and wisdom when she's not sitting in the car next to him?

I hope so.  I have been reflecting on my 'mother actions' a lot since Christmas.  I have this deep desire to be the kind of mom that will mold and shape and influence her boys in a positive fashion that they will carry throughout their adult lives.  I want to be the kind of mom that the boys reflect on and say "I remember when mom used to make homemade buns; they were sooo good".  Or "mom always told us _____________".  Or mom listened, mom helped, mom encouraged, mom advised, mom played, mom taught us.... 

I don't want to be SUPER Mom.  I just want to be a super mom to Andrew and Ben.

That got me thinking about my own mother.  (By the way, she DID make awesome homemade buns and the smell of those buns baking in time for after school snacks will never leave me.  She listened, helped, encouraged, advised, played.....)

But my mom was also full of anecdotes and quotable quotes.  I've been thinking about them for a few days.  Here's a couple of her favorites:



"FIRST WE WORK AND THEN WE PLAY"

Just what every child wants to hear, right?!!  But she taught me that it's more fun in the long run to get your work done first (and quickly) for then there's more time to have fun.  There's almost a sing-song rhythm to the anecdote that, for me, took the bite out of the reality of getting our work done first.  It also taught me the necessity of work and helped teach me a good work ethic.



"A GOOD CRY WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER"

Yeah, that was always so encouraging.  Go cry your eyes out and then everything will be okay.  Huh?  But, seriously, as a developing hormonal adolescent, that was good advice!  I remember feeling out of sorts regarding 'who knows what' and seeking solace in the hayloft of the barn and having myself a good boo-hoo all alone.  By the time I had bawled my eyes out and dried my tears up, I usually did feel better.  It is a smart woman who teaches her daughter to embrace her emotions, no matter the spectrum.  As a grown up who doesn't cry easily any more, I often wish that I could just have a good cry and release the tensions that come with bottled up emotions.  A good laugh, a good cry - both helpful, right?!! 



"IT TAKES PAINS TO BE BEAUTIFUL"

The longer I try to explain the wisdom of this one in the year 2013, the harder it is for me to remember the teachable moment here.  Hmm.  Well, back in those days, beautiful hair came via bobby pin curls, sleeping on rollers, washing out blemishes with Ajax (don't ask) and bravely and thankfully accepting hand-me-downs from whoever and wherever.  I guess the bottom line lesson is that, if you want something good, it often requires hardship/pain/sacrifice.  If you wanted to be beautiful, you had to be willing to suffer through some silly things, back in the 1970s and 80s. But hopefully the end results of your work were worth the effort.  Still truthful today - all good things are worth working for.



"MY MOTHER TOLD ME TO 'CHEER UP, THINGS COULD BE WORSE.'  SO I CHEERED UP AND, SURE ENOUGH, THINGS GOT WORSE."

Oh, these quotes are getting sillier and sillier.  This was a favorite quote of my mom's.  She was ever the optimist and really lived by the notion of "cheer up, things could be worse".  But she loved saying the full quote and every time she did, she had a good fit of giggles while she said it.  Speaks to me a lot now, that in times of adversity, she knew that good humor went a long way in overcoming hard days.   


I'd love to hear some of the anecdotes that YOU grew up with!  Elaine, remind me of some of mom's other favorites, please!  And what might be some one-liners that you'd like YOUR kids to remember when they are grown?



I cooked a "Make Again" meal for supper today.  Part of the recipe also reflects another of my little quotable quotes that I think of whenever I return yet again to the grocery store and spend my hard earned money - "to save money, you have to spend money".  Buy your groceries when they are on sale and keep staples well stocked (at sale prices).  Today, I was able to reach into my cupboards and make something on the spur of the moment using things that I had on hand. 

My recipe today was Chicken Fajitas made in the slow cooker.  This new favorite could very well show up on the picnic table when we camp this summer.  Easy preparation and good flavors to boot.

Slice 1 medium onion and 2-3 peppers (I used one red, one orange - next time I would do at least 3 peppers, they cook down a lot).  Lay the slices in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Season 3-4 raw chicken breasts with taco seasoning* and lay on top of the sliced peppers and onions.  Cook on high for around 4 hours (or on low for 5-6 hours).  Shred the chicken and serve the chicken/veggies in a soft taco along with grated cheese, sour cream, lettuce or other fajita toppings of your choice.

Taco Seasoning Recipe - THIS WILL SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY!!!
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
This will make you the equivalent of one envelope package of store bought taco seasoning.

Thanks, Mom, for the life lessons.  Thanks for saying some of these things over and over and over and for making sure that my values and understanding of life reflected these simple truths.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Longevity & Comfort

Dean and I were driving home from the grocery store yesterday.

Mentally, I was thinking through all of our purchases; the meat I had bought to replenish the freezer, the fresh fruit that my optimistic brain is drawn to, etc., etc.

We were just coming up 6th Ave East by the KFC and this thought crossed my mind.

"It's time", I thought.

"Time to tell him".

"No, that's just silly."

"TELL HIM."

Hmm.  Umm.  Okay.




"Dean", I said.

"Yes?" he replied.





"I like bananas," I blurted out.

And then we each went into a fairly long diatribe on the value of bananas.

Aren't we a pair of geeks?!!  ;)

Seems we each agree that bananas are highly nutritious.....filling.....easy to eat......and a great example of comfort food.

Wow.  It's taken us almost 17 years of marriage to have this discussion.  Glad we got that conversation over and done with.

I know, I know.  You are rolling your eyes over this inane conversation; probably by now, this inane post.

But there are a couple points to make here, besides the value of bananas.


There is something to be said about the comfort of a long relationship in which, sometimes, the most natural thing to talk about is......the appeal of bananas (pardon the pun).  There's something to be said for being secure enough with each other that mundane things can be even mildly interesting.  There's something to be said for someone sitting on the other side of the car who cares enough about you that even the silliest of conversations is okay with him; who lets me know with his patient listening that I'm still worth listening to.

We live in a world where pizzazz and fresh/hot ("fill-in-the-blank") is offered to us, as if all else has no remaining value.   Disposable everything.  Short term commitments.  Do it while it feels good, then drop it like a hot potato mentality.  You know, red is the new pink

What was wrong with the old pink?

I, personally, want to live in a world where a 17 year old marriage is considered to be a young marriage.  Where it's kept fresh and real, by being.....fresh and real. 

And, some days, that might include talking about bananas.


Daily, I scroll through Pinterest, looking for a new thing to cook for supper.  Lots of times, I find great recipes.  More often than I care to admit, Dean and I enjoy a new recipe, but one or both of the boys cannot summon the will to say that they liked it OR they outright dislike it, enough that I regrettably don't pass the recipe on.

Today, we'll eat an old stand-by - it's comfort food for supper, baby!

There are a couple of things in my oven:  first, I'm taking a meal to another new mom in the church - no special soup this time - it's roast chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots.  I also have a sweet potato baking for a soup I've been waiting to try.  There are also some chicken pieces for the same said soup - tomorrow's project.

And for ourselves (we had roast chicken last night) - I'm making Cabbage Roll Casserole, a comfort food from my childhood.  Make no mistake, I came from a good Ukrainian mama who made the real cabbage rolls, too, but this was served when time was short.  Same great flavor, half the work.

Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 lb hamburger
1 chopped onion
Scramble fry in a frying pan.

Add and mix well:
1 can tomato soup plus 1 can water
1/4-1/2 cup raw rice (not Minute Rice)
1 tsp salt, pepper to taste

In a greased casserole dish, add 3-4 cups shredded cabbage.
Pour hamburger/rice/soup mixture over shredded cabbage.  Do not stir.

Bake at 325 F for 1 1/2 hours.

Today, I didn't have enough cabbage from a head of cabbage.  However, I had a lot of bagged coleslaw mix - wow, that took some time off the prep time!

I wonder where your comfort lies?  Or who it lies with?  Something to think about.