Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mad Libs, Christmas, and Yog-Sothoth

Did you know they have crowd-sourced mad libs at wordlibs.com? You can read the one I wrote about a galactic hero's interview

Christmas was fun!  Even though Wes was sick the whole day, he put on a smiling face and we had a good time anyway.
It's a gymnastics mat for indoor tumbling!

Sapphire LOVES her chemistry set!
...and more LEGOs!

of course there are LEGOs...


We also had an End of the World party where we went back in time to the 20's to save the world from Yog-Sothoth (playing Arkham Horror).  SO, now you know why the world didn't end on December 21st like some thought it would.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Back in the Saddle



I've been out fighting the good fight, but Monday?

Monday, we RIDE.


I hope you'll spread the word and join me for more stories as we parent at the speed of life!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Anthropobiological Species Report (Earth, United States, New Mexico)

2012 Anthropobiological Species Report
(Earth, United States, New Mexico)

surveillance photo taken in June at Mammoth Cave in Utah
landaker quartz - This specimen has increased greatly not only in height, but in knowledge of electronics, science, and reading.  He appears to enjoy video games, legos, and riding his scooter with friends.  Vocalizations include "I wish that the bus driver forgot how to get to our bus stop over Spring Break." and "That's the thing about wizards. Do they even have moms?"

landaker onyx - When we checked on this human again, we were surprised to find him reading large quantities of books.  We were not surprised to see that he still builds legos, though the complexity of his designs has noticeably increased.  He was overheard to say, "I wish we didn't have to eat so that we would never have to use the bathroom" and "Grandma is full of a googol kisses and a million hugs".

landaker sapphire - We were a little confused when this specimen was reported to have said, "I'm part zombie, part ghost, part person, and part vampire" until we realized that the subject was pretending.  She seems to spend a lot of time pretending, and frequently invites others to do so as well.  She also enjoys making marks on paper to communicate with others.

The adults of the species do not appear to have changed much.  The one called "wesley" appears to have built a primitive 3D printer that can create plastic objects, and has changed his eating habits to exclude grains and simple carbohydrates, leading him to lose mass and shrink.  We are unsure if this behavior is intentional or instinctive.  The one with the appellation "andrea" has started taking care of a small non-human avian creature called a parakeet, and continues to make strange objects and foods that the humans sometimes seem to enjoy.  We will update our report next year as these humans continue to surprise us with their changes and strange behavior.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Low Carb Holiday Treats

Low Carb Christmas/Holiday Goodies

It seems like sweets are a holiday tradition almost everywhere. People trying to follow a no-sweets diet might feel a bit left out. But, here are some natural, low carb, dairy-free, no artificial sweetener, low glycemic index, actually yummy treats you can make easily.

Chocolate Covered Nuts
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Pyramids
Peanut Butter Fudge

Chocolate Covered Nuts
There's a macadamia inside! My attempt at tempering didn't work so well, though...
You will need some shelled nuts, preferably raw & unsalted (macadamia, hazelnut, and almond are great choices), and some chocolate.  I use 3.5 oz 90% Lindt bar, which does have a tiny amount of sugar in it, but it has a great texture.  If you use a bar of unsweetened chocolate, you will probably need to add some sweetener (half a packet of Stevia or a tablespoon or so of agave work well to make bittersweet chocolate).

First, melt the chocolate. You can use a double boiler, or do it 30 seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring in between.  The main idea is to melt it slowly and stir it a lot. Add any sweetener you are using to the melted chocolate. 

Next, you will need some sort of chocolate mold that fits your nuts.  You can use an ice cube tray, or a well-washed soap mold, or muffin tins, or silicon muffin cups, or anything that the nut will fit in.  If it's too big for individual nuts, you can put it several nuts to make clusters. Grease the mold (spraying them works well). Pour a thin layer of chocolate into each mold you are using.

Put a nut into each mold that has chocolate in it.  Then, pour chocolate over it until it's covered.  Let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then in the fridge for another 10 minutes.  The idea is to cool the chocolate slowly so that it will temper better and not have those unsightly spots, but it comes out of the molds better from the fridge.

Turn upside and tap the molds to get the chocolates out, and enjoy!

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Pyramids

These gluten-free treats can also be made low carb by using the following recipe:

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp. agave
pinch of stevia powder (optional)
3/4 c. shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1 large egg white
dash of salt
1 tsp. melted butter or shortening
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1 oz. chocolate for dipping

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone.  Put in a bowl the agave, stevia, coconut, egg white, salt, melted butter, and extracts.  Stir thoroughly (you can use your hands if you like), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Moisten hands with water so the cookies don't stick.  Take about a tablespoon of the coconut mixture and squish it in your hands until it's a compact ball. Place them on your cookie sheet, and then press them into a pyramid shape.  You can use your hands to make a pyramid with three sides, or use the back of a spatula to make a pyramid with four sides.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

After they have cooled completely, melt the chocolate (as described above, either in a double boiler or in the microwave) and dip the top half of each pyramid in the chocolate.  Let cool at room temperature until the chocolate is hard.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients
3/4 c. chocolate (chips or bar of your choice, broken up)
1/2 c. peanut butter (unsweetened for serious low carb)
1/4 c. chopped peanuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
(optional sweetener or choice)

Heat the peanut butter in the microwave for about 1 minute or until melted.  If it starts to bubble or pop, stop it right away.  Add the chocolate and stir until completely melted.  Add the peanuts and vanilla extract and sweetener, if desired.

Pour mixture into greased 8x4 pan and refrigerate until firm.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Small Business Saturday

So everybody knows about Black Friday (it doesn't sound very fun to me, but I guess you can get some good deals sometimes).  I recently came across a new marketing campaign for Small Business Saturday, to try and get more people to do holiday shopping at local small businesses.  Even though I know it's mostly just marketing hype to get people to shop, period, sometimes you want to shop locally.  So here's a list of Albuquerque small businesses that I enjoy, in case you want to check them out sometime, too.

I don't know if they are doing anything for Small Business Saturday, but they will be open, and you can even shop online at some of them, too.  They probably don't have the absolute lowest prices, but if you want something unique or specific, these are great places to shop!

Out of the Blue (Rio Grande Blvd north of Menaul)- wonderful toys that encourage creativity and thinking (and are also fun). Free gift wrapping, and kids can play with trains while you shop, and they put your purchase in a discreet black bag for ninja shopping.
Page 1 Books (Juan Tabo south of Montgomery) - new, used, and vintage books in all genres.  Personally, I don't mind if gifts are used (though I know some people would be aghast at receiving a used gift).  They also have lots of cool reading accessories (bookmarks, covers, lights, etc) and local books.
Alamosa Books (Paseo del Norte west of Ventura) - great selection of children's books, especially activity books, and also some really cool children's art supplies and toys.
The Kickstand (Menaul west of Juan Tabo) - great bike store and repair shop. Their repair prices for minor repairs are especially reasonable and well-performed.
Active Imagination (Juan Tabo south of Montgomery) - game store that has board games and pen-and-paper games and war games.  If you want some dice, or the latest Munchkin set, or an obscure German board game, this is a great place to go.
Bricks and Minifigs (San Mateo north of Osuna) - If you know you want LEGOs, they have lots.  New and used, and have some pieces and packs you can't find anywhere else.
Now We're Cooking (Wyoming north of Academy) - If you're shopping for someone who loves to cook, you will find something they could use here.
Sakura (Wyoming south of Montgomery) - This is a restaurant, not a store, but it's one of our favorites.  Great southeast Asian food (especially the laab), and the Japanese food is good, too.
Consignment Interiors (Juan Tabo & Eubank) - Secondhand furniture and art in great condition and at reasonable prices.  

What are your favorite local businesses?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sleeping with the Fishes

I was so excited to spend the night at the Aquarium with the boys at one of their sleepovers.  There was a scavenger hunt that even stumped us on a few questions, despite the fact that when the boys were preschoolers we practically lived at the aquarium, and a jeopardy game that everyone was excited about.  They had fun seeing the rare and exotic (and grotesque?) hagfish, petting rays and sharks, and finally, bedding down next to the lobster tank.


But our favorite thing of all was in the morning, when we got to go behind-the-scenes to see the aquarium kitchen, where they prepare food for all the aquarium animals, and look down into the tanks from where the aquarists feed and take care of the fish.  SO COOL!
Looks like a high-tech secret lab!
We barely managed to refrain from petting the sea turtle

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This is Halloween

This is the first year that nobody whined about being tired while trick-or-treating.  This is also the first year that the majority of the people in the house can put on most of their own costume by themselves.

We went to the neighborhood Halloween party on the Saturday before Halloween, and it was really fun.  Everyone played games and ate hot dogs and ran around and wanted to be in the costume contest, and then we all went home tired and happy (though we did wish, not for the first or the last time, that there was a bathroom at the park).
Indiana Jones

our little pumpkin

Not just any vampire; LORD vampire

RoboMom

RoboMom's creator



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Baby Gandalf

O: "My mom is just awesome"

S: "I can remember things for a *very* long time.  Just not for a day."

S: "Carry me!  I'm Gandalf as a baby!"
Q: "That's the thing about wizards. Do they even have moms?"

S: "I'm part zombie, part ghost, part person, and part vampire."

Camping at Fourth of July campground

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maggie

When we first found Maggie at PetSmart, she was visiting with a local shelter hoping to be adopted. They guessed she was about 9 months old, but they had picked her up as a stray, so we decided her birthday was early September. Maggie was 8 years old when she passed away on Tuesday, October 16.

I had always had a dog growing up, so in my eyes, it's a bit difficult to survive life without one. My husband, even though he didn't have pets growing up, realized this and decided it was time for me to get a dog after we bought a house together. He found Maggie and took me to PetSmart to meet her. The local shelter told us how we could adopt her and we didn't hesitate. It was obvious she was a sweet girl and all we had to do was make sure she was happy in our home.

It took quite a few months for Maggie to stop cowering when someone would raise their hands above their head, but she soon came to realize that yelling and flailing arms meant fun in our house, not beatings. She greeted everyone at the door and barked at anyone she didn't know. She was a fierce watchdog and a loving family dog. She never once complained when our kids were too rough...and sometimes they were!


Two weeks ago, I noticed she acted funny after I had let her out in the morning. The next day, she wobbled when she came in. And the next day, she wobbled, then fell on her face like she had no control at all. I knew right then we were in serious trouble. After her first tests, the vet said she was anemic. The trick was finding what was causing the anemia. A week later, tests came back negative for lyme and other tick related illnesses. On Monday, her red blood cell count was terribly low and she could barely catch her breath for lack of oxygen. An ultrasound revealed the final verdict. A large tumor on her spleen was bleeding into her belly. Surgery was an option, but not a useful one. There was no guarantee she would even make it through the surgery to recover from it.

Growing up, we had to put two of our family dogs down, but it was always my mom that did it. This was the first time that I had to take a dog myself. And with my husband by my side, we apologized and we told her we loved her repeatedly until she was gone. It was, by far, the hardest thing I have had to do in my life to this date.

Maggie didn't chew our shoes. She didn't pee on the rug. She never ate things she shouldn't eat. She loved cheese and pretzels and her bedtime Milkbone snack. While I was unemployed and at home, she spent every minute underfoot. When someone would knock on the door, she had a protective bark that made any solicitor stand ten feet back from the front door. She loved to play in the snow. She was everything you would want in a dog.


Monday night, my husband and I slept downstairs in the living room with her, stealing every moment we could. In the morning, we told the kids what had to be done and let them stay home from school to spend some time with her to say goodbye. My daughter, at 5 years old, understood but didn't quite grasp the situation. Yet she cried and hugged her before she left. My son, at 12 years old, was more emotional, and like us, not ready to let go. 



As for me, my tears aren't finished yet. I've cried every night in the shower, so the kids wouldn't see. I've stifled them during work, so I could make it through the day. But, I keep forgetting...if only for a split second. When I come home, I think she'll be there to greet me. I drop some food on the kitchen floor and expect her to come running. Someone knocks at the door and I expect her to bark. I get ready for bed and think I need to let her out one last time. It's going to be a long while before I can accept that she's gone. Right now, I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm needing her here with me. And even when the day comes that we are ready for a new dog, I'm pretty sure I'll still be missing her as much as I do today.

Goodbye, sweet Maggie. You are one in a million, baby. I will miss you every day.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall Festivals

Fall is such a nice time of year -- milder weather, fun festivals, and a feeling of change and excitement in the air.

We eschewed the State Fair this year for some other celebrations -- Bubonicon in August, the Renaissance Faire in September, and the Rio Grande Farm's Maize Maze in October.

The Ren Faire was the most crowded I'd ever seen it, but we still had a good time.  We saw some really neat events on horseback, all the kids got to try archery, and we saw some great costumes at the costume contest.

The corn maze was pretty fun, though half of it was really muddy, and it took us awhile to figure out that North on the map was actually South.  It was fun climbing on hay bales, though I had to work hard to keep from diving into them ala Assassin's Creed.


And, of course, I haven't forgotten about the Balloon Fiesta -- but most of the time I like to see the balloons in a later-in-the-day, less hectic sort of way.  Nothing's exactly like the experience of being down on the field as the balloons are glowing and breakfast burritos are cooking, but for those years when you just don't want to get up at 5am (or stay up until 10pm), here's my favorite way to enjoy the balloons.

First, make sure the balloons went up the morning you're thinking of.  Around 9am, mosey on down to the parking lot at Alameda and Alameda Park Dr.  At this hour, it won't be crowded and you can just park in the commercial parking lot right there.  Then you can walk (or bike) up the diversion channel trail towards Balloon Fiesta park.  There's always plenty of balloons to see, and a lot of them are landing at this hour, so you can see them fairly close up.  The trail goes all the way into Balloon Fiesta park if you wanted to see more, but usually a walk up the trail and back is all my little helpers desire.

Speaking of which...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Low-Carb Staples

So, I was a bit skeptical when Wes said he was going to try eating low-carb.  I was like, "so what are you going to eat?!"  Well, for any of those who are curious, here are our low-carb staples that he eats often (actually, all of us enjoy most of these):

Low Carb Snacks

  • peanut butter on celery
  • nuts, all kinds
  • coconut, dried or fresh
  • fruit-and-veggie smoothies, made with unsweetened coconut or soy milk
  • berries
  • deviled eggs
  • lunchmeat
  • beef jerky (sometimes homemade)

For meals, he will usually have just whatever I make for everyone else, minus the starch.  This means I don't have to learn how to make a whole bunch of new things (and the kids don't have to learn to like a whole bunch of new things).  Here's our most common meals:

Low Carb Meals

  • Sausage or bacon & egg with bell peppers and onions (or just salsa if I'm in a rush)
  • Spaghetti sauce with vegetables and sausage or chicken
  • Stir-fried chicken and vegetables (without rice)
  • Taco Salad (taco meat + refried beans + lettuce & tomato)
  • Chili (homemade; just cooked ground beef + 2 cans beans + 1 can tomatoes + 1 can green chile)
  • Grilled Pork & Snow Peas (or any grilled meat and vegetable)
  • Pan-fried fish & sauteed vegetables
  • Chicken caesar salad
  • Coconut shrimp curry with vegetables (no rice)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reading and Lethal Vegetables

Everyone has been reading more lately!  I'm so happy about it.  It just seems like reading is a lot more fun for the boys now that they can read chapter books on their own.  Sapphire just likes to do what they are doing, so that's fun, too.

Speaking of reading, if you're in the Albuquerque area and enjoy children's literature, I highly recommend Alamosa Books (on Paseo & Ventura, just west of Trader Joe's).  Their books are organized in a way that really makes kids want to pick up the books and look at them (and they have a nice spot to put books for reshelving if you have no idea where your kid picked up a certain book).  They also have a great selection of toys/crafts that reminds me of the Out of the Blue toy store that used to be on Paseo and Wyoming. They also have a great selection of Dover activity books (coloring & activity books for all ages at very reasonable prices).  I have no idea about the adult book section; I had so much fun in the kids' section I did not even look in there.

This week's quotes:
Quartz: "Aaaahhh! A vegetable!"
Andrea: "One vegetable is not going to kill you."
Wes: "If you eat a vegetable and it kills you, I will not make you eat any more vegetables."

Sapphire: "Pretend to be a grandma and I'll be a kid!"
Andrea: "Why, because grandmas are nicer than moms?"
Sapphire: "Yes."

Onyx: "Pyramids and castles almost always have traps."


Thursday, September 13, 2012

little bit 'o' bliss

finishing up the dishes, Wes is designing a replacement part for a kitchen utensil, Quartz is riding a scooter up and down the street with a friend, Onyx is reading to Sapphire, a breeze is blowing and the bird is singing and for just this minute everything is perfect.

i know in a few minutes someone will skin their knee or fight over a book and another mess will be made and it will rain, but i'm enjoying this one minute, right now . . .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jemez Camping, Cool Kids























 We went camping this weekend and, even though it was just for one night, we really enjoyed it.  The Jemez is beautiful this time of year, with lots of wildflowers, mild weather, and plenty of trees and water!  We stayed at the Jemez Falls campground, which, though quite filled, was nice and quiet and clean and right next to great hiking trails.

I think my kids are now cooler than me.  I'm not sure whether to be proud or to feel old. :-D
 

Don't worry.  They're not TOO cool.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Las Vegas NM, School, and Love it love it love it!

We took a trip to Las Vegas with Wes' folks!  Las Vegas, NM that is.  If you haven't been, it's a little city north of Santa Fe near the mountains.  It's got a nice historic main square and a cool wildlife refuge.  We mostly hung out at the KOA and played games and froze in the swimming pool.


 School started!  So far everyone seems happy with their new teachers, though Sapphire misses the boys a lot.  She is always asking me to play "where you are the kid and I am the mom".  She makes me breakfast and I pretend like I have chores and ask her to help me.  :-D

Did I look that jaded in 1st and 2nd grade? I don't think so!

 I haven't posted any videos before, but this one of Sapphire just cracks me up. 

Out-of-context quotes:
Wes: "Hey, I love vegetables, especially when they're making out with meat."
Sapphire: "Do the boys have school this day?  Do they have school the day after this day? Do they have school the next day after that?"
Sapphire: "I don't want to go to Panda 'Press, I want to go to Penugin 'Press and eat penguin food."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Revolutionary

Oh y'all.  I don't even know where to start.  If you have read my last two posts, you'd think I had been reading like nobody's business, but I haven't.  Not really.

Truth is that I've been wasting a lot of time napping, looking at Facebook, pinning outfits on Pinterest - well, outfits and cake.  And workouts.  I've pinned some workouts too.

I am a study in paradox.

But here's the thing.  I'm 41.  It has taken me almost two years to be able to deal with being 40.  40 was so awful that I gladly welcomed 41 because, you know, it wasn't 40.  Coach kept saying he didn't understand what the big deal was; 40 is just a number.  Easy for him to say- he's 37.

And it wasn't the number that was breaking me down- it was the realization that I was the healthiest I would ever be, the prettiest I would ever be, the thinnest I would ever be.  And I wasn't healthy, and I didn't feel pretty, and I was not thin.

I knew I had to make some changes, so I did. I declared an all-out revolution on myself.   I started eating whole foods- real meat, fresh vegetables, and I cut out most food that came in a box or a can.  I still ate cookies, cakes, etc., but the deal I made with myself was that those kinds of foods had to be homemade.  No supermarket cupcakes, no Oreos, nothing like that.

It would have worked too, if my favorite hobby and stress reliever wasn't baking.  So, I gained and lost the same three pounds for weeks.  WEEKS.

Then, a friend posted something on her Facebook page about a 24-Day Challenge, and said she had lost 16 pounds.

I told her I thought she'd been hacked.

She told me she had not been hacked, that she had really lost 16 pounds.  And then she went on to lose another 12 pounds in the next few weeks.  She wears a tiny size 2. In April she squeezed herself into a 10.

She took me to meet a couple of other friends who had also had great success with it.  I was almost sold.  I wanted to know what I was going to have to do.  There was a cleanse phase.  Did that mean I couldn't eat?  Was I going to have to eat mulch? Wheatgrass?  Sardines?  Anything weird?  Because, if you don't know me well, I am not an adventurous eater.  Not at all.

The answer to that question was yes, I could eat.  There is no fasting.  You don't have to eat weird food.  The cleanse just requires that you clean up your diet a bit in addition to drinking the fiber drink and taking herbal supplements.  Get rid of processed sugar and white flour- for 10 days- not forever, though they really aren't good for you, and once you get it out of your system, you won't want them.  If you need grains, make them whole grains.  If you can go without them and do ten days of meats, vegetables, and fruits, then you would see greater results.  Easy.

Oh, she said "herbal supplements."  I am always terrified of that phrase, and frankly, that is exactly why I didn't pay much attention to it when my friend mentioned it.  Then I remembered that she had survived a brain aneurism and didn't even take cold medicine, much less sketchy diet supplements.

 So, I asked my doctor about it.  He was all for it.  He was familiar with the company and said they were the only supplement company that the NFL approved, and most of their products are fine for children and pregnant women.

Soooooo, here's where we are.  I'm in the middle of this thing.  And I have to be honest- if I don't lose another pound I'll be fine because my energy and general health are both beyond what I would have ever imagined.  I feel like I did when I was eighteen years old.  Not even kidding here.

I have lost weight.  Seven pounds in nine days.  That is miraculous all by itself.  I had reached a metabolic stage in my life where looking at a piece of cheese caused a pound or two of weight gain, and running a half marathon and eating twigs and berries for a week would only move the scale down about 3 ounces.  Discouraging.

I can't eat ice cream with wild abandon, and I have had to clean up my eating habits, but it has been so easy to do because I am not sluggish, tired, or moody.  I eat 5 or six times a day.  I had steak last night; grilled chicken the night before. I've just substituted fruit for candy and cookies, and made sure that I eat 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

I've had rice; I even ate a cheeseburger and onion rings on Friday- and still lost weight.  You can't do that regularly, but if you have a slip- you don't have to worry about gaining weight.

 I don't have the afternoon slump that only a frozen Goo-Goo and a Diet Coke could cure until I could get the kids fed and get to the couch for the evening.

There are before pictures.  AC took them for me.  They are awful.  I think I accused her of using a Gringot filter on Instagram.  I didn't even recognize myself.  And the rear view?  Well, let's just say that I'll be at the END of any lines that are forming for the next few days.  But at the end of the 24 days, I'm posting those babies with the after pictures right beside them.

If you want to try the 24 Day Challenge, you can get it here. (Type in 24 Day Challenge in the search bar.  Unless you have a large appetite, get the MNS Max 3 pack- it is the most balanced for appetite control, energy, and wellness.  MNS Max C has more appetite control and MNS Max E has more caffeine and vitamin B- MNS Max 3 is my favorite. ). I've loved it and the Spark drink so much that I became a distributor.  You can e-mail me if you have questions.  If you want me to call you, I will do that.  Just let me know.  You could be 10-20 pounds lighter by Labor Day!  LABOR DAY!!!

Here's my advice.  Do the 24 Day Challenge.  You will feel the noticeable change in your energy level and mental clarity after one day.  And you won't have the scary jitters.  All of the products are safe and natural.  NO ephedra or crazy stuff that will make you heart skip beats or keep you up at night.

You will see weight loss after just a couple of days on the cleanse, and once you start the second phase you'll drop weight even faster.

In a couple of days I'm going to post some before and after pictures of two friends that I know personally.  HUGE changes.  Their whole lives have changed- not just their weight.  We forget how much bondage we put ourselves in when we get trapped inside unhealthy bodies.  You can get out!

You could be significantly lighter by Labor Day!

I'll be back with an update in a couple of days.  Tomorrow?  Tomorrow is just an update on my mission to civilize Coach and the kids.  We went to the theater this weekend.  You cannot even imagine how that went!

See Y'all!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Giant Spiders, Snake Sweaters, and Low Carb Bars

Onyx to Quartz: "Ask Mom if I can bring Shelob to bed."
Sapphire: "What if I was Professor X for real?"
Wes: "So basically I've been stuffing myself and eating as much as I want of all the foods I love and I feel really healthy and I've lost ten pounds."
Sapphire: "I want a sweater for my snake." Quartz: "We only sell pasta here." Sapphire: "I could make a sweater out of pasta."

Low-Carb Nut "Granola" Bars

If you're trying to eat low carb, and craving something like a granola bar but with a crunchy homemade taste, try these!

4 c. nuts (almond, hazelnut, pecan, macadamia, etc)
3/4 c. nut butter
1/4 c. agave or honey
1/4 c. shredded coconut
1 c. seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax, etc)
1/4 c. chocolate chips or freeze-dried raspberries (optional)

Chop nuts in a blender or by hand.  I put them in the blender until about half were a coarse meal and half were pieces.  Heat the nut butter in the microwave for 1 minute.  Pour the nut butter and the agave over the nuts, and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir until everything is moistened and will stick together.  If you need to add a bit more nut butter so it will stick together, go ahead.  Spray a 9x13 cookie sheet, and press the mixture into it.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until browned and crunchy-looking.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Low Carb Sausage and Lentil Soup Recipe

Since Wes has been eating low-carb lately, I've been trying to implement that more in my cooking (though the kids and I still eat plenty of bread, cereal, etc).  I jokingly call it the "Sausage and Salad" diet, since that seems to be a lot of what he eats, so here's a way to have sausage *and* salad in one healthy meal.  Carrots and lentils aren't the lowest-carb thing ever, so feel free to leave them out if you're being really strict; it will work just fine with out them.



Sausage Spinach Lentil Soup

2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 c. chopped celery and/or bell pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 lb. sausage (I like bratwurst or kielbasa for this recipe)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 TBSP curry powder

1 chopped carrot
4 c. beef or chicken broth
4 c. water
1 c. lentils
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 c. chopped cilantro
10 oz. spinach
1/4 c. lemon juice

Saute onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and sausage until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are starting to get soft.  Add garlic, ginger, pepper, and curry powder and mix.  Add broth and water and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and turn the heat down to low to simmer for 30 minutes.  Add tomatoes and spinach, and heat until spinach just barely wilts.  Turn off the heat and add cilantro and lemon juice.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kettle Corn Recipe

And now, to live up to my nomsensical name, I offer you a recipe!  Kettle Corn, that slightly sweet popcorn, is delicious, but I never had good luck making it when I added the sugar afterwards.  So here's a recipe for perfect kettle corn.  This makes about 12 servings (enough for an elementary school class or a party).

1/2 c. oil
2 c. popcorn kernels
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar

Use large stock pot.  Put oil in cold pot, making sure it coats the bottom.  Add popcorn kernels and salt, coating kernels with oil.  Heat on medium-high, shaking the pot so nothing burns.  When the first kernel pops, after 2-3 minutes, pour sugar on evenly and put the lid on.  Shake the pot.  The popcorn will start popping again after 1-2 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium.  Keep shaking the pot until they are almost all popped (1-2 seconds between pops).  Turn off the heat, and shake the pot a little more until they finish popping.  Take off the lid, sprinkle on a little more salt to taste, and pour out into a bowl to cool.  There may be a few burned ones stuck to the bottom; just leave them there (I put them out for the quail in the backyard).  To clean out your pot, let it soak in water for a few hours with the lid on, and then wash it out.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nature Scrapbook & Natural History Museum

We went on a few nature walks (some of the kids feel intimidated when I call them "hikes"), and some of the kids enjoyed using this Nature Scrapbook to keep track of the things they found.  Feel free to print one out if it sounds fun to you!

Also, we went to the Natural History museum a few times and saw the snakes up close, and also the animatronic dinosaur exhibit -- make sure you check those out if you live in Albuquerque, because they'll only be here through the end of the summer or so.





Friday, June 29, 2012

Crash


Accidents are a funny thing. They happen in an instant. They can take a couple hours to clean up. And the aftermath can be minutes to hours to years.

This is my car. 
Goodbye, Sweet Car.


DON'T WORRY!! Everyone is ok. 

After a trip to Target, we were on our way home when I came to an intersection where there are two consecutive lights. I was stopped at the first and when I started to move, I saw a car in the opposite turning lane ahead of me. She had her turn signal on and was inching into my turning lane. I stopped with a car length, or two, ahead of me, trying to figure out if this was someone lost attempting a u-turn. Suddenly, she accelerated, getting right in my lane and hitting me head on. 

This is where the seconds feel like hours and milliseconds all at the same time. All I could see was her deployed airbag and thinking that would stop the car, I hoped it would all be over quickly. But, I was wrong. She continued to accelerate and pushed me right into the car behind me, giving my kids and I a double jolt from her hit and then my hit backwards. 

A million decisions floated in front of me in flashes. My foot was on the brake and she was still pushing. Foot on the gas, she's still pushing. Put in park...the car says NO. I couldn't change the gears. With both kids in the car, it was either let her keep pushing me, or pull away. I took a quick look behind me and turned the wheel to peel away from her bumper.

By the time all this has happened, the man in the car behind me was now reaching for her door trying to get it open. And with my car out of the way, her car sped off down the street. I watched in disbelief at her car racing down the street and not even taking out another car. And even more shocked that the man went sprinting down the street after her yelling, "Stop that car!!" By the actions of the driver, we knew it wasn't a typical accident. Something very wrong was occurring. 

When I turned back around, my daughter was crying, my son was frozen and confused, and our car was surrounded by people. I saw a woman in scrubs, who later identified herself as a nurse, talking to my daughter and checking for injuries. Two more girls next to us assured us they were certified in First Aid if we needed help. Another woman and a man on my side of the car asking if we were okay and if we needed to make calls. By this time, it was near impossible to hear the 911 operator on my phone as I tried to tell him what was going on. 

Amazingly, our former neighbor was at the intersection and, once the kids were checked out, took them to her house for water ice while I stayed at the scene. Once she was gone, I had a moment to breathe and almost lost it, but then realized I still had to deal with paperwork and police. 

The police officer was patient, kind and even funny. The tow truck driver, calm and helpful. Every person I came in contact with today has helped restore my faith in humanity. 

Some days, it seems like people are just jerks. They can be selfish, greedy and rude. But then there are days like today. When I'm already stressed and then a poorly-timed disaster happens, all of these people show me that people can still be wonderful, helpful and generous.

I would like to extend a deeply felt thank you to ALL of the people that were at that intersection today. Especially to Melissa Hellman, a complete stranger, who was not involved in the accident, but pulled over and stayed with me the entire time. Someone who I have never met stood there and kept me calm and occupied, and even made sure I had a ride before she left. Please check out her blog The Savings Wife and let her know how awesome she is! 

*It turns out the woman who hit us MAY have been having a seizure. After getting by my car, she hit a pole at a very high speed causing a power outage. I know she was taken to a local hospital, but let's hope she's recovering and not seriously injured. If you are interested in finding out more, you can go to our local paper, The Reporter, for updates.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Reading the Second


Hello there!  I've been reading.  I told you I would.  It's all been complicated by Coach though. 

He's all hot and bothered with the new Paleo movement.  If you're not familiar, it's a diet turned lifestyle, turned propaganda which preaches living as the cavemen did in order to insure good health.

"I can't eat potatoes," says Coach, "cavemen wouldn't have known to dig in the ground for root vegetables."

"Yeah," I said, "well, cavemen wouldn't have known how to find all 78 ESPN channels with lightning speed either."

"I'm just saying.  I can't eat potatoes or peanuts because cavemen would not have known they existed.  And, according to this website, I need to sleep in a cool, dark room with no light, so if you're going to keep reading until the wee hours of the night, you need to get some blue-blocker glasses so your rhythms aren't disturbed."

"Yeah, I'm not going to do that.  And seriously???  You are actually aspiring to live like a caveman?"

"Yep." he said.

"Well, I'm pretty sure that cavemen spent the better part of football season hunting and gathering, soooooooo..."

And so for now the Paleo movement has been tabled.  We'll see what happens when the play-offs are over.  

Anyway, here are the next books I plan on plowing through.  I'm in a memoir state of mind right now, so I'm starting there, but if you are strictly a fiction gal there are some titles for you too!





Amazon says "Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives--the ones we'd like to pretend never happened-- are in fact the ones that define us." 


Considering a bird pooped on my leg, and I got ants in my purse just tonight; this book will probably speak to me.  Yeah, me.  You know, the one who ripped her butt open on a rock in a river and had to get 13 stitches in a rural hospital and then ride in a car for four hours?  The one who previously had a MOUSE in her purse.  A MOUSE.  Mortifying moments are my life.  I think I'll relate to this one.

Just saying.

It Looked Different on the Model - Laurie Notaro


Oh Sweetie, it always looks different on the model.  ALWAYS.

Notaro is described as the "idiot girl" who makes "misstep after riotous misstep" in her marriage and with her family, and it turns out there's a chapter about "Ambien Laurie," who apparently shops in the middle of the night and eats Devil Dogs.  I think she and Ambien Traci, a girl who, much to her own chagrin, finds herself on day 12 of the Insanity workouts (Ambien shopping trip), would get along fabulously.  Turns out I like to shop and eat Oreos in my Ambien-altered state.  Oh yes, I do think there will be much laughter with this one.

And for fiction lovers...




from Amazon: "Set in San Francisco, Three Stages of Amazement takes readers on a spellbinding journey across a landscape of national unease, when the fragility of one marriage reflects the tenuous state of the American Dream. Lena Rusch and her husband, Charlie Pepper, still believe they can have it all—sex, love, marriage, children, career, brilliance. But when life delivers surprises and tests, they must face, for the first time in their lives, real limitation. Told with eloquence and compassion, Three Stages of Amazement is a true thriller of the heart—about confronting adversity, gaining wisdom and finding great love."

Well, I love San Francisco, I think marriage is kind of fun, and who doesn't love a good story about the American Dream going awry.  (Damn thing tends to do that doesn't it?)  But, you can ask Coach- I have real issues with limitations.  And authority.  And tobacco products.

I don't really believe in them.  Limitations and authority are fictional characters in my life.



This one comes out next week.  I read Good in Bed a year after it was published, and I've waited anxiously for every one of her books since.  Jennifer Weiner and I are like soul sisters, except she's Northern and Jewish.  

Did I ever tell you about the time Coach asked our Israeli neighbors who were devout practicing Jews what Santa was bringing them for Christmas?  

I tried to smooth things over with a sausage bread roll.

Frankly, I thought the whole unclean meat thing would be a little more lax in the land of smoked pork products.  From what I could tell, they were still pretty serious about it, and according to the youngest child in the family, their father was a soldier who built bombs.  

Turns out he was a bariatric surgeon, but he had been an Israeli soldier.  I'm sure his military career was  much more exciting in my mind than it was in actuality.

Sorry for the tangent.  I think this one is about Hollywood and what-not.  Check it out on Amazon.  She could write about chicken breasts and make it interesting, so you really can't go wrong here.  Well, if you send her a sausage bread roll you might, but otherwise, I think you're good here.

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty


As a person who cannot remember much of what I did yesterday, I feel I will be able to relate.  Apparently, Alice's last memory is when she is 29 years old. Then she wakes up in a hospital as a 39-year-old in the middle of a divorce.  Oh, and she has three kids.  As I said, her last memory was when she was a 29-year-old whipper snapper with her whole life in front of her.  The next things she knows she's lost a decade and finds herself passed out on the floor of a gym.  

I can't tell you how much Alice and I have in common.  It's like we're soul-sisters except for the part where "she has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes."  

Yeah, the super skinny mom with really expensive clothes part isn't really me.  I'm more of a Rubenesque mom in Mossimo, but other than that?  Me and Alice = kindred spirits. 

So, according to Amazon, "Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…  "I'm crossing my fingers forgetting is a blessing, because I do it ALL the time.

There's more, but I have to go.  Coach just flashed a document in front of me and said, "Look what I made."

"What is it?" I asked.

"My pyramid for success."

Geez...let's just hope it doesn't involve foraging for vegetables and wearing blue blocker sunglasses.

See Y'all!