Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finding Family

It's back to school for me and Algebra is as mind numbing as ever, even on the Intermediate level.

However, I am taking a Dynamics of Family Relationships class that is proving to very interesting indeed.

Chapter One: What Defines A Family?

As you might guess, the definition of a family is very broad and is not neccessarily limited to mom, dad and 2.5 kids. Everyone in the class is pretty much on the same page with this view.

However, our instructor asked us to list 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Functional Family. After completing our lists, we were supposed to team up with another person and share. While I didn't hear everyone's complete list, I got snippets here and there of a few. This is where I was more than mildly surprised.

Here are three (I can remember) characteristics that seemed extra special:

  • multiple cars
  • 4-5 children
  • church going

First and foremost, I don't believe there is a healthy, functional family on the planet. I believe we all have varying types of DYSfunction, some more acceptable than others. But am I doing something wrong if we only own one car? Do churchgoers have a better family life?

Are these things people really see as important to the family life?

So, tell me, what would your list say?

Monday, August 20, 2007

First day of school.

I'm pooped.

I hate Algebra.

More later.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Breathe in. Breathe out.

No, I'm not practicing Lamaze. I'm trying to recover from a slight panic attack. It's been a wonderful, leisurely summer without homework or papers or 9 o'clock classes.

But tomorrow it all changes.

Tomorrow is my first day back to school.

Time for my pre-term freak out.

What am I doing? How will I keep up? Will my children be ok? And the real question, CAN I HACK INTERMEDIATE ALGEBRA?!


I do this at the beginning of every semester. It will be fine. I will be fine. My family will be fine. No need to worry.



Like Apples?

I have an addiction.

Well, WAY more than one, but this one is relative to this post.

It is the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad from Panera Bread. When I get hungry, I CRAVE it. Crunchy dried apples, succulent lemon-herb chicken and that dressing - DEAR GOD, THE DRESSING! - tangy, apple vinaigrette drizzled over crispy salad greens and sweet purple onions, topped off with creamy crumbles of feta cheese and crunchy pecan halves.

Hungry yet?

Well, since Panera isn't next door to my house and that dreamy salad will cost me seven dollars a pop, I decided to turn to my friend who knows everything.

The Internet.

I found several recipes for Apple Vinaigrette, but this one seemed to be the closest. I bought all the ingredients and yesterday tried my hand at it.

This dressing was so good, it was as though I had died and went to Panera.

And now I'm sharing it with you.

These are the ingredients for the recipe I found online:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons grated sweet or purple onion
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped apple

Puree together in a food processor or blender and Voile!

The first time I made it, I substituted dried apples because I forgot the fresh. I also added about a teaspoon of lemon juice and about 1/2 cup of water. It was divine.

The second time I made it, I used the rest of the dried apples I had and filled in with fresh to make it about 1 1/2 cups. I also cut the sugar to 1/4 cup and omitted the lemon juice (only because I was out of it) and it was probably even better. The texture was smoother and it tasted more like a fresh apple. I'm guessing it would be even that much better made entirely with fresh apples. (For the record, I used Gala instead of Fuji.)

For me, it is key to have feta cheese in the salad. It is pricey, but so, so worth it. You can leave out the chicken and pecans and it is still crazy good.

Now, go forth and make dressing. Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Clean Fridge Is A Happy Fridge

I need to go buy some groceries today.

However, my refrigerator was a nightmare. I could not, in good conscience, buy fresh food and subject it to those kinds of living conditions.

I had reached that point when the filth is up to your eyeballs and you can stand it no longer so you just have to jump in, hold your nose and get it done. There was yeast spilled along the back wall, sticking to it like wet sand, chocolate pudding hardened like plaster, requiring a knife to chisel it away, cilantro that had passed away and decomposed in the crisper, leaving behind a lacey, green skeleton and a large puddle of something stickey and brown in the bottom.

I don't want to know what that was.

I removed all the shelves and soaped them down in the kitchen sink. I wiped down the inside walls and used my Magic Eraser on the door. Forty-five minutes later, the fridge sparkled. In fact, I kept going back to it, opening the door and admiring my handiwork.

Never mind that the milk jug was sweating from all the warm air coming in. A clean fridge is a beautiful thing to behold.

So now, I head to the store to buy cherry tomatoes that can be pushed to the very back and forgotten and grape juice can be spilled inside. But I am wondering, does anyone out there have a good system for keeping the fridge shiny and happy? Do you clean it weekly or do you have little elves that live inside and do it for you?

I'm hoping for the elf thing, but I should probably be a bit more realistic.

I mean, the elves probably cost too much.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flirty or Friendly?

There's a new love in my life.

I've admired him from afar for years.

He's large, well built and washes all my clothes. Here's a picture of him and his brother.

Aren't they beautiful? If I could just get them to fold and put away the clothes, they'd be the perfect pair.

But that's not really the point of my post.

A week or so ago Hubby, the kids and I went shopping for these guys, as the old ones were on their last leg. Hubby had been shopping for months, actually, but he wanted to take me along to see what I liked. So we headed to a large home improvement chain to look at the choices. Our helpful sales associate that day was Joe, (we'll call him Joe, because I really don't remember his name, and it's not at all important to the story) who was average in height and skinny as a rail. In fact, the term "squirrely" comes to mind. Joe was a nice enough guy. He made eye contact, cracked the occasional joke and was all to eager to show us his vast knowledge of washing machines. He directed several questions at me, since I am the "little lady" who would, he assumed, be doing the majority of the laundry. I answered a few and redirected some of them to Hubby who will be doing his fair share of laundry once I return to school next week. I was nice. I was friendly. I even cracked a few jokes of my own. We made our selections, arranged for delivery and went home to happily await the new arrivals.

The next morning Hubby said in passing, "You were flirting with that guy."

"What guy?" I asked.

"The guy who sold us the washing machine."

At first, I thought he was just giving me a hard time. That's kinda his way. "Oh, yeah," I retorted. "He was hot."

Sensing my sarcasm, Hubby tried to drive his point home. "You were."

"You can't be serious." Joe was certainly not the kind of guy I would call "flirtable". His butt was smaller than mine. That's a biggie (no pun intended). Not that I was looking at his butt, but judging from his very thin frame, I'm making an assumption.

"It's okay," he replied. "I'm not mad, I'm just saying..."

"I was NOT flirting. How was I flirting?"

"I don't know. You just were."

This conversation went back and forth, though Hubby could never give me any sort of concrete example of exactly what it was I did that he considered flirting.


A couple of days later, I was at the bookstore with a friend. She was reading a how-to book and I was flipping through a photography book. A couple of chairs away sat a young man doing the same thing. A Joan Baez-ish female was singing along with her acoustic guitar over the speakers:

"Liar, Liar..."

I snickered and looked up at my friend. "I thought she was going to say 'pants on fire'." We got a good chuckle from that one, as did the young man next to us. I looked over at him and said, "Didn't you?"

From there he proceeded to play off my joke and we laughed and talked for a bit, just seeing how far we could stretch that funny line. Pretty soon we returned to our books, the bookstore announced they were closing and my friend and I left.

Once in the car she said, "I think that guy was flirting with you."

What's UP?!

Feeling a bit defensive from my husband's observations earlier that week, I said, "I WASN'T FLIRTING! I WAS JUST BEING FRIENDLY!"

"I'm not saying you were flirting. I'm saying, he was flirting with you."

Do I know the difference?

Truth is, I like being center of attention. I'm just being honest. Perhaps it comes from being the baby of four children and always feeling like I had to fight for it. I don't know. But I do try to temper it. Perhaps there is a really deep-seeded need in me to be noticed. As much as I hate to say that.

Another thing, I just like people. I like watching them. I like meeting new ones. I like talking to them. I find people fascinating. I see an opportunity to talk to someone and I will more than likely take it. But I'm not singling out men. I do the same with the stressed out mom in Wal-Mart or the receptionist at the pediatrician's office. I seek connections.

What's the verdict? When is friendly really flirting?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lesson of the Day

And this, my little ones, is a lesson in patience.

I've been wanting a child-sized table with chairs FOREVER.

So, maybe not forever. Well, since Sister could climb up to the kitchen table and terrorize Brother during his school lessons, anyway. It seems a good idea to have separate work spaces for them.

But not just any table would do, as it would probably be a permanent fixture in my living room. Fisher Price plastic would have been fine, but I hated to pay that kind of money for plastic that I didn't even really like all that much. Even people selling them at garage sales seemed mighty proud of their plastic. Then there were the flimsy character card tables for $20 at Wal-Mart that could never withstand my family's punishment.

What I really wanted, was the beautiful, wooden, Pottery Barn-style table with whimsical mismatched wooden chairs. It didn't have to be from Pottery Barn, mind you, I just liked that style. But again, my champagne taste far exceeded my beer budget.

Actually, not even a beer budget. More like a "generic cola in a can" budget.

So I've been waiting for the right deal to land in my lap. And last week, I was almost killed by a super-duper, mega, ultra deal landing in my lap.


Guess how much this cost me?
Okay. Technically it cost me seven dollars in paint.
A teacher friend gave me the table, which someone had given to her for her classroom and she ended up not needing. It had some water damage and the paint was in bad shape. I bought pink spray paint and some silver glitter paint and Voile! A table fit for a princess...or two.
She threw in the chairs, too. Which are plastic, but hey, they were free.
Tell me it's not the cutest thing EVER.
See? Good things come to those who wait.
And know how to paint.
Eat your heart out, Pottery Barn.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How To Make Good Coffee

  1. Put in clean filter.
  2. Add two heaping tablespoons of ground coffee. Preferably NOT decaf.
  3. Pour six cups of clean, cold water into reservoir of coffee pot.
  4. Turn switch to ON.

Reason # 179 why I should not operate household appliances before 8 am:

I left out step #2.

And the rest of the day has been just like that.