Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fashionably Late

I exited the homeschooling life last winter, but that community has continued to embrace me. There is a sweet teenager who is an eager babysitter. Emily and I still participate in a preteen meet-up at a local coffeehouse. And we stay in reasonable touch with several friends. We received an invite to a party from one of those friends a few weeks ago. My RSVP was not a timely one, but a "yes, we'll be there" nonetheless. And so today, after my long workday, I painted on a fresh face, faked a potluck bring-along, gathered my reasonably presentable children and headed her way.

Upon arriving, I didn't see the tell-tale string of cars that should have lined the street. I didn't hear revelry coming from the backyard. And I didn't smell charcoal and hot dogs. I sensed something was askew and sheepishly rang the doorbell. Hostess Claudia (does that make her sound like a snack cake?) answered the door with a wry smile. I'd apparently missed the crowd. By about 24 hours.

Suddenly I felt like I'd stepped into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

She welcomed me into the house and offered us leftovers. And I laughed at myself for a solid ten minutes. Really. Who does this sort of thing? Why, Not Your Average Jennifer, of course! Once I let go of my embarrassment, I was able to enjoy myself. My kids quickly began playing with hers. She and I caught up on all the sordid details I omit from here and we had a delightful time. I must admit, it was a treat having the entertainer all to myself. But I promise to try not to make a habit of being a Day-After-the-Party Crasher.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Boy, I think it's time for a good recipe. . .

I'm definitely having some morning-after regrets to last night's post. And not because Martin is fighting back (and deservedly so). It's because I gave you a front row seat to something no one really wants to witness. Reality TV is all fun and games until its your friends or family.

I think I'll make a 24-hour rule when it comes to posting passionate rants. This blog was borne of my need to vent. I didn't intend for my treasured friends to endure my pain along with me.

Know I am well. I probably would've pulled the post this morning were I not fishing with my kinfolk at Hope Care Center. Hey, yeah, I went fishing. Even pierced my first worm today. See, life is good!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm Having a Bad Nut Day

Probably not an utterance you hear often, but that is precisely what I just audibly said to myself.

What makes for a bad nut day, you ask? Being out of walnuts for my Mediterranean breakfast is a big first strike. I convinced myself to enjoy the yogurt with only honey. Quite delicious, but after a couple of bites, I was craving a bit of crunch, so I added a few raw cashews. Then I looked at what I'd added and realized that #$%*ing pantry moths had gotten to them first (must be time to move -- I've never successfully rid a kitchen of those beasts). I then had to dispose of my precious breakfast nectar and try again. A new scoop of Fage, honey and then from the fridge (which is where we should all keep our raw nuts anyway) I took a few pecans. But the unruly bag toppled when I was returning it to its proper place and most of the nuts spilled to the floor. Luckily I believe in the five-second rule (and have been known to stretch it to 15 when necessary) and salvaged a few of them. And that is when I declared today a Bad Nut Day.

Hope you're having a Good Nut Day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mad Cow

Alright, not exactly. Angry calves -- not of the bovine variety -- spoiled my morning run. By the last 1/2 mile I was reduced to a wimpy-limpy walk. I have made them a promise that I won't run tomorrow. Only lifting or yoga. Then work, which usually involves several trips up and down the stairs for various provisions and the occasional fresh cookie delivery to my adoring staff. Hopefully then by Tuesday I can resume my new favorite cool a.m. activity.

Martin arrived home from L.A. last night. His movie is over and done. He's plenty tired, but the kids are thrilled to have him home so they'll likely attempt to run him ragged today. I'm going to head out and give the four of them some space.

But first I should start some laundry, clean the kitchen, tidy the living room, check the homework and make lunch. It's going to be a busy two hours. . .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's All Greek to Me

How am I supposed to focus today when I have found a recipe for Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Ouzo-Poached Figs? And it's from Eating Well, too. My latest issue arrived a couple of days ago and I finally cracked it this morning. . .just after savoring my post-run breakfast of Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts. (Libby, you should know I, too, have become obsessed with one particular food.) This is going to hang over me all day long. I wonder when I'll surrender to my desires. . .

You'll be the second to know.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Spun Out

I think I have fallen out of love with spinning. I made it back to my Friday morning class today and before my feet hit the pedals, I was dreading it. Every song, every hill, every sprint I hated. It's a good workout. A very good one. I certainly don't push myself to those limits when running. Am I just copping out? Getting lazy?

I have a theory. I discovered cycling class in February. It was shortly after I had started therapy, put the kids in school, dismissed the marriage and began my job search. It was an intense time and spinning was an intense distraction. For a fifty minute stretch, I could barely breathe, let alone lament the many difficulties in my life. A couple of months into my addiction, I connected the dots and saw that I was spinning my wheels yet going nowhere in more ways than one. So I tried running. I didn't like it, but I gave it more effort than before. And then my life started moving too. I think you get the picture.

So now that I can enjoy a decent run and so many other things are moving along swiftly and fabulously, do I really need to hop in Hot Red Speed three times a week to be abused by the cute girl with the thighs of titanium? Well, maybe I'll cut back. Cold turkey seems awfully harsh.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Blog is too Foodie-licious for You, Babe

I started sensing a few posts back that, as I feared after I found out Martin was a faithful reader, my juicy tidbits have only been culinary (oh man, I have to tell you about yesterday's recipes! Ok, later). No recent big revelations of new boyfriends, late night drinking binges, MySpace adventures. It's been bit pedestrian around these parts. Wow. You exercise. Yes, you cook. Can you give us something better?

Okay. Here's one. I met with the divorce lawyer on Monday. It appears this should be fairly simple. I think Martin and I can politely divide the household and the debts and the childcare and be on our merry ways. He's drawing up some papers and by next week it should be filed. I'm pretty blown away that this is finally really happening, but I don't think anyone could argue that we didn't give it fair time. It's been more than a year and a half since Martin asked for the separation. Though we have yet to physically go our own ways, we certainly have not behaved as a normal married couple for quite some time. And I've documented that here for the world to see.

So I guess you can chew on that for awhile. . .

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Running Like a Girl

Let's make that Grrrrl! I've been really enjoying my morning runs as of late. The weather in Kansas City has been nothing short of phenomenal so it's been especially easy to hit the pavement when it's a comfy 65 degrees when I head out as the sun rises. I realized this morning that it won't be long before it will be dark when I exit my front door at 6 a.m. Most of my exercise gear is black. I'll have to work on that.

And I found my way back to yoga this morning. I haven't practiced for more than two months as my two favorite teachers went on maternity leave at the same time my job search ramped up. I found an 11 a.m. class but didn't know what style it would be. The instructor turned out to be an old homeschooling acquaintance. It was a slow paced but very good class. Just perfect. I left refreshed and excited to restart my practice.

I am very much enjoying my first three days off of work with the kids at school (and Martin in L.A.) I've caught up with a couple of friends, enjoyed a cappuccino with Wasabi, made some tasty food, and tomorrow brings more of the same. I'll be making lunch for Concert Katrina and later joining Mrs. Diggs for coffee and toe-jobs. Back to work on Thursday and Friday should be fun as well. I dig my job.

And in case you're wondering what I've been eating (other than leftover curry), I traded a neighbor a glass of wine for four garden fresh tomatoes. I'm absolutely certain that I got the better deal. A basil chiffonade and fresh cracked pepper atop summer's finest fruit made today's afternoon snack stunning and satisfying. The remaining tomatoes are small. I'll have to barter for more very soon. Hmmmm, I wonder what I could get if I wandered the neighborhood with fresh-baked bread. . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No-Hurry Curry, part deux

Warning to Sam: Food pics to follow

The kids called me at work shortly after noon to ask if they could make no-bake cookies. I tentatively answered with a yes, but suggested they might prefer a fudge pop from the deep freeze. At that time, I also instructed Emily to take the curry that I'd put together last night from the fridge into the slow-cooker.

After I finished serving and cleaning up from lunch at Hope, I prepped a bit for dinner and realized I had a big slab of down-time ahead of me. I alerted the nurses that I was heading out and drove home to peek in on the kids. I arrived to find undercooked no-bake cookies, half eaten Annie's Cheesy Bunnies, a kitchen in complete disarray and two extra kids. Oh yeah, and an empty Crock-Pot.

So I cranked the cooker to "high" and started dinner. I also decided that I couldn't count on the rice being cooked to my standards and started it on the stovetop. Then I tackled the mess -- or at least a reasonable portion of it. And then I fell asleep.

I made it back to work in plenty of time to get dinner out for my adoring residents (ok, there are only a couple who are adoring) and was excited to taste my slowly simmered concoction when my long day (week) was done. I could smell it from outside and excitedly added the last couple of ingredients and tasted it. . . . .ho hum. Not as much flavor as I needed. I added salt, garamasala, cumin and, of course, ginger. Better. Then when served myself, I added sriracha sauce. It was exactly what I was craving at the end of my day. And best yet, someone else typed the recipe for me.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

No-Hurry Curry

Okay. One more day. Of my seven day stint, that is. I was completely wiped tonight when I returned from work. I looked around at the mess that had once been my tidy home and I sat on my arse. After a few minutes, I managed to tackle the kitchen then tuned into the Olympics. The women's marathon. Why is it that their pace is remarkably faster while running 26.2 miles than my 3.8 mile jog? I couldn't bear to watch for long. I was too embarrassed.

I then thought about how I'd purchased convenience foods for the kids to survive on while I was working my long weekend. And then remembered that they would be heading directly into a school week of not-so-healthy lunches. And I panicked. How will I juggle the nutritional needs of my children with my work schedule. Even on my not-twelve-hour-days, I'm not getting home until around 6:30. Then I make dinner? When do they do homework? Bathe? Play?

Slow cooker to the rescue. . .vegetarian style! I snagged Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker some time ago at the old Halfy's. I perused it once or twice but it never seemed necessary. It's a rare occasion that I realize dinner is coming more than 20 minutes before six o'clock, so why would I need a recipe that anticipates a meal by six to eight hours? Well, I do now. So while flipping between the Olympics and a couple of home design shows, I looked through the book. It contains lots of ethnic recipes and a curry caught my eye. I headed to the kitchen with a new found energy (again, glad to have cooking mojo leftover) and chopped and sauteed and seasoned and stirred. Tomorrow around noon, I'll instruct Em to turn on the Crock-Pot. And around 6 p.m. she'll start the rice. I'm already looking forward to the aroma that will greet me at the end of my workweek.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Out of Touch

Just a quick mention that I'm not ignoring you. Not at all. And my life isn't boring right now either. Not at all. I am, however, feeling pretty 20th century right about now. My laptop died. And then I tried using the other ancient laptop. Dead. So for a few days I used the kids computer and now it won't connect to the internet. Here I sit at work, using Chef's machine to check my email and connect with my massive fan-base.

So a quick update before I serve lunch. . .school starts tomorrow. Emily will hop her first school bus. I'm quite nervous for her to enter middle school. Isaac & Audrey will still be at the building behind our house. I don't know how the after-school juggle will pull together. Martin will be in L.A. next week then I don't know that anything else is in concrete as far as travel goes. (Oh yeah, he got back last Saturday night). So school. Yes. Another new something to fit into my work schedule.

Ok, time to feed the residents.

Yeah, fan-base. I like that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stir Crazy

At the end of my last seven day stint at work, I kind of surprised myself by longing to cook. My food. In my kitchen. Seasoned to my tastes. So as I drove the kids home from their grandparents', I asked for dinner requests. Audrey quickly responded, "Stir Fry!" and dinner had a plan. Upon arriving at home, I began marinating the tofu then made a quick run to the store for broccoli, snap peas and another red pepper and dinner was next to done. It was satisfying to pull together a dish for the family that I knew was healthy and delicious (note to my tofu detractors -- tofu can be tasty!)

Then the next morning because I'd found a super-duper price on blueberries while on my stir-fry run, I made my annual Blueberry Danish This is a recipe I discovered years ago but only make once I've eaten all the fresh summer berries I can stomach. I swear it was prettier the first time I made it, but it was tasty as usual. And again, rather gratifying to be creating in my kitchen.

But now it's time to go to work. Where I will cook. And bake. And be fulfilled.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dietary Deficiency

Turns out, I don't follow an average American diet. Okay, that doesn't come as a surprise to you, and I've never had reason to give it much thought. Until now. Because I'm feeding people who are accustomed to an average American diet.

Not a big deal, right? Well. Today a patty melt was on the menu. I didn't even know what was on a patty melt! I guessed pretty well, and we didn't have rye or Swiss, but I did manage the caramelized onions (and sampled them with goat cheese just to be certain they were good), but what about my fear of fried chicken? And this whole meat-for-breakfast thing is crazy, I tell you!

Almost every day this week I've been flummoxed by the menu to some degree. There have been no protests -- no one has thrown their food back at me. . .so I'd suppose I'm getting the hang of things. And my successful almost-patty-melt today gives me confidence that I might have a better grasp of things than previously thought. But just to be safe, I might study up on gumbo for next week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Holy Smoke!

The kids are at my parents' place this week. I took them there on Sunday so they'd be cared for, fed and entertained during my last seven-day workweek before school begins.

Though there are not dogs, ducks or horses on the five acres that my folks call home, there are three shy cats, tree frogs and cucumbers. Audrey had no cause for concern as I left for KC on Sunday because Gramma & Papa's garden boasts a couple of plants that produce enough cucumbers to satisfy Audrey and maybe even a couple other people per day. She's been harvesting them regularly.

Once my kids are out of the city limits, they always have high expectations for pyrotechnics. So after they washed Papa's car (that's definitely what I'm looking for in a visit to the grandparents' -- manual labor), they were entertained with smoke balls, bottle rockets and a fountain or two. At least Dad is in his electric wheelchair when he lights things on fire. Sure, he's got a big flammable battery attached to his butt, but he can also make a quicker retreat if he drops a firecracker where he shouldn't.

I know they went swimming at a nearby pool. A big water slide kept Emily and Isaac going round and round and up and down for hours. Mom didn't understand why they didn't collapse of exhaustion. And Audrey kept Mom at a tight tether at the pool until she made a little friend -- a specialty of hers in almost any public setting.

But my biggest concern of the week is what they did last night. . .Vacation Bible School. I believe there are only three days of activities, and I have yet to speak to the kids or my parents after their first evening of playful indoctrination, but I do wonder what kind of detox I'll have to do next week. Most of you know that I fall fairly left-of-center when it comes to religion and spirituality. A big fan of being a good person for the sake of being a good person, I don't think scaring the hell into a kid is a great way to instill a sense of personal responsibility. Hopefully they'll return with a paper mache boat, a plaster of paris hand print and few Bible stories that will serve as cultural references. And no requests to attend that weekly festival of judgement and hypocrisy that was the cornerstone of my childhood.