I haven't been sleeping well this week. I don't know if it's the heat, the Claritin-D or the overdose of Stargate Atlantis, but I have been tossing and turning and waking over and over.
And when I wake up in the middle of the night, I've been getting what I think of as "night terrors". I'll get this overwhelming and mostly irrational feeling of fear and worry that grips me in the middle of the night, and though I know that things will look much more doable in the light of day, I just can't stop the cycle of panic and concern. Do y'all ever get that?
My brain races along at lightning speed from worry to worry, blowing everything out of proportion. Did I pay that bill?! What else have I forgotten? What if I forget to pay the mortgage? What if I ruin our credit? What if I never get another job? What if Jimmy never gets another job? What if the stock market crashes? What if we lose our savings? What if we lose our house? What if Jude fails his test? What if he doesn't get into a good high school? What if we can't pay for a good high school? What if he doesn't get into a good college? What if we had an earthquake? What if our house crumbled around us? What if Jimmy died? What if Jude died?
Then I stop myself. I try to just lie there and relax. Ease my mind. Stop the insanity. But then it starts again...
So the other night, I woke up several times with this craziness, each time managing to eventually get myself back to sleep. Then at about 6:00 am I woke again in the grip of more panic. I knew that the alarm was going to go off at 6:45. Should I just go ahead and get up or try to get back to sleep? I tossed. I turned. I tried to lull myself back into a few last precious minutes of sleep. My heart was actually racing. I was pretty sure that somewhere in Jimmy's medicine cabinet there were a couple of old Ativans. Maybe that would help me. Calm me down.
I lay there, occasionally checking the clock. I had so much to do that day. So much that had to be done, so much I had to remember to do. How was I going to do it feeling so exhausted and filled with anxiety.
Suddenly, a small hand poked me in the face. I opened my eyes.
Jude placed his smiling, gap-toothed face right in front of mine, and declared in a loud, booming voice a la Patrick from SpongeBob...
"FACE MY MORNING BREATH!!! HHHHHAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
And with the HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA came a blast of stinky little boy morning breath, followed by a delicious, infectious peal of laughter.
I started to giggle. Jude started to giggle. We giggled and giggled and giggled and all of my anxiety and worry flew from my brain and was replaced with...joy.
This is probably a really good case for procreation
Debunked, I tell you! Don't you just love that word? Debunked!
I have been a busy little internet researcher, and have come up with this list of kitchen myths that JUST AREN'T TRUE. And which, I must admit, I have always thought were true. Some of this stuff is absolutely fascinating. And in a strange way, upsetting. I mean, I hate not knowing stuff. But no more! I am hereby enlightened!
1.If you put an avocado pit in your guacamole, it will keep the guac from turning brown.
Okay, I admit that this one has always puzzled me. But since everybody does it, I've done it. Because...well, everybody does it. Though now that I think about it, the "why" it would work is a bit iffy. A chemical reaction between the pit and the guacamole? Hmmm. Well, whatever, it isn't true.
Guacamole turns brown because of oxidation, exposure to the air. So I guess, technically, the pit does keep the guac directly under it from turning brown. But a rock or a...Lego would work just as well. Better to just cover the surface with plastic wrap or foil.
Adding citric acid also helps, so add all the lemon or lime juice that you like. Which you would anyway, if you know anything about guacamole. I say also add a bunch of garlic and cilantro and a little sweet onion. But that won't keep it from browning. Just taste excellent.
2. An "open box of Arm & Hammer in the refrigerator" absorbs refrigerator odors.
Mmmm...not so much. Apparently, it does work a little bit. But really, just a tiny, little bit. It's something to do with the whole acid vs. alkaline thing. The baking soda is alkaline, so if the nasty odors happen to be acid, the baking soda will in fact absorb and neutralize them. But if the odors are alkaline, the baking soda just says "Hey there friend!" and gives them a high five.
The other problem is that the fridge is a rather moist environment, and when the baking soda contacts water vapor, it tends to crust over and become inactive. So for it to be effective at all, you'd need to stir your little open box pretty often.
If you're really concerned about refrigerator odor, a bowl of activated charcoal would work much more efficiently. Either that or...throw out all the stinky food. Duh.
3. Adding salt to a pot of water will make it boil faster.
Okay, technically, this is true. But you'd have to add a buttload of salt to make any meaningful difference in the boiling time.
That's a scientific term, by the way. Buttload. No? Okay, I'll try to get all scientific for you. In order to raise the boiling point of 1 liter of water 1 degree Celsius, you have to add 2 oz. of salt (1/4 cup). Which is...you know, a buttload. So the typical dash of salt that I've been adding to my boiling water all my life because my mother told me to has, in fact, been meaningless. All it does is make the water...salty.
4. Never wash mushrooms, they'll absorb the water and become inedible.
Okay, quick show of hands. How many of you own one of these?
Yes, so do I. But I'm afraid, people, that we have been duped by the Mushroom Brush makers of the world. Duped, I tell you!
It's true that mushrooms are almost 90% water, and highly porous (anyone who's ever sauted a mushroom could tell you that - they're juicy little boogers). And technically, if you wash them they do absorb a small quantity of water. But it's very small. And the water does, in fact, render those dirty little mushrooms...clean. And nobody wants to eat a mouthful of dirt.
So the most efficient way to clean mushrooms is to give them a quick cold shower (never a long, hot bath), then dry them off quickly with a paper towel.
Any fun ideas of what to do with all our old mushroom brushes?
5. When you cook using wine or booze, the cooking burns off all the alcohol.
While you're not going to get drunk off a slice of Aunt Betty's famous rum cake, there is still alcohol in it. Come to think of it, that might be why Aunt Betty makes her famous rum cake in the first place.
The amount of alcohol that remains in a dish depends on a bunch of variables - the amount of alcohol, the temperature cooked, the method of cooking, the size of the pan, the length of time cooked, the ingredients. But in general, if you simmer something for hours, most of the alcohol goes away. But if you simmer for 20 minutes, you only burn off about 50% of the booze.
And even less alcohol escapes during baking, because it has to make it's way through the batter. If you flambe, you only burn off about 20%. No wonder Bananas Foster is decadent New Orleans' signature dessert. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
6. Searing meat seals in the juices.
Searing meat doesn't seal diddlysquat. Shocking, right? But it makes sense when you think about the amount of juices in the bottom of a roasting pan.
However, it is important to sear the meat because of something called the "Maillard Reaction", which is the chemical reaction between an amino acid and a sugar, caused by heat. Groovy. It's all VERY scientific, and involves big words like "reactive carbonyl", "nucleophilicity" and "deprotonated". But basically it means that when the proteins and sugars in meat are exposed to high heat, a whole bunch of chemical reactions take place, creating hundreds of flavor compounds. Flavor compounds = yummy.
7. Cooking time for roast meat depends on it's weight.
Okay, this one has totally rocked my world. Ever since my Mama gave me a copy of The James Beard Cookbook, back in 1987, I have religiously used James' minutes per pound instructions. For rare roast beef - 12 - 14 minutes per pound.
But apparently, this is not, of course, the best method. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. I mean, every piece of meat is shaped slightly differently, and has a different diameter.
The most accurate cooking method is to use a meat thermometer, and cook the meat until the internal temperature is reached. For rare roast beef , 130 to 135 degrees F.
I still love my James Beard.
8. The best place to store coffee is in the freezer or the fridge.
Okay, I've actually known this for years because a guy at the Starbucks told me. And of course "a guy at the Starbucks" would be the ultimate authority. But I have yet to convince my mother-in-law that this is true, and she religiously keeps her Chock Full o'Nuts in the fridge door rack.
The truth is that coffee beans are porous, and they will soak up any moisture and smells in the refrigerator. Eww. And as I said in regard to the baking soda, the fridge is an extremely moist place. Ground coffee is the most vulnerable, because it has more surface area exposed to the aforementioned odors and moisture. Eww again.
The best place to keep coffee is in a cool, dry pantry. And don't keep it long - coffee only stays fresh for a couple of weeks.
Actually...if coffee soaks up refrigerator odors, maybe you should use it instead of the baking soda!
9. Butter spoils if not refrigerated.
This is one of Jimmy and my ongoing arguments. Every morning, I butter Jude's toast and forget to put the butter away. Then Jimmy comes in and finds it and gets mad. "AHHA!" I say. Here is the truth, Jimmy!
Butter does spoil, but at a MUCH slower rate than other milk products because it contains salt, which impedes the growth of "spoilage bacteria". In fact, salted butter will rarely spoil, even if you leave it unrefrigerated ALL the time. Crazy man. Unsalted butter will spoil, but it will take about a week because it contains enough salt to slow the growth of bacteria.
So don't worry if you don't put the butter away after you butter the toast!
10. The spiciest part of a hot pepper is the seed.
Another one that just blew my mind! Turns out that capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat (not to be confused with Capzasin a topical arthritis-relief medicine, boy would that be an embarrassing thing to confuse), is located primarily in the white veins inside the pepper. The seeds contain little to no capsaicin, but are pungent because while slicing the pepper, capsaicin spurts on them.
I feel terrible about all those innocent little jalapeno seeds I've thrown away over the years. Poor little guys.
Okay. Consider yourselves educated. I feel truly enlightened. In fact, I think I'll make this another submission to...
Please visit We Are THAT Family for many other things that work!
It's hot. No really. It's really hot. According to the National Weather Service, it was 113 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday. Broke all the records. Good God. I'm supposed to be having...
...but the only thoughts I seem to be having are that it's hot. Really hot. I think my brain is baked.
And I don't want to hear how it's not so bad because it's a "dry heat". 113 is 113 is 113. I grew up in Texas heat and humidity, and I have to say that I much prefer a humid heat to a dry heat. It's the difference between a steam room and a dry sauna. The steam room may be hot, but it opens your pores and opens your head. The dry heat? Singes everything. Dries your skin to a crisp and makes the inside of your nostrils burn. Saps your body of moisture. You feel like you're drying up and turning into a raisin. HATE IT.
Did I mention that we don't have air conditioning in our home? I didn't? Well, we DON'T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING IN OUR HOME. Which isn't really as insane as it may sound to many of you. We live in a "historic" house, which is a nice way of saying "really, really old house", and back in the day, they built homes to stay cool. Wonderful insulation. And the amazing thing about Southern California is that at night it always cools off. So if you open the windows at night, the house stays really pleasant. In fact, just the other day, I said to myself "Self? This has been the nicest summer ever! There hasn't been one single day all year when I wished we had air conditioning!"
And then Mother Nature bit me in the ass.
Did I mention it's really hot?
Last night, when I looked at the thermometer in our living room, the very same thermometer that my sweet Daddy used to use to obsess over the temperature in his house, it said that the temperature in our bedroom at 10:00 pm was 91 degrees. I repeat that. 91 degrees in our bedroom. I realized that if I didn't take drastic measures, I would never be able to sleep. So I used the method I came up with back in college when I lived in an unairconditioned house in Texas (which really was insane). First, I filled the bathtub with lukewarm water and got in it. Then, I slowly added cold water to the tub until the water became frigid. I even poured in a glass of ice cubes. I got it as cold as my body could tolerate it. It was like something from an episode of House where they're trying to lower the patient's body temperature to slow down their metabolism or some such thing. And then, once I actually started to shiver, I got out quickly, took a shot of Nyquil, covered my body with baby powder, put on the flimsiest nightgown I owned (I would have gone naked, but I'm afraid Jude is already too interested in Mama's boobies) and went to bed with all the fans blowing full blast. It was...almost tolerable.
I ran into the guy who played Richard on Lost again the other day...
...He was with his kid. He had on very few clothes because it is...hot.
Just thought y'all would appreciate that.
I am hereby letting my freak flag fly once again. I don't know why I feel obliged to share this kind of stuff with y'all. My latest completely big dork sci-fi obsession is that I realized that I had never seen a single episode of Stargate Atlantis, so decided to rectify the situation. I started downloading episodes from Netflix. Since September 5, I have watched...egad...68 episodes. One day I watched 7. So if any of you noticed that I haven't been reading or commenting on anybody else's blogs it's because I've been very, very busy watching Stargate Atlantis. I am now halfway through Season 4. Only one and a half more seasons to go. Y'all don't think this is...strange? Do you? Do you?
One amazing perk of all this obsessive Stargate watching: I can now do an amazingly accurate Canadian accent. Because strangely enough, apparently every being that inhabits every planet in the entire universe speaks with a distinctly Canadian accent. Odd, aye?
Okay, I find this wonderfully cool, and it genuinely makes me feel cooler. Enjoy...
Hope your Tuesdays are cooler than mine. And pop by to visit Keely. She can do a perfect Canadian accent for you too!
It's time once again for Jude's Cub Scout pack's big Popcorn Fundraiser. The time every year when my son dons his little uniform and forces unsuspecting friends and/or strangers to buy a bunch of over-priced, not very good popcorn from him. I'm sorry, did I say that? I meant to say "support their local scouting community by purchasing our delicious popcorn products." And 70% of your purchase goes directly to our local scout pack. Which is actually pretty damned good. Those poor Girl Scouts may sell a buttload of those cookies, but they only clear some measly percentage of their sales. And if you don't care for the "delicious" popcorn, you have the option to purchase popcorn that will be sent directly to our troops overseas. Which is very, you know, patriotic. And a handy option for selling to unsuspecting relatives (suckers!) in other states.
All the boys are expected to participate in two areas of sales: Sidewalk Sales, which means standing on the street in front of friendly businesses and hawking your wares to strangers and Door-to-Door Sales, which means the individual sales to suckers (friends and relatives).
This year, Jude is HIGHLY motivated. Because he figured out that if he sells over $500 in Door-to-Door Sales, he gets to attend a special Video Game Bus party. Which for Jude would be akin to experiencing a Beatific Vision of God. Plus there's all that "Do Your Best" stuff.
Mama, however, is highly motivated to participate in the Sidewalk Sales, because for every shift a boy and his parent cover, they earn a $40 camping credit. Which is gonna pay for a whole lotta Rocket Camp. Yeah, baby.
So last Saturday, I dressed him up in his brand spanking new Wolf Cub uniform, marched him down to the sidewalk of a charming local shopping area and put the kid to work.
As I shared with you all last year (and you really should read it, because, if I do say so myself, it's really funny), Jude has uncanny sales skills. The kid is a shark. I truly don't know where he gets it, as Jimmy and I are both hopeless, helpless salespeople. Jude however, will NOT take "No" for an answer. He pursues folks down the sidewalk, he body blocks, he pesters. He's also very loud. "WOULD YOU LIKE TO SUPPORT THE CUB SCOUTS AND BUY SOME POPCORN?"
The shopping area where we were camped out is fairly affluent, it was a gorgeous SoCal day, and Jude and his little Tiger Cub friend, Hunter, were awfully damned cute...
And that popcorn just flew off the table. Those two managed to sell...drumroll...$800 worth of popcorn in 3 hours! Unbelievable! Women absolutely couldn't resist them. They kept saying things like "Aren't you just the cutest little things?!" It must be the man-in-uniform thing.
So I'm thinking "Man, this popcorn just sells itself!"
That was last week.
This past Saturday, we were signed up to sell at a different location. In front of the Ralph's Supermarket. A less than affluent clientelle. The store made us set up on the sidewalk on the side of the building. It was 99 degrees.
Here are Jude and his friend Charles, a Webelo...
I have to say, these boys tried. They did their best.
"WOULD YOU LIKE TO SUPPORT THE CUB SCOUTS AND BUY SOME POPCORN?"
"Would you like to support the Cub Scouts and buy some popcorn?"
As the hours ticked by, and the temperature rose, their little sales pitch sagged.
Customers were ducking them and running inside. They were sadly ignored. An inordinate number of homeless people seemed to wander by. Jude dutifully tried to sell them popcorn. Charles' dad and I considered trying to teach the boys more effective profiling skills. I mean, there were definitely some folks who were much more likely targets than others, but the boys didn't seem to notice. The attractive lady and her baby with the cart filled with groceries? Good target. The filthy man cursing to himself with the cart filled with everything he owned? Poor target.
I have to admit that we adults weren't much help. It was just too damned hot. And, to be perfectly honest, you get the camping credit no matter how much popcorn you sell. So...it was just too damned hot.
At least Jude's Door-to-Door sales are coming along well. He's just $100 away from that Video Game Bus. Just a few more suckers...er...relatives to hit up and that kid's on his way to Little Boy Gaming Nirvana. And all that..."Do Your Best" stuff.
...Jimmy was right.
He's seldom right. In fact, in the 20 years we've been together, he has been right exactly three times. He was right about the fish restaurant. He was right about that thing with the television. And now he was right about this.
Yesterday, September 23, was the first day of Fall.
How Jimmy knew this and I didn't, I don't know. I'll blame the terrible cold/sinus thing/sore throat that I'm suffering from. I must have been slightly delusional. I seemed to think that Fall had something to do with Labor Day, but clearly, I was thinking about white shoes.
So my punishment for being wrong for the third time in 20 years is cooking Jimmy one of this favorite things. Jimmy loves three things - shrimp, chocolate and corn. It's all he ever wants or requests. So in an attempt to keep with the "Fall" theme, I am making a Mexican corn soup, and have decided to share the recipe with you.
In fact, I'm going to share two versions of the same recipe - the skinny and the fat. Both are yummy. Jimmy wants the fat but I am making him the skinny. Because he's gained too damned much weight. Oh golly, did I say that? How terribly unkind of me. But I'm not bitter about this being right thing or anything.
And honestly, both versions are delicious and hearty and comforting, and maybe will be good for my cold/sinus thing/sore throat.
FAT SOPA DE ELOTE
1 cup water
3 ears of corn, off the cob (or three cups of frozen corn)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup minced onion
3 1/3 cups half and half
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Tabasco
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. diced roasted green chilies
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Blend together the corn and water in a blender or food processor, making a course puree. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and saute onions until translucent. Add corn puree and green chilies, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the cream and seasoning. Gently heat through - don't allow to simmer. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Pass these croutons...
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/ tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1 to 2 cups cubed French bread
Toss all together - spices, butter and bread. Spread out on a baking sheet, and bake in 325 degree oven for aboaut 15 minutes, turning twice.
NOTE: Don't skip the croutons! They're the best part!
SKINNY SOPA DE ELOTE
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 tbsp. canola oil
6 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 potato, peeled and sliced
8 ears fresh corn, off the cob
1 small can chopped roasted green chilies
1 cup nonfat milk
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large stockpot, and saute the onion. Add the chicken broth and the potato and cook until the potato is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the corn from 7 of the ears (reserve one ears worth). Simmer until corn is tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Carefully, puree the soup in either the food processor or the blender, in batches, until all the soup is pureed. Pour back into the stockpot. Add the reserved corn and the green chilies and simmer 5 minutes more, then add the nonfat milk and heat through. Do not allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
(Shaking head in humiliation) Autumnal Equinox, my ass.
Have y'all noticed anything new around here?
Look to the right.
My shiny new Second Blooming Reviews blog!
Isn't that cool? Now I'm a reviewer!
Okay, that's totally a lie. Well, sort of a lie anyway. It IS a review blog, and it IS new, but I'm not actually much of a reviewer.
Actually, remember about a week ago, when I told y'all about the cool vacuum cleaner I got as swag from the Mouthy Housewives party? The really, really cool and really kind of outrageously expensive vacuum cleaner?
Well silly me.
I TOTALLY FORGOT that according to my contract with the BlogHer advertisers, I'm not supposed to talk here about any gifts I've received for over $40.
So they asked me in a really VERY polite way, considering I had, you know, breached a contract, to...remove it. Or at least start up a separate review blog sans advertising just for this kind of thing.
I realize that I really should pay attention to little things like...contracts... more thoroughly. My lawyer Daddy is rolling in his grave. And I thank the BlogHer folks for their genuine understanding of my stupidity.
So go on over there to the right and check it out. And if you left a comment last time you read about the vacuum cleaner, leave it again! Because unfortunately, when I deleted the post from this blog, I had to erase all of your brilliant and enlightened comments.
Now all I need is more stuff to review! So if anybody has anything really, really expensive they want to give me...GO FOR IT! I now have a fabulous new place to write a thoughtful and unbiased review. I think I could write a particularly brilliant review for something like...say...a refrigerator. Or a new flat screen television.
Amanda is smart (she done went to Harvard, y'all - yes, you may be impressed), funny, has wonderful taste, and is one of those people who's always on the ball and pays attention - you know what I mean? She's got lots of ideas and makes them happen. Plus she's pretty and skinny and always well-dressed and has a really cute husband and two darling children and a gorgeous house and is a great cook and can totally hold her liquor. Okay, I guess we should probably all hate her.
But no, we should not, because she's also really nice, and she reads me regularly, so she MUST have amazing taste and judgment. I find her to be an excellent source for all things excellent.
Here are Amanda's latest favorite websites, shared for your enjoyment...
1. The Book Mama - Book Mama is a terrific resource for book-loving moms. She reviews children's books (Amanda says her reviews are "spot on"), provides Best Books lists and writes book-themed articles (who knew that September 13th was Roald Dahl Day? Dang, I'd have celebrated!). She organizes her archives into age/reading level categories - Reluctant Reader, Ages 4-8, Ages 8-12, Ages 12-Up, and Grown Up Books . She also provides handy links to Amazon if you happen to be an impulsive book buyer like me.
2. Common Sense Media - Another wonderful parenting resource. Common Sense Media lists reviews and ratings for movies, games, tv, books, music, mobile apps and websites and they provide a really clear "age appropriate" meter for everything. Their search function is extremely helpful - you can search by form of media, genre, or age of your child. It's very thorough. They offer their recommendations as well as parent recommendations and kids recommendations. They list both new media and things that have been out for years. I've found it to be a great way to find out if something I watched 20 years ago (back when I wasn't watching for kid-friendly content) is appropriate for Jude. I totally agree with Amanda that this is an extremely valuable site.
3. Catalog Living - Hysterical. Just hysterical.
4. Smitten Kitchen - Part food site, part mommy blog, always enjoyable. This is a beautiful foodie blog, with gorgeous photographs. And her writing is very funny and readable. Amanda has found her recipes to be extremely reliable. Her recipe index is easy to navigate. I just found a recipe for Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta that is making my whole body salivate. Mmmmmm..........
5.Rue La La - Uber cool online discount boutique. Flash sales go up every day at 11:00 am ET and only last for two days. High-end products at incredible discounts. It's kind of addicting, because the sales are so drastic, and you have to snag them fast or they'll be sold out. Amanda warns that you should buy something immediately, because if you're too slow, something could actually be snagged out of your online shopping cart! They give you a wonderful tease by letting you know what products are coming up, but you have to show up to find out exactly what's being offered and what kind of deal you can get.
6. Sleep Talkin' Man - A wife. A sleep talking hubby. A tape recorder. A blog. Fame. Really funny.
7. Omiru - Amanda's favorite fashion site. In their words "Omiru is a style and shopping guide dedicated to real style for real people. We cover figure flattery, fashion trends, and an assortment of articles aimed at making style accessible to all." Amanda loves it because they provide handy links below every picture so you can buy something that catches your eye. Even if you can't afford to purchase, it's great window shopping!
8. How Fast Time Flies - Amanda is an avid digital scrapbooker, and this is her favorite place to get it done. I'm afraid the whole digital scrapbooking thing scares me because it looks so addicting! I know that if I start I'll get obsessed. But were I to succumb, this site looks beautiful and user-friendly and has gorgeous graphics and fonts.
9. Dinner: A Love Story - Another beautifully photographed food site. What makes this site special is that it's devoted to "helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table." No preaching here, no chastising you for giving your kids a frozen pizza. Her goal is "to provide recipes and strategies that inspire you to keep fighting the fight." I'm afraid that Amanda's son Eli is one of the only children I know who is almost as much of a picky eater as Jude. And she's found this site to be a wealthy of knowledge. The other night she made the recipe for "Grilled Chicken For People Who Hate Grilled Chicken", and she said that Eli ate an ENTIRE CHICKEN BREAST. Impressive.
10. Parent Hacks - A blog of random parenting hints, written by their readers themselves. Amanda says it's a bit hit or miss, but I guess that's the nature of the place. Lots of contributors, so you can scroll through and read what looks interesting to you.
You know what? This is all so helpful that I'm going to submit it to Works For Me Wednesday. It works for Amanda, so it should work for you too!
TIme for more Random Tuesday Thoughts....
Or maybe it's ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
No that's not right.
More like fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttttttttt.
No that's not it either.
I'm in a mood. Sort of depressed/anxious/worried/unsatisfied/lonely/I don't know what.
Hold on. (rooting around in the old computer...pictures?...Nah...Ah music. Yeah.)
Here's something from the Cat Man. Press play and listen. You don't have to watch the video.
Yes, that's nice. Let's see if that helps.
Hmmm. What else around here could get me out of my funk?...
I've strangely enjoyed my new obsession with a volunteer job at Jude's school library. I've been finding it oddly satisfying and relaxing. They're in the process of completely automating the ancient library - ISBN numbers, bar codes, scans, computers. All very excellent. But the final hold up to getting it all up and running, involves peeling all the ancient spine label stickers off, and putting the new ones on that work with the new system. Sounds easy, right? No! Huge pain in the ass. Volunteers have been working for weeks peeling, peeling, peeling spine labels. Some of these books have 5 or 6 different labels/stickers stuck on them, under several layers of nasty, yellowing tape. Our trusty little band of volunteers have scratched our fingernails down to the nubs, but we keep coming back for more. There's something incredibly satisfying about a job well done. I can point to a row of books that will be there for the next 30 years and say "Oh look, those are MY labels." Today I plowed through all of Beverly Cleary, which I'm telling you people, was some job. I keep thinking I've done my duty, then think "Well...maybe I could just go down for an hour..." And I'm sucked in again.
This little dude always brightens my mood. Two teeth in one week! This kid's gonna break the Tooth Fairy.
He now looks like a hockey player who was in a fight. He's very proud of himself.
Go here. Now THAT's where I'd like to be. Ah, Paris. Just imagine. Hmmm. Okay, this isn't working, just making me more depressed.
Remember last year, how Jude got his big win for Scariest Costume in his school's Halloween parade?...
...Oh yes, very scary indeed. So today I asked him if he wanted to really try to "go for a win" this year, or if he just wanted a fun costume, and he looked at me rather matter of factly and said " Oh, I want to go for the win. But not for Scary Costume, I've already checked that off." I swear the kid said that! "This time, I want to go for Funniest." So after some brainstorming, he has decided he wants to go as a Giant Chicken. That lays eggs. Sigh...How the hell am I going to come up with that! But I have to admit...that's funny.
This was very comforting tonight. And so quick and easy that it lowered my stress level considerably...
Green Goddess Salmon
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 salmon fillets
2 plum tomatoes, diced (tonight I used cherry tomatoes, halved)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom of a baking pan with PAM.
Place cilantro, parsley, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a blender, along with 2 tbsp. water.Process until smooth.
Place salmon fillets on pan and spoon 1 heaping tbsp. of sauce on each. Sprinkle fillets with tomatoes.
Bake 13 to 17 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with extra sauce poured over them.
I wish I could take pictures like Jan! This salmon really looks gorgeous with the green sauce and red tomatoes!
This is really fun. You might want to temporarily turn down Cat. Or Yusuf Islam if you choose to call him that.
Music, neuroscience, the Pentatonic Scale! I love it!
Okay. I'm feeling much better. Helped in no small party by this...
And a glass of Pinot Grigio.
But mostly by...House and Cuddy! Huddy! Or is is Couse? No that sounds stupid. I'll go with Huddy.
SPOILER ALERT: Bestill my heart! House and Cuddy sex? House and Cuddy love? Ah. It's almost too good to be true. I can't wait for the rest of this season to see just how screwed up and sloppy their love story gets. Because there's nothing I love more than sloppy love.
And on that odd note, hustle on over to Keely's for more random thoughts.
The Catholic church didn't screw me up.
I know, shocking, but true. But I seem to know a tremendous number of adults who were raised Catholic who can not make this claim. Including my husband. Which makes me very sad. And it's amazing to me how one church, one faith, can have had such a diverse effect on so many people.
I attribute my happy, healthy Catholic upbringing to my mother, and to the hippie Jesuit priests at the church we attended when I was a child, who wholeheartedly embraced Vatican II (the ecumenical council in the early '60's that made huge changes to modernize the church) and made it a place of love and welcome.
Mama was a convert to Catholicism, having been raised Lutheran. She joined the Roman Catholic Church when she was a young adult, living alone in Chicago. I never really got the whole story as to why she converted, but I know she had gone through a particularly lonely and lost time in her life, and found the church an embracing haven. She loved the solemnity and ritual, and became extremely devout. She LOVED the music, and always dreamed of being in the choir, but never had the guts to audition, though she had a gorgeous voice. She became increasingly involved in the church as she got older, and set a wonderful example for me of volunteerism and service.
I believe it was her unique position as a convert that made my upbringing slightly different from that of many other young Catholics of my generation. So many children had religion crammed down their throats. So much guilt and negativity was placed on them. Jimmy was taught to never question, to just blindly believe what was told him. For him, church was a place of don'ts, a place that preached about sin and damnation.
My mother, on the other hand, was a great questioner. It was the very act of questioning that brought her to the church. And she never blindly believed anything. In fact, there were many things that she didn't agree with, and taught me that that was okay. I remember once when I was little, telling her that somebody told me that if a person didn't believe in Jesus, they would go to hell. Which just seemed mean to me. And the Jesus who loved me was kind. I mean, what about the children who were born in India or China or were Jewish or something. Surely, God just didn't send everybody to hell. Mama's answer? "Well, of course, that's just silly." She taught me that it was possible to choose a place to worship, and a faith to follow, without absolutely agreeing with every detail of it's dogma.
And it's also possible to believe in the need for change and growth within that institution. And that the best place to make changes, is from within.
That's not to say that I was always a good churchgoer. Au contraire. For twenty years, I was what we call a "two-timer" - someone who goes to church two times a year, Christmas and Easter. It was just so much trouble. And I never felt like I "got anything" out of it. I still defined myself as Roman Catholic, but I didn't practice the faith at all.
What brought me back to the church is actually pretty interesting. Jimmy suddenly went through something of a conversion. He started attending a Hindu temple, and became extremely interested in the teachings of Krishna and Buddha. He constantly read books on Eastern religion, and started practicing meditation.
And like most new converts, he began trying to convert me. Which raised my hackles. Nothing I hate more than somebody trying to tell me that what I believe is wrong.
But then Jimmy said something to me that was shocking. He said "What are you talking about? You're not really a Catholic. You don't go to church. If you believe in the Catholic Church, why don't you put your money where your mouth is?"
And he was totally right. And I started going to church again. At first, it was hard going. I was only going to appease Jimmy. Sad but true. I was attending the church where we had been married, but again, never felt like I was "getting anything" out of it. The priests were dull and uninspiring. The feel of the church was pious and preachy.
Then one day, I was driving around Hollywood, and read the sign of the big cathedral there. It said "Led by Jesuit Fathers since 1904". And suddenly I thought "That's what I need! I need me some Jesuits!" For those of you non-Catholics, The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are an order of priest. They're known as the kind of he-man, rabble-rousing priests. The educators and intellectuals. The fighters for social justice. The priests of the people, who believe in service first and foremost. Remember Jeremy Irons in "The Mission"? THOSE were Jesuits.
So that Sunday, I headed for the Jesuit parish, and I felt like I'd come home. A huge, beautiful cathedral, but warm and embracing and deeply spiritual. During communion that first Sunday, a tall, rather elegant transvestite went up for communion and I thought "Okay. I could go to this church." This is a place that says "Welcome!"
Then a few weeks later, I heard a sermon that touched me deeply, and changed my life forever. The priest said that he often heard people complain that they didn't "get anything" out of going to mass. And his question for those people was "What did you BRING to mass? How did you contribute?" It absolutely hit me like lightning, and I realized that in order to get something I needed to bring something. So I joined the choir.
Because despite my apathy, I always had faith. A strong faith, deep within me. Something very personal and indefinable. I would call it a strong personal relationship with God. And a strong knowledge that God loves me, and accepts me and forgives all and will always be there for me and guide me and care for me. If I allow him to.
I can't explain faith. I don't think you can teach faith. And I CERTAINLY never argue faith. Or question anybody else's faith. Or lack thereof.
But I had it. And coming back to the church as an adult, on my OWN terms was a powerful thing. A freeing thing. I had chosen for myself a place to practice my faith. A place where I wanted to be. A community.
There are a lot of aspects of the Catholic Church that I believe need to change. A LOT of aspects. The insular nature of the "old boys club" of priests is dangerous, and it was out of this that the sex abuse scandal got so out of hand. I won't get into this whole scandal because it's such a hot-button issue. But I will say that it saddens me for two very different reasons. On one hand, some extremely evil men were given a save place after committing heinous crimes against children. It's unbelievable and outrageously irresponsible that anyone thought that protecting these men was the "right" thing to do. But on the other hand, every good, loving, honest, devoted priest in the world was unjustly thrown into a position of suspicion because of a handful of evil men. I know some wonderful men, who were incredibly angry that these criminals had put them in a position where they couldn't even talk to a child or give a child a hug without being questioned. Sad.
I believe that women should be priests. There's no reason for them not to be except for the fact that the church is led by a bunch of old men. And sadly, it's probably more likely for priests to start being allowed to marry than that women will be allowed to be ordained. Argh.
Attitudes about sex and birth control and divorce are archaic. And interestingly, the vast majority of contemporary American Catholics disagree with the church's stance, and just do their own thing.
But change IS happening. I see it all the time. I certainly see it in my church, and in the people in my choir. Our church has a strong and vital Gay/Lesbian Ministry . Our priests regularly remind us to avoid judgment or prejudice of any kind, despite race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. When I started an organization to organize mothers in favor of gay marriage, our church's pastor, Father Mike, was the first person to send me an email of support. I've heard priests preach from the pulpit that women should be priests.
I believe that when you look at the Catholic Church, to see the true church, you can't look to the old men in the Vatican. The hierarchy and dogmatists. You must look to the parish priests. To the lay ministers and women who basically run the place. They're the people who fill the place with love and embrace.They are the faithful who are shaping the new American Catholicism. They represent the church that I love. The church that I couldn't imagine leaving. The church that I choose to stay with and do my best to enact change from within. They are the real Catholic Church.
For more spins on Religion (many of which are probably not so opinionated and long-winded), please visit Sprite's Keeper!