Movie Review: Moms’ Night Out

11176547_det

I have to admit something horrible.  I’m kind of a movie cynic. 

There are a few movies I really like, and a handful I like…but most movies are either not my taste because of writing/plot/acting (“Grindhouse” is not my kind of movie), or they are a “laundry movie.”  They’re good, but they keep you company while you’re doing the laundry.  For the record, “Overboard” is absolutely the best “laundry movie” on earth.  I can quote that thing backward and forward.

So, knowing all this, I  didn’t really think I would like this movie at all.  

It’s a “Mom” movie, so I figured it would just be full of dumb jokes and stressed out moms.  I expected to leave the theater embarrassed of my profession, honestly.

I was EXTREMELY surprised with how it turned out!

Continue reading “Movie Review: Moms’ Night Out”

Advertisements

Is There An “Introvert Shed” At The Maker Faire?

Because I could run that shed single handedly.

Okay, so I am not a “group” person.  I am even less of a “crowd” person.
Last year I made the hard decision of opting out of going to the Maker Faire.

I LOVE the Maker Faire.

makerfaire-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the fire,

Maker-Faire-Bay-Area

 

 

 

 

(photo credit)

 

Continue reading “Is There An “Introvert Shed” At The Maker Faire?”

The 5 Stages of Grief After Finding People on Facebook

This article originally appeared on Ravishly.

Featured on:Ravishly-300x102

The Five Stages Of Grief After Finding People On Facebook

Don’t say the following: “Maybe they’ll remember me!” “I bet they would love to get a message from me!” “Contacting the popular kids while we are in our 30s is a fantastic idea and doesn’t look desperate at all!”

 

I made the mistake of searching for an old friend on Facebook the other day.

We’ve all been there.  I mean, you spent 4 years with these people in high school…where are they??

I went to high school with this person, and that was about 18 years ago…so you gotta figure that since I haven’t heard from her in that long (and vice versa), we weren’t that close.  But her name popped in my head and I was just wondering what had become of her!  And I had some time to kill while dinner was cooking, so nothing like avoiding doing something actually practical, right?

To my amazement, I found her pretty quickly!  She got married and had kids…pretty normal fare.

But then I recognized one of her friends.  I noticed that she was still friends with people from high school.

Like, with almost everybody we knew  in high school.

Continue reading “The 5 Stages of Grief After Finding People on Facebook”

Are You Who Your Critics Say You Are? ….Are You Sure?

There is a blog I follow which I just love.  It is an insight into the business of the dead, which is normally a subject we shy away from.  But Caleb Wilde is a third generation mortician, and he loves his work…and there are things he brings up that I would never think about.  His writings and perspectives of lives and deaths of lives, and the survivors and the whole business around it, is fascinating.

4.6.2014-Caleb-Wilde
Caleb Wilde – Confessions of a Funeral Director

Continue reading “Are You Who Your Critics Say You Are? ….Are You Sure?”

Learning Zen From The Pros

Listen, it’s been a long week.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has ever reached a Friday and said, “Thank goodness I have all Saturday to clean the house and get caught up on laundry, get a hold of the epic dishes apocalypse in the kitchen once we have more soap, and finish all the monster gardening projects I have going in the backyard.  Because it sure isn’t happening today.”

Am I right?

Continue reading “Learning Zen From The Pros”

Motherhood Isn’t What I Expected.

I can’t say I am a particularly “emotional” person.  It has never been a quality I have been able to possess, even though it would be really handy at times.  There are definitely times when I envy women who are able to read a Hallmark card and start weeping, or hear devastating news and are overwrought with empathy.  They make it look so easy!  Somehow, this gene just never made it my way.

Let me put it this way:  I can sit through “The Notebook” without any tears.

 201432720564938786
Tough as nails, am I.

Continue reading “Motherhood Isn’t What I Expected.”

To Nourish With Food: Growing Your Own Food Without Losing Your Mind

When I think about growing my own food in my own garden from my own backyard, my first thought is:

That is a stupid amount of work.

I love to be active, and I love working…in general.  But gardening is really a ton of work, and it takes a long time to get results, and I know that deep down I am an inherently lazy person.  I need good reasons to start things, and some personal responsibility to kick me in the butt and finish them.  If I don’t start my projects with a good, solid purpose I just won’t have the follow-through to complete it.

 

My purpose of having a garden has to be because I sincerely love watching it grow.  I love watching things grow and seeing the fruit develop.  It is a deeply satisfying and moving  part of life, to grow things.  This is the part of farming that people speak the most fondly of: the satisfaction of hard work and seeing your completed product in the end.

However, I am not a flower person.  Flowers are pretty, sure, but they do nothing for me (in the garden…I love getting flowers from Ben!).  I need my gardens to be more than just for looks.  I would rather grow things that we can use.  Things that have a harvest.  I also want to grow food that generally costs more at the store.

I also make sure I have a good balance of annuals and perennials in order to always have something growing in the garden along with the luxury of planting new things in the spring.  A little to stay all year round, and a little to work on each year.  This keeps my workload on a manageable level.

So here are some gardening tips I use on my little homestead!

1.  Grapes

IMG_5664

I remember buying grapes with Ben one time and paying something like $10 for a bag of grapes.  He remarked, “$10 FOR GRAPES, ARE YOU KIDDING?!”  Ya, tell me about it!  So I just never bought grapes…they just cost too much for what you get and I could never justify that in our budget.

So I was thinking: what if you just bought a grapevine?  How much would that cost, and how many grapes do you get from one vine?

Let me tell you, I paid $12 per vine and got grapes the second year I planted the vines. There have been baskets and baskets and baskets of grapes every season!  This was probably the best investment I have made in my garden, hands down, so it gets top spot!

Grapes are perennials, so they will lose their leaves every winter and grow again every spring.  It is important to prune the vines after your harvest because one branch will yield one bunch of grapes…and that’s all.  So cut the branch off after you get the grapes, and next season you get a new branch with new grapes.

I would HIGHLY suggest ordering your grapevines from Stark Bros. (link!)  They have always given me amazing plants, and I will always order from them.

2. Fruit Trees

IMG_5658IMG_5657IMG_5660IMG_5657

Fruit trees are the greatest investment because they will give you so much bang for your buck…once they start giving you some bang.  Although trees take a few years to grow and start giving you fruit, they are a long-term investment in your garden that is completely worth it.

The trees I have going so far are: peach, apple, cherry and apricot.  

The reasons for these selections are twofold: on one hand, the fruit from these trees are expensive in the store.  Apples, alone, cost about $1.50 an apple.  They aren’t much cheaper at the Farmer’s Market.  Sometimes you can get them for $1 a piece, but that is still hefty, in my mind…because my house will eat apples all day long if we could.  I could spend $100 in apples every month without blinking.

or

You could spend $30 for an apple tree (again, from Stark Bros.) and get bushels of apples every season.

Now, the second reason why I chose these trees is this: the apricots are ready in May/June.  Peaches in July.  Cherries in August and Apples in October.  In between there I have grapes harvesting.  I have timed the trees to be in harvest one at a time to make sure that we always have fruit available (besides the winter)!  I love the order of this.  

3. Herbs!

IMG_5661

Herbs are so easy to grow, I always have herbs on hand.  Here are my basil and bay leaf plants.

I also love having fresh mint, oregeno, rosemary and thyme on hand.  These just need a pot and some sun and water, and you are good to go!

I use my herbs in salads, chicken dishes, stir frys, and pickles.  Herbs can be used for rubs, iced teas, crockpots, baking, or just fresh!  They are totally worth having in your garden.

4. Berries

IMG_5662

Would you rather pay $5 for a little box of blueberries, or grow your own?

These are my two blueberry bushes: the one on the right is my blueberry bush.  The one on the left is my pink blueberry bush!  I am so excited about these it’s not even funny.

I have had a blackberry bush before, but they are an invasive plant and they are covered with thorns.  Even the leaves have thorns.  So I would highly suggest thornless berry bushes, if you are going to get them.

5. Vegetable

IMG_5663IMG_5655

Vegetables are absolutely a must in gardens.  They’re just super easy to grow…if you remember to water them (just sayin.).  

Tomatoes are fantastic to grow and I devoted an entire raised garden to them this year.  It also is in my bloodlines to grow tomatoes, so I would probably grow tomatoes even if I hated them.  Every woman I have ever been related to has grown tomatoes, so I kind of have to.  Fortunately, I LOVE TOMATOES.  Eat them cooked, eat them fresh, eat them with cheese…tomatoes never go to waste in this house.  I also planted a couple peppers in this bed to get some zesty tomatoes…

Squash, zucchini and cucumbers are also super easy to grow.  Anyone who has grown zucchini knows that it’s almost impossible to have a small crop of zucchini.  These are good to grow because, just in case you don’t have a great crop with other plants you are guaranteed to have a great crop with these!  

As a gardener, you do have to buffer for your ego.  Just in case.  You never know.

6. Livestock

IMG_0611

Chickens are so super easy to raise, I would encourage everyone who can to get a few.

We have 7 and we get the chicks in February when they are available at the feed store.  

They eat chicken feed, table scraps and bugs…and your very lucious, delicious garden: so put a fence around things you care about.  The hens are generally very quiet and we love having them.  They are very sweet creatures and are fantastic with kids.  I would suggest getting them as chicks because then they are used to you and are familiar with being picked up/held, and that makes life a lot easier for everyone.  We start getting eggs after about 6 months and with Rhode Island Reds we get one egg a day.  I think chickens are absolutely essential for a good starting homestead!

So there you go!  Go nourish your home with your own food!

 

1. (new!) To Nourish – With Food: How To Feed A Gluten Free Family

Finding ways to eat gluten free is hard enough for one person.

There are so many things you can no longer eat, from bread and tortillas to salad dressings and spreads.  Eating out is even more tricky, since you have to know what to eliminate, as well as buzzwords to look for (gravy, fried, sauce, or wrapped in are all words that will key you in to if it has gluten in/on it!).  Even if you order from the gluten free menu, you aren’t guaranteed that it will arrive gluten free.  There have been a number of times that my gluten free dish has been served with gravy (which has flour in it), or even with a side of garlic bread.

Garlic bread…seriously.  I talked with 3 waiters about this, and they all insisted that the salad I ordered was gluten free, and the garlic bread was “just a garnish.”

“Here is your lovely gluten free salad with a side of death.  Enjoy!!” (for the record, the manager saw all of this and didn’t charge us for the salad, which was very nice of her)

What happens when you try eating gluten free for the whole family??

From eating out to grocery shopping to cooking it yourself, this can be a difficult journey to grasp…but I promise it is easier than it seems!  But it also takes a good amount of diligence, so let’s break this down:

1. Bye-Bye BBB: Assume that anything that is Boxed, Bottled or Bagged has gluten in it.  It might not, but unless you check, assume the worst.  I discovered the gluten in Potato Buds when I was in college, and Rice a Roni has pasta in it (I really didn’t know this. I just knew that I didn’t know how to cook rice when I was 20. Anyone else raised on Uncle Ben’s?  Anyone?)  The key is to check every single ingredient list.  Twizzlers? Wheat.  Soy Sauce?  Wheat.  Salad dressings? If you can decipher the chemically-long ingredients they have in there, there is probably gluten in there somewhere.  Check every bag of chips, every box of cereal and every bottle of whatever.

2. Learn to Cook From Scratch: I know this is kind of extreme, but it will save you so much time in the end.  Learn how to cook rice.  Learn how to cook the foods you love without using pre-packaged ingredients.  Use as many whole foods as you can without drinking the “whole food” kool-aid.  I just think life is complicated enough without adding in volumes of encyclopedias of philosophies, so keep it simple.  Just cook.

3. Learn How To Order Out: This will also save you a world of hurt…literally.  Make no exceptions.  You cannot scrape gravy off, you cannot pick all the bread crumbs off.  Be diligent with what you order and how you order it.  Bunless hamburgers are great, salads are generally always safe, and whole food dishes are pretty easy to order.  But say goodbye to pasta, lasagna, fried chicken, doughnuts, and pizza.  Also, look for funny wording: My husband let me know about Mountain Mike’s pizza offering “gluten free crust,” which is a very specific order.  That is not a gluten free pizza, that is just a gluten free crust…so we went in to check it out, and it was the most worthless gluten free offer I have ever seen.

Please be aware that our gluten-free crust is prepared in a non-gluten free environment. During normal kitchen operations involving shared cooking and preparation areas there is a possibility that our gluten-free crust will come into contact with wheat flour and/ or other non-gluten free items. We cannot guarantee that any menu item is completely gluten-free. Customers with gluten sensitivities should therefore exercise judgment in consuming such items.” (link)

Just consider that pointless.

4. For Heaven’s Sake, Stop Contaminating Yourself: I’m speaking from experience on this one, and I will say that contamination is the worst.  Because you don’t expect it.  You cannot use the same pan for gluten free pancakes that you just used for regular pancakes.  You cannot stir a gluten free pot with a spoon you just used for something else.  Every bread crumb, every pot, every cupcake tin will be contaminated.  This week I have been contaminated by using the toaster, because I’m stupid.  I know it’s contaminated, but I was in a rush: I also spent over two hours with symptoms, and it wasn’t worth it.  So, you gotta be diligent with gluten free environments.

5. Peer pressure is tough.  Learn to toughen up and say no: I haven’t met one unsympathetic person when it comes to gluten intolerance.  Just about everyone thinks it’s awful, and although I can’t say it’s the worst thing in the world…I mean, it’s not freaking cancer…it’s a challenge to get the hang of it.  But there will be very good friends or family who want to make you gluten free dishes, and it is normally safer to not eat them unless you know  that they know how to do it right.  No white bread, no spelt bread, no crumbs, no cross-contamination, no flour, no dusting, no breadcrumbs, and seriously no cream of whatever soup.  Peer pressure is probably the hardest because generally, you want to make people happy.  Generally.  Even when you’re eating out, you need to be very firm and not allow gluten on your plate.   Some of us have trouble when comments like, “it’s just a little flour,” or “it’s just white bread” are used, because that little bit is horrible.   Absolutely horrible.  And you will be in pain for hours, if not days.  Learn how to stand your ground and not eat food you are even a little iffy about.  It’s tough, and you have to learn how to do it without hurting people’s feelings, but you gotta do it.

 

Conclusion: Eating gluten free can be a tricky journey, but it can also open the culinary doors to things you’ve never tried before!  Like seafood, or vegetables you’ve never tried.  Heck, you might even figure out how to pronounce quinoa right.

Like coconut macaroons from Bouchon.BouchonBakery-logo2

 

Bouchon Plug!