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Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Channel A Mid Life Crisis?

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis.
It's been creeping up on me. But yesterday, it smacked me in the face.
I dropped my once-tiny-baby daughter, who is now 5-foot 6-inches tall, off at high school yesterday. She spent the day "shadowing" a student at the high school we're considering for her for next year.
How could this be?
It seems like about 2 weeks ago I just found out I was pregnant. And just last week when she was packing up her pink wheel-around book bag (because she was too little to carry it on her back!) for first grade.
Now, it's struck me that in four years and a few months, she'll be headed off to college.
Then (my mind moves quickly through the math here) two years after that, BabyD will be packing up and moving on, too.

And--just to throw fuel on the fire of my emotional roller coaster--LittleD was having a fashion crisis. (Of course. After all, this was--sort of--her first day as a high schooler.) Her white cardigan just wasn't working with her T-shirt. She needed something a little less dressy. So, she borrowed my white hoodie.
Did you get that?
MY white hoodie.
What a shocker.
Up until now, I thought I wore "old lady clothes"...
Since when is she big enough to wear my clothes beyond a game of Playing House Dress Up in the basement? This was the real deal--in public.

And, somehow, I think this might be just the first of what's to come.

So, true to my anal disposition, I proceeded to give her my Rules for wearing my stuff.
Rule #1:  No Sharpies.
       (If you have a teenager--and I can vouch that this isn't just mine--there seems
to be some abnormal obsession/fascination with Sharpies and Duck Tape these days.
And you can't bleach out Sharpie.)
Rule #2:  No stretching out the sleeves.
Rule #3:  This is only a loan. I want it back by 5:30 in the same, or better, condition!

Do you think I covered all the essentials?
She better not even try to borrow my boots. I have at least 8 rules for shoes...

So, there I was, at 7:40 am dropping off my 13 year-old baby daughter, who is wearing my clothes, with a bunch of strange, older teenagers and unknown teachers. She was pretty excited (now that her wardrobe crisis was resolved to her satisfaction). Until, that is, it was time to open the car door.

Suddenly, my Big Girl reverted to Mama's Baby:
She asked me to walk her inside.
(Ha! I won! She still needs me!)
So I did. But she had to get her good-bye hug in the shadows of a fairly dark parking lot.

Yeah, I did my duty and embarrassed her when we got inside.
(What else did she expect???)
When one of her friends (one of my favorites) showed up to shadow, too, and hugged LittleD, I demanded one, too. I got a killer eye-roll and "Mooommmm!" from my daughter.

So, I left my oldest in a strange place and headed to the office.
Trying to figure out how to channel the emotions of a mid-life crisis.

What should I do now?
If I was a man, I could have an affair, buy a sports car and get obsessed with working out.
But, somehow, those options aren't morally, financially and logistically appealing to me.

So I'm weighing my other options. And I'm open to suggestions.
#1:  Eat my way through this:  While I enjoy food (and all kinds of it), this doesn't seem to be a wise option, because it will only make me miserable later when I go for an annual check up and the doctor suggests I lose a little weight. I'm clinging to the fact that I'm still in my healthy weight zone for my height, age and gender.

#2:  Go on a crash diet so I can fit into my old jeans:  This sounds like too much work (and I like eating too much). And going on an exercise binge would require sweating. I. Hate. To. Sweat. Besides, my old jeans are high-waisted "mom jeans", so I really shouldn't go there. (If full disclosure, I did get rid of them.)
#3:  Cry on my girlfriends' shoulders:  I need to work on this one. When The Husband decided to embark on his mid-life crisis a couple of years ago, I tried this one. Only my entire support system utterly and completely failed me. So, I'm recruiting new friends now. I'm just trying not to look to desperate in the process.
#4:  Take up drinking:  I know wine is the "in" drink for women my age, but I just can't do it. I've tried a few different wines, but I just can't get past that old fruit taste. (Sorry to my bloggy pal who works for the Wine Grape Growers.) And, it's not just wine. I can't stand the stench smell of beer. And the $105-a-bottle Scotch I once sampled was like swallowing (really expensive) paint thinner. Yeah, yeah, "it's an acquired taste" I keep hearing. But, life's too short to keep swigging back stuff I really don't like. (This includes coffee, I might add.) Especially when my taste buds welcomed iced tea, milk, even Dr. Pepper without much trepidation or training.

#5:  Get a tattoo:  Hepatitis. 'Nuff said.
#6:  Take a spa day:  This one might be do-able. If I could find the time. And if I could justify the cost and overcome the guilt of being so indulgent for a few hours. (Yeah, I got issues.)
#7:  Dye my hair blond:  This one makes me laugh out loud. The Husband suggested it. (And I'm not totally sure, by his tone, if he meant it or not--which is the scariest part.)
#8:  Start dressing like I'm 21 again:  I don't know what that means, because I was 21 in the early 90s. And, while a some of the retro stuff is back in, I'm not sure I could accurately interpret that era and apply it to today. Or, if I dressed like a 2011 21-year-old, I'm afraid I would frighten pets and small children with the cellulite that would be peaking out of the short skirts causing bulges in my jeggings. I think, as a public service, I'll skip this one.

Those are the options I've come up with so far. Not such a great list. So, I'm welcoming any suggestions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



It's mid-October. Isn't it time for those nasty, icky, slimy, squirmy, stinking, yucky worms to go away??

I. HATE. Them.
They gross me out.

I saw three today. 
It was raining and 49 degrees. They just need to leave.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Slower-Cooker Mac N Cheese

Yeah, you read that right:  Slow-Cooker Mac N Cheese.
I. Love. This. Dish.
And, I think, it may just be the perfect solution to a problem that's been plaguing me for years:
What to eat for Sunday lunch?

We do not live very close to our church. So, by the time we get there for Sunday School and stay for last service, then drive home, we are famished. Heck, it's almost 1 pm by the time we get home to eat lunch. (Yeah, we love hitting the local Chinese joint--like half the congregation. But, who can afford that every week?)

Now you understand why we have grilled cheese and canned soup a lot of weeks.
It's the easiest thing I can whip-up just before the low-blood sugar-induced coma sets in and I pass out. (Confession time:  So, I really, really love grilled cheese. And could eat it nearly everyday. But that's beside the point--okay?) But I digress...

This recipe from the Gooseberry Patch Slow Cookers, Casseroles and Skillets cookbook cooks in just the right amount of time to be ready when we get home for lunch.

I have to tell you:  This is really the only time I'm likely to make this dish, as my weekday work schedule requires I pick slow-cooker recipes that take 8-10 hours. This recipe will definitely not work in that length of time. (I kept it on "low" to keep it warm for LittleD to get home two hours after dinner and the outside of it was starting to turn to cheese leather.) Stick to the 3-4 hour time range.

Let's get to the recipe, shall we?
(I'm asking for forgiveness for my crummy pix. I used LittleD's old, old digital camera because she'd swiped mine, and some of the pictures were a bit fuzzy.)

Start 8 oz of elbow macaroni cooking in boiling water.

Gather up the primary ingredients:
1.5 c. milk, 12 oz can evaporated milk, 1/2 c. margarine (melted),
2 eggs and 3 c. of cheddar cheese

Combine the melted margarine with the beaten eggs.

Add the evaporated milk.
(Are you like me:  Do you stand in the grocery aisle and think:
"Is that condensed milk or evaporated milk at home in my pantry?"
Then inevitably buy the wrong one. I should never shop without a list.)

The recipe calls for salt and pepper to taste.
Here's my secret ingredient:  I substitute white pepper in recipes like this.
It doesn't show up in the finished product.
(Sometime I'll tell you how my mom's abuse of pepper strikes fear in my family.)

Stir in the cheese shreds and milk.

This recipe basically looks like soup at this point.
I must admit:  I was really having my doubts about how this was going to turn out.
Pour it in a crock that has been sprayed with non-stick spray first. ***important!***

Set it to cook on low for 3-4 hours.
Here's a peek at the recipe.

I was pleasantly surprised by the final product.
Check this out:

Is that not beautiful?
I served it with a salad and fruit.
And everybody was happy.

This one will definitely go on the rotation at our house--especially on Sundays.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another GP Recipe: Greek Fish

So I'm getting a little behind in my Gooseberry Patch blogging.
I've cooked a few things from Slow Cookers, Casseroles and Skillets. 
Here's one I really like for several reasons:
A.  Fish is so quick to make--it bakes in less than 20 minutes!
B.  This is a nice change-up from our regular food. (The Husband is supposed to be eating more fish every week, but everybody seems to get bored with it at our house.) and
C.  Did I say it was quick and easy???

Here's Greek Tilapia with Orzo
(I really, really have to switch cameras when I'm shooting the cookbook page... they always come out so orange.)

Start with your basic ingredients...
1.5 lbs of tilapia
cherry tomatoes
8 oz orzo pasta (don't you love this stuff?)

Put the fish in a 9 by 13 baking dish.
Pour the juice of one lemon and the zest over the fish.

Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of oregano.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and spread in the pan with the fish.

Cover with foil and pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes--until the fish is flaky
(or, more technically 140 degrees, which wasn't listed in the cookbook, but we all know it--don't we?).

While it's in the oven, cook the orzo in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, then drain and fluff with a fork.

Then, serve up a pile of orzo with some of the juices from the fish pan and the fish over the top.
I really, really liked this meal (with a fruit salad and a broccoli salad on the side).
In fact, I annoyed my coworkers with the smell of microwaved left-over fish at lunch time. (Although, honestly, I don't think Tilapia smells nearly as much as salmon. So there.)

If you want to see more Gooseberry Patch recipes, click over to the Real Farmwives of America blog to see what some of the other ladies are cookin' up.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perfect Job for a Carhartt

The weather turned a little nippy over the last week. Which made me appreciate my new Carhartt jacket even more.

I needed to get some firewood stacked and some of it stowed for a fall camping trip (if we can ever manage to get a free weekend!). So, with the temps hovering in the upper 40s/low 50s, I donned my new work coat to do something about some of what's left of that beastly tree The Husband has been battling since an ice storm took it down this winter.

When the folks at Carhartt offered an item from their online catalog's Women's line to The Real Farmwives of America, I was excited about this jacket, because it has a hood. My existing jacket what was I thinking when I bought it? doesn't have a hood--which I hate in really cold weather or when it starts raining. Because, sometimes, you can't manage an umbrella. So, that was the main attraction.

 Can I just tell you, I love this jacket.
I think the sizing runs a little big, but it's made from a great, heavy-duty fabric.

The zipper, which can open from the bottom or top, is protected with a double snap flap--a feature that will be great when it's seriously cold and windy.

I love the pockets--inside and out. The inside pockets are big enough to keep a bottle of water handy.

The funniest feature--or so I thought initially--is what my girls are now referring to as the "Ninja sleeves." The sleeves have Spandex cuffs that can be worn tight around your wrists.

Or you can pull them down to cover most of your hands like fingerless gloves. At first, I wasn't so sure about them. But, after using them with work gloves I think this is a totally cool feature. It keeps any cold air or crud from working it's way up your sleeves.

You can check out this jacket and other nice stuff at the Carhartt web site.
I have to say, you can't beat genuine Carhartt for quality. I own a knock-off jacket that was issued to me at work quite a few years ago. After one washing, literally, it looks like it's about 6 years old. (What can you say? Low bidder... you get what you pay for.) Anyway, after the staff complained, the acquisition folks didn't buy them any more!

So, if you'd like a chance to win a Carhartt of your own, please visit to sign up for their giveaway. 

Carhartt did provide me with this product to review but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.