Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution

In 2007, I ran the Hartford Half Marathon. I had been through the cycle of pregnancy and childbirth three times in five years at that point.

Why did I do it? I needed too.

I wanted to prove to myself that I was still the major athlete I once was.

From about 1987 to 1994, I spent three hours a day at the gym five days a week at practice plus games. It was fantastic.

So fast forward to 15 years later which is today.

What's my New Year's resolution going to be...

I'm going to run the Hartford Half again.

I'm going to change my personal best to be even better.

See you there!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Electronic Books

I bought a book two nights ago in electronic form. This was my first time into this modern age of books. I was a bit skeptical but it was late at night, I was suffering from my typical insomnia and everyone else would have been disturbed if I had gotten out of bed and turned on the light. Thus, I figured out for a minimal price I could have an electronic book delivered to my telephone. Wow. No lights. No movement. Just me and my book.

Because I have purchased many books from amazon in the past they made good suggestions on what I might like to read. Impressive and helpful.

I liked the convenience and the lack of dust.

I bought two more last night. I'll post all three reviews soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love at First Flight

I was sitting in the aisle seat. A strong looking man with a military crew cut and a matching army bag was sitting across the aisle. He was reading the book I had read last week. The new Clive Cussler. I wondered how far he had read. I started the conversation. Asked him how far he had gotten. Told him I didn’t want to spoil the end. Really I was just looking for an excuse to talk to him. He was tan and had blue eyes. He talked about being in Southern California for the National Guard. We talked about lightning. It was as if the electricity was there with us. We talked for three hours. It felt like three minutes. Time passed quickly. I wanted his phone number. Wanted to ask his last name. I didn’t. The opportunity left when the plane landed and we both walked off in separate directions.
I knew very little about him. His first name. His rank. A couple of the bands he liked to hear play. His smile started in his eyes. This was it. And I had missed it. How was that possible. I had always been courageous when it came to men. I had asked them out before. Why was this so different? Why hadn’t I asked him for his number? I answered my own question. I wasn’t the kind of girl who asked strangers for their phone numbers. I shouldn’t have even been talking to him in the first place.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I went to my temporary job. The one I was doing while I was flying all over the country trying to figure out my next move. I had finished graduate school and had an internship on my resume. Where would I like to live? Kansas City, Chicago, Oklahoma or Florida? These were the possibilities my graduation had brought me. For some reason, I kept searching, kept interviewing, not knowing what the future would bring.
Four weeks passed. The feeling was still strong. I had missed out on a chance that I shouldn’t have let go by. Why didn’t I get his number? Regret stung. There was nothing to do. I was never going to find him again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

High on Life

Totally blissed out. I have been exercising like mad. My goal was to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Not a bad goal, right? Maybe not reasonable at least according to my physician, however, my goal has not changed.

Several points have conspired in my favor recently. I fully recovered from an injury that had kept me sidelined for an extended period. I ran a road race with my daughter and she beat me soundly. I taught my own yoga class out of sheer chance. I've had a great visit with my family. All of these events have propelled me even harder towards my goal.

Except I forgot one little blissed out exercise makes you feel. Lighter than air. Addictive. I can feel my passion becoming an obsession. But maybe that's a good thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Last weekend we saw a majority of our family members at the wedding of my cousin. We had a wonderful time. It was fun to see everybody and the weekend went smoothly for us.

This weekend was Thanksgiving and we saw more of our precious family. We'll see another few at Christmastime.

I've been cleaning like mad and running more than usual. I taught my own yoga class this week. It was a lucky break for me. I've wanted to be the leader but I have been afraid to try. God gave me that one. Thanks.

I have so many blessings in my life. I am grateful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Seed Catalogs Are Coming

It's that time of year when my mailbox starts to overflow with those gorgeous seed catalogs. Every specimen looks so juicy and delicious. It is like living in my own fruit and vegetable fantasy world.

Waiting for my loves to arrive again from the warm spring soil.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Independence and Cooperation

Recently the whole family was sick at my house. Everyone. The mom exception did not apply. Mom was in bed and afraid to get out for fear of massive dizziness and fainting.

In the middle of all of this sickness came a gift from God. My daughter made breakfast for her brothers and even better managed to not destroy the kitchen doing it. Her teacher had recently had a very nice chat with me about her new leaps in independence and responsibility. Just in time.

I'm grateful for these gifts. She played nicely and kept the others busy for several hours while Mom stayed in bed to rest. What a good girl!

I was proud that not only was she capable of doing this but that she really seemed to understand how much her help was needed and appreciated.

Friday, October 30, 2009


In life we all have different ways of motivating ourselves. Much of our motivation may come from our own desires within to achieve whatever it is that we are passionate about in life. It's a lot of fun for me to watch my children learn their own passions. Books, it seems, are pretty high on their list. Lately, the book fair has been happening at school and my children run home every day and ask for chores to earn more money to buy more books. I'm in heaven. I love this sequence of events. It makes me glad.

I'm grateful that they don't believe money grows on trees and that work equals money. These are life lessons that I hope to instill on them not only now but as time goes on. I want them to understand a budget and how to live within their means.

That being said, it's been an expensive week for me paying for all of these chores and my pockets are pretty light. This is okay though because the value of the lesson is something worth more than money.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Famous Pancakes

One morning last week, my middle child asked me for pancakes. Seven minutes before I had to get in the car for work. Ugh. I made him toast and promised the beloved pancakes for dinner.

That night I thought he surely had forgotten but of course he had not. Mommy, will you make the pancakes now, please? The flour I usually buy was out of stock. Figures. So I bought Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake and Waffle Flour. I added my own baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, milk, half and half. Stirred. Sizzled. Flipped. Talk about ecstacy. Wow! Remind me later to write them a letter and tell them how good they are.

Note to my veggie friends: Sour the milk with a little vinegar and add a little yogurt and you will be good to go.

Note to my vegan friends: Substitute soy milk for cow's and sour with the vinegar.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn Means Pumpkin Soup

Long ago and far away when I was single I read every food magazine I could lay my hands on. My friends were my cooking guinea pigs and they were thrilled to oblige. From those days comes my first ever food triumph. Pumpkin Soup.

I read the recipe from that Autumn's Bon Appetit Magazine and it took me three hours to make it that first time. Now it takes me less than an hour and I've learned to make a huge pot to freeze in individual portions. It is creamy and luscious. I top it off with the original lime cream. Scrumptious!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cloth Diapers - Are You Kidding?

Most of my friends have the same reaction when we discuss diapering options and I reveal my secret...I used cloth. Between sensitive skin and a limited budget it became clear early on that this was a better choice for our family. There is lots of research out there about why cloth is a better choice environmentally and why it should be the politically correct choice for everyone. It's not for everyone.

But it was definitely the right choice for our family. My mother encouraged me to check out this option and I am eternally grateful for the information.

There are two questions that I always get when I tell my friends and colleagues about my cloth diapering choice. Number One: Isn't that gross to clean out the poop in the toilet? Number Two: Did you use those awful pins?

Number One Answer: Truly. You wipe your child's bottom when you use a disposable don't you. It's the same poop. And, technically you are supposed to unload the poop from a disposable down your toilet as well. This water goes through a wastewater treatment plant. The purpose of this plant is to deal with the disposal and treatment of wastes and properly treats the water so that it may be safe again for the general public.

Number Two Answer: Pins haven't existed in cloth diapering for decades. Cloth diapers now come in a huge range of styles, sizes, colors to properly fit your child and your lifestyle. There are some great options out there.
It's pretty funny to me that the vast majority of those asking have no idea how far cloth diapers have come. They are convenient, cheap, and much easier than their disposable counterparts.

My pros list:
Convenience - It's much more convenient for me to throw a load of wash in my machine than it is to put three children in the car to drive to the nearest store that sells diapers.

Money - Even while accounting for electricity, water and the initial investment of the diapers themselves I found that cloth diapers were a much cheaper choice than any disposable on the market.

Comfort - My children seemed so much more comfortable and experienced very few rashes overall in the eight years total that we diapered in my home.

My cons list:
I couldn't think of any, but I always make my important decisions by making the pros and cons list.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Leaves Aren't The Only Things Changing Colors Around Here

Autumn seems early this year in my neck of the woods. In fact, I had hoped for a few more blissful weeks in my garden. It was not meant to be. But the irony is not lost on me that my one lonely Cubanelle Pepper seems to be in tune with the leaves.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Minimum Maintenance

While my children are in the heart of the new school year and I am losing my mind trying to return all of the paperwork to school in their designated backpacks in the background I am practicing the art of "minimum maintenance." It is a philosophy from a book I read long ago about spending at least a minimal time everyday on your home.

It's like the keeping up with the dishes instead of keeping up with the Jones'. Every day no matter how many practices, work, school, games, appointments, etc. I try desperately to accomplish the following two things. Number one: Keep the dishes going and Number two: Keep the laundry going.

Every day if I just unload and load the dishwasher and unload and load the washer and dryer the rest seems to come. On the weekends when I am home more I sweep and clean floors, sweep and clean bathrooms, and other heavy types of cleaning.

But for now, on the weekdays, it's minimum maintenance.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Great Juicing Experiment

This year's harvest includes an overabundance of tomatoes. The wrong kinds for making sauce, salsa or anything useful like ketchup.

I am eating any number of lovely salads with them but they are coming at an alarming rate now. What to do? My fellow blogger told me to juice them.

Today is the day. I own a juicer but must admit that I have never taken it out of the box.

So first and foremost, I took it out of the box. I washed in soapy water and rinsed. I rinsed the tomatoes.

I read the instructions. Which of course told me to wash first in warm soapy water. Such marvelous common sense, don't you think?

Then I put the tomatoes in five at a time and utilized the food pusher to deliver them to the juicing area. It was fun at first but got tedious as the container now seemed to hold a lot of groups of five.

Success! I then got to take the entire unit apart again and wash again in warm, soapy water. It felt good to finally try it out though.

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm Too Sexy For Your Garden

My friend and I tend to have conversations composed entirely of lyrics to songs we know. Even when she and I are not in the middle of a conversation it is easy to slip into this mode of thinking. I was serving lunch to an old friend last week and couldn't help but sing Right Said Fred's iconic verses in my head.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Watch Out Cheese Makers, Let's Hear It For The Wisconsin Pickle

Fabulous surplus in a jar. Pickles are an easy food to hone your old-fashioned canning skills on. I love the feeling of making all of those jars full.

Somehow it is very fulfilling and peaceful. I had a great time this year with a bumper crop of a variety called "Wisconsin Pickle." With how impressive these cukes

are it is lucky for those cheese folks that they got their ads in early. This is one spectacular pickling cucumber. A must grow for next year.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, August 3, 2009

True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes

Boy they are better than candy. Homegrown tomatoes have to be one of the most inexpensive pleasures on the earth. I grew three varieties this year. Early Girl, which has not turned red and is now two weeks past the harvest date. Sweet Zillion, a cherry tomato, that was an experiment this year and brand new to me but will be number one on my list next year. And ?, a grape tomato that I failed to write down the name of when I planted them. Please feel free to chime in if you can name it from the picture. Happy Summer!

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baby Food - Squash

Squash is one of the easiest baby foods to prepare. Even if gardening is not your hobby. The instructions in fact are quite simple.

Purchase the largest bag of cut up squash carried in your grocery. Steam it in your microwave with a little water. Drop the steamy chunks in your blender and puree. Use the cooking liquid to get it moving. Then freeze in clean ice cube trays. The next day pop the frozen squash cubes out into zipped storage bags. Label with today's date and the contents: Yummy Squash!

The cost you ask? About 25 cents per 2.5 ounce serving. Significant savings for very little effort.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Take your blog to bed?

This is a test of the emergency broadcasting system. Only kidding.
This is instead an experiment in mobile blogging. I have wanted to give this a try for sometime now. I needed some time to do some research on how make this happen. My ultimate goal was to be able to blog from my bed. Strange but true. More later. I want to post and see if it worked.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer Rules

This has been knocking in and around my brain for about two weeks now. There is no school for the next eight weeks so in my mind this is the time to tinker with the schedule.

First, the schedule. A day by day, time by time, hard and fast routine. My children actually yell at me if we don't follow it. They like the schedule and they like to know what to expect (who doesn't).

Second, I hate to mess with something we have had going for so long....still.

An idea has been percolating in my mind called "Summer Rules" to be posted on the refrigerator only for the eight weeks of no school for July and August.

Bedtime - What if we did go to bed more in line with sundown. Would nine o'clock really be ridiculous?

Dishes - My husband and I have always eaten on real dishes at every meal. No paper plates, cups, plastic forks, paper napkins. We are proper and therefore I wash a tremendous number of dishes. Environmentally I would feel pretty guilty buying these and I haven't for over two years for any occasion whatsoever. Including birthday parties for my children. I bring appropriate tableware and cart it in and out. The expense has been noticeably different. However, would it be terrible for eight weeks to give myself a minute break from 50% of our dishes? Maybe this is the break I really need right now with a lot of other special projects coming online.

What else - This is what I haven't figured out yet. The summer rules should be special, convenient, and more free wheeling don't you think? I'm going to ponder this one more and post again soon. Feel free to make suggestions if you like. I'd be interested if other people are considering lifting some of the school time rules for July and August.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Food Groups

Yes, yes. I know children don't have the four food groups anymore. However, the cut and paste project my daughter brought home from school this week was very much like the old food group art projects we used to do years ago.

Her favorite fruit was apples. Her favorite meat was steak. Her favorite vegetable was broccoli. Her favorite dairy was chocolate milk. Her favorite grain was pancakes.

This is where my friends get to laugh. Big, loud, rolling on the floor ones. Why? Because. Every Sunday, I make "made from scratch" pancakes. Not the ones from the box that says complete. But real honest to goodness made from scratch pancakes. My friend Kris who is in the food business once threatened to fly here to eat them. Considering she lives 18 hours from me it seemed extreme. I did not realize what a big deal these were. Until today.

It made me feel like a good mom.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Few Good Men

I love that speech in A Few Good Men. You know the one I mean. Where Tom Cruise is giving Jack Nicholson a hard time. I almost know it by heart and every time I watch that movie I practice the speech.

I do a lot of public speaking in my life. Peronally and professionally. It always surprises me when I hear someone else tell me how frightened they are to stand up in a crowd to talk or to sing. My middle child had to get up on stage this week and boy was he scared. It was so strange to me. In my mind I was thinking, "Boy when I was his age I was singing in front of crowds of hundreds of people."

Three years ago I spoke professionally at a conference. There were 800 people in the room. I was thrilled and proud that so many people came to hear what I had to say. It was truly exciting. I couldn't believe it when my friends said that they couldn't believe I had the courage. Courage? Me? Are you kidding?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sewing Again

I admit it. I haven't sewn in years. I used to enjoy it a lot. I also used to have a lot more quiet time in my life to concentrate without any interruptions. However, a custom job in my home has called my name. I needed to replace an item on my patio that provides shade and was destroyed by a windstorm. It is too expensive to replace the entire thing. I bought a canvas dropcloth at my local home improvement store, measured, chalked and cut. I pinned it together and began the sewing. I had forgotten what a wonderful feeling of accomplishment it gives you to make something with your own two hands. It was as if waves of calm were washing over me. What a wonderful feeling. I can't wait to finish this project that I had dreaded to begin.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chemical Free Cleaning

There are lots of recipes out there on the internet that utilize four key ingredients for chemical free cleaning. Vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and baking soda are usually the most listed. These are cheap, easy and work very well. Recently, I took it to the next level.


What do you mean nothing? I mean a wet washcloth. With a twist.
Put it wet in your microwave on a plate. Microwave for 30-50 seconds depending on how powerful your machine is. Voila. Wipe your counter, wipe your floor, wipe your sinks, your appliances, anything.

It's easy. It's fast. I tried it on a linoleum floor that I wash frequently but because of high traffic of people and animal form it never seems clean.

You've seen those fancy steam cleaners on television on late night commercials. Same principles. Less money. It's amazing.

Try it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baby Food - Peas and Green Beans

A quick steam in the microwave and any kind of frozen peas or green beans can become baby food in a relatively simple manner.

Cook the bag of frozen veg as you would to eat for yourself. Steam in a pot or in your microwave. Place in your blender. Add a little bit of the water and blend.

Freeze in the ice cube trays and then pop out later in place in a freezer bag labelled with the date.

Wasn't that simple?

Need the math. My grocery ad this week sells a 40 ounce bag of frozen veg for $3.99.
The number one jars of baby food equal 2.5 ounces. Therefore, the per serving cost is 25 cents per 2.5 ounce serving.

I don't know any store that sells that jar for 25 cents.

This adds up quick. Also, you can make it faster than you can drive/walk to the store. Why wouldn't you?

Pre-made baby food doesn't save time or money.

One small caution: The above does not apply to carrots. This is the one exception you should not make at home.

Baby Food - Apricots and Pears

A quick addition to the recipe for peaches. Apricots and Pears can be processed in exactly the same manner. We'll do some veggies next.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How to Make Baby Food - Peaches

One of the things that annoys me about our advertising filled world is how much of what we buy is completely unnecessary. Why would you buy baby food? Baby food is made from products you already own and stored in containers you already have. I have taught several friends to make baby food. It's fun. It can be done in advance or on the fly. And, it's so much cheaper.

No. There are no cute jars with the adorable baby label. Wait a minute. You throw away or recycle those cute jars anyway, don't you?

Let's start slow and easy. Peaches. One of the first foods most people introduce. I've never heard of anyone being allergic to a peach so I know it was always the first fruit I began with all of my children.

At the store: Buy canned peaches packed in water or juice.
At home: Open the can, do not drain, pour in your blender. Blend.
To store: Pour the blender pitcher into an ice cube tray. Freeze.
Next day: Pop the cubes out of the ice cube trays into a freezer container or freezer bag of your choice.

Wow. That was tough wasn't it?

Here's an additional step that's completely optional but might surprise you.

If the little jars of step one food cost 79 cents in your grocery store and you use 10 of them that's $7.90.

A freezer tray will garner you about the same amount and will cost you the price of two cans of peaches $1.90. I don't figure the cost of the freezer because it is not additional to food you already store there.

That's a difference of $6.00 for ten servings. A savings of 60 cents per serving.

How many servings of baby food does your baby eat in one week? If it's 3 meals a day times 7 days a week then 21 servings multiplied by 60 cents a serving is $12.60 for the week.

Almost $50 a month. That's enough for a nice dinner date with your husband.

More soon! Happy blending.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some Assembly Required

We can discuss my wonderful basketball hoop that I built yesterday with help from my neighbor. I ordered a portable hoop off of It said it was easy to put together and had lots of good reviews. A lot of reviewers were parents or grandparents of eight year olds and they said that the hoop was the right size for them. The company said it was easy to put together. Which was probably the most important factor in my decision making. They lied like a rug!

The trouble started when I opened the box. The top sheet of instructions was a bright orange piece of paper. This orange was the color of warning labels. It was hunting vest orange. It was obviously important. More than imporant - SUPER important, super duper important. It was in big bold print. It screamed, "Pay attention or your child might lose an eye" important. It was also in Chinese. I did what any other sane mother would do, I threw it away.

I gathered the 1/2 inch wrench, hammer and screwdriver that the box said I would need and it was on to step one. After throwing away the other instruction manual, also helpfully written in Chinese, I found the English and French. So I got the middle pole or MP out of the box. The top pole or TP was helpfully shoved inside the MP. It was also encased in plastic. This appears to have been done on purpose. As there was a helpful picture of a tall man cheerfully pulling the plastic encoated TP out of the MP in one fail swoop. Alas, that was also a lie. The MP had been thoughtfully dented in transit, saving me the trouble and it made it impossible to get the TP out. I did figure out what the screwdriver was for though. I came up with two uses. One, to use as a weapon when I go to take my frustrations out on the person who wrote the instructions. Two, to jam in a tiny hole and use as a lever to try to remove the pole. I think it may be biologically impossible but I'm willing to give it the old college try.

Forty five minutes later I have the pole out with a few gouges taken out of the paint and few more from my fingers when it slipped. I have three quarters of the plactic removed and I have increased the children's vocabulary with many new colorful expressions. Should they want a careet in the merchant marines, they have half the classwork done already and probably could made a season veteran of the high seas blush.

Now, because English and French is obviously a second language for the writer, I match the pictures of the nuts and bolts up so I know how to fasten things. I study the diagrams with the intensity of a 21 year old vigin studying the Kama Sutra for the first time before a big date. I decided to try the French directions hoping that they can give me a clue. Since all the French I know consists of the phrases, "eat shit and die" "do you want to sleep with me tonight" and "shut your mouth" it wasn't that helpful. I give the book to my eight year old daughter and she figures it out. I swear some more.

I have the pole attached to the base. I have the wheels on. I have the brackets in place. Now comes the hard part. Previously, you just had to finger tighten the nuts. Which in my sleep addlede brain sounds like what you would do on a date. I think I may have done that last Saturday, I am not sure. I will need to check the manual. Now comes the time to tighten the nuts for real. Seriously, they need to be tightened or something horrible will happen. It could cause serious injury or death, if the impressive orange Chinese warning lable is to be believed.

By this time, I have a crowd of eight children anxiously surrounding me, jabbering non-stop and bouncing basketballs perilously close to my head. My eye starts twitching which should be a signal, to my kids at least, that it is time to make yourself scarce. They fail to take the hint.

We tackle the backboard next. We are flush with success and have visions of getting it done in the next fifteen minutes so the kids can play while it is still light out. We pore over the instructions. We see that there are two tall people putting it together in the pictures. They appear to be smiling while they do this. We take it as a good sign and one hour later we realize that the tall men in the picture have either been given shock treatments recently or are heavily medicated.

We get the backboard on and we assemble the hoop and get the bolts in places that are actually too small and angled to seemingly go. We get four of the six bolts on and forget the other two in our herculean struggle. We decide that it will work. It stands up and doesn't fall over. I call the kids out in triumph.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wild Beasts

Have you ever noticed that ten minutes before bed the energy level of a child skyrockets. This burst of energy is always in inverse proportion to the parent who is desperately ready to go to bed. One of the parts I enjoy best about summer is this...the run up the hill to the stop sign. This is a nightly event at my house in the summer. We bathe. We put on pajamas. We brush our teeth. We put on our sandals or slippers. We go outside and run up the hill to the stop sign and back. Our neighborhood has lovely sidewalks and we put them to good use.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Competitive Mothering

Welcome to the Juice of the Cow! We are excited that you are here. Don't you wish that someone could let you in on all of that super secret mommy stuff that gets you through those sleep deprived insane feeling times.

Between the two of us we have seven children, a various assortment of pets and a lot of discussion. In some ways we are exact opposites and in others the same.

One of us nursed. The other didn't. One of us eats meat. The other mostly doesn't. One of us does the baby wearing thing. The other doesn't. One of us did cloth diapers. The other didn't.

We each made our choices based on our circumstances at the time. The one thing we have in common is that we never judge each other. We listen. We support each other. We don't comment on who is the better mother or who made the better choices.

Competitive mothering seems to be a sport these days. Do yourself a favor. Don't go there.

Find a friend. Talk often. Don't judge. Listen. Keep good thoughts about each other.