9 January, 2017  |   Comment

Meal Plan, Week of January 8th

This week we’re celebrating James’ birthday with chocolate cake, a rib roast and a crab feed.

We’re also cashing in some gift certificates at the spa this week, because sometimes birthdays in your forties can feel more like reluctance than celebration.

This week, I promised Dottie waffles for dinner.
This week, I am swapping out Thursday’s meal already.
I’m a little too obsessed with the Macaroni Grill, so we’re going to try making some Penne Rustica at home.
Since I have extra time this week, I’m a little more focused on what we’re eating, keeping the house clean, organizing everything, figuring it all out.

I figured it all out for January first, but it looks like I didn’t really figure it all out.
I have more figuring to do.
I always will, won’t I?

8 January, 2017  |   1 Comment

2016 Recap, 2017 Resolvations

In 2016, I read all the takes.

Here, I mean “take” as an article or video reflecting an opinion about a cultural, political or societal event.

And in 2016, I took them all in.

ALL the opinions on the presidency. On what went wrong. On why women should be this or this.
I absorbed ALL the takes on what my priorities should be.
Where I went wrong.
What’s wrong with me.

So many opinions, they have so many opinions

In 2017, I lighten my burden of other people’s opinions by developing my own.

In 2016, I took in every opinion, all those points of view.
It was exhausting, examining each opinion.
There were too many sides to too many issues to move forward.

I’m ready to take these into my own point of view, to defend what I believe.

2016 Recap:

I started the year at Alt Summit. I spoke on behalf of Margit and the extraordinary work they’re doing at TueNight. and things looked up! I stayed in a hotel room by myself and I also got to visit with dear friends and they helped me feel like this broken me was good enough. Dear friends have a way of doing that.

I had a job I liked in the wine industry, but they couldn’t make enough money to keep me.
I got a new contract.

I went to Mom 2.0. Glorious, wonderful, friendly and positive. No speaking engagements, only learning.

I really got into that contract.
It was important and filled with new information, useful information.
A job directed by a psychopath.
A psychopath that told me I was stupid.
A psychopath who’s guaranteed success in corporate America.

I learned a lot about what my ego needs from a job, and how I can serve a job.

I burned nearly all the career takes I absorbed this year.
“You don’t need to like your job”
“The more you work, the more you make”
“People at the top of the corporate ladder are always the best and most successful people”

They have all been proven false to me this year.
Time for them to burn.

We considered moving away from our expensive town.
(We took our first couples-only trip without the kids!)
After the election, we won’t move away.

We will have more potlucks in 2017.
We will play more board games.
We will figure it out.

Time to retire the “but you can buy a house in this rural state for so much cheaper” possibility. For at least the next 4 years, it makes the most sense for our liberal, hopeful family to stay in California.

I turned to my children this year. I delighted in my children.

We played and danced and they were kind to me when I cried because of the aforementioned psychopath.

In 2016, I was lucky to avoid parenting takes, the titles tipped me off.

In 2016 I quit a church.
I’ll try to find a new one. Is faith like love? Is it a verb?

Where are the takes for people who want a church based on love and not judgement? Where are the churches for people with critical thinking skills?
Maybe I need to call it a coven?

You are invited to our Porch Coven: Best snacks in the neighborhood, then we’ll do some good.

In 2016, Michael Brown was shot. So were a lot of people. I unfriended a bunch of racist people I used to know.

I read more takes and all I got was angry.

I’m done with any qualms I had about calling out racial inequality.
I’m done asking your opinion about the insane militarization of the police.
I’ll call out the unease I feel when coming up against lily-white influencer programs.
We give money to SURJ and the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

I thought we were more evolved than this. But I can see we’re not.

I got hurt (hurt myself?) a lot this year.
I rolled my ankle and fell to the ground a bunch.
I tripped and fell during a full sprint.
I was stung by a wasp a bunch and had to go to the ER.
Looks like I’m allergic now.

I cut and burned myself a lot this year – I almost always had a bandage on my hand or wrist or forearm and I swear they were all accidents but maybe they were not really?

Right this minute I have a bronchial thing and two serious burns on my hands and my sinuses are on fire and maybe that’s an accident and maybe that is not really?

The takes I read about health costs make me realize that if I were to get cancer, I would die because the cancer money would come out of the education money for my children and I would rather die.

How could I possibly defend the opinion that a woman should die rather than deprive her children of education?  I need to fight a culture that would force a woman to make that choice.

In 2017, I’m grounding my body. I’m also fighting for more equitable public education.

In 2016, my dog died.
I still can’t type that without crying.

My opinion: No, I do not want another dog possibly ever and now that you’ve read this, you don’t have to encourage me to buy my kids a puppy for any 2017 holiday!

I resolve no pets in 2017. Easy.

That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus the ways I did not listen to my friends of color. Yes, me.
That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus the ways men have failed us over and over. Yes, you.
That guy got elected, bringing into sharp focus how I benefited from a system set up on the backs of other people. Yes, us.

My computer is always barfing out the takes

Some of the opinions I hold and am willing to defend:

Women deserve the same rights AND EXPECTATIONS as men.
People of color deserve the same rights as white people.
People identifying as LGBTQ deserve the same rights as straight people.
People who don’t believe in a Christian God deserve equal rights to Christians.
Healthcare is a right.
The militarization of our police forces is problematic and needs to be stopped.
Education deserves more money than killing people.

I thought these opinions were more widely held than they were. Guess I have some work to do.

I have all kinds of secret goals for 2017, publishing and creating and defending and putting more words and pictures out in the world. I’m holding these baby goals close, but hope to see you out there, publishing and creating and defending and putting more words and pictures into this imperfect reality.

Consider this your invitation to Porch Coven.
We have great snacks.

Holy crap, I’ve been doing this for a long time:

2015 recap, 2016 resolutions
2014 recap, 2015 resolutions
2013 recap, 2014 resolutions
2012 recap, 2013 resolutions
2011 recap, 2012 resolutions

2010 recap, 2011
2009 recap, 2010
2008 recap, 2009
2008 recap,
2007 recap,
2006 recap, 2007
2005 recap, 2006


12 December, 2016  |   3 Comments

Sweet weekend nothings, sneaky weekend grief

Because Pinot drank the water out of the tree stand, we had always hung the ornaments two feet up from the bottom branches.

Because she loved that sweet pine water, we also had to fill the tree bowl every day with fresh water.

This year, we hung our ornaments on the bottom branches (I had a big cry). And we keep forgetting to refill the tree stand (and every time James goes to do it, I cry a little more).

Dottie and Pinot eating Christmas morning breakfast

I always stood arms’ length away from people who actively missed their pets, wondering about their deal. Just get over it! It’s just a pet.

And like so much in this world, I see that I was so, so wrong in those assumptions.

My favorite part of this sneaky grief? All the ornaments that we hung on the bottom branches fell off and broke this weekend. This gives me comfort, imagining her spirit still sneaking around. She would do that kind of thing.

8 December, 2016  |   3 Comments

Telescopes and art supplies for everyone

So much seems worse these days. You know that. I know that.

But for now, we have this one thing that makes us happy.
Our kids don’t ask for a bunch of crap for Christmas.

And we have technology to thank for it.I received this Barbie Bubbling Spa when I was 9 and didn't have the patience to read the instructions for how to put the stickers on properly, so I was vaguely disappointed in myself every time we played with it. Let that be a lesson to you, always RTFM.

One of the most upsetting memories I have about being a child at Christmas was the WANT.

My Christmas list went on for 5 pages, with page numbers and references.

I wanted a new Barbie whirlpool, I wanted every third listed item in the JCPenney Christmas catalog, I wanted everything I saw on the cartoons and everything I saw on the commercials. (Except Gobots, no one wanted Gobots).

For me, one of those unexpected parenthood fears was knowing that my children were going to feel that intense WANT. They would be tortured with all the things they couldn’t have.

Thanks modern technology (and the internet) they’re largely exempt.

We recycle catalogs before they come in the house and most importantly, we stream the vast majority of entertainment that comes to us without commercial interruption. Without cable, they simply aren’t exposed to the relentless commercial manipulation of the 80s and 90s.

At this specific moment in their brief lives, they have less of a hard time of it than I did.

It’s an utter delight, that the kids aren’t yet consumed by the WANT.

Thanks technology, I’ll take this one as a win.

Anything you want from the JC Penney Wishbook can certainly NOT be yours.

14 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.