Food, Uncategorized

Not a time for change

There are so many things that have happened in the last few months that it’s hard to believe we are where we are. I mean, today I was in my work office, mainly alone, walking around with a bleach wipe to swab any doors I may need to touch, and wearing a hot and sweaty face mask for protection. I actually paused and thought, geez, last year around Christmas, if you would have said “Hey, in about 6 months, no one is going to be working in the office, everyone will be conducting Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings, your kids will be setup at the kitchen table with a laptop and NOT going to school, you will all be fighting over Purell, tissues, toilet paper and face masks, hahaha.” Would you believe it?

A friend of mine said to me recently as we walked together on opposite sides of the street “Ugh, my masks never stay on. I don’t think I have the ears to wear masks.” Said no one. Ever. Sigh…

I still have yet to create my “COVID Cookbook” which contains the 5 or so recipes that I have MASTERED I tell you, during quarantine. Cooking takes time, and i never have time. Finally I got some time and was able to actually cook. Wowza!  Jack helped me just about every night and he got pretty proficient at some recipes also. Soon he’ll cook dinner all by himself. For me! Muhahahaha.

The other night I made his favorite, Mac and Cheese, home made,  but of course I had to mess it up, just enough right? Is it because I’m back at work? I’m lacking time again and had to sort of throw it together maybe. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Jack: What’s that smell?

me: Mac and cheese.

Jack: Then why do I smell basil?

me: Well, I put some in the cheese sauce, along with some broccoli…

Jack: You know, this is not a time for you to start trying different things. Stick to the basics.

Hahaha. Yep I’m back to the good old just basic cooking. I actually thought it was pretty good. If you like greenish mac and cheese that is.

Food, Quarantine, School, Uncategorized

What Jack Misses Most

Wow, Friday already. Time flies when you have nowhere to go and many rooms to clean, eh? We’re tackling things room by room, sort of. We started by clearing out Jack’s old “baby” bedroom, and got rid of many books that weren’t so special. Don’t worry, we saved about a THOUSAND BOOKS!

Here are some of the best books you could ever read to your child (if that child is Jack of course) 🙂 I cherish so many of these books for the illustrations (wish I could’ve used my Illustration degree to illustrate children’s books!). These books make me actually sigh when I see them and hold them. If you have children aged 0-6-ish, I would run out and get these!

Andrew Henry’s Meadow – Doris Burn
Goodnight Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Cape Cod – Adam Gamble/John Andert
One Morning in Maine & Blueberries for Sal – Robert McCloskey
Close Your Eyes – Kate Banks
And if the Moon Could Talk – Kate Banks
Old Bear – Jane Hissey
The Dandelion Seed – Joseph Anthony
Owl Moon – Jane Yolen
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin! – Lloyd Moss

As you can see, I could go on and on. We kept about 3 shelves full of Jack’s and my favorites. How can we give those away! Someday he may want to read these to his kids. (!!)

Today Jack is doing school work and also taking an SAT type practice quiz. Geez what a crab he is (Stop typing Mom, I’m taking a test, Go Go!)

Oy!

So now I’m over here.

I asked Jack what he thinks about all “this” and if he’s ok.

Jack: I’m fine. I don’t mind being home. I can do my school work when I want to.

me: Yeah, I know but what do you miss? Teachers, friends, classes? Anything?

Jack: Not really. Though I do miss pasta Wednesday! (he sniffs dramatically). It was taken from me too soon!!!

(much fake crying)

Really? Ha ha.

Then I started looking up school pasta lunches so I could include a photo of what a typical pasta meal would look like.

THEN I started researching school lunches in other countries compared to the U.S.A. As you can imaging, we’re disgusting. Jack takes lunch to school 4 days a week, mostly due to his nut allergies (though the schools are supposedly nut free), but mostly because the food is gross.

Jack (in 9th grade): Mom, the burger meat has suckers on it.

Nuff said.

Here is a pic of what school lunches look like around the world, with US for comparison…then I will show the US lunch with pasta (though this is not our school and I highly doubt we serve meatballs). I remember back in 1984 for pete’s sake, we had great school lunches with a salad bar and a “grinder” bar (It was MA, so we called them grinders. Get over it LOL!)

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Jack: I would totally eat that lunch from Italy, or Spain! OMG, the US lunch looks gross. Sugar, sugar, carb, carb, frozen peas.

me: And that’s why you bring lunch.

And here’s the good old USA pasta lunch:

Spaghetti & meatballs

Gross right? Well the pasta is probably acceptable, and the carrots and banana. Oy.

And, by comparison, here’s what I made Jack for lunch today. Croissant with Swiss cheese and ham, roasted kale chips, cherry tomatoes and pineapple. Of course he picked out the little wrinkly tomato. Geez so picky!

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For breakfast, Jack made himself some cereal and then when I made my avocado toast with lemon and an egg on top he eyed it greedily.

me: Sheesh, do you want a bite? I asked you if you wanted one and you said no.

Jack: No you didn’t.

me: I certainly did! Like last night when I asked you if you wanted sour cream for your potatoes and you said yes, then had a fit when I handed it to you. Pay attention.

Jack: Yeah, I wasn’t listening.

me: Great.

He grabs my toast and takes a giant bite out of it.

me: Do you want me to make you one?

Jack: I said no. Geez Mom!

 

Food, Quarantine, Uncategorized

I thought it was Wednesday

Again, this is how it must feel when you retire and don’t have a solid schedule to follow. I’ve been in the deadline-oriented business of advertising, publishing and now marketing since 1989 (gasp) and I only know how to do things that have crazy deadlines. I’m used to schedules, planning, checklists, meetings and producing art/web/ads/social/etc on a daily basis. One of my co-workers said, work has been her identity for over 30 years, and to be at home, with “free time” (wtf) is simply outrageous and hard to come to grips with. I can relate.

Staying home is throwing me for a loop. And, the fact that I’ve been cut down to 2 days a week at work has me wandering the halls of my house and actually… cleaning stuff! Side note: Anyone need a freelancer in any capacity during the next few weeks, let me know. 🙂  Though sadly, everyone is suffering and unemployment is skyrocketing, and I still have to count myself among the lucky ones.

Thankfully, those that I work with, and those in my family, and close friends are all well and are dodging the COVID germs like actors in the Matrix. I went out to the store today and for the first time had the full arsenal in my car and full gear on my person (ok some was DIY, like the mask, because I’m not going to take a mask that might be needed for a healthcare worker… I’m not that special.)

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Yes, no makep, ponytail, looking like a weird suburban cowgirl. Ugh!

me: Jack I’m going out.

Jack: Can’t you just order food online??

me: I looked, and everything is backed up for days, the food comes with a short expiration date and frozen stuff is generally not frozen anymore. I would rather get in and get out with what we need.

Jack; You’re wearing that?

Sigh.

Yes I went to the store looking like that and let me tell you, I was the normal looking one. People had full on hazmat suits and face shields (the employees), and most of the customers had ventilation masks on and gloves. I did have latex gloves on as well. Those that didn’t have any protective gear on can probably count themselves among those that simply haven’t taken this seriously enough yet, or haven’t been near any of the trauma. Being near NYC, having family members that are in the trucking business, and reading the news from NY and NJ, well you have to face facts. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Please take precautions and be safe. It’s ok to look weird or even silly, if that’s what keeps you safe. A nod to my favorite Podcast “Crime Junkies”… they always say “Be weird, be rude, stay alive!” (look them up… you will binge listen, trust me)

So, to pass the time, and as I may have mentioned in my last post (seriously it was just the other day and I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not, so I’m a big fat liar…), Jack and I planted a small garden indoors, consisting of Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Green Beans.

Jack: Stop calling it Zucchini, it says Black Squash.

me: Same thing, look at the picture. (he looks at me with a frown because he’s color blind).

Jack: Really?

me: The photo is actually dark green Jack and that is zucchini.

Jack; Black Squash.

me: Fine.

Here’s what the little garden looks like today. I swear if you stare at the plants you can actually see them growing. They move fast!!

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Complete with fake sun 🙂

Jack: You know that’s not a seed starter tray, it’s my old Lego Star Wars Advent calendar tray?

me: Huh? Oh, hmmmm… well it did the trick. (did not realize that!)

Anyway, Jack looked like a proud parent when he saw everything blooming. We used to do this when he was really young, but in recent years, I would simply buy plant already at 6″ or so to save time. But, I have to say, taking the time to grow something from the earth, with your own hands, gives a very unique sense of satisfaction. (I hope the cats don’t eat the plants or dig in the dirt!!).

Oh, you asked about the cats did you? No you didn’t, but I’m going to switch gears. Here’s what my laptop looked like awhile ago when I decided to start this blog. Oy!

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And then she tried to look pitiful sitting on the chair. haha. Both cats are cleaning now on different kitchen chairs and Moca is snoring (really loud) on the couch. She had a few good walks today despite the HURRICANE FORCE WINDS HERE IN CT. OMG!! It’s insane out there. First we have rain and chilly wind for days, then the sun comes out and the wind gets ferocious. Hellooooo trying to enjoy being furlougheddddddd! 😐

I’ve heard from most of my friends that they are cooking major 3 meals a day, from full breakfasts of homemade bagels, to full dinners of lasagna, homemade pizza and, like me last night, full roast chicken dinners! It literally took two hours to prepare and cook, and we ate it in about 7 minutes. It’s a thankless task being a cook for a family (even if that family only consists of one 15-year-old at the moment!). This is partly why I could never fully be a stay-at-home mom. It’s too hard. Really it is. I give full props to those of you that chose to have more than one child. (I know you must be slightly mad, but I get it!). One kid keeps me busy 24/7. I go to work to have a bit of a vacation actually. I can get coffee, sit and answer emails, I don’t have to clean anything (usually) and I’m not a full time waitress or chauffeur. Work is easy compared to parenting full time at home. I bet a lot of you are realizing that as you try to sneak to a quiet place in your home to work remotely, right? The cats and dogs and kids all know you’re there, and they suddenly all need you desperately.

I cleaned up no less than 3 messes per day (per pet!) since being home. It’s like they know you’re there to clean up so they feel ok about it. There will be the shredded tissues (thanks Moca), because Jack and I are having major allergy issues since being cloistered in a house made of 3 types of fur. There’s the odd vomit (which one did THAT??) Orange = Moca, Brown = Luna and Chunky = PoBo. Don’t ask. This does not really happen regularly when I’m at work. I mean, there is the occasional morning when I have major messes to clean up and I’m late for work, but that’s few and far between. This has reached a new level.

So, tonight we have mega leftovers of chicken, potatoes and carrots… plus I made a massive batch of roasted kale (recipe below because you simply have to make this and it’s really the most perfect recipe for one of the healthiest foods!) Check after the photos…

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When you buy your kale, let it sit in the veggie drawer for a few days (and up to a full week) to get extra dried out and slightly wilty. Then do NOT wash it. Remove the thick stems and break the pieces into good-sized chunks. Drizzle with Olive Oil and salt/pepper. Make sure to spread everything out so they don’t really overlap. Here’s how mine looked going into the oven.

Roast at 350 degrees for about 8-9 minutes.

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It kind of looks like the photo above.

THEN – take it out, stir it around to redistribute the leaves and maybe flip them around a bit. Put back in the over for maybe another minute, to a minute and a half. They will start to get dark, but you don’t want them to get black and burned.

I then turn the oven off, and crack the door open. This way the heat comes out but the kale is still drying out. After about 10 minutes or even longer, you will have crispy, melt-in-you-mouth kale chips.

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Yum!

Jack: I’m not eating that.

And, for the record, I hate cooking. Hate. Now baking… that’s another story. I’m going to try another cookie recipe tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes. Jack has offered to help. I called him on his phone, even though he’s just upstairs. It’s the only way I can communicate with him efficiently. Sigh. It saves me yelling and going up there and knocking, and … waiting… Ok…I guess I’m just lazy. So yeah, there you have it! Life with a 15-year-old!

I hope you’re all still doing well and not making any unimportant trips out just because it feels like a free vacation day mid-week. Stay inside and stay safe!

 

 

Conversations, Food, Subaru Confessions

Whatsitcalled?

Oh man if you’ve ever forgotten the name of something, someone or some place you can really feel for me in this post. I hate when you absolutely KNOW the word or name and you can just PICTURE it, but nope, the old noggin won’t comply with connecting those memory synapses or whatever they are and you sit slack jawed and dumb faced, simply unable to finish your conversation until you figure out that word!

Hate it.

Jack: Dad made the best chicken in the air fryer, it was soooo good!

me: What did he put on it?

Jack: Nothing.

me: No sauce?

Jack: Oh well there was this sauce of Dijon and mayo and lemon I think that he put on the side in these little cups. You know those little ones, what’re they called??

me: You mean those little baking glass dishes? The ones that start with a C?

Jack? C? No they’re like those little cups you know…

me: Hmmm, like what you put creme brûlée in? It’s like C something?

Jack: Sounds like eh at the end? Or something?

We had suddenly stopped caring about the chicken or the sauce. Only this damn little cup! What the heck! We sat and drove in silence. Dammit.

me: Ramekin!!!

Jack: Yeah that’s it!

me: Does not begin with a C hahahah!

Jack: We were so wrong…

And then we talked about the chicken again. Whew.

Food, Holidays

Happy New Year – 2020!

Wow we made it. Jack finished his first full decade. 🙂 Are you all having an amazing first day of the new year? We are low key today and at home hanging out in front of our respective electronic devices haha.

Yesterday we had a fun day with Jack’s girlfriend who got to join us in an hour of escape room antics (we cracked all the codes and claimed the prize with 45 seconds to spare)… then we visited CT’s biggest tree (a sycamore naturally) and finally dined at a haunted restaurant. (Jack swears there’s a ghost up to no good near the men’s bathroom). All in a day’s fun I say!

There were many quotes of the day, some more appropriate to share than others 😂

This one cracked me up:

Jack: It’s only 7:07, why are you already crazy??

That’s my boy. We’re headed right into his birthday month. 15 years old soon! Gahhhhh! I can’t believe it … seriously. He’s not sure yet how to celebrate it. We will have to figure it out soon!! Also, I told him to pick anywhere in the world to visit for his 16th birthday. He has no clue. Sigh.

Another funny quote came from me after dinner and after dessert as the kids were goofing around in the car on the way home. Jack was loaded up on shrimp cocktail, oysters, rigatoni ala vodka, and chocolate mousse cake!

me: I think you should stop tickling Jack… he’s about to shart pasta!

Jack: Truer words have not been said. Stoooopppp tickling! Aarrrgghhh!

It was too funny. All in all it was a great last day of the decade. Anytime you can see your kids having a blast with huge smiles on their faces is a good day in my book!

How did you all celebrate the New Year??

Oh and also, yesterday was the 3 rd anniversary of the day we got Moca AND the kittens 2nd birthday! I always thought it was today… 😀😀😀

Here are my favorite pics from the day…

– Biggest tree in CT (Simsbury)

– Blue Back Square in W. Hartford

– Outside the Escape Room in Farmington

– Outside the haunted restaurant (Abigail’s in Simsbury)

How cute are they??

Books, Conversations, Food

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. (And some mac and yease??)

Who said that? The first part, not the yease part.

Go ahead. Guess.

I’ll wait.

Yeah you can Google it.

(Whistling…)

Why yes it’s Michael Pollan (and yes, he’s related to Michael J. Fox’s wife Tracy. True!) Though Pollan credits Joan Gussow with the statement. Michael, not Tracy. He’s awesome.

If you want to become as fascinated as I am with all of this (a point I will hopefully get to eventually) you should start with Pollan’s NY Times article “Unhappy Meals” and then read all of his books.

(That’s banana art from the original Times article…)

Best to read his books in chronological order for sanity reasons 🙂 They all have food in the title or eating or Omnivore, etc, and they all start to sound alike though they are most definitely distinctly different! Especially his chapters on the apple. Sighhh. Pure bliss. (“Botany of Desire”)

And even his book about tripping on LSD. I mean really. It’s genius. (Take acid, not too much 😂😂)

Sooo anyway, I’m always saying to Jack that we shouldn’t eat anything that our great (or great-great?) grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food. Like hellloooo what’s a cheese puff or a frozen “tv” dinner? Bleh! I first read about this in 2007 when Jack was a wee two-year-old lad. And then I was hooked.

And tonight, as we pulled in the driveway, I noticed a white priority mail box sitting between the garage doors. That’s how the fun started. 🙃🙂

Jack: Hey! Maybe that’s my Vexx sweatshirt!!

me: I don’t think so. And remember I’m the inspector of all boxes from now until Christmas. (I don’t want Jack inadvertently tearing into any Christmas presents that may be showing up in the next few days)

Jack: Let’s see what it is… open it. Uh…it’s from something called I Eat Grass?? Weird…

me: Ummm I have no idea what this is. Seriously. It’s kind of cold though.

We took the box into the kitchen and carefully unwrapped it. Edible packing peanuts spilled out. And there was a silver bubble-wrapped package the size and feel of a large steak. Did someone send me meat??? It was cold like meat haha.

Jack: I’ll be over here. (He ducked down behind the counter)

me: It’s not a bomb.

Jack: (popped his head up) You don’t know that. (Ducks back down)

me: (finally getting the foil pack open) oh man. Hahaha I forgot ALL about this. It’s Mac and Yease! I ordered it off Instagram.

Jack: Wha…?

me: Vegan Mac and cheese. Let’s bake it now, and you have to try it.

Jack: Gimme that. (He has a tree nut allergy so he had to read the label thoroughly) I call this dessert! (we already had sushi in hand for dinner… Quite the combo)

me: OK, let me get this out of the plastic bag and into this pan.

I employed a method not far removed from squeezing the last toothpaste out of a tube…)

Jack: Mom, you always say, and I quote, “Don’t ever eat anything that your great grandparents wouldn’t recognize” and here you are, squeezing something out of a plastic bag that’s called “Yease”.

me: (totally had to crack up at that) Hahaha sooo true! But still, let’s try it.

Jack: Mac and cheese from Kanye West. Great.

me: LOL!!!!

(Jack just came in to remind me that I had left the oven on these last few hours. Sighhh. And I found the vegetable spray in the fridge. I’m really losing it. I have a cold so I get a foggy mom brain free pass tonight.)

We did end up liking the Mac and Yease but we were so full from the sushi that we couldn’t give it our full attention. Left overs for tomorrow’s dinner!!!

Moca took a sniff and wanted some. Haha!

Oh… And don’t forget to read up on all things Pollan!!

Conversations, Food, Science, Uncategorized

Early to Bed, Early to Rise. And other random comments :)

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Today we volunteered at Al’s Angels. They help families in need throughout CT. We helped box up food for holiday meals. It really felt good to lend a hand. So, needless to say, our day was busy!! (started at 5am…gasp!)

These are some things that you might have heard from us today…if you hung around long enough, or cared to listen…in no particular order.

Jack: I’m taking a Union break.

me: Pause this while I get much needed crackers.

Jack: (after I asked what game he was playing) Just Cause 3. I wasn’t playing, just hovering around in my wing-suit.

me: (talking to friend’s mom) Did you skate today? Ohhh…can you do a triple camel toe, or whatever that’s called?

Jack: I want melted ham goodness.

me: Heat the egg but don’t let it explode.

Jack: No my bed’s not made. I tore it apart looking for my phone.


This was when I was trying to help Jack study his science…

me: What pages should I test you on?

Jack: Just quiz me on these notes.

me: Um… I can’t read this writing Jack, it’s so tiny and messy. Does this say “plague”?

Jack No it doesn’t say plague! Arghh!! If you won’t help me study then how am I supposed to study!??

me: Sigh.

 

 

Art, Conversations, Food, Uncategorized

Hey! With the knife!

the-american-knife-council

As a throwback to art school, where I always had an X-acto knife in my hand, I now currently do everything in my kitchen while holding a butcher knife (of some sort). I cut fruit, then use the knife to jimmy open a can of dog food, then use it to scoop and dice the food into Moca’s food bowl, and when not in use, the knife conveniently swivels back around in my hand so the handle is in my palm and the blade juts out the back. Very similar to art school. I had a lot of cuts back then. (Practice safe X-acto-ing people.)

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Jack: The knife!

me: Sorry, I was just reaching for the carrots.

Jack: Don’t reach for them with the knife hand!

me: (pointing with the knife) Can you hand me the…

Jack: Gah! Put it down!

And so on and so forth. I just do everything with a knife in my hand. The other day I was chopping vegetables and then had an itch on my face. Let me tell you, since that knife has become like another appendage off my hand, I almost lost an eye!

me: (turning to get something out of the fridge) Hey, excuse me. I need to get in here.

Jack: With the knife again! (he dodges to the side).

me: Yeah, I really have to figure this out.

It’s pretty much a habit now. I’m really trying to break it! Really!

And now for some cool X-acto art with food. Because I like it. 🙂

avo2avozucc

Conversations, Food, Uncategorized

Flashback to 2011

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This photo will make sense once you click the link below. 😉

 

I’m tired and the blog post I want to write will take too long. I’m feeling very lazy today but still want to send out something funny. 🙂

I read some posts from back in the day and this one cracked me up. It’s funny how much has changed in the last 8 years (our household, Jack growing up, Stripey), and how much has stayed the same (the backtalk, and the backtalk).

I hope you like this flashback to 2011. Jack was a cutie and very advanced for his six years. Don’tcha think?

Food

A year of no sugar. Again.

Well I tried this three years ago and then each year since I’ve made the big attempt to give up sugar completely. I have t been 100% successful at all but have made major strides in the right direction.

I don’t use any sugar in my coffee, tea, oatmeal, etc. I don’t drink soda or juice with the exception of orange juice (natural) maybe a few times a year. And I might have a diet soda a few times a year also…

I don’t like sweet drinks or food. My issue is mainly chocolate! If it’s available I will eat it. Or at least try it. Unless I’m being super strict which I try to be as much as possible. I let myself have treats on special occasions but I know when I’m starting to spiral hahaha.

It’s doesn’t bode well for Jack when I am “off” sugar because then our household is pretty sugar free. Except right now Jack has a giant bag full of Twix bars. Thanks Santa (LOL)….

I wish I didn’t just remember that.

Anyway…

me: Jack, guess what, the day after Christmas is going to kick off a month of no sugar. Just letting you know.

Jack: Didn’t you try that like three years ago?

me: Yes.

Jack: And last year?

me: Yessssss.

Jack: And you’re trying it again? If you just stopped eating sugar you wouldn’t have to keep starting to stop.

me: Hand me the fudge will ya?