- Epitaph vs Epithet
- Bob Seger vs Pete Seeger
- Parsnips vs Rutabagas
- Odin vs Ovid
- Moire vs Moile
- Aver vs Avow
What are some things you never get right on the first try?
What are some things you never get right on the first try?
My husband and I are in a bit of a food rut. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, it saves us time, money, and energy to eat the same lunch every day. Wait. We don’t eat the same lunch, we each get our own, but we’re eating exactly the same thing every weekday. You knew what I meant.
We jumped on the SALAD IN A JAR bandwagon.
It’s been a couple of months and we’re really loving it. He takes his to work every day, but I have mine here at home where I work.
I’ve been posting about our journey on Facebook and someone commented that they didn’t understand why I would need to do this if I worked at home, perhaps picturing a woman with my name and hairstyle who wasn’t quite so lazy as me.
But I am lazy, er, efficient and I have the misfortune of a history of gaining weight due to not eating enough. A ridiculous problem to have, but there it is. I tend to get very involved in my writing and the other work I need to do, so I forget to eat. Or I postpone it. This means I either grab something easy that I can eat at my desk, or I end up so ravenous that I storm through the kitchen like a competitive eater at the county fair.
So, now, with my Salads in Jars, I mitigate my damage by setting an alarm to remind me to eat, and looking forward to it because it’s also the only time I allow myself to do my beloved crossword puzzles. And because it’s Real Food, it takes real time to eat, giving me ample guilt-free crossword time.
When we decided to do this, I sent out a call to my Facebook peeps and they gave me some basic info to begin with.
• Wet ingredients on the bottom, dry on top.
• Find a very long fork or a bowl to dump them into. Unless you enjoy getting salad dressing all over your fingers. This was excellent advice because I was all set to tip it back and slurp it down like a drink.
• The plastic lids are a lot more convenient and dishwasher friendly. This might be good advice, but I had already bought the metal ones and we wash dishes by hand so it’s kind of a moot point. I was smart [read lucky] enough to buy the wide mouth jars because that definitely matters.
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
May 25 — Our journey begins.
May 30 — Prepped our first dozen Salad-in-a-Jar lunches. Took 40 minutes with hubs doing all the chopping and me, you know, directing. Without the cost of the jars, these salads are $3.46. (I got a dozen wide mouth 32oz jars for $12.) Now we’ll just have to see if we like having salads every day and what the last couple ones look like. Right now, though, they’re purty! One thing I hadn’t thought about was whether we had enough room in the refrigerator for 12 quart jars. Luckily, we did.
May 31 — Day One Salad-in-A-Jar. One smaaaaall problem. The olive oil had solidified in the refrigerator. (See it there on the tomatoes?) Turned out to be no big whoop. Five minutes or so while I filled a drink and got my crossword ready and it was fine. Gave it a stir and presto! Everything crisp and delish.
June 1 — Day 2 Salad in a Jar. Today I got it out of the fridge and shook it, to unsolidify the olive oil. Clearly, I’m stronger than I look. Despite my vigor, just bruised the lettuce a bit. All still crunchy and delicious.
June 2 — Day 3 Salad In A Jar. Started eating before I remembered to take a picture. Still good, crunchy and delicious. Halfway through our stash.
June 6 — Today is Day 7 of Salad in a Jar. Day 3 was Thursday and I didn’t have one Friday-Sunday. Happy to report everything is still crunchy, but a couple of the cucumbers that were sliced thin are a bit wilty. Except for them, all is delicious.
June 8 — Blech. Ten days is too many for Salad in a Jar. But all in all, an excellent experiment.
Here’s what we’ll do from now on.
June 19 — Salad In A Jar experiment continues! This week we’re trying to quantify and simplify so we don’t have to think. No salad dressing, and no cucumber because we got a bitter one last time and it put us off. Here’s our new recipe. I’ve written it in the order it goes in the jar. That way hubs knows what to chop up first so I’m not standing around twiddling my thumbs.
This time it took us less than an hour from leaving the house to grocery shop (for the salads PLUS our other food for the week) until the salads were in the refrigerator and the kitchen was clean.
July 11 — I forgot we put black beans in our Salads in Jars this week and had a fleeting thought we added candy. Which is hilarious because black beans do not look like candy. Not any that I’d eat, anyway.
Have you played with Salad In A Jar? Any other good tips? What do you put in yours?
Because I only do for others every minute of every day … and because I’ve been named Mother of the Decade … I was asked recently for advice on how to shower Mom with affection on her upcoming holiday.
As I think about it, though, I guess it could have been a ploy to keep me from talking about myself so much, but we don’t dwell on unpleasantness like that in BeckyLand.
At any rate, here are some inexpensive ideas for those of you hit hard by the recession. Remember, it doesn’t mean there has to be a recession of love.
• Get busy on a stylish macaroni necklace for the mom in your life. The more glitter the better. In fact, spill a bunch on the carpet. Moms love that.
• One year I brought a new baby boy home from the hospital on Mother’s Day. I had to return him a few days later at the request of the hospital administration … some legal mumbo jumbo about kidnapping and indictments. It might not be the right gift for everyone, but it was a fun way to celebrate before my prison sentence.
• Hand-letter some “Hug Coupons.” These are best if you live near her. And have impeccable hygiene.
• Give her a six-pack of beer. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are six hours on Sunday afternoons. Mother’s Day is no exception.
• If you still live at home, move out. If that’s not quite feasible because you’re, say, between “this many” and 34-going-on-35, then at least give her a written timetable for when she might get her life back.
• Bestow upon Mom one of your grimiest, most used toys, elaborately and lovingly wrapped in the Sunday funnies. She’ll appreciate the humor that makes it look like you “forgot” Mother’s Day. Again.
• Bring her a carefully crafted breakfast in bed that includes a Mom-sized portion of Teriyaki beef jerky, a fruit roll-up with maple syrup dipping sauce, and a can of Mountain Dew. Include a straw and a couple of napkins from Burger King. Make it elegant.
• Everyone knows moms never get enough time to themselves to indulge in their favorite relaxation activities, so help her by managing her time for her. Read the current issue of Mad Magazine to her through the bathroom door while she soaks in the tub. Be sure to shout so she hears every calming word.
• Go to the mall with her and mock hoochie girls. That’s some good bonding time right there. Really, a gift for you both.
• Start doing your own laundry. But in a good way. Not the way that requires her to grab the mop and call the repairman.
• Transplant spider glands into your body so you can spin your own silk to make her a pretty scarf. (Granted, some of these ideas are more complicated than others. I guess it just depends on how much you love your mother.)
• Friend her on Facebook and make a conscious effort not to delete all the messages she writes on your wall. You don’t have to send her a L’il Green Plant though. Some things are obvious.
• Sneak a peek at the appointment book at your local day spa and smuggle your mom in as “the two o’clock.” Be sure to get there early. Oh, and before you go, remind her to wear sneakers as there might be running involved. Call it “cardio” if you must, but don’t refer to a police chase through the downtown streets.
• Quit playing wii for ten minutes so Mom can yogafy herself in the exertvputeraryden room. Or if you just can’t drag yourself away, would it kill ya to invite her to wii bowl once in awhile?!
• Clog her inbox with adorable videos of cute widdle puppies like this one …
• Put on a show! Act out all the parts in her favorite movie. Or Star Wars.
• Nominate her for Mother of the Year. This is really an idea for next year because, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve already won for this decade … But it will give you the jumpstart over your siblings a mere twelve months from now. THEN you’ll be her favorite.
• Better yet, let Mom agonize over and analyze every little thing in your life — from your poop to your diet to your clothing choices to the way you drive to your love life to how you raise your kids, whether you have any or not. Seriously. This makes her happy.
I hope I’ve helped make your Mother’s Day celebration special. And to my own mom I say, “Hey … Wanna wii bowl?”
What will you be doing for your mom this Mother’s Day? Which of these things are you hoping for from your kids?
I’m still reeling over a conversation I had with a friend at my book club the other night.
In passing I said something about wondering what your life would be like if you’d never had kids. She looked at me as if I had inadvertently started reciting ancient Sanskrit texts about cheesemaking.
She said she never did anything like that.
She must have misunderstood me. “You’ve never come upon a car accident and been thankful that you stopped to tie your shoe or else it could have been you t-boned in the intersection?”
“You’ve never pictured how your life would be now if you’d gone to a different college or grown up in a different town or been born a different race … or … or?”
I’m still stunned because I think about things like that forty-leven times a day.
What if my boys hadn’t been in marching band in high school? I wouldn’t have met her or been in this book club.
What if my oldest son hadn’t worked a crap retail job where he met a kid who joined the Navy? He wouldn’t have joined and wouldn’t have worked in emergency medicine to find out how much he loved it. Plus, my younger son wouldn’t have joined and therefore wouldn’t have been in Guam to meet and marry his lovely wife. And what if she hadn’t joined the Navy?
What if we hadn’t taken that vacation to the Pacific northwest? My daughter wouldn’t have fallen in love with the area, wouldn’t be living there now, and wouldn’t have met and married her lovely husband. And what if they didn’t have the mutual friend who introduced them at her birthday party? What if she decided not to have that party?
What if I’d have chosen a different college? I wouldn’t have met hubs or created those amazing creatures we call our children.
Those questions never end for me and it honestly never occurred to me that everyone doesn’t do the same thing.
My family will attest to the fact that I’m a planner. I love lists and any/all methods of organization. I ALWAYS have a contingency plan. I’ve seen those people on the side of the highway with a flat tire on their way to the airport. I ALWAYS know who I can call to rescue me in any situation.
Lest you think I’m a complete whackjob, because I fear it’s beginning to show, this doesn’t preoccupy all my thoughts and actions. But I take comfort in knowing regardless of what the universe throws at me, I have a way (often several) to cope.
Of course, who’s to say that your life would be better or worse if one little butterfly flapped his wings differently? It’s all utterly unknowable, and maybe that’s the draw for me.
In my novels I tend to explore the issue of a perfectly ordinary someone thrown into extraordinary circumstances. What will they do? What would I do?
In Banana Bamboozle, a slightly overweight middle-aged woman sees a girl she is convinced is her niece, even though the niece died as an infant.
In Marshmallow Mayhem, she and her cohorts stumble on a dead body.
In the new mystery I’m *thisclose* to finishing, a midlist mystery writer is pulled kicking and screaming into a murder investigation that hits way too close to home.
What would I do? What would you do?
And for years I’ve been noodling over a novel about the seemingly inconsequential choices we make every single day that could lead to either your best day or your worst, if only you veered left instead of right. Guess what the working title is? Yep … “What If?”
The concept fascinates me. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer.
What about you … do you ever play the ‘What If’ game? Do you think I’m a complete whackjob? Because of this or all the other weird stuff you might know about me?
I am a creature of habit. I like schedules and checklists, maps and files. Grocery store trips are never launched without a lengthy list, often written in the order I expect to tackle the aisles. Errands are grouped in the most efficient manner. I know deep in my soul that filling in calendar squares tames the chaos. A weekly planner still in its cellophane sets off waves of anticipation some people reserve for foreplay.
I live by the maxim, “Better an hour early than a minute late.” I’m the first person to the airport gate, the movie theatre, and the meeting.
Outlines for the novels I write litter my computer desktop like so much digital confetti. And by “litter” I mean, “placed in appropriately labeled, color-coded folders lined up and down my screen as precise and tidy as a high school marching band.”
All this to illustrate I do nothing at the last minute. So, imagine my surprise when a recent wild defensive swerve of my steering wheel — at the last minute — averted my literal last minute.
My husband and I spent the night at a hotel on New Years Eve. We weren’t too far from home, but we didn’t want to get up at the crack of early to race home and feed Nala the WonderDog.
So I contacted our fantastic pet sitter, Robin at Prairie Home Pet Care. “No changes since you were here last,” I told her, “except Nala is taking an antibiotic with breakfast. FYI, she will politely take it from your hand, and just as politely remove it from her mouth, often without even being observed. So you’ll have to cram it down her throat.”
“Not a problem. I’ve had to pill a duck all week, so I’m sure I can handle Nala.”
Thus was born my new favorite catchphrase.
What in your life is like pilling a duck?
I just don’t. I am incapable of The Learning.
I’m one of the few native Coloradans still in existence. We really should be in a museum. But such an honor comes with responsibility. Like shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks.
Let me just say, we’re absolutely blessed here in Denver. When it snows, which it does periodically, the next day the sun comes out and dries up all the snow so the itsy bitsy spider can drive her car in town.
I think all the sunshine has permanently erased some aspect of my long-term memory, perhaps my short-term, too. [Note … I literally had to stop here and check my scribbles to remember the point of all this. Sigh.]
My point is this. No matter how many times I have shoveled snow in my life, I forget EVERY TIME how to do it without hurting my back.
I never learn.
We had about a foot of snow over the weekend, so hubs and I split duties, roughly half and half. Once on Sunday and then again yesterday. [I loved our 3-car driveway when we got it poured, lo, those many years ago. Not so much when it’s covered with snow.]
Yes, my back is killing me. Why? Because I never learn.
This morning I was repeatedly reminded of this travesty. I get up around 5am most days and am able to read (novels! for fun!) in the quiet early morning hours. It’s also when I drink my coffee.
I have a lovely antique table next to my purple armchair, where my writer’s clock and my Splat Stan coaster keep me and my cup company. But occasionally, I need to refill. Okay, fine, more than “occasionally.”
Every damn time I needed more coffee this morning, I twisted and reached for my cup the exact wrong way, sending me into paroxysms of pain equaled only by my shrieks of profanity.
Every. Damn. Time.
I never learn.
I was sitting with my husband at a restaurant bar watching my beloved Broncos get spanked by the Patriots yesterday. The game was less than spectacular, but it’s always fun to watch football with a beer and a crowd.
The bartender was a true professional, hands and bottles flying, mixers mixing, shakers shaking. Fun to watch. Whenever he slowed down, I peppered him with questions about his job. He indulged my curiosity and kept my glass filled.
We chatted with a middle-aged couple who stopped in for a quick drink before they were off to an event. They both wore Bronco jerseys, so I wondered where they were going. The game was almost over and being played in New England, so I didn’t think it was football-related. They excitedly told us they were going to a punk rock concert nearby. Now, if you’d have asked me where they looked like they were headed and gave me three choices — all three “punk rock concert” — I still wouldn’t have guessed punk rock concert. But their enthusiasm was endearing.
A few minutes later a woman walked over and stood by my side. “I just had to tell you how fabulous your hair is,” she said. She went on to compliment the color, the style, how it was perfect for my face. We chatted for a moment and then she left me to bask in the glow of her generosity.
it’s not the first time someone complimented my hair like this. It had to have been ten years ago. I was walking into the post office when she walked out. Same kind of conversation as at the bar. It, too, gave me warm fuzzies. And I’ve never forgotten it. Total stranger compliments me out of the blue. BAM. Take THAT, you lazy cynic.
We all get compliments — on our looks, our clothes, our home, our work. Some are less than sincere, some are undeserved, some are a freakishly long time coming. But hearing them makes us feel all squishy.
So why don’t I hand out more compliments?
It won’t change the world, but it might change somebody’s world.
[Psst. Hey, you. Yeah, you … you just read the HELL out of that. Excellent job!]
Whenever the subject of poetry comes up — and I’m a bit surprised how often that is — I’m the first to say I don’t much like it. But you know what I LOVE? Lyrics. I know. Tomato, tomahto.
There’s been a Facebook thingy going around asking what your favorite Christmas song is. I didn’t answer it because, well, it seems too hard to choose and I’m tired of doing hard things lately. But while I was eating breakfast this morning, I finally pulled out all our holiday CDs.
I’m getting a late start this year because I’m in the final, agonizing stages of birthing a new novel and it’s requiring all my focus and grey matter. Not even fudge or egg nog could tear me away—aw, who am I kidding? If I had fudge or egg nog, I’d be as distracted as a Golden Retriever at a tennis ball factory run by squirrels.
But while I was listening to carols this morning, I tried to determine which was my favorite. And it WAS hard! So I did what I always do when something is hard … I cheated. Instead of just one song, I separated my choices into categories.
The first category is SECULAR. And for this I chose “The Christmas Waltz,” elegant and jazzy when Nancy Wilson does it. And isn’t that album cover cool? So retro.
Second is CHURCHY. For this I chose “Once in Royal David’s City.” This version by the Chieftains and the Renaissance Singers simply can’t be beat.
The third category is DANCABLE and I can’t believe there are any choices but “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Argue if you must, but I’m ignoring you.
Fourth is FAVORITE TO SING. Don’t get me wrong; I sing all of them. Even the ones without lyrics. (I do a fabulous “Linus and Lucy.”) But my Very Favorite to Sing is “Do You Hear What I Hear.” If you were here, you would hear me, singing not only Johnny Mathis’ part, but all the choral parts too. Not to brag, but it’s quite spectacular and exhausting. It’s also a lot of fun, you should try it.
And the last category is GUARANTEED TO MAKE ME CRY. Those who know me, know that just about everything falls into this category, but there’s one I wanted to single out this year; the song that got me to thinking about my favorites today.
I haven’t been in the holiday spirit lately, yes, because I’m crazybusy, but also because we are empty nesters and don’t have any kids coming home this year. Both Navy boys will be here in February, though, and we saw our Oregon daughter in September, so don’t feel bad for me.
But this song — “Home on Christmas Day” — made me sob through my scrambled eggs this morning.
The lyrics spoke to me, like good poetry should.
“Home On Christmas Day”
And now that winter’s here soon it will be Christmas
I see your face so clear though you’re far away
Your home is in my heart, it’s everywhere I go
And I’ll be waiting here ’til you’re home to stay
I think of winters past we were all together
The sweetest memories all come into play
Your voice rings in my ear just to let me know
That you’ll be here with me home on Christmas Day
Angels calling from up high will bring a starry sky
To light the frosted ground below
So you will know your way back home tonight
A candle burns so bright to show the way
I’ll make a silent wish just for you this Christmas
To keep you safe and warm never led astray
That everywhere you go you’re sheltered from the storm
And that my Christmas wish is with you every day
Angels calling down to say they’ll always know the way
To lift you ’til you soar so high
That I will see you in the sky above
My Christmas gift of love will guide you back
And now I promise you with all my heart this Christmas
That all the love we shared will never go away
Your spirit’s everywhere and I hope you know
That you are always here home on Christmas Day
Home on Christmas Day
I’ll make a silent wish that you enjoy the poetry of the season, wherever you find it.
I clipped this out of a magazine because I thought it was funny, thought-provoking, and crumpled at the edges, much like myself.
Okay. Your turn.