Random Thoughts: Cranky Version

1. I was going to post a picture of what Monkey and I did Saturday, but my camera battery conked out, and I have to take it all the way out to charge it. So, look for that later this week.

2. I started doing laundry at 9:30 at night! So much for getting to bed before 10:30 p.m. I would have just let it sit in the dryer, but it’s a new shirt, and I have to minimize ironing. Because I’m bad at ironing.

3. I bought some new spring clothes and shoes (J.C. Penney’s has some amazing sales right now), and it snowed Sunday night. Sorry.

4. It appears that Bun is afraid of the dark. Unfortunately she is also afraid of the shadows created by her night light. It’s making for some interesting — and long, drawn out — bed times. And she’s been waking up around 2 a.m., needing some attention. Not much, but anything getting me up at 2 a.m. is not fun.

5. I am ready for it to be Friday on Tuesday. That is not good for morale.


On a non-cranky note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, N. Sorry for shouting, but you’re all the way in California now, and I wanted to make sure you heard me.

Boy I wish I had some digital pictures of the two of us! Especially from high school.

Anyway, have a great day, my friend. Two more years to Vegas.

Meatless Monday: Go-To Meals

Two weeks ago, the microwave broke. This is a downer, not because of how much we use the microwave, but for what I use the microwave. Since I do cook, especially on the weekends, we usually have plenty of leftovers, and the girls and I pretty much use those leftovers to get through the week. But it’s hard to warm up certain leftovers on the stovetop — that’s what the microwave is for.

So instead, I’m faced with getting dinner to the table quickly without the appliance I most depend on for the “quickly” part.

I’ve been trying to think ahead to figure out what I can make when we get in the door. I try to get the girls fed within about half an hour of getting home. It makes the evening much, much smoother.

I usually have some homemade soup or sauce to hand; I confess, I did just buy sauce in a jar (don’t tell DearDR!). It’s Muir Organic, so good ingredients with no HFCS. Pasta (including tortellini) usually comes together very quickly, and with some cubed tofu or Morning Star tenders, and peas, that’s a good meal. With soup I love to make grilled cheese sandwiches; for some reason, this is a very rainy day comfort meal to me.

There is the ever popular “brinner” — breakfast for dinner: eggs with cheese, toast & jelly, vegetarian sausage patties, and fruit. We are also fans of Annie’s mac ‘n’ cheese with “notdogs”, or veggie baked beans and “notdogs”.

The other thing I try to do is make part of the next day’s meal. Tonight, for example, I may make some rice for the week, and I’ll do simple seasoned black beans tomorrow to put on top.

What are your go-to meals? What do you have to hand so you can get a meal on the table in no time — or about half an hour? What go-to meals do your kids really love? (Meals with meat are welcome too — I do have one meat-eater in the house!)


Due to a weekend of walking, I am nearly a cripple today. It’s pathetic. Between the zoo on Friday, cleaning and running up & down stairs (laundry) on Saturday, and shopping on Sunday, I am aching from the small of my back down to my toes. I am out of shape, yo. I may have to cook dinner sitting down tonight.

Monkey’s Zoo Pictures

Not zoo pictures of monkeys.

Monkey dug her camera up as we were making our way out of the zoo. We went “backwards” through it on Friday, starting at the Kids’ Kingdom. I think she did a pretty good job — even better, it’s so interesting to see what she thought was worth taking pictures of. I helped her with the first two because the sun was so bright she couldn’t see the digital display; she took the rest completely on her own.

(That’s the tiger. Right up close to the glass. As was Monkey.)

Zoo Pictures

The zoo was fun — challenging with two kids on my own, especially since one of the two was Bun, who goes left when I say right. But completely worth it.

Oh, and more than one concession stand being open would have been nice. I did not pack enough food, which is unusual!

Monkey requested I take this photo of the robin. Yeah, at the zoo.

Action shot!


Patience pays off!

I need a Bun-sized one of these.


On the way home we visited WonderSIL and my new nephew at the hospital — another boy, another red head. And then I — all by myself — drove to The Church Brew Works for dinner with the Burgh Moms.

I have to admit, I am disappointed in the Church’s current beer selection. But my dinner was delicious, and the company was stellar!

Let the Three-Day Weekend Begin

Bun climbed out of her bed this morning. When DearDR went to get her, she said, “I want up out of my bed.”

DearDR pointed out, “You climbed out of your bed already.”

“I climbed out,” I heard Bun say over the monitor. “I a big girl now.”

Heaven defend us. She’s right. I have two big girls now.

I guess it’s time for a new bed.


Today’s agenda: Go to zoo. See new nephew. Dinner with Burgh Moms (and a dad, I think). It’s going to be a good one.

Lost Day: He’s Our You

What many of us predicted, happened.

Sayid shot young Ben.

The question, however, remains: Does Sayid actually kill young Ben? This is what my husband kept asking as they were showing previews for next week.

1. The Island has magical healing powers, and dead men walk there (Christian Shepherd, John Locke). Maybe young Ben is only wounded; maybe the Hostiles will come out of the jungle and claim him and heal him. Maybe Ben will walk again.

2. Ben really dies in the past. And that changes the future.

Here’s what I think: First, remember that Ben didn’t actually cause the crash of Flight 815; he simply took advantage of it. The plane crashed because Desmond did not press the button that day when he was supposed to. I think Flight 815 goes down no matter if Ben dies in the past or not — John Locke is on that plane, and John Locke is supposed to come to the Island.

So, yeah, I think Sayid does actually kill young Ben. Along with bringing Locke to the Island, I think the Island takes advantage of certain other skill sets to “course correct” as Doc Jensen calls it. Ben was not supposed to ever be a leader of the Others/Hostiles; he was not supposed to purge the Dharma Initiative; pregnant women were not supposed to be dying in their second trimester.

(For a little bit last night, I thought maybe Sayid was going to kill Ben’s father instead of Ben — maybe try to “course correct” by trying to create a kinder, gentler Ben. But then I thought, “Nah.” He was pretty upset about shooting a kid, too, you could tell. Sayid: alternatively hot and cold blooded. We didn’t get him shirtless last night, but seeing as he bolts off into the jungle, I fully expect to see him running about in a loin cloth sometime early next season.)

So the Island gets wonky, and brings certain people to 1977 to make changes.

Which is not to say that the course is corrected at this point. We don’t actually know if Ben is dead, and even if he is, if he stays that way.

Now what?

I have no idea. It’s kind of fun to guess though!

Will Ben disappear from the future? Or will he simply be someone else — maybe one Henry Gale, who has nothing to do with the Island and knows nothing about it. How does no Ben affect the eventual survivors of Flight 815? How does no Ben affect Juliet? She will not be needed on the Island, if my theory is correct. Does Juliet get to lead a “normal” life in Seattle (Portland? I forget) with no Ben in the future? And what happens to our survivors in the past?

I think this is all going to lead us to the mysteriously missing Daniel Faraday. I think he is the key to all these questions about changing the future in the past.

One of my co-Losties thinks that Faraday is lost in a time loop, trying not to change things (i.e. Charlotte’s death) but inadvertently changing them all the same. I have the impression — and I’m not alone — that Faraday is the one who set up The Lamppost back in LA.

I don’t think we’ll get many answers until Daniel reenters the scene.

Quote of the night: “For three years, we haven’t had buses on fire. You people have been back one day!” — Sawyer

What I Am: Listening to this Week

The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely (2008)

This is another album I waited a long time to get my hands on due to budgetary issues. I’m so glad I picked it up at the library. I had loved (still do) their debut Broken Boy Soldiers, and I also like just about all the White Stripes stuff. Jack White is a blues guitar/punk rock hero as far as I’m concerned. Brilliant.

I had not heard of Brendan Benson before the Raconteurs, though, and I have to admit, I have not sought out his other band.

I would out and out throw out two tracks on this album: “The Switch and the Spur”, and “Carolina Drama”. They seem self indulgent, and are not interesting, except as a way for either White or Benson to expose the depths of his fan-boy taste. My reaction: a big ole yawn.

Otherwise, Consolers of the Lonely shows the Raconteurs breaking away from the polished sound of Broken Boy Soldiers, and toning down the obvious influences. On their debut, I felt that they were saying, “Hey, you like the Kinks? We have this song that sounds just like them.” The Beatles were another obvious source.

Instead, the Raconteurs go straight ahead rocking, tearing through the title track and “Salute Your Solution” with headlong, guitar-infused abandon. They come up for air on “You Don’t Understand Me”, with pretty piano. If anything, some of this material evokes big arena bands of the 1970s — The Who, especially “Rich Kid Blues” (written by Terry Reid), or The Rolling Stones.

Listening to Consolers of the Lonely, I keep wondering how Jack’s marriage is going. Or maybe Benson is the one whose relationship is rocky. Or maybe it’s all a metaphor for the music business — always a possibility.

Aside from my Choice Track — “Top Yourself”, a twangy, down-and-dirty blues stomp — two other cuts are standouts: The frenetic “Five on the Five” and “These Stones Will Shout”, about as wistful as a ballad, only faster, with loud guitars. The rest of the album, except for those two throw-away songs I mentioned, is a hard-edged satisfying rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza.

rpm’s Choice Track: Top Yourself, sample lyric: “I’d like to give a dog a bone, but I’m not going to stick around to help you”. Ouch.

Decisions, Decisions

The thing about being a WOTHM (work-outside-the-home-mom) — well one of the myriad things for me, of course — is that your weekend rolls around, at last, and you have about 36 hours to figure out the best use of your time. Do I want to have what I call a chore-based weekend (cleaning the house or the yard, doing laundry, etc.)? Or do I want to spend good, quality time with my children, chores be damned?

Ideally, of course, I want a lovely balance of family time, my time, and chore time. Unfortunately, I do have to actually sleep. I guess that falls under “my time”.

This weekend I was staring down Saturday morning. On one hand, I wanted to make a Costco pizza for dinner. Which would require a trip to Costco. And I had a number of other things I had to get at Costco while I was there, so…

On the other — and more attractive — hand, I had received an email from a friend about an event the Pittsburgh Opera was hosting especially geared toward children.

And in the meantime, Bun was ready for some puddles.

Doing both just wouldn’t work out. The opera event was in the Strip District at noon. Cosco doesn’t open until 10 a.m. I couldn’t shop and then go right to the Strip because it was too warm to keep food sitting in my car. DearDR couldn’t help out on this one (in general, he has no problem doing the shopping, as long as he has a comprehensive list) because he was going to be seeing patients until 6 p.m. I was on my own.

Finally, I said, “Screw Costco — I’ll go tomorrow.” And I’m so glad I did.

Because we got to eat lunch at the opera.

And there were puppets, and pretty pink dresses (with matching hot pink cowgirl boots — I am so sorry I did not get a picture of them!)

And David Newell!

This was such a fun, fun event. And it was free, and they were giving away lots of cool stuff (for kids). If you ever have the chance to check out one of Pittsburgh Opera’s Brown Bag Opera Concerts, you should go. It seems like it would be a great thing for girlfriends, moms and moms-in-law, or even couples interested in opera in Pittsburgh. When they have another one for children, I will definitely be there with my girls.

Of course, the girls liked the music and the singing. One of the numbers performed by one of the sopranos, “The Girl in 14G”, had Bun crawling into my lap, surprised by how suddenly loud the woman’s voice got. “Dat ‘cared me,” she told me when it was over. Monkey put her hands over her ears during this one, but still stood, transfixed, watching the soprano belt it out.

The girls also liked the balloons, the Smiley cookies, and the apple juice — all FREE — plus the books we won in the raffle. I would have chosen a basket of food from the the new natural foods grocery store in the Strip District (I think it’s called Nature’s Way? The Right Market? anyone?) — including a gift card! — but another winner cut in front of me as I chased down the girls. Still kind of cursing her. However, the books include glow in the dark stars, and Monkey is just fascinated with them.

I’m glad I chose to do something fun on Saturday. I don’t get to every weekend. But I really want my girls to have lots of different experiences, and when an opportunity like the one the Pittsburgh Opera presented comes along, I just have to jump on it. Pittsburgh offers a lot of these, and although I miss aspects of city living, I’m glad I’m close enough to take advantage of events that are a little bit different than a “chore-based” trip to the store.

Meatless Monday: Dip Ahead

This Meatless Monday was inspired — two weeks ago — by a plurk. Someone was looking for a dairy-free hors d’oevre to bring to a party. I immediately thought of hummus.

I have, on occasion, bought hummus, but I feel guilty for doing so. It is so easy to make. On the other hand, Sabra’s hummus is dang tasty.

RPM Hummus Recipe

1 15 oz. can chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tbsp. cumin
Olive oil

1. Throw the chick peas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and cumin in a food processor.
2. Process, adding the olive oil until the hummus is a smooth, but not runny, consistency.

Hummus is one of those “to taste” preparations. I have had it very garlicky, and I’ve had it very lemony. You can throw some roasted red pepper in here to tweak the taste, too. Just about any way works for me. I tend to make mine chunky, not super smooth. And I like to serve it with baby carrots and celery.

My favorite restaurant hummus is from The Kassab’s Restaurant in the South Side, since we’re on the subject.

Another dip that is quick and easy:

RPM Black Beans and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed (reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid)
1/2 a small jar roasted red peppers
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp. cumin (or to taste)
Olive oil

1. See the above two steps for hummus. You can add the bean liquid to smooth out the dip’s consistency if you think you’re using too much olive oil. Quick and easy!

The other good thing to add to this dip, if you don’t have to be dairy free, is an ounce or two of feta. Serve with pita or tortilla chips.