Sunday, August 30, 2009

Greatest Invention Ever

Some of you are expecting to name an electronic device. After all, I am a techno-whore. While I do admire the Apple people (the Ipod is genius!) and all the computer geeks that have allowed us all to get techno, I have a much older and simpler item to name as The Greatest Invention Ever...

Campbells's Cream Soups!

These soups have saved many a dinner time dilemma in my house. They are versatile. Flavorful. Quick. Convenient. I am not taking credit for any of these recipes. I'm sure I saw them somewhere and just did my best to replicate when I've read without actually following a recipe.

Tonight I am making
Taco Chicken Spaghetti
2 cans nacho cheese soup
2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans rotel tomatoes
1 cup of sour cream
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 lb. chicken tenders
2 lb. spaghetti or other pasta, cooked (I find it easier to break the spaghetti before I cook it)
Saute the chicken tenders in olive oil. Shred.
Combine all other ingredients (except pasta) until thoroughly mixed. Add chicken. Then add spaghetti in batches to make sure every thing gets mixed.
Toss into a casserole dish and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
You can also add shredded cheese to the top before you bake it.

My family loves this! Of course, for smaller groups you can halve everything. Sometimes I even use the soup/tomato/taco mix for a nacho dip. Throw it all into a crock pot and it's great with chips for a party.

Another favorite here is the Quick Chicken Divan. I found it on the All-Recipes app on my ipod. I double it for my family, so here's my recipe.
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayo
2 packages of frozen broccoli
1 lb. chicken tenders
2 cups shredded cheddar
I saute the chicken tenders. Later the cooked chicken and broccoli in the bottom of a casserole dish. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over the top. Sprinkle on shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Serve over noodles or rice.
This gets broccoli eaten with no complaints.

Last week I even resorted to tuna casserole! Yes, that old stand-by I hated growing up! Do you need a recipe? Here's mine for my big eaters.
2 big cans tuna (I had to use one tuna and one chicken because some tuna disappeared)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 bags egg noodles, cooked
Mix everything together, toss with noodles and bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. (Usually my time is determined by how quickly Jim gets home from work!) I think this would even be better with some peas added.
See, how can I survive without cream soups?! Seriously, you can keep some cans in the cupboard and throw anything together for a meal. Do you have any favorites? Send them in!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Schizo Reading

Is it just me, or does reading a woman's magazine make your head spin? Does it make you feel confused? Do you find yourself questioning reality?

I love magazines. The articles are short. Magazines are portable. You can set one down and pick it up days later and start where you left off.

Lately, however, I have been questioning the content of so-called women's magazines. Family Circle. Woman's Day. To name a few.

Maybe it's after reading Men's Health that I have grown discontented with this particular genre of reading material.

You pick up a woman's magazine and start reading. You come across an article on how you can lose weight by not dieting. Just giving up and letting nature take its course. Following that is a special diet designed just for the readers of the magazine--the only way to lose weight and keep it off! Further on, there are recipes for nutritious meat-free meals. Then come the decadent dessert recipes--with the "you'll never be able to eat just one!" message across the top.

In a short span of time you are told dieting doesn't work. Just in case they do work, try this ultimate diet. (But don't get to used to it, because the real diet that really works always comes in the next issue.) Here are some low-fat, low-cal recipes to get you started. When you get so freakin' frustrated that you can't take it any longer, they have recipes for the binge.

This seems to be the message of all women's magazines. Is their goal to confuse us? Because we never quiet get a straight answer, we have to buy the new magazine when it hits the stands because it might hold the answer?

I started reading Men's Health because Jim reads it. It has such great advice. I never feel like I don't know which was is up. They write about sex. Politics. There are great recipes. Need a workout routine, they have it.

I test-drove Women's Health and was sorely disappointed. Obviously the editors of Men's Health had nothing to do with their magazine. Because the schizo editors were there in full force.

Is the answer to stop reading magazines? I mean, they do have some great recipes.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Suzy Homemaker Takes on Canning

I am in the midst of canning my own salsa. We have so many tomatoes (and they are so big, but I will save commenting on them in a later post where I voice my concerns that we are living on radioactive land, a la Gilligan's Island) so I am doing something fiscally responsible with them. I read somewhere that in this recession people are getting closer to their roots.

I took Aaron out to pick some of the tomatoes. I thought he would get a kick out of it because he's always been interested in growing things.

"C'mon," I say, pulling his eyes away from some stupid television show, "let's go pick some tomatoes from the garden!" This is, of course, spoken in my happy mother channeling the Romper Room Lady voice.

"Why?" he groans, "This is the worst day ever."

I resist smacking him. "I thought you would think this is cool! These are tomatoes we've grown ourselves!" Yes, still Romper Room Lady.

We walk the 15 feet to the garden (that's the back corner of the "back forty") and I point out the red tomatoes we need to pick.

"Are there thorns? I really hate thorns." He's sounding a little panicked as he catches site of the mutant rose bush that shares the tomato garden.

At this point you might think he's overreacting, but this rose bush is frightening! It has thorns on every single millimeter of stem from ground to tip of the branches. Some are huge and some are almost cactus-like. No matter what, it's scary!

I point out how he can go around the rose bush and the tomatoes and get into the corner and reach the ripe ones. He stops to feel every single branch he's going to pass by.

"Is this thorny? What about this one?"

"Those aren't thorns," Romper Room Lady (RRL) says, "the branches are a little furry on the tomato bushes!"

He picks the first one and heaves it into the bowl I'm holding. "Don't throw them!" RRL chirps, "we don't want them bruised!"

(At that point I am completely unaware that the tomatoes will soon be pulverized in the food processor. There's no chunky salsa in Klineville!)

He reaches for another tomato and yells out, "I hate webs as much as I hate thorns!"

"Isn't this fun!?" RRL chirps. "We're really getting close to nature! We're living on the land!"

Aaron rolls his eyes. I resist the urge to smack them back into place because RRL continues to channel through me.

We get done. Aaron has collected about 10 tomatoes. We walk the 15 feet back to the house and Aaron announces he's done and going out to play. Sure, ask for a little work to be done, and out the door they all head!

My idea was to have chunky salsa. But I forgot that the food processor doesn't do chunky very well. So it's liquid salsa. Tomatoes sure are squishy! I don't follow recipes, so I made up my own.

Tomatoes, approximately 15
Onion, 1
Jalapeno peppers (seeded), 7
Garlic, 2 heaping spoon fulls
Cilantro, 4 giant handfuls, washed

The neighbor boy, who is Mexican, declared it good. His only suggestion was that it should be hotter. I'm thinking the longer the salsa sits in a jar, the spicier it will get.

Aaron came back in while I was cleaning up (he's been in and out about 4 times during the making of the salsa; he comes in to watch TV for a few minutes then goes back outside) and RRL asked him, "Isn't that cool that you picked the tomatoes that made this salsa?!"

Another eye roll, he takes a big drink of water, and asks, "Are there any more pop tarts."

Romper Room Lady is still here. I feel so proud of myself! I'm not sure we actually saved any money this way. Just running the dishwasher twice to clean all my dishes is probably the money cipher.

I can't wait to have some chips with my salsa. Jim ran to the store to get some. Oh yeah, that's the third trip to the store: one for our regular grocery shopping, one for the jalapenos and garlic we forget, and now the chips.

Too bad I don't drink or I'd have myself an ice-cold Corona with some lime or a margarita!

Happy Canning!

PS I have eight pints of salsa! It is incredibly good! Good thing I'm making tacos for dinner so we can eat the stuff that didn't get into the jars!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

21 Days of No Complaining

I've joined a Facebook group and have vowed not to complain for the next 21 days. Just to be clear about what this means, I looked up the definition of the word complain.
  • Main Entry: com·plain
  • Pronunciation: \kəm-ˈplān\
  • Function: intransitive verb
  • Etymology: Middle English compleynen, from Anglo-French compleindre, from Vulgar Latin *complangere, from Latin com- + plangere to lamen
  • Date: 14th century

1 : to express grief, pain, or discontent <complaining about the weather>
2 : to make a formal accusation or charge

com·plain·er noun

com·plain·ing·ly \-ˈplā-niŋ-lē\ adverb

I am interpreting this to mean that I cannot say anything negative. At all.

This is going to take some serious re-framing. Since re-framing is one of my favorite psychological techniques, I am looking forward to this. It's a good thing.

It's also a way to put some Buddhist teachings into practice. My understanding from what I have read (please understand that everyone can interpret it differently!) is that things are things. Events are events. They do not have negative or positive connotations until we label them so. And by labeling things, we are tapping into our egos. Which is not a good thing.

We should be striving to be ego-free.

For example, right now it is raining outside. I would label this a good thing because I love rain and storms. Someone else is labeling it a bad thing because they maybe were looking forward to doing something outdoors. But it's just what it is...rain. An act of nature.

I think all of this is wonderful until I try applying it to parenting. Because I can't begin to imagine how you parent without involving your ego. Maybe that's what I will figure out over the next 21 days!

Are you doing the 21 days of no complaining? How's it working for you? Please share!

Spend some time just being.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm Doing Something Wrong Here

Monday night I'm watching TV and see blurb for the upcoming news. There are such things as "mommy bloggers." Yes, moms who write about their families and other very important life-changing events.

Of course, I googled all about it the next day. I find that there is an entire network of these mommy bloggers. From all over. With all tones of blogs.

And they get free stuff to review and recommend to their readers.

No one has offered me anything to review or recommend. Seriously! I have 32 followers and not one of you wants to give me something?! Other than a hard time?

I guess mommy bloggers are the blogs to watch. We've begun reporting on the heartbeat of America.

Tomorrow I'll share my recipe for burrito casserole if it turns out good.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm Going to Do It...I am...Well, Maybe...I Think...

What has me so indecisive these days? To color or not to color. My hair.

I've been coloring it for so long that I've forgotten my real hair color. The only thing I am certain of is that I have a white streak in the front. Pretty much like my birth mother's identical twin sister.

For some reason, this makes me feel closer to the mother I never met. It's a link. Something that we have in common. I'd like to think that if she were alive, we could laugh about it. I could tease her about the legacy she passed to me. She'd laugh. I've heard she had a great sense of humor.

Beyond this connection, I am waffling. I am too young to be so white. Heck, I'm too young to be the mother of nearly-17 year old twins. Or to be married to a man who's turning 52 in October. I'm too young to have graduated from high school 25 years ago!

Jim looks pretty good for being nearly 52 years old. What if people think I am his mother or something equally as horrifying? It's been hard enough when he gets carded at the grocery store for wine samples and I don't.

If I could be guaranteed that I would have some really great white/gray hair I would have no problem with this. There's a lady at my library who is absolutely stunning with her grey hair. She doesn't look old at all. She looks elegant and classy.

I'm afraid I'll just look old and used up. Beaten down by life. Pale and lifeless. Dull. Bored.

Since there are no guarantees, I pretty much have to go with it. It will be an experiment.

It's been almost 12 weeks since I had my hair colored. I opted not to at my last hair appointment. I told myself it was to save money. But I think I was just daring myself to try it.

I did break down and used a rinse a few weeks ago. Within a week, my white hair in front was back to being white. I have no interest in dying my hair every week! I'm not that high maintenance!

I could even cut my hair a little shorter to hurry along this experiment.

I've never been afraid to try anything with my hair before. I mean, it grows back. I've grown out enough haircuts through the ages that I am not happy with.

I'd love to hear from those of you who color and those who don't. What do you think? Want to join me in the pact to let it go? To live free of the dye bottle? To try to be natural?

That's another thing. I've been on an environmental kick lately, and somehow covering my body with chemicals that then get washed into the sewer system just doesn't seem right. If I won't kill a bug, can I really poison one?!

Let me hear from you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fashion Chat

I want to talk about fashion. I can do this because a) I am an AVON beauty advisor!, b) I read magazines, c) I have eyes, and d) check out my picture...wouldn't you trust fashion advice from someone brave enough to wear a pink tiara?!

Ladies, if you have a belly, please don't wear your pants/jeans under said belly. Seriously, you are not a man, who for some reason is able to get away with this. Sure Joe put on fifty or sixty pounds, but he still wears the same size jeans he did in high school! Joe's not really fooling anyone. And neither are you. We can see the roll over the waistband. Especially because you're also wearing a short t-shirt with these ill-fitting jeans. Please, go buy pants that fit. No one will know what size you're wearing, but we will know the difference between fitting and...well, falling out of.

Mother's to be, please see above. If you think you can pull it off, at least do it without self-consciously pulling on your t-shirt waist every two seconds. That only lets us know you are uncomfortable!

Moms, you are not supposed to look like your teen-aged daughters. Sure, Moms today are hotter than ever. But you're not so hot that you can pull off 16...17...or 18. The jig is up when we see your face and see the wrinkles! I started noticing this phenomenon at the high school football games. I would see two women from the back with the same hair, dressed similarly, and when they turned around it was clear they were mother and daughter. Scary! Moms should look a little like moms! Plus, dressing like your teenage daughter is just creepy. Time to grow up!

Frosted hair...obviously lined lips...out of date! Don't do it. Highlights shouldn't take over your main hair color and they shouldn't be brittle beige. If you're looking in the mirror and are reminded of Carol Brady--time for a new hairdresser! Lip liner should match your lips.

Smokers, you look pretty silly driving around with the cigarette hanging out of the corner of your mouth. When you're smoking and using the cell phone while driving next to me on the road, I am scared. 'Nuff said.

Here's one for the young women. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Soon it will be your turn to begin noticing nice skin...on other, younger girls. So get ahead of the game now and moisturize everything. You'll thank me, really! Don't forget your neck and your hands!

I know...I know...I should practice what I preach! I'm just lucky that my pants fit (sweats are so forgiving!), if I do dress like my teenagers it's because we're sharing t-shirts, and I don't have obvious lip liner because I rarely wear makeup in the summer! I mean, it melts off!

Happy Fashion!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bikini Bodies

I was in line (notice I said "in" and not "on"--there was no actual, physical line drawn on the floor!) at the grocery store, doing my weekly news catch up--aka, reading the National Enquirer. The cover was all about good and bad bikini bodies. They might actually have used the terms "fit" and "flab." Or maybe I am making that up.

I look at the good bodies. Yes, they are good. Fit, smooth, flat. Magazine worthy. I look at the bad bodies. I think they are OK. Sure, maybe some that should be avoiding bikinis, but nothing needing a burka to enter into public view.

It takes me a minute to realize that the good bodies are late teen and twenty-something women. I didn't know who half of them even are because I am now officially old and out of the entertainment loop.

The bad bodies were women in their forties and fifties who have had babies and actually lived life! They pictured Jerry Hall, who is 53! I just googled her. Lisa Rinna who is 46. Rosie O'Donnell who was wearing a tankini with shorts.

Who, in their right minds, would compare twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings? Talk about apples and oranges, to be cliche!

It's just nonsense. How many women will read the article and start beating themselves up for not looking like the young and nubile? How many will feel even worse about themselves, squelching any urge they had of going to the pool or beach this summer?

I hope women start to think, " look good now, but come see me in 25 years!" Maybe I should clip the article (but that would mean actually buying the National Enquirer) and wait for ten or fifteen years and see if any of the good bodies show up as bad.

I think I'm going to the pool!

Happy swimming!