Showing posts from April, 2010

A dream lunch date

In my life I have learned that there are many ways to judge the wealth of a person. Richness, I have realized, extends much further than the wallet or the bank account and even the simplest things, when recognized, can make you a very affluent person. One such thing in my own life that makes me feel like a million bucks is that I still have two living grandparents. The other two I lost just within the last year, but the ones that are still around are alive and kicking and bring great joy to my life. Joy, and delicious cookies, old country music, and hours of stories while sitting on lawn chairs in their garage. I’m a lucky girl. But because they live out of state, it’s not too often that I get to enjoy those cookies and lawn chairs, so when we do get the chance to be together I take in as much as I can, which is exactly what I did over a recent trip this year. Among our standard activities (eating, watching America’s Funniest Videos, eating, singing, eating) we also pulled out some

Slow Cooker Black Beans

If you've never had black beans that didn't come from a can, here's a secret: they are actually black. I find the dull brownish color from canned "black" beans as appealing as that syrupy goo that it is packaged in, but I fully admit that I call on those cans quite often. Because as it turns out, I'm a blackbeanaholic . I put them in hummus , on my tossed salads, in cold salads, in warm salads. I re fry them and spice them to soup. But my most favorite way to eat them is right out of the ol ' crock pot, scooped out with a salty tortilla chip. Making beans sans-cans was always something I was afraid of. The soaking just turned me off, as if that one extra step of doing, well, nothing, was too difficult to juggle. It wasn't until I later learned the beauty and ease of cooking these babies in a crock pot, and my world has become beautifully bean-y. Your house will smell fabulous. Your kids will say, "mom, what's cooking? It smells soooooo gooo

A roadway honkathon for Earth Day (No Butts about it!)

Anyone who has traveled in a foreign country with busy streets knows that the car horn is really not used the same way as it is here in the United States. A crowded street in India might harbor the constant blaring of the horn and I’m told in other major international cities the horn is just a way to communicate with other drivers, good or bad. So there’s a lot of honking going on around this world. But here in the States, it seems that a single honk surprises all in earshot, jolts us and perks us up to single out who is the honker and the honkee, and what horrible, horrible thing person did because to earn a honk it must have been a pretty serious offense. There’s not a lot of honking going on in my part of the world. Americans admire the silent lure of the open road, preferably uninterrupted by the BEEP of another vehicle, and usually I subscribe to honk-free driving unless someone is in danger. I just don’t want to start any trouble out on the road, although I admit the mere odor of

Super Snazzy Make-your-own Earth Day Shirt!!!

I went online over breakfast trying to find a decent Earth Day shirt project for us to make and then wear during our community clean up. The verdict: NOTHING. One super-lame site even instructed, "buy a plain t-shirt, get paint, and paint your favorite Earth Day phrase." Gee, thanks. I could have never thought of that myself.... ...I think what I did think of was even better. This was a quick craft and as you can see, came out really wonderful. The best part was that we used old t-shirts, so there was even "reuse" involved in the whole process. Whip these babies up while the sun in shining. Earth Day is 40 years old and I'll be the first to tell you that while I'm not a tree-hugger (I worked for a coal mine, for Pete's sake), I do so very much enjoy trees. So if it means doing a little extra for the good of all the Earth, so be it. Laziness is not an attractive quality. Identifying trees, wildflowers, and birds, well, that's something to write home a

The best new car travel game, just in time for summer!

When I sat down this morning to blog a recipe, I realized that I spent the majority of the weekend being a lazy lump of a person, pulling chili out of the freezer on Saturday and chicken soup out of the freezer on Sunday. (I did pull off an amazing Chicken and Dumplin ' recipe care of Paula Deen , but it took forever and I think I gained 18 pounds just making it.) Just when I thought today's post would be as bland as the plain noodles I had to serve my kids because they won't eat chili, my dear husband emailed me something i scribbled down on his computer during a recent very, very, very long car ride. Let me set the scene... Spring break, 2010. We and half of the state of Ohio, 1/3 the state of Michigan and a good part of Pennsylvania is traveling down Route 77 in search of weather that doesn't stink. Our car is loaded with children, suitcases, scooters, video games and DVD's , junk food galore and a few dozen empty coffee cups. We could have made the trip easil

Lessons from Ms. Poppins

There’s nothing like expecting some major house guests to make you dust off the dust rag, drag Murphy and his oil soap out of the depths of your cabinet, and collect every available bucket in your possession. I have even been known to tear up perfectly good dish towels, just because I needed an extra cleaning rag. This occasion was no different, and I spent a solid day in my pajamas, scrubbing every surface I could reach, and then some. Why in my pajamas? Because I knew that if I took the time to actually clean and dress myself, that I would procrastinate with such vigor that it would be at least 2:45 PM before my hands hit the water. Instead, with pajamas and an excellent case of bed head, I set to work straight after breakfast. But then, in a stroke of pure genius, I asked a simple question. “Who wants to win a prize?” And like flocks of seagulls attacking a single crumb of bread, I was instantly crawling with children. “OK. We’re going to have a contest. Let’s see who can g

Nature & Child Reunion Part 2 (!)

Reconnecting Children With the Natural World Written by Jodi Hiland of Happy Trails Family Nature Club Barriers to Outdoor Free-Play There are myriad barriers to children's outdoor free play, and these must be addressed in every corner of society. Times may never be what they once were for children, but we must create a new, balanced reality. Parental Fear One of the biggest reasons children are seen less outdoors is parents' perceived "stranger danger." I say "perceived", because while child abductions do occasionally occur, it is not nearly as often as people believe. The modern media have gone overboard in their reporting of these incidents, and with internet news spreading like wildfire, it is now to the point where we think abductions are happening far more than they are. In fact, most abducted children are taken by someone the child knows, like a family member. And, the number of these hasn't increased since the 1970's (when I was a kid). Of co

Out of necessity

Some of the best done jobs come out of necessity. From great need, came great triumph all through history. Centuries of people have overcome and succeeded all because they were forced to do so. And that's exactly what happen with dinner on Saturday. Somebody (and I won't mention who) accidentally purchased an extraordinary amount of chicken and somebody else (again, not naming names) wasn't happy with the clogging of the freezer. And so, chicken for dinner. It just so happened that the big bag of chicken was purchased at a mega mega mart, and along side the flock in my cart I had also purchased a ginormous bottle of honey. Why? Because I had a fleeting wish of healthily feeding my family this natural and delicious sweetener instead of sugar and in true American form, bigger is better. Especially at a discounted rate. So there I was, swarming with chicken and honey. I opened the pantry to a waft of of last year's garlic hitting me like a pound of kielbasa, and

A natural scavenger hunt

With the weather warming nicely and most of us still enjoying our spring fever, I thought nothing would be more fun than a challenge. Here are your instructions. Put on shoes, appropriate outerwear, and step out your back door. Your goal is to find as many of the following as possible: a dandelion, a heron, an otter, an acorn, a fern, a buttercup, and a willow tree. Depending on your proximity to weeds and water, you should be able to find at least a few of these. (I think even the best chemically controlled yard will sprout a dandelion now and then.) When you do find them, look twice at what you’ve actually found. A weed, as it’s been said, is simply a flower out of place. From the smallest acorn grows the strongest oak. The graceful gangliness of a Great Blue Heron is unmatched, but surely the entertainer of the year goes to the otter as they manage whiskered somersaults through the water. And anyone who has ever had the great pleasure of drinking lemonade under the shade of

Celebrating battery awareness month

I don’t know about all of you, but it seems that every time I turn around someone is telling me that a toy needs new batteries. The first full sentence my daughter said was probably, “This no wok. Need new batties.” If you’re like me, I come to you today with some fabulous new research that I’ve read about that can not only save you sanity in trying to figure out if the batteries in the junk drawer are good or not, but also save you some major moola. As it turns out, April is Battery Awareness Month. This is a holiday even I have never heard of. I have read that April was National Pecan Month and Jazz Appreciation Month, but never in my wildest dreams did I think an entire month would be dedicated to double A’s, triple A’s, 9 volts, and their giant expensive cousin, the D. I was wrong! And reading a news blurb on the Internet led to some pretty interesting facts. A recent article published in the American Report of Power Science reports that children are 14 times more likely to play wi