You are hereMonthly archive / February 2009

February 2009

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Mischief and Mayhem

I've reached another one of those OMG moments when I feel like I'm being pulled in so many directions that my tensile strength is being challenged! For that reason I'm taking yet another break from One Gen for a bit and focusing my efforts in a different direction.

Right now Michelle and I are investing tons of time at our crafting blog Wee Folk Art. So for the time being we're creating mischief and mayhem over there and I just run out of enough wakeful hours to do everything I want to!

But you know me. I can never stay away too long. So check back frequently. I am also going to use this time to have Tim change us over to the server where Wee Folk is hosted. Also, I'm sorely missing my site's "old look", uhm, not surprising, and Michelle has graciously offered to make it so!

So, in my absense, please take care, and stop by and visit at Wee Folk Art. I'll be back before you know it!

Yikes!

Just getting ready to close up shop for the night, and I had this nagging feeling like I was forgetting something. Hmmm, I let the dogs out, checked Wee Folk Art for spam, locked the doors, then Yikes, it hit me... I ALWAYS write my blog on Mondays and post it right before I go to bed so that bright and early Tuesday mornings, my thought provoking and oh so witty words await my readers.

Well... I have no excuse for my nonexistent blog this week, except to say, I've been in a bit of a kafuffle all day, and up is down, right is left and the blog did not get written. There is a highly unlikely possibility that I'll get to it tomorrow, but if I don't, I'm using my "Get Out of Jail Free" card, and I'll see everyone back here, same time, same place, next week!

Cooking Malfunctions

My parents use to say that they never needed to worry about me… that was the job of my 3 brothers. And over the years, each of them has looked after me in their own unique way. I can remember after one particularly awful date, while the octopod walked me to my front porch, he had the nerve to make one final assault on my chasten resolve not be become one of his conquests. Before I had an opportunity to plant an upper cut to his jaw, the front door opened, and there stood my 10 year old brother, in his jammies. “Is there a problem?” he questioned. “Not anymore”, I replied. And with that I turned my back on my date and went in the house. Just as I was closing the door I heard his tentative comment, “So, I’ll give you a call?” Jeeze! Anyway, when I was safely inside, I gave the little guy a hug, and asked him what he was doing up at midnight. “I didn’t trust that guy,” was all that he said as he climbed the stairs to bed.

But, every girl that has ever had brothers knows that brothers are definitely not all fun and games. On the average, for every good thing they did, there were usually a half dozen actions that I was ready to strangle them over. One of their most annoying behaviors was their incessant proclivity to share my culinary failures with would be suitors. I don’t why they thought it was so humorous, it’s not like most young men highly valued a girl’s gastronomic expertise. At this point in their lives, physical attraction and his date’s willingness to watch action films were all that truly matter. But that didn’t stop my brothers from falling into their roles as would-be comedians on open mike night at a comedy club.

They: Kim is such a bad cook, she burns Jello.

(Lie: I did not burn Jello. I just didn’t mix it thoroughly enough and when you dug into it you hit pockets of non dissolved Jello, which spewed dry powder into the face of unsuspecting diners.)

They: Kim is such a bad cook, she melts salads.

(Lie: I did not melt a salad… well, not directly, at least. My brother, his date, my date and I, were making dinner when my parents were out of town. My job was the salad. Being fair to me, the veggies had probably exceeded their “best if used by date” and the lettuce wasn’t very crisp. I had one of my scathingly brilliant ideas… why not pop the salad into the freezer for a few minutes to “crispen” it up! Now, I could go into all the scientific reasons which I learned about later in biology (stuff about cell walls and such) why this wasn’t a brilliant idea, but suffice to say, when I pulled the salad out of the freezer, it did in fact achieve my desired outcome. The lettuce was crisp. BUT, in the time it took to walk the salad to the table, the lettuce began to thaw, leaving behind a slimy vegetated mess that looked like it belong in the bottom of Mr. McGregor’s compost heap! God love my date, he valiantly slathered it with salad dressing and swallowed a couple of bites swearing it wasn’t so bad. When his third bite brought about involuntary gagging, the salad was removed from the table and the next course was introduced.)

They: Kim is such a bad cook it took 2 of us to carry her veggie meatloaf to the table.

(Lie: It did not take 2 of them to carry the veggie loaf to the table, it only took one, and it’s never been substantiated that this caused my brother’s hernia that required surgery!)

Over the years I’ve had my share of perceived cooking malfunctions. Just ask my children. There are 2 entrées in particular that all 3 of them site when discussing food prep gone awry. The first was a perfectly edible vegetarian spaghetti, made with spaghetti squash instead of noodles. I knew the recipe was doomed when my ex grumbled and groaned about it without so much as a taste. The children all watched him in anticipation as he begrudgingly took one miniscule bite. Then, with all the emote of a drama queen, he pushed the plate away, and promptly went to the phone and ordered a pizza. (And to think I’m not married to that man today… shocker!) Anyway, I wasn’t surprised when the children pushed their plates away with confidence as they looked to their father for approval. As for me…I sat at the table by myself and ate a perfectly lovely dinner. (Ah, truth be told… not so lovely! But I certainly wasn’t going to give Benedict Arnold the satisfaction of having me join them for pizza!)

The second food they all go on about was this very delectable chilled strawberry soup. It was one of the last days of school before summer vacation, and we were having their teachers over for lunch. I made this chilled strawberry soup and served it with a curried couscous chicken salad. Yum, right? Well, I could see them turning their noses up at the soup, but I gave them my best “don’t you dare do that in front of company” look, so under duress, they spooned what they considered to be a loathsome concoction into their mouths. Lunch was barely over before all 3 of them were in the bathroom throwing up. Seems they were all coming down with the flu, and lunch was enough to encourage its onset! To this day they blame their malaise on the soup, but I swear it was just a common, garden variety, virus that done them in!

Although today I have years of tried and true recipes tucked under my belt, I’m still open to trying new recipes and techniques. Case in point… Most days my grandbabies and their mother are over for lunch. Sometimes lunch is leftovers, sometimes I’ll prepare an entire meal, and about once a month I serve breakfast for lunch. This is generally one of their favorites, especially if pancakes and bacon are involved. Usually, I’ll buy this yummy maple flavored bacon to serve with pancakes. On this particular day, I did not have maple favored bacon, just regular bacon. So, dare I say it? I got another one of my scathingly brilliant ideas! Why not throw a little maple syrup in the pan while the bacon was frying? I often do that with left over ham, seemed to make sense that I could do the same with bacon. What I didn’t take into account was the temperature I was using to fry the bacon was evidently considerably higher than the temp I used to reheat ham. The temperature was hot enough to transform the syrup into a hard candy coating in seconds! Within a minute our bacon was securely preserved in a hard outer coating like a prehistoric mosquito in amber! Still hoping the bacon was edible I brought it to the table. Bug went to take a bite of the rigid bacon. Through clenched teeth that had been welded together by the candy coating he said, “Something’s wrong here!” We convinced him that as soon as the sugar dissolved he’d be able to move his jaws once again, but we realized there was no saving the bacon. Although the children were devastated, they weren’t nearly as surly about it as the 3 dogs who realized their bacon lust would go unrequited!

I’m hoping that my grandbabies were a little too young to have internalized this little culinary faux pas otherwise, I’m certain it would become yet another amusing anecdote to share at inopportune times. But who am I kidding? They are young, which means I have years and years to provide them with plenty of cooking disasters to enrich our family’s folklore!

Two types of cooking experiences get remembered…the really good and the really bad. But let’s face it…it’s the really bad ones that we love to recount over and over and over again!

Glimpses of an Elephant

There is an old Indian parable about 5 blind men and an elephant. The story goes that each man got to touch only one part of the animal. One man felt his tusk, one his trunk, one an ear, one his side, and one unfortunate soul, his tail. They were then brought together to give their interpretation of the elephant. As you can well imagine, their perceptions were drastically different. As in all parables, the purpose of the story was didactic…to teach the listeners a lesson. And what lesson can we surmise? I think there is a twofold message in this tale. First, each person comes to a situation from a different perspective. For that reason, we should be tolerant and respectful when other people’s values and insights differ from those of our own. And the second, we need to be careful when we try to assess a situation. Frequently, we are not given the complete picture…only snippets…which can lead from slightly to radically skewed assessments of the truth. Our news media is often guilty of this, sharing bits and pieces of a reality to provide a picture that they wish to convey. To get an accurate picture it is always a good idea to gather information from a variety of sources before forming our own opinions.

This certainly is one of my concerns with the internet, blogging in particular. Don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging world. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be a part of it. But there is a phenomena that I have observed that has given me cause for concern, and that is our propensity to bestow godlike qualities on some of the authors. And this really becomes problematic when we hold ourselves up juxtaposition to these demigods, and we compare our situation to theirs.

Young mothers, often functioning with sleep deprivation and low self-esteem (did I ever really fit in a size 6 and when is the last time I could actually see the wall-to-wall carpeting in the family room), are very susceptible to this behavior. Moms looking for insight and suggestions or just 15 leisurely minutes to themselves, surf the net and stumble open blogs being written by Mount Olympia moms. These women can do everything! They grow organic veggies, make 3 nutritious and preservative free meals a day, home school their brood, make all their children’s clothes and have abodes right out of House Beautiful. There are idyllic pics of their offspring running barefoot through sun dappled meadows, with heads thrown back in pure glee. Oh, and their husbands…their husbands are their own private cheerleading squad, praising their accomplishments, and orchestrating romantic outings. And if all of this wasn’t enough to fill a 48 hour day, they find the time, each and every day, to document their lives on camera, and write enthralling blogs that chronicle their Utopian existence.

So why do so many young mothers flock to these sites? Logically, it would seem that only slightly masochistic women would subject their egos to this type of scrutiny!  I’ve decided, when it comes right down to it, these blogs are so popular because they have become our modern day Harlequin Romances. Their blogs are a fantasy. In the back of our minds I think most of us know things can’t be as perfect as it seems, but it’s nice to dream!

Believe me, I don’t think any of these women that write these blogs are being deceitful, but they are only showing you part of the elephant. Just remember, all elephants have a butt! These women get yeast infections and lose their tempers, their children have meltdowns in the grocery store checkout line and flush wooden toys down the toilet, their mother-in-laws chide them for their childrearing practices and untidy houses, and their husbands need to work late and occasionally forget an anniversary! Their lives are not perfect. The internet is, after all, a parody of the real world, not a world in and of itself. All writers give you a glimpse of an elephant, not a photo of the whole beast. Trust me, where there’s a head, there’s a tail!