Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crockpot Chronicles

A quick chat session today that left both Dana and I feeling much older than we actually are. ;), but more likely as old as we're supposed to be. This really shows the evolution of a friendship. From baby dolls, tight rolled pants and Gershwin show tunes to crock pots and potty training. I wouldn't take back a single day.

Crockpot Chronicles, from two food loving mamas

K: i think we've been better about eating out this year than the end of last year, but oct/nov/dec is really hard for us and that. longer hours at the store. and summer...with its rodeo entries? thank goodness for hot dogs on the grill!
K: after the crockpot/electricity fiasco last week, I'm a little gun shy to use it.
D: ??
K: i think i'll actually buy a 2nd crock pot with a switch to high/low instead of buttons to push.
K: i had a whole crock pot meal...roast, etc and the power went out. when the power came back on, the crock pot didn't.
D: What happened with yours?
K: half cooked meal, cold by the time i got home.
D: Ahhhh, I see.
K: so i had to throw it all out. i just didn't trust eating it. :(
D: Sucky. I don't blame you, I would've been nervous too.
D: You should crock pot at the store.  People would love the smell, and then you could watch it. ;)
D: My chicken wildrice soup is a crock pot recipe.
D: Ready for this?
2 cans cream chicken
2 cans cream celery
2 cans chicken broth
1 box Uncle Ben's rice + seasoning packet
1 large can chicken
2 cans evaporated milk (add 15-30 minutes before eating)
And done.
K: cool! we'll have to try that.
K: how long do you cook it? just all day?
D: My crock pot is way faster than most.  I'd say 4 hours low or 6 hours on high.
D: If you don't want it as thick you can add just half the box of rice, but we like hearty stuff.
D: It makes a BIG crock pot full, so beware.  I've never tried freezing it, but the leftovers are just as yummy as round one.
K: I have a big crockpot.
D: Mine comes with 3 size pots...2, 4, and 6 quart.  The 4 quart one is full nearly to the brim with this recipe.
K: i see. i just have the one crock, but its good sized.
K: with buttons that let me set how long i want it to cook, then after that amount of time it switches to warm until i shut it off. or the power goes out. ;)
D: Mine has high, low, and warm.  I rarely use high.  For most recipes, my low is "high" and my warm is "low."  If I put it on high it gets done really fast, which is sometimes nice if I've procrastintaed.
D: procrastinated
K: :) mine does cook much better on low also - i usually just set it based on how long it needs to cook. 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours
D: We are thrilling people, aren't we?
D: What an in-depth crocky conversation this is. :)
K: I was JUST thinking the same thing. Hahaha. I think I'll blog this.
Total time of conversation: about 5 minutes. Sometimes that's all we need to feel connected.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slumber Party 2/20/12

Throughout our friendship (and I think Dana would agree that more so in the last five years), we have made periodic appearances in each other's dreams. Even better? We talk about said dreams in regular conversation as if it actually happened. I'll try to remember to share on here when it happens. And even though you might not enjoy it...we'll be entertained. :)

Today from Dana to Kim:

Catch you later--good to see you today (and last night...even though school lunch has gone to crap and it was strange to be married and in high school.)
Bye! :)

LBF Book Club January 2012: The Help

I realize we're 1/2 way through February and while we are on track to complete Water for Elephants by the end of the month, we are just getting around to posting wrap-up questions from The Help. Enjoy!

1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
K: Aibileen – her bravery, persistence and determination was something to be admired.
D: I like Miss Celia.  I don't think she was completely oblivious to the way things were (blacks vs. whites), but she was color-blind when it came to her relationship with Minny.  I think she really, truly loved Minny and paid her to be her best friend.

2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can’t control her. Yet she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother and, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?
K: I don’t remember much from the book that would have made me think Hilly was a good mother. She seemed to care about her children more than Elizabeth, but still seemed to put her needs far above theirs. I do think someone can be a caring and loving mother and still make mistakes. However, I think Hilly’s biggest flaws – her closed-mindedness, inflated ego and stubbornness are likely traits that her children will inherent simply by being around her and observing how she treats others. I wouldn’t classify her as a wonderful mother.
D: I think Hilly's desire to maintain her reputation was her biggest motivation.  With her husband involved in politics she did what she felt would look 'right' to others.  When you change your actions for such an extended period of time, your character soon begins to change as well.  As for Hilly being a good mother, I'm not totally convinced.  I'm sure her children were clean, well-fed, and well educated, but it takes much more than that to be a good mother.

3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter – and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives Constantine is untenable, and most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is sympathetic or an unsympathetic character. Why?
K: I think Skeeter’s mother was probably raised by someone like Hilly. Her flaws are so deeply engrained that she isn’t able to see the world any other way.
D: Like Hilly, I think Skeeter's mother treated Constantine and her daughter the way she did because she had a captive audience when the encountered the situation.  Had she been home alone when Constantine's daughter arrived I think the entire situation would have ended differently.  She acted the way she did because she felt she had no other choice.  I'm not sure whether or not this makes her sympathetic or unsympathetic as a whole, but she was definitely greatly influenced by the times.

4. How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the times in which he or she lives?
K: More than the “time” in which they live, which certainly contributes to their character is the “who” in which they live. Who are their influences? Are their positive people in their life?
D: I think it makes a difference but, as Skeeter proves, one is capable of looking beyond the times and into the hearts of those around them.

5Did it bother you that Skeeter was willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she could get married, and that it wasn’t until he literally got up and walked away that the engagement fell apart?
K: Not really. She never seemed real interested in wanting to be in a relationship, but when he came along it was new, fun and convenient. Skeeter seemed pretty level headed, and with what she was researching and finding out about how people she knew and trusted most (Hilly and her mother) treated their help, she was probably able to see past a few faults in Stuart.
D: The want/need to be loved is human nature.  With her relationship with her mother at odds, and her friendships void of any true emotion it's no wonder she clung to Stuart--he showed genuine interest in her at a time when few others did.

6. Do you believe that Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
K: To a certain extent. Minny’s hard headed personality probably factored into that as well, but its pretty clear that she wasn’t treated with the respect she deserved.
D: To some degree, absolutely.  At the same time, her own husband is not the man he should be which should give her an inkling that the color of one's skin doesn't determine their trustworthiness.

7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent or taught?
K: I think Mae Mobly was probably affected by her time with Aibileen and would likely have been less racist than her mother. I think racism is taught and even at her young age Mae Mobley seemed to have a pretty clear grasp on what made her different from the help.
D: That's a tough call.  I like to think that Abileen's "lessons" and encouragement could have really changed Mae Mobley.  On the other hand, Mae Mobley seems to have a kind and gentle heart and maybe that alone will make a difference.  It takes a child many years to develop his/her own perspective on things and whether it's inherent or taught, she can and will eventually make up her own mind.

8. From the perspective of a twenty-first-century reader, the hair shellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
K: I don’t get too wild and crazy. At the end of my senior year of high school I decided I wanted a perm, and came out looking like a cocker spaniel, yet kept perming it for a couple of years. At the same time, I was also doing home highlights so my hair was in horrible shape.
D: Yikes.  Nothing?  I probably should've tried a thing or two...ha!

9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
K: Through words. The message seems to come through with many instances of Aibileen interacting with people of both races and all ages. Also, the format in which the book is written where its first person from three points of view adds a different element in that we get to hear Aibileen’s private thoughts.
D: It's her style of writing, without a doubt.  We learn this by how she handles her relationships with others, the words she chooses to speak (or not to speak), and her actions in key situations.

10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships in which people of color work for people who are white?
K: I would like to think not, but I’m not that naive.
D: Absolutely.

11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?
K: Again, I would like to think not but without walking a lifetime in her shoes, who knows. It certainly sounded as though Minny regretted her actions that day throughout most of the book.
D: Oofta, that makes me cringe!  I think Minny feels as though it was justified, and feels terrible for actually doing it all at the same time.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Thoughts

Six weeks into the new year and based on some self-challenges for the year, a few things have become clear.

Note to self:

·         You need to drink more water. You really needed to six weeks ago, and you have to consciously remind yourself to continue drinking water. Just because someone said, “go ahead and count the other fluids you drink as water too” doesn’t mean its ok to only drink mtn. dew.

·         Books/reading needs to be a larger part of your life. I think it has to be chapter books and not magazines/blogs, etc. – something with a full story that captivates you for more than a few moments. I also think you enjoy hard copies more than digital copies. You do still dream of having a personal library with a room packed full of books, you know.

·         Sitting at your desk all day isn’t good for you. It makes you cranky, it makes your back hurt and it gives you a headache. Convincing yourself to get up and move shouldn’t be a big deal.

·         Your brain functions better with music playing – most of the time – at least right now. Cooking, cleaning, working, music. Here’s a thought: maybe you need to dust off the piano music, bite the bullet to fix the keys and play your heart out a few times a week.

·         Don’t yell at your kids. They don’t like it, you don’t like it and it accomplishes nothing. You haven’t yelled like this the last (almost!) five years, there is no reason to start now.

·         Celebrate what you accomplish every day. Even if the only thing you accomplish is not yelling at your children. That’s huge.

Its really baffling to me how a few seemingly subtle changes, can make a really big difference in a person’s attitude. I’m working to reclaim a few things that were a big part of my life through those formative teenage years. You know, the years when you’re certain you have everything figured out. At a time when second guessing a decision is the routine (hello parents of toddlers!) I’m often left searching for a sense of normalcy for MYSELF.

Thanks for tuning in. We’ll try to lighten it up again next time. J

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finding Love

Freebies first. I found this picture while editing some forgotten shots from last spring. This is a budding lilac bush at my in-law's ranch. When I found this picture I fell in love with it, instantly made it my desktop background and life has been perfect ever since. Feel free to do the same and think of me everytime you see it.

The theme of this post could very well be 'pictures I had forgotten about'. This is my beautiful Grandma Teresa and this pictures was taken on one of her very favorite days of the year: the-day-we-dye-Easter-eggs. One of her other favorite days? Valentine's Day. I remember getting handmade Valentine's Day cards from her well into my teens that she made with computer paper, stickers and stencils. She'd usually slip a few dollars inside with instruction to buy a treat at the ballgame. I hope someday people see the same spark in me that I see in her.

Speaking of 'spark': this picture was taken the same trip as the photo above. The sheep belong to a dear neighbor of my parents. You know the type: their daughters babysat us in high school, they kept us excited about 4-H and encouraged us through countless livestock shows, baked cookies for us in college and drove 800 miles to attend our wedding. We try to stop and see them so they can spoil the boys with a popsicle and the chance to bottle feed lambs. This face? Pure Joy.

 Pure Joy: Easter 2011. After a pretty rad Easter Egg hunt outside at Jack's aunt and uncle's house, Max took a break from the wind to hang out with Grandpa Jim and eat jelly beans. We are so fortunate to see our own children make memories with our grandparents. Here's to many more!

Even if you're spending Valentine's Day single this year, take time to remember those you love!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bucket Bandits

My boys have gotten lots of extra bonding time with us lately. Between a nasty viral cold that knocked 3/4 of us out cold (and dehydrated me to the point of needing IV fluids...) and at least one round of the stomach flue, we have been under the weather for four long weeks meaning time out of school and daycare spent with Jack and me at the office. In that time, we've also hauled our family across the state to celebrate my brother Adam's birthday and attempted a family getaway that ended in hotel room puke (the worst kind!) and an exhausting trip home. Just when I thought we were on the mend, we caught another wave last night. So here's my attempt at making light of a pretty sucky ordeal.

Bucket Bandits

The following bandits will be held in captivity until further notice, or until the house stops smelling like a frat house.

Bandit #1

Crimes Committed: late night supper regurgitation, paste-color complexion, waking his parents

Evidence: physical evidence was found in a trail leading from his bed into the bathroom where suspect was found hunched over the toilet.

Noteworthy: suspect appear to be disoriented in that when he finished on the toilet, he looked up at his sleepy mother with a big grin.

Bandit #2

Crimes Committed: guilt by association, the desire of his mother not to pass brother's sickness through one child to others at daycare, gunk in eyes, poop in pants.

Prisoner has not stopped talking since he woke up this morning. He needed constant supervision throughout the day to assure he was busy, fed and clean. A high maintenance individual who seemed to embrace the discomfort of his brother by running and talking twice as much as normal. You cannot leave him alone for more than 90 seconds, but he appears to be temporarily distracted by Disney movies, or horses.

In all seriousness, we are so ready to be healthy again. It sure would be nice to work a full week without kiddos at the office so I can attempt to catch up.

Tonight will dictate the events of tomorrow, but I'm almost certain Gage will not be going to preschool. He was still pretty droopy tonight, but a 3 1/2 hour nap this afternoon definitely helped. No puke since early this morning, but I'm not holding my breath that it will last. Max will likely be at daycare tomorrow. The house has once again been disinfected today. In the words of Gage "we're doing the best we can."