Criminal Behavior

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The crime: Taking a baby out to run errands during nap time

The victims: An otherwise happy 20-month-old boy, plus everyone else in the post office and grocery store

The criminal: His mother

The sentence: 90 minutes in Mommy Jail

If you do the crime, you do the time. Respect the nap, parents.

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You’re nearly over, Passover

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I just made something so awesome that I had to stop all other critical projects to talk about this. And by critical, I mean I am facing a collision (to use a Scott word) if I don’t get back to them soon. But anyway, we’re just past the Passover mid-point and I can’t serve the kids (or myself) another piece of buttered matzo. They’re not complaining, but it’s just wrong. So this morning I made Matzo Granola! It was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe of the same name, but made using whatever I had that didn’t require a trip to the store. That’s how a lot of my recipes go. I don’t always read ahead (or measure) so I often end up short on something, improvise, and cross my fingers. This time, it worked beautifully. Here goes:

MATZO GRANOLA

3 cups matzo farfel

2 cups assorted nuts (I used peanuts, almonds and walnuts)

3 T butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 t salt

4 t cinnamon

1 cup assorted dried fruit (I used raisins, blueberries and apricots)

  1. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Don’t forget to take out all the muffin tins and Pyrex bowls you store in the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, combine matzo and nuts. Spread on baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. It will look like nothing has happened.
  3. Cook the rest of the ingredients (except dried fruit) in a sauce pan over medium-low heat until melted. Try not to lick the spoon at this point if you value your tongue.
  4. Combine semi-toasted matzo and butter mixture back in the large bowl. Mix well and spread on baking sheet. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Stir it after 5 minutes if you happen to be nearby.
  5. Let it cool, then crumble it up, add dried fruit and eat with both hands.

Although not part of Martha’s original plan, I think including the peanuts was kind of genius because every couple of fistfuls tasted like peanut butter granola. As my taster-friend exclaimed: “Every bite tastes different!” I served it with plain greek yogurt and the kids went crazy for it. Leo asked for “mo, mo!” and ate 2 bowls! If matzo had any nutritional value, I would say we’re eating this all year. But instead, just substitute oats when the time is right and it could be a teensy bit more agreeable to your digestive system. Yum!

Aside

This is my boy! My sweet, handsome, thoughtful, brilliant, serious, old-soul little 5-year-old man. That’s all I’m going to say. I’m just going to let these adorable pictures speak for themselves. OK, I’m going to say a little more because I am totally incapable of shutting up that easily. Evan is now a Hilltop Cherokee t-ball player and I am a proud t-ball mama!

Evan is still a little unclear on the actual rules of baseball. To be honest, so am I, so I act like I can’t quite hear him when he asks me questions about it. “Um, wha? Go find daddy.” But then he tells people “I won the game! I had 4 points!” and we have to straighten out his baseball vocab so he doesn’t sound nuts. I think the point of t-ball is to get them excited about a team sport, not show them off to scouts, so we don’t worry about it too much. We just smile and go along with his delusions of what really constitutes a home run for now. To make it even more confusing, t-ball doesn’t even seem to have any particular rules. Just swing, run, stop when we’re done. When Evan was on first base, the next kid up to bat hit the ball and he helped chase it down instead of running to second. Honest mistake. Just trying to help the (other) team! They all look a little confused out there but their total cuteness as a swarming mass of precious little pint-sized orange-capped heads makes up for it. All they know is hit the ball, chase the ball, and pretzels are free after a game.

GOOOO CHEROKEES!

Go #7!

My Lucky Day

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Today is my lucky day. 40 years ago today, my parents were married. Before you say “Awww…”, I will tell you that they have now been divorced as long as they were actually married, but still, without March 17, 1972, I would not exist. And for that, I am grateful. There are a few other things for which I am eternally grateful and I will share them with you now and end with a delicious recipe.

1) I am grateful that although E has strep throat (for the second time this year), we go to a great pediatric practice that sees us quickly, acts like they remember us and keeps the antibiotics flowing.

2) I am grateful that today was blissfully unscheduled. By some miracle, there was nothing more than karate class on the schedule, so there was nothing more than that to miss since E has strep (see #1 above).

3) I am grateful that although my husband travels for work, he never has to be away on the weekends and we can spend days like today.

4) I am grateful for Star Wars. Kooky as that may sound, I find that I am intrigued, and in love with the parallel reality that my guys (all three of them) enter when they play/watch/become Star Wars. I adore it and I wouldn’t trade it for all the Barbies and My Little Ponies in the world. I have gone to the Dark Side and I am never coming back.

5) I am grateful that my sweet hairdresser gave Leo his first official haircut for free today. He looks even more cherubic than usual IF THAT IS EVEN POSSIBLE.

6) I am grateful for that squiggly red line under misspelled words.

7) I am grateful that a night like tonight can take place. Scott and I just hung out at home after the kids were in bed and had as much fun as we ever have. We have had some ridiculously debaucherous  evenings in some extremely glamorous and exciting places like Hong Kong, New York, Greece and Las Vegas, but nights like this at home remind me that we don’t need to go away for magic to happen. This brings me to my recipe:

A GOOD NIGHT

1 board game ( I recommend Rummikub! And at least 5 rounds.)

1 bottle of Reisling (per person. yeah!)

5-6 frozen strawberries (1 for each glass of wine)

1 bag of M&Ms

Pandora (on a hip hop station)

Mix all ingredients vigorously and spread out on the dining room table. Enjoy at once.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m on the computer. Wonder no more, because I’m done. I told him I was just “turning off the computer”. Even I can be done with that in less than 10 minutes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Now go get lucky!

I’m Blush-ing

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There are a few exhilarating, thrill-inducing things that would be fun to do while you are still able. Sky dive, eat exotic food in an exotic place, be blond, be not blond again, ride roller coasters, pierce something other than your ears and have sexy boudoir photos made. Not all at the same time, but eventually. Now, I won’t cop to how many of those I can claim personally, but I will say (from recent experience) that having a sexy boudoir photo shoot will rock your socks off. (Or your thigh-highs. Depends on your look.)

The word “Groupon” doesn’t usually elicit sexy thoughts but when SB presented an offer of a pin-up photo shoot with professional hair, make-up and styling included, the mind wandered to secret, seedy places. After a brief (read: very long) telephone scuffle with the studio over the terms of the Groupon redemption, the plans were made and the appointment set. I will not elaborate on the scuffle because although it was looking iffy for a minute, an agreement was made and it all worked out in the end. Because my husband is a pit bull in a button-down shirt when he needs to be. Case closed.

I agonized for weeks over my outfit choices and my faux attempts at diet and exercise. Finally giving in to the attitude of “This is Me Now”, I went forward, trusting in their ability to Photoshop me to a certain level of presentable. Join me on my journey.

I share these only-slightly-intimate-yet-highly-cropped-and-edited-photos with you because:

A) You haven’t seen a current picture of me on this blog without a wig on, and this is my actual hair.

B) I am not modest so I don’t exactly feel like I’m showing anything crazy or that you can’t see somewhere else. There were a few costume changes, so you’re not even seeing the whole shoot here – just the family friendly ones.

C) YOU SHOULD DO THIS, TOO! I mean, really. If you haven’t been professionally dolled up before, you are missing quite an experience. I did something similar 10 years ago (no boudoir involved) and I now think it should be a once-a-decade treat to yourself, just for making it another decade. Unrelated, sort-of, Tina Fey gives the most hysterical run-down of what a fancy photo shoot is like in her awesome, awesome, awesome book Bossypants. I read it on a recent plane ride and had to put it down several times because I was literally embarrassing myself the way I was guffawing.

Take a look at me in pre-production. Here I am with my hair mostly done, but without makeup, enjoying a cup of Wawa coffee before the shoot. “Pasty” is an understatement. 

*correction: That is a 20 oz. rum & Coke and I did not get it at Wawa.

Corset-tying 101: Ever laced one of those suckers up alone? If you get it right, it’s kind of fun and super hot, but if you become tangled and frustrated (with a little buzz), you may curse and cry. I was in the latter group. When I went to purchase said corset a few days earlier, I was given excellent instructions by a rather buxom sales person who reduced her 39″ waist by NINE INCHES right in front of us. It was uh… fascinating, yet physiologically confusing as to how it was even possible. I was strapped into it briefly in a less extreme fashion and had a stomachache the rest of the night. But, we had just eaten Greek food and I had wine, so I can’t be sure who to blame.

Drumroll, please…

This one says “Join me on a Carnival Cruise!” or “Try Hanes Her Way!”

And this one says “New! Crest White Strips!”

In this photo, I am trying to summon up every episode I’ve ever seen of America’s Next Top Model. I hear Tyra in my head. Speak up, Tyra! Am I still in the running to become America’s Next Top Model? There’s an age/height/weight limit? Aw, man.

This is basically my un-paid endorsement for the modern version of Glamour Shots. ‘Memba those from the 90’s? You didn’t have them done? (Twice?) Just me? Oh, never mind.

For these, I went to Salon Blush in Philadelphia, not to be confused with Blush Salon in Newtown Square where I have my hair cut, with my clothes on, by the lovely Michelle.

Do it ladies. You can borrow my corset, lacing instructions included!

The moral (??) of this story is that for a price, anyone can be feel like a supermodel for a day. Or a lifetime, really, because you’ll have your photos forever. It is fun, empowering, and your spouse/partner/lov-ah with adore you for it. Let me say that again. THEY WILL TREAT YOU LIKE A ROCK STAR FOR IT. I can vouch for that.

Waffling

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I waffle. I do. It’s Gemini nature and there’s no fighting it. I make no firm decisions, I take no firm stances. The firmest thing in my life is my tofu, and I’m okay with that. I consider myself “flexible” and “open-minded” and that’s the positive spin I place on this particular personality quirk o’ mine. My reason for bringing this to your attention is two-fold. The first reason is to explain my absence. I have been blogernating for 2 months because my calendar runneth over with a few little things like Disney World, holidays, birthday parties galore, and keeping up with bi-coastal Real Housewives. Although blogging remains high on the list of Stuff I’ll Get Around To, there is always a project with a quicker return that gets my attention first. That doesn’t mean I don’t start a post. I do start it, but then I remember that I need to organize the baby’s sock drawer and on the way there I notice our street is getting re-paved, then I chat with the neighbor about the weather and then I have to give serious thought to whether or not typing run-on sentences is more important than making dinner. Hmm… to write or to feed children? That is the question, but the small people always win. My weekly to-do list is, no lie, two pages long. Know why? Because rather than commit to three or four must-do items, I leave the options open by including everything I could possibly think of that ever needed to be done.  Then, I don’t have to make any false promises to myself and I can waffle around more. It’s not procrastination, just sweet indecision.  Self-aware much?

Time for a 180…the other reason to discuss waffling is for the most obvious. That fluffy, crunchy culinary delight that has been erroneously assigned to the breakfast time slot for far too long. The waffles I made yesterday were so good that I stuck Evan (sick, and at home again) in front of SuperWHY! so I could talk about them. They were that good.

I’m not including a picture because:

  • I didn’t plan to write about them until just now.
  • All waffles look the same, no matter what you do to them. It’s only the toppings that make the photo, and when you are making food for small children, “toppings” are best presented as “dips”, which they were.
  • If I go and stage a photo of the leftovers in the freezer, that process will derail my writing and you won’t hear from me for another 60 days.

Since the name of my blog is “Veggie Berger”, you were probably wondering when I would talk about food.  (No? Ok, well I was wondering when I was going to talk about food.) I think I’m done whining for a while and ready to talk food because I cook/bake/stir stuff every day and I enjoy the heck out of it, so I’d like to share. And, I’m sure you’re wondering how I keep such a “voluptuous” figure with such a veggie-centric diet. Cannolis, people, cannolis. Vegetarian ≠ skinny.

So, here goes with my first recipe post. I hope you’re enticed to step away from that meatloaf and serve up some of my flesh-free awesomeness for dinner. I present to you….

Carrot Cake Waffles

(adapted from “Carrot Muffins on a Grid” in Waffles from morning to midnight by Dorie Greenspan)

1/4 c raisins

2 containers (3-4 oz ea) carrot baby food  (or cooked & pureed carrots)

1/3  c chopped pecans or walnuts

3  T unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2  c  flour (whole wheat, duh!!)

1/2  c oat bran or ground flax seeds or more flour

1  T baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4  t  cinnamon

1/4  t ginger

1/3 c raw sugar

1 1/2  c  milk (vanilla non-dairy milk takes everything to a new level of yum)

2 eggs

1  t  vanilla

  1. Heat up the waffle iron. I use a Krups belgian waffle iron which I love. (side note: I discovered through trial-and-much error that you do not need to spray/grease/butter the grids. They are called “non-stick” for a reason.)
  2. Mix raisins, carrots and nuts. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, blend all the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. In yet another bowl, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla. (I never said it wouldn’t be a mess.)
  5. Pour the wet over the dry, blend. Add carrot mixture, blend. Add melted butter, blend.
  6. Pour just enough onto the hot grids of the waffle iron so that it doesn’t overflow and cook just until lightly browned and you can flip and cook another minute or two. Don’t overcook – you’re going for a very light crunch.

This made 11 hefty waffles. Now here’s where it gets good: Serve warm OR at room temp, because they are basically square, perforated muffins. For breakfast, top with agave syrup. For a snack, cut into strips and dip into applesauce or give them a cream cheese schmear. (This works in a lunchbox, too.) For dinner, (ready for this?) melt cheddar on top. Holy Moly. Add a slice of quiche and fresh fruit.

I normally hate recipes with a dozen ingredients, but I adapted it to fit the things I already had on hand. A dozen ingredients is only bad if you have to go buy a dozen ingredients. Instead of going out, just smash up a few lingering veggies and make yourself a waffle for lunch! Due to the lovely versatility of the waffle, I was able to cram myriad vegetables in my temporarily picky toddler a few years ago. I’m pulling the same move on Leo, so I can share those recipes with you soon and I half-promise not to link every recipe with a rambling soliloquy about moi. I leave you now to imagine the scent of your carrot cake-infused kitchen, and I’m off to work on that sock drawer.


Hot & bothered

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Ignorance is bliss! Until you find out what you were ignorant of, and then ignorance is really, really embarrassing. Twice, I’ve pulled in to the YMCA and congratulated myself on finding rock star parking. Then the third time that I had this remarkable good luck I happened to notice the faded (but definitely still visible) distinctive blue square of paint that means only one thing: I had been parking in the handicapped spot.

The humiliation!! I just did exactly what I rant about all the time. But here’s the difference: it was completely innocent, and had someone pointed it out, either by telling me, leaving me a note, or even the parking ticket which I deserved, I would have first been completely mortified, then apologetic, and then taken the shame like a mature person who admits mistakes. I’ve always felt that if you are able-bodied and knowingly park in a handicap spot because you don’t want to walk too far, you might as well steal someone’s wheelchair on the way in so you don’t have to tire yourself out, either. And then steal a few bucks from a blind musician’s tip jar. Because you must not care about anyone but yourself.

This brings us to a gray, rainy Wednesday morning. Waiting in the drop-off line at school, I watch another mother pull up, scan the parking area, then settle on the handicap space. She puts on her blinkers and gets out. Now this is where you know she knows she’s wrong. Unless you are involved in an accident, blinkers are the universal sign for “I know I’m not supposed to be here but I’ll just be a minute” or “I’m waiting on someone to get in the car so please don’t make me circle the airport again.” Now I’ve witnessed this situation before. Arrogant, entitled mom decides she has the right to decide when she gets to park in the good spot so she doesn’t have to walk in the rain. I’ve had enough. So when she gets out and trots around getting her kid ready, I move up closer in line, I roll down the window and I toss out a friendly

Hi, those spots are for our handicapped drivers. Would you mind not parking there?

You get one guess how that went over. Correct, like a lead balloon. So she tosses back

Uh-huh, yeah

and a dismissive hand wave. Not being one to let things go so easily, I’m all like

Unless you are supposed to be there, please move your car so that our disabled members and students can use those spots.

And she’s all like

I’ll move when I’m ready!

Are you kidding me right now? Seriously? That is your response? So, as fate would have it, we encounter each other again 20 minutes later on the sidewalk and have a second opportunity to finish our spirited exchange. Now, if you know you’re right, you could just politely defend your position because really, we should all be on the same team about this. But if you know you’re wrong and want to save face, you argue. And that’s exactly what girlfriend did.

I just want to let you know that I had surgery on my leg and I don’t have to justify myself to you.

Now I don’t need your medical history, but if you want to calmly state that you are, in fact, legit, I’ll take your word for it. But don’t get smart with me when I am trying to protect the interests of people who have the same problem you do (supposedly). How about a “Thank You!” to the kind stranger (me) looking out for folks in parking lots. Wouldn’t she have gained a little perspective and appreciation of my forward manner had there been someone else in the spot and she needed it due to her alleged leg injury? She wouldn’t be sassing me then.

I’m not handicapped. But I could be one day. And I hope someone looks out for me. Or I’ll have to get this bumper sticker:

source: zazzle

So my question is this. When do you let injustice exist? When you fear embarrassment, ostracism, physical harm or road rage? Do you go all Sandusky and close your eyes to it? Or do you step in and do what you can to stop it? Wasn’t there anyone in Michael Vick’s world who actually said, “Hey Mike, maybe this isn’t the best idea…”  Obviously we’re talking about wildly varying degrees of evil here, but my desire to stop wrong, promote right and eradicate bullies remains. Doesn’t anyone believe in karma anymore? Be grateful for your strong, capable body while you have it and park where you belong. When I re-told this story to a few other moms, I was met with blank stares. Am I fighting this fight alone?