Happy Father’s Day, Non-Soylent Meals and More

Wishing all fathers a happy day! And everybody else too.

Comfort and hugs to those who find this day painful …

I’m behind in finishing some of my posts and ran a bunch of errands today.

I’m pretty sure I inadvertently mortified a young child and her father. I felt terrible. I went to a health food store where I wanted to purchase a high-protein meal-substitute powder. I found one that looked good – lots of natural stuff, protein, fiber, some greens, and antioxidants. At checkout I didn’t see any other customers and started talking with the man behind the counter saying, “I skip meals sometimes, and that’s not good.”

I’ve been using some of the Atkins meal replacement bars and shakes for times that I don’t manage lunch or breakfast. Then recently, two different friends posted that they were not grossed out, but oddly compelled, to try a new meal replacement product called Soylent. Yep, that’s right, Soylent. At least it isn’t green.

Containing all the chemical components the body needs, it’s sweetened with Sucralose but is otherwise unflavored. Reading an article in the New Yorker, Soylent type meal replacements seem to be somewhat the rage with college students who have crazy busy schedules and limited budgets. These people are not unlike me in that respect. So I began to feel compelled to try Soylent myself. And I might have ordered some, but the smallest quantity costs $85. For now, that’s a bit more than I want to spend on something I’ve never tasted.

So I figure, there are lots of products like Soylent already in the market. They just lack the memorable and grody name. They are the diet meal replacements and fitness muscle building products that line the shelves of health food stores, pharmacies, and mega marts. I wanted to try one that had all the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but lacking Sucralose and maybe containing some other healthy stuff. I settled on trying one called Vega One though there were more cost effective options I may try next.

I brought the tub of vanilla Vega One to the counter. The sales girl who touted its benefits was pleased with my choice. As the gentleman behind the counter nodded in agreement that skipping meals was not good, I went on to explain how several folks had posted online about a new product called Soylent. Indeed he knew the infamous movie Soylent Green and said he even read the original book by Harry Harrison Make Room! Make Room!

I commented that at least Soylent wasn’t made of people in Make Room! Make Room! And that the name made it memorable. He countered with the fact that the name sounded fairly disgusting. I agreed, but started to argue that there was some benefit to being memorable when he seemed to give a let’s-finish-up vibe. I figured I was too chatty and took my receipt. When I turned around there was a small girl, probably about four years old standing behind me clutching her Dad. Oops. Probably best not to mention eating people in front of adorable four-year olds. Thinking I could explain that Soylent was made by people not of people I decided it was best not to call more attention to it. I grabbed my all-vegetarian tub of vanilla Vega One and ducked out.

My family will not be eating powdered meal replacement shakes for Father’s Day dinner. I may stick to veggies myself.

The Little Cooker That Could (aka The Little Pot that Could)

For years now I have heard from both moms who work out of the home and those who don’t that slow cookers, or Crock Pots, are da-bomb. But I resisted getting one. I would not be assimilated. My thinking being that I have no room for one of those monstrosities. I already have a pot and a stove, thank you. I don’t usually like boiled chicken, etc. And I like my veg cooked with a bit of firmness left. Call me picky.

Necessity broke me down. Working full-time out of the home (and in) plus having an active kiddo meant we sometimes ate dinner at ridiculous o’clock. We’d be one lesson or meeting away from dinner that was practically bedtime. I hate to have fast food all the time, so I started asking more questions about people’s experience with slow cookers. I looked up a few recipes online and tried them in a pot on the stove instead of a cooker, etc. Not too bad. Maybe worth trying if just for the sake of eating earlier.

I checked out the local thrift store, but for USED Crock Pots that might not even work, their prices are nuts! $20 for USED? I could get a new one for that. I purchased a pair of jeans instead. But when I saw the wee 2-Quart Rival Slow Cooker for about $10 at a local Wally World, I decided it was time to give it a try. Small enough to stow easily in a cabinet and actually fits enough protein for a good dinner plus a small amount of left overs for my little family.



I could not be happier with this little pot.

I worried a lot about burnt, over-cooked food with such a small pot, or any slow cooker for that matter, but on the low setting this little critter does an excellent job cooking meat or veg all day long. Meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Veggies aren’t cooked to mush! This part amazed me. Even the lowest flame on my stove would render veg into mush within a few hours. This little pot was really SLOW cooking. It even made yummy broth for soup later. I have been adding at least some water or similar liquid when I leave it all day. It might still burn a dish that is just meat and no liquid or something with a really thick sauce. I’ll have to test those on a weekend.

Result. I am a convert.

We’ve now had Cornish Hen, chicken tacos, pulled BBQ, soup, baked chicken, veg stew, and more!

This morning’s yumminess was steel-cut Irish oats with brown sugar, cinnamon, and gobs of fresh chopped apples. My skinny kiddo is not much of an oatmeal eater, so I had to keep my fingers crossed. But she had three servings. Smallish servings, but this is something! Recipe below.

    Slow Cooker Apples & Oats That My Daughter LIKES

3/4 C. steel-cut Irish oats
2 apples (cored and chopped, peel if you like, I peeled one of ’em)
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 T. coconut oil
1-1/2 C. water
1/2 C. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Spray inside of crock with non-stick cooking spray. Put in apples, dry ingredients, then liquid ingredients. Stir a bit. Turn cooker on Low and cook for 4 to 7 hours. At 4 hours the oats are edible but still quite chewy and the apples are cooked but firm. It’s all a lot more tender at about 7 hours. Stir before serving. This recipe makes fairly thick oats (which didn’t burn, but eventually got a brown crust at the edges). If you like your oats thinner, add more liquid.

We topped with a little extra cinnamon, brown sugar, and a thin pat of butter. Some of us poured milk over the oats too. It was all yummy! I was expecting leftovers, but we had none.

Where did it go?

My long weekend! My month of May! Where did they go? I have less than a day of May left, and the weekend is completely gone. But at least it was a nice weekend, and I can’t say that May was bad either. It’s just that I would like more of both.

Yesterday’s Memorial Day Parade and Festival was a burst of enjoyment even in the heat. A few of the fire trucks sprayed their hoses for the hot hot hot parade participants and we just happened to be walking by at the right time for a refreshing mist. We caught a bit of parade, slid slides, got a really cute handmade braided bumblebee rug and a few wee bits of pottery. Yummy grilled dinner at my mom’s…

My laundry status is at the ever-so-nice place where closets and drawers are chock full ‘o the clean stuff. And the hampers have mostly empty bellies just waiting for us to feed them all week long. I even managed to swap out some summer clothing and put away winter clothing. Yay.

My daughter had a ball drawing all kinds of things with sidewalk chalk–bees, giant ants, snakes, rivers, pants, cars and even bottomless pits. But at one point she got a little too enthusiastic and geeky. I love her pastel rendition of “stick people family.” But, later, she moved her work vertically, writing, “The cake is a lie,” on the outside wall of our home! D’oh! She even included tally marks which makes her quite thorough and it was fun and funny of her, but still D’OH. Luckily it was wash off chalk, so away it went. The stick family stayed though.

Well, here we are again

I finally finished Portal. Portal 2 that is. Found a few bugs along the way. But I managed to finish it just a few short minutes after my awesome daughter finished. Daddy helped her a bit, but really, she did an amazing job on her own! Speedy thing! Well, speedy at games. She takes longer on other things. Like the bathroom. She takes a reeeally long time in the bathroom. So I kind of win on that! Woo.

But I’m happy to have finished Portal2 because I like playing Portal and the fact that I finished means I was able to be playing and so was my daughter. On the flip side, however, now that I finished playing it, I no longer have finishing it to look forward to. Kind of a catch 22. But I still have some achievements to earn, so there’s that AND Portal 2 has co-op and I only finished single player, so there’s lots more to look forward to!

I’ll feel much less guilty about playing, however, when I get more laundry done as well as general clean up and organizing. I did manage to get some laundry done, go through some papers, file them in the garbage can, and affix about 15 patches to my daughter’s Brownie vest today. So at least I did something besides playing Portal 2. But here it is Sunday night. Tomorrow is Monday. (Always happens in that order, doesn’t it?) And, once again, I didn’t get as much done this weekend as I’d planned. Here we are again. I wish the dirty laundry would be GONE.

And ’cause it is STILL awesome:


It will be here soon. I can’t believe we’re only a few weeks away from the end of the school year. Seriously, time flies! So much to do. And I still haven’t finished Portal 2. By the time I have a few minutes to play, I’m just about nodding off to sleep because, well, it is time to sleep. In other news, my daughter just finished days 1 and 2 of the SOLs and our troop had its last “official” Brownie meeting of the year last night. Binks will test for her blue senior belt in Karate this weekend. Our small ghost shrimp may have munched on our even smaller guppy fry. (Oops!) My daughter’s Ballet recital is right around the corner, and I have yet to see her costume. Is there still time to get one last Scholastic book order in? We’ll go on a GS camping trip to Hershey Park in a few weeks. Then we pretty much belly flop right into summer. Ack. About now, it would be really good to have a better grasp on manipulating space-time. Maybe I should just get a better grasp on managing time? I think I’ll take either one for now.

Busy weekend and we didn’t even have a cookie booth

It’s another one of those jam-packed weekends. It started with some fun, was tempered with sadness and finished off with a flurry of busy activity.

We started with a fun Pizza Bingo night at my daughter’s school on Friday night. As one might expect we ate pizza and played Bingo. Being a fundraiser for the school we also purchased four tickets for the cake raffle and entered a couple of bids in the silent auction. Luck would have it that we won the cake raffle–twice. Which meant we brought home a lovely box of cupcakes with green frosting and a tasty peach pie. The latter of which I’ve eaten way too much of already. My daughter won a Bingo towards the end of the night and selected a “Fear Factor” Mad Libs book as her prize. When I won later yet (as the powers that be made it nearly impossible not to win), my daughter selected a pen as a prize. She was so happy as she could start the new Mad Libs right then and there! Upon reflection we’re thinking maybe the pen wasn’t meant to be a prize–that somebody just left it there on the prize table. And, really, I have pens and pencils in my purse. So she could have chosen any number of toys from the table and been just fine. But I’m plenty happy to have the pen. It doesn’t take up much space and it’s useful. So it’s all good.

Saturday morning was tricky. Dave and I dropped our daughter off at my Mom’s. From Grandma’s house my daughter would head off to ballet followed by karate lessons as Dave and I would drive to Alexandria for a friend’s funeral. We’re still in a bit of shock over the death of our friend’s wife. It was quite sudden and we’re very sad, especially for him. We liked her very much–she was a special lady. And it will take time for me to get it through my head that we won’t be getting together with them or seeing them at a gathering again ever. Some things are hard.

Later we ate some yummy food and did a lot of talking as major events always make me think of major life issues and I generally like to talk about these things with my best friend Dave.

Then I did some cleaning. Followed by starting too many at-home projects at one time without fully finishing what I’d already started. But I did accomplish a few things like removing an old shelf that had wiggled its way loose. Filled the holes. Drilled new holes and put up new corner shelves. Rinsed and prepped our new aquarium. Got it filled and running. Did some more cleaning and ate several more slices of peach pie. YUM!

Whoa, first post of 2011

Still don’t know where the time went, but it’s January 16 17 of 2011.

I am trying to do a better job of organizing my stuff in 2011! My living room is in the ultra scary starting-to-try-to-organize-but-not-yet-there phase where everything is strewn about to either keep, give away or throw away. Blogging has been non-existent until this brand spankin’ new 2011 post. (See how it sparkles?) And I want a Yoda and/or Star Wars GPS ’cause my Nuvi maps are getting a little old and I think I’d have a lot of fun with Yoda. To my destination guide me he would. I think I’d have to set driving directions even if I knew how to get to where i was going. (At least until I got sick of it and threw it out of the window.) Perhaps I should set driving directions especially if I know where I was going. Maybe Yoda could help me clean and organize? Do or do not. There is no try. So here’s my first post for 2011! Hopefully it won’t be too bad. A work in progress.

Managed to get done since Saturday AM Friday Night

Sometimes daily life comes at us fast and furiously and I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the torrent of tasks which I need to complete. The past week has been one of those times.

Friday night I managed to successfully take my daughter to her school’s Sock Hop. (I didn’t know anybody still had those.) Kids dressed 50s style and danced to modern tunes while the cafeteria served ice cream floats in plastic cups and the school’s library held the last day of the book fair. My daughter picked up, among other things, a copy of Mad Libs: Pirates which she played in the hall with some of her fellow, slightly dance shy classmates. So book fair, check. Mad Libs, check. Sock Hop, check. Ice Cream Float, check.

Saturday saw ballet lessons and karate lessons which were immediately followed by a trip to the vet with our slightly odd, old cat (he’s been sneezing). There we got him medicine and have, hopefully, put him on the road to recovery after a diagnosis of sinus congestion and infection likely brought on by seasonal allergies. Then we managed to head out to Ida Lee park where we were finally able to launch my daughter’s rocket, The Puffle Express! It was a crisp autumn day and the rockets’ red flare stood out nicely against the gray sky. We also got to see several other cool rocket launches! Great that we got to do it since I totally messed up managing to find the folks doing rocket launches the last time around. It was a cool day in more ways than one.

Sunday we got a little cleaning done (need to do more of that, but…) and then headed out to Cox Farms for the last day of their Fall Festival and Pumpkin Madness. Fun time! Multiple hayrides, apple cider, The Corn-undrum, farm animals and giant slides filled our time.

Both the Sock Hop and the the very last Hayride at Cox Farms finished up with the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which made a pretty rockin’ set of auditory bookends for the weekend in general.

Tons more to do this week, though. Monday we managed to get our daughter to karate while also starting preliminary shopping on a new TV and Tuesday made it to a book release party at Borders for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, but we didn’t get to the cable company to exchange the cable box that spontaneously stopped working after a short power outage this weekend. Still need to do that and I need to get tons more work done of both the official and the unofficial kinds. Sigh. Back to work for me.

Way too much to do!

First Second week of school, birthday party thank you notes, paperwork, a broken tail light, a broken faucet, a homeowners’ meeting and a zillion other things I’m trying to take care of and keep track of and and all I want is a real dinner because I feel like I’ve been living off leftover birthday cake, veggie platter and cheese for days. Ack!

Weekend Begins

Today is the first day of the long weekend before school starts for my daughter. It is also the weekend before her birthday, her birthday party and before her first Brownie meeting of the year. I’ll repeat the age-old parental lament of, “I don’t know where the time goes,” ’cause while part of me knows darn well where it goes, the rest of me is shaking my head in disbelief.

I’m also enjoying that bright happy feeling that is plentiful at the start of a long weekend, but my to-do list is filling quickly. I have high hopes of getting a lot done today, tomorrow and Monday. At the top of my list sits plans to get more organized at home. This is going to help with everything else that happens this week and possibly into the school year, so it’s a biggie. Also high on the list is having some fun. Because this is the last weekend for water parks and we so need another infusion of water park fun.

Soon it will be Tuesday, the weekend will be done and part of how I feel will be determined by those things I get done now… I will also be feeling overwhelmed at sending my daughter off to school because it won’t only be her first day of third grade, but will also be her first day at a new school and I have a zillion conflicting feelings about that. She will have more homework not just because it’s third grade, but also because the new school gives more homework. It should be more of a challenge for her, but I also don’t want it to be too much of a challenge. I want her to be a kid and have fun! I also have another strange feeling about the new school that I can’t put my finger on. I don’t know if I’m just getting old and less amicable to change or if there is something which genuinely bothers me about the new school. I guess I’ll find out.

Weekend begin! Time to get something done besides blog.

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