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I have some bones to pick with blog commenting lately.

First of all, I think that it has become VERY HARD to comment on blogs. I am not talking about the difficulty of painstakingly typing out a comment on one’s phone, using clumsy fingers that constantly choose X instead of C. Nor am I talking about the attention difficulty, wherein you read a post on your phone and mean to leave a comment, but then your attention is diverted elsewhere by a stray child or a Luke Perry retrospective and you forget about the blog and then days pass and then you feel ridiculous joining a conversation that has long since left you behind.

Instead, I am talking about how blogs themselves seem to care Not One Whit about whether you can leave a comment or not.

BLOGS, not bloggers. The bloggers, I am sure, or perhaps I am projecting too much of my own neediness onto others, are wondering what is the POINT of putting their carefully crafted thoughts out into the universe when no one seems to read or care? The bloggers, as far as I can tell, are blameless.

It’s the BLOGS.

Let’s begin with a caveat: I acknowledge that it’s (highly) possible NO ONE wants my long-winded and overly frenetic comments on their blog. (Have you ever read an old comment you left on someone’s blog and wanted to melt into the floor with embarrassment? No. That’s because YOU are an excellent commenter. Me, not so much.) I also acknowledge that people may not even want or need comments on their blogs. The act of writing is probably MORE THAN ENOUGH for many people. And yet in the cases I will describe below, the blog comments are turned ON. Therefore I am going to assume that these bloggers want comments. Or at least are open to receiving them.

The first thing I have noticed is that CAPTCHAs have become increasingly difficult. It made me really frustrated, at first. But then I read this great article at The Verge about why they are so hard to complete these days. (TL;DR: Computers are getting too good at completing them, so they need to be increasingly difficult for human users to solve in order to thwart the machines.) That helped me feel less growly toward the CAPTCHAs, sure, but still, it’s a labor of love, nowadays, to leave a comment on a blog. Because first you have to type up your inane thoughtful response. And then you have to input your name and email address and URL. And THEN you have to solve a series of object identification questions that require superhuman vision and discernment. “Choose all images of a bicycle.” “Choose all boxes that have a traffic light.” Or, my least favorite, “Choose all images of a storefront.” (What counts as a storefront, pray tell? Does it just mean “any building with an awning”? I never get that one right. Good luck, machines.) And sometimes, even if you get it all right, you have to do ANOTHER test, just to be really, doubly, extra sure you’re human.

CAPTCHA

Does the POLE count as part of the traffic light? Or are we supposed to click on only the lights themselves? These are some of the highly important questions I find myself asking.

Fine. I get that this is just a necessary evil in today’s fruitless exercise in delaying the Machines Will Take Over Eventually No Matter What reality.

But that’s not the only issue I’m having.

Even WORSE, some blogs just… eat my comments. I will type out a comment, fill in the Name/URL fields, and hit “done” or “reply,” and the blog seems to react to that in some way, reloading or redirecting me back to the top of the post — but doing SOMETHING that indicates I have input a command and the blog has received a command. But then my comment never shows up. No “comment is awaiting moderation,” just nothing. The blog has straight-out rejected my words. There is a blogger I have been reading FOREVER whose blog does this, and it makes me so mad. She writes interesting, thought-provoking things! I want to respond! Sometimes I have questions! Her blog does not care.

So far, most of my issues are with blogspot blogs. But wordpress is not immune, oh no! I struggle with a particularly mysterious issue with wordpress blogs, where it asks me to sign in to wordpress… but even when I do, nothing happens. It just tells me, in a very condescending way I might add, that I am being asked to log in because I am NOT logged in. Even when I AM logged in. I can log in fifty times and the site never recognizes that I am, in fact, LOGGED IN. And eventually I give up and my comment never posts.

CAPTCHA 2

I AM logged in. I PROMISE.

SIGH.

I don’t want this to become a General Wistful Moan about blog commenting being so different from the halcyon days of yore. No. “Blogging” is a different thing than it was back then, but people DO comment, and I am fine with the way it is. But I do get really frustrated — for myself, as a Person Who Likes to Comment, and for bloggers who (I am projecting again) want to build an online community or desire feedback or simply hope that their writing is making an impact.  It’s hard enough, as a blogger, to compete with Twitter and Instagram and readers’ limited attention spans. These completely unnecessary barriers to commenting are not helping. And I feel so impotent to do anything about it besides whine on my blog!

Anyway, I hope you know that if you ever want to comment here, and you CAN’T, you can always email me at lifeofadoctorswife [at] gmail and I will gladly respond.

In the meantime, I guess I should figure out a way to befriend our computer overlords. Maybe THEY can fix these problems.

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It is heartening – well, maybe not heartening so much as making me feel like I’m not the only one who finds meal planning to be excruciating lately – to read that other bloggers are having the same Meal Planning Dread that I am. The ENDLESSNESS of it all is really getting to me right now. Even throwing up my hands and saying, “let’s get take out!” more often than usual is having less of a bolstering effect than it should; because I am well aware that this is just one meal I don’t have to plan/make and tomorrow there will be another one, waiting for me, and then a limitless parade of meals after that until the sweet release of death.

At this point, even the idea of slotting in a bunch of Meals I Love isn’t helping. And when not even spaghetti with meat sauce can cure a problem, you know it’s serious.

Anyway, here are some joyless options for the coming week.

Dinners for the Week of March 13-March 19, 2019

Note: Yes, I am aware this recipe is for chicken. Yes, I am using pork chops instead. Yes, I am still avoiding chicken. Yes, my husband recently said in a cheery voice normally reserved for our five-year-old, “I think it’s time you started eating chicken again!” Yes, I treated him to a little lecture about not policing other people’s food preferences. No, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with the quinoa; maybe I’ll mix the veggies into it. Although plain, unembellished quinoa seems like a fitting metaphor for how I’m feeling about meal planning lately.

Note: Not one thing about this meal is remotely exciting. I mean, it tastes good. And it’s really easy. But I am Not Feeling It In The Least.

Note: This is good, but not a meal really designed for calorie counters, just FYI. I plugged it into MyFitnessPal and — even HALVING the recipe — it comes out to something like 700 calories a serving. That’s using light, unsweetened coconut milk! And not including the avocado! Why must so many delicious — and arguably HEALTHY — foods be so antithetical to weight loss? WHY? Ahem. I am making it anyway. In the past, I have recommended to myself to cut the fish sauce in half for the marinade and only use 1/3 of the suggested amount for the dressing. But that’s because I don’t like fish sauce and even being in the same city block as an open bottle of fish sauce is enough to make my nose wrinkle.

Note: I make a double serving of this, and round it out with TONS of veggies. Bell peppers, broccoli, onions, zucchini — the ratio of veg-to-meat is at least 4-to-1.

Note: This is, as per the “firecracker” designation, spicy. So any accompaniments must be nice and bland, to offset all the spice.

  • Taco Pizza

Note: I spread a lightly-baked pizza crust with refried beans, then top with taco meat and cheese, then bake until the cheese is melty. Then I top with onions, lettuce, and tons of hot sauce; my husband adds tomatoes and sour cream to his half, and omits the onions.

  • Out

 

What are you eating lately, Internet?

Windows! Windows! Windows!

I have a sharp pain pulsing just above my right eye and that’s what it’s saying.

Last summer, driving with my parents on a two-lane highway through one of the great forests of the north, we passed a giant sign propped up against the pines at the end of a narrow gravel driveway. You couldn’t see the house, but you could clearly read the sign, which was made of several plywood panels nailed together, and stood probably six-feet by eight-feet, if not even bigger. Someone had scrawled “DON’T BUY BLEEFBLORP WINDOWS” in angry spray paint letters across the wood. On both sides, I noticed when we made the return trip. (I can’t remember the actual window company named.) It made me laugh, at the time. But I am beginning to understand what drives a person to make such a sign.

It feels possible that I have mentioned this before, but I am too lazy/window-fixated to check. We had an energy audit performed on our house a few months ago (which was really, REALLY cool. If you are interested in making your home more energy efficient and have $50 or so to spend, you may want to see if your local utility company provides an energy audit.) which was fascinating and informative. The auditor sealed up our doors, set up a blower, and produced a light vacuum inside the house so we could walk around and find places where air was coming in. Guess what had the most leaks? ALL THE WINDOWS.

It’s not terribly surprising to me, that they are SO LEAKY. They are nearly 30 years old, after all. And it’s clear to me that some of them need replacing anyway, beyond the leaky-around-the-edges stuff; the seal between the panes of several of the windows has begun to fail, which produces unpleasant condensation that you cannot remove. So. We need new windows. Our utility company will give us some money back on each window we replace ($25 a window, I think?), up to $1,500 (we don’t have that many windows), as long as we replace them within a year from doing the audit. So, great, let’s do it.

I have been doing plenty of Window Research, and I feel fairly well-versed in the difference between vinyl and wood and aluminum. I understand U-factor and R-value and I know about double-pane vs. triple pane, and argon vs. krypton in between the panes. My husband read up on sneaky sales tactics to avoid, and so I feel good about spotting and avoiding those, too.

But nonetheless, it is A PROCESS and I am tired and annoyed and I am strongly in favor of just MOVING TO A NEW HOUSE where someone ELSE has made all these ridiculous window choices and let the next owners deal with this window madness themselves.

What’s driving me so crazy, you ask?

1. Sales tactics. Even the companies that SWEAR up and down that they don’t go for sales gimmicks are still trying to sell you on their company and their windows. As they should. So they are still using sales tactics. And sure, some of them are less in-your-face than others. But you still have to meet with someone and go over all these options and hear them pitch their windows and talk about how much better they are than their nameless competitors.

And I kind of think that the less in-your-face tacts are just… more sleazy and manipulative. This one guy from a company that prides itself on being a No-Sales-Pressure, No-Gimmicky-Tactics company was so laid back I thought he was going to fall off the barstool at my counter. Yet, despite his air of “hire us or don’t, we don’t care,” he was also clearly deploying very typical sales tactics. Like, he made this big deal about how, with him, “the price is the price,” and that other companies who offer One Day Only! sales or Act Now! discounts are really only able to offer those prices because they are jacking up the non-sales price from the getgo… But then he also slid in there, “If you’re looking for the lowest price windows, I might as well leave right now. That’s not what you’ll get with us.” We are all conditioned to think that priceyness is representative of quality, right? And, especially combined with his assurance that discounts and sales are representative of sleaziness, he’s clearly Being a Salesman and manipulating me! It just rubbed me the wrong way.

And YES, I know they need to make to money. I know they use sales tactics because they are effective. I know that we make a million choices a day based on overt or invisible manipulation by savvy marketers. I KNOW. I used to write sales copy! But that doesn’t mean that I like it. And I like it even LESS when I’m being assured that I am NOT being Sold To.

2. Choosing an installation company. I am only calling the companies in our area that are rated highly by Angie’s List, with tons of positive reviews… but still. You don’t really KNOW if they are a good company. And I am so irritated with the sales tactics that I find myself suspicious of EVERYONE.

One guy was here in my house for TWO HOURS, pitching his windows. He seemed very nice. But he was so completely focused on building up his credibility that he talked and talked and talked himself right out of my good graces. When he really does seem like a good guy! A person who built his company from scratch and really works hard and knows his stuff and cares about his product. But all I can think about is how the installation will take ten times as long as it should because he won’t be able to stop talking!

But also when I remembered that I hadn’t asked about U-factor, and said something like, “Oh! I almost forgot that I should ask you about the windows’ U value!” he gave me a simpering smile and said, “Did your husband tell you to ask that?” and I said, “No, I researched it.” And then he couldn’t even TELL ME. Well. A) MADDENING and B) Not good, Pete.

3. The windows themselves! Not only do you have to make sure you’re choosing a good company, but you have to make sure the WINDOWS are good. The company who sells the windows is going to make them sound like the world’s best windows, and they’ll have all sorts of awards and stamps and seals of approval to make you think they are super great. But then, you look up the manufacture online, and they are NOT GREAT. Maybe I need to work backwards, and start with the windows… and then find out who installs them?

4. The minutiae. Listen, I just want as close to the same thing we have as possible. Just… new and better quality. While others may care deeply, I do not CARE if my window latches are brushed silver or brass. I do not need internal shades in my sliders. (Especially not for an additional $800.) (Or an additional $450, depending on which company I ask.) I do not care if the latticework is flat or contoured. And when I choose, “white,” please do not then tell me, at length, about the different color options, for an additional $250 a window. If I say I want the standard handle on my slider, please do not tell me how easy the other $60-additional-cost handle is to operate. When I say, very clearly, I just want double paned glass because from what I read it’s FINE for our moderate climate, I do not want to hear how much better the U-factor is with triple-paned glass, and how much of a scam krypton is. I have already made my choice. And there are so very many choices. Latticework or no. Double-hung or picture window. Tempered glass or no (not required except in special cases). Half screen or full. And on and on and on before you are seriously considering boarding everything up and living in darkness for the rest of your life.

5. The price. I had steeled myself in advance that our 13 windows and two sliding doors would cost somewhere around $10,000 to replace. But being prepared to see that on a quote is quite a different thing to being prepared to PAY that amount. And! Some of the quotes are for MORE THAN $10,000!

6. The endlessness of it all! At what point and I going to feel like I have enough information to make this decision and actually BUY the windows? How will I ever decide between these window companies and the windows they sell and the pricing? HOW? I feel like I am ALREADY SO TIRED from researching potential vendors and calling these places and scheduling the meetings and listening to sales pitches… How will I know when I’ve done my due diligence? Hopefully before I DEFENESTRATE MYSELF.

I am ready to give up, is what I’m telling you. But I have two more companies coming to give me sales pitches, and we obviously still have all our very leaky windows from the 90s, so I must endure. And take some window-related Advil.

We had a lovely dinner party this weekend. Both chilis seemed to go over well, we had plenty of things to talk about, and our new friends’ kids were AMAZING. They were older than I thought they would be (middle school age rather than upper elementary), but they were super nice to Carla. And they were engaging and fun to talk to and super polite – helping clear the table and asking for things very nicely and just in general being the kind of children that make you want to know the parents’ Secret Magic.

This week, we have no exciting plans, which is fine and good. We have one rollover meal from last week, which we will eat tomorrow.

Note: We haven’t had this in a while. I probably won’t eat the chicken, but I can load up with chickpeas.

Here’s the rest of this week’s menu:

Dinners for the Week of March 6-March 12

Note: This is an old standby. The marinade is SUPER easy to make, and you just… put the fish in the oven. Very easy and tasty. I will steam broccoli and drizzle some of the broiled marinade over the top of it. Maybe there will also be some rice.

Note: I have had some zucchini in my crisper for… weeks, I think, and I really need to just MAKE IT before they finally get cranky and mush-up on me. They’ve been so patient and stalwart. I OWE IT to them to eat them. Also I owe it to my wallet and to my desire not to waste food. Have I mentioned what I do with zucchini? I chop them into half-moon shapes. I rough-chop a bunch of red onion or shallots. Then I sauté the zukes and onions together in a little bit of olive oil until they are cooked through and getting caramelized on the edges. YUM.

Note: We haven’t had this in a while, and I love it. Because I don’t eat the beef part of the dish, I amp up the veggie factor by tossing in some red and green bell peppers. We end up doubling the sauce, to account for all the veggies.

Note: Yes, I know we literally had this dish last week, but I am SO TIRED OF MEAL PLANNING and also it’s good and easy. The only problem is that the packages of zucchini noodles at my grocery store today were all WET. Ew. So I didn’t buy any. My grocery store also didn’t have any sandwich bread, so I will have to pop back in later in the week. Also also, the zucchini noodles are $6.99 a package. That is STEEP. I haven’t priced it out but I am pretty confident that buying the actual zucchinis would be MUCH less expensive. So I am strongly considering getting a spiralizer. This highly-rated spiralizer is (currently) $29.99 on Amazon… which is a LOT for a tool that will probably also require a ton of work. But it would only take two “Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles” meals to make up the price. (Oh. I didn’t mention that I buy two packages of zucchini noodles for this meal, did I? Yes. It is a lot of zucchini and a LOT of money.) But what if it is a Huge Pain to make the zucchini noodles myself? And $29.99 is expensive enough that I could just try it once and then give up on the thing. Plus, I don’t think I would use it for anything else, so it would be a one-trick pony, and you know the rule about buying single-use items for the kitchen… But I really enjoy zucchini noodles! And I also enjoy not paying $14 for a single vegetable for a single meal! Although… now that I am thinking of it, I might pay $10 for a pound and a half of hamburger, for tacos… and you add in the shells and the veggies and the sour cream, and it probably comes out to about the same on a cost-per-person basis. Maybe $6.99 for my own portion of zucchini noodles is TOTALLY REASONABLE. But then again… Ugh. I could go on waffling about this totally inconsequential topic ALL DAY, apparently.

Note: Yes, yes, this is another meal that we just ate. Whatever. It’s so yummy and so full of veggies and FLAVAH. I am now starting to worry a little whether I have enough shrimp for this AND the scampi though… Oh well! We shall power through! Maybe I will take a little trip to Costco and see if I can buy shrimp THERE. (Why am I so all-capsy today?)

  • Crockpot BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Baked Potato for Me, Green Beans for My Husband

Note: I feel a little guilty making this when I know it’s not my husband’s favorite… But I like it so much and it’s SO EASY. I have some little rolls I can defrost, and maybe I will pick up some coleslaw from… somewhere so he can make little sandwiches. He seems to prefer that. But I am not in the mood to make a huge container of coleslaw that he will eat a teeny portion of and then will languish in my fridge until I angrily/guiltily throw it out.

  • Out/Leftoevers

 

That’s it for the week! Next week, I am sure I will be suffused with tons of Meal Planning Enthusiasm and Creativity! 

What’s for dinner in your house, Internet?

Artichoke 2 7

A couple of you (hi Lee! hi Kate!) have requested  that I share how to cook an artichoke and I am happy to comply because it means eating another artichoke! Woo!

When I was a kid, artichokes were a Treat Food. You have these, right? Something that your parents would make or buy very occasionally, usually for some special circumstance. And because of the rare, special nature of these foods, they became, perhaps forever, a Treat.

It’s funny to think back on the Treat Foods of my childhood:

  • “Real” Coca Cola: This was something that we only got when we were home sick. It was usually served warm and flat, to settle the stomach. (Is any of this even based in any sort of physiological reality? Who knows!) For a long time after I was living on my own, I’d order Coke at a restaurant because of that special thrill it gave me, of having something normally forbidden.
  • “Real” Sprite/7Up: With exception of the aforementioned Sick Days Coke, my parents didn’t keep full-sugar soda on hand. So on the very rare occasions I got to go out to dinner, I’d order a Shirley Temple. Oh man, was that a special treat! Sugar swirled with sugar topped with sugar disguised as a fruit! YUM.
  • Lobster Tail: I mean, even NOW that I am a grown-up who can buy Coke and artichokes any damn time she wants to, lobster tails remain very oooh-la-la. Once in a blue moon, my parents would order lobster tails from Omaha Steaks or one of those other mail order companies and we’d have them for dinner. My mom prepared lobster tails for my junior prom — and we even got to eat them in the Fancy Dining Room! — which made the evening even more special.
  • Cracklin’ Oat Bran: As a kid, the only cereals my parents would buy on the regular were Rice Krispies or Shredded Wheat – and we’re talking the big hay bale type of Shredded Wheat, not Frosted Mini Wheats. Once in a while, they’d bend the rules and buy a treasured box of Frosted Flakes or Kix. Mayyyybe some Corn Pops. Oh, how I longed for all the sugary, kid-friendly cereals advertised on Saturday morning in between episodes of DuckTales  and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles  (heroes in a half shell, turtle power) (why is it that I can completely forget to take Carla to her weekly ballet lesson, but I have the entire lyrics of this cartoon theme song firmly locked into my brain?). Cocoa Puffs, Trix, Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, From Loops, Cookie Crisp, Golden Grahams — they all sounded so decadent and magical! But no. Those cereals were not permitted in our home. Instead, to prevent us from growing bored of Rice Krispies and Shredded Wheat — though I can assure you the boredom was instantaneous — sometimes my parents would buy a box of Grape-Nuts or Raisin Bran. (I’d rather choke down a pillow of dry Shredded Wheat than eat a raisin.) However, possibly because the name makes it sound much more respectable than it is, they would occasionally be persuaded to buy a box of Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Which is DELICIOUS. I bought a box for Carla the other day and told her it tasted like cookies. Which is 100% true.
  • Crab Rangoon: I totally get why these were a Treat Food: they are SUPER hard to make. My mother would make her own – make the filling, fill the wonton wrappers, fry them in oil on the back porch — and we’d have them on very special occasions. She would even make a plum sauce to dip them in. Oh man were they tasty. Whenever I see them on the menu somewhere, I order them because they are still so reminiscent of Special Times.

Anyway. Artichokes were on the list of Treat Foods, too. My mom would steam them and then serve them with tiny cups of butter for dipping. They seemed daunting, when I was a kid. Finding them was tricky. In our rural northern town, they weren’t available very often. And when they were, I imagine they cost a pretty penny. Plus, after you ate all the delicious leaves, you had to deal with the choke. YUCK. I was so disturbed by the choke that I never ate the heart – which, it turns out, is the BEST PART. Well. I know better now.

Living in a Major City now, in a day and setting where you can get anything at anytime, it is much easier to get my hand on artichokes. And I’ve discovered a very easy way to make them. And they are DELICIOUS.

Artichoke 2 8

I will tell you that they aren’t quick. Prepping them takes maybe… five minutes. But you have to cook them for 30 minutes, so they require planning ahead.

Here’s how you do it.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large cookie sheet with foil or a Silpat or whatever.

Artichoke 1

Trim your artichoke stem. You can absolutely eat the stem of the artichoke, although it can get pretty tough after cooking so long. So I like to cut it to about an inch or so in length. (Stem not pictured above.)

Wash your artichoke. I use a veggie spray that may or may not do anything, but it makes me FEEL like I’m cleaning my veggies more thoroughly than with plain old water.

Veggie spray

(I used to use a different kind of veggie spray, which is cheaper on Amazon and gets better reviews, but I can’t find it anymore at my local grocery store. And I like how the Rebel Green seems like actual soap. Which I acknowledge may be a turnoff for others.)

Trim your artichoke leaves. Some websites say to cut the top quarter or so of your artichoke off, and you can definitely do that. Or you can use kitchen shears and snip off the sharp end of every leaf. Or you can come to my grocery store where someone does it for you.

Cut your artichoke in half vertically.  You’ll need a nice big knife for this.

Artichoke 2 1

Remove the choke. The choke is the fuzzy part in the middle. I use a big spoon to scoop it out, and then I rinse the artichoke to get any bits of fuzz out. It’s okay if you throw away some of the inner leaves, too – they are hard to eat because they are so small. The heart of your artichoke will discolor almost immediately once you remove the choke. I’ve tried rubbing it briskly with a cut lemon, but that doesn’t really help. And you’re going to roast it so it will turn nice and brown anyway.

 

Use a pastry brush to apply olive oil to your artichoke. I use about a tablespoon, and add it to all sides. Then sprinkle both sides liberally with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. You can squeeze a lemon into the inside of your artichoke too, if you please. Or even nestle a slice of lemon inside the empty space where the choke was, but it’s totally up to you; it doesn’t make a huge difference, taste-wise.

Put your artichoke halves on your prepared cookie sheet, cut side down. Roast for 30 minutes. You’ll know that your artichoke is done when you can pull one of the outer leaves and it comes off easily. (Choose a leaf from the bottom third of your artichoke, but not one closest to the stem. They don’t pull off easily, and the artichoke will be hot, and you’ll burn your fingers and also incorrectly assume the artichoke isn’t done cooking.)

Artichoke 2 5

While your artichoke is cooking, make a dipping sauce. I like lemon juice plus melted butter (1 Tbsp melted butter, zest and juice of half a lemon), or lemon juice plus Greek yogurt (2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt, zest and juice of half lemon or more to taste). I usually add salt and minced garlic to both sauces, and sometimes paprika to the yogurt. A chipotle yogurt mixture would also be delicious.

Artichoke 2 6

You eat an artichoke in a Leaves First fashion, scraping your teeth against the bottom part of the leaf to remove the meat. As you get deeper into the artichoke, the leaves have more meat until sometimes you’re eating half to three-quarters of the leaf itself.

Artichoke 2 11

The heart is the best part. In the picture, I am eating it with a knife and fork like a proper human. In reality, I often leave the heart in one piece and dunk it in the sauce with my bare hands. Decadent!

Enjoy!

Good Things

Let us try to drag ourselves out of this funk, shall we?

(My husband’s theory is that I am down in the dumps because I am procrastinating a task and that once I complete the task the scowling clouds will suddenly lift from around my ears and the sun will shine. He’s probably right. But let’s write a blog post instead, shall we?)

  1. Daffodils. On Swistle’s recommendation, I bought some daffodils. $1.49 for ten stems from Trader Joe’s. (Versus the $3.99 my local grocery store was asking for theirs. Seriously? $3.99? That seems… egregious.) My pink Valentine’s Day carnations were starting to look a little peaked (and no wonder – when I threw them out, there was not a SINGLE DROP of water in the vase… whoops!) so it was nice to swap them out for some fresh flowers. And the bright yellow injects some much needed cheer into my dreary grey kitchen.

Daffodils

  1. Cat mug. My husband got me this mug for Christmas and I love it. It is a replacement for my old favorite mug (which was, if you’ll remember, my husband’s, and had grown so faded from near-daily use that my husband had to gently reclaim it as college memorabilia) and it’s HUGE and has cats on it. I smile every time I use it.

 

Cat mug

I can’t find the exact cat mug he bought, so we can’t be mug twinsies, but Amazon has a lot of good options, if you too are in the market for a cat-related beverage receptacle.

1. Meow Cat Lover Mug 2. Smiley Cats Ceramic Coffee Mug
3. Grammar Correcting Cat Mug 4. Preferring Cats to People Mug

 

Ooooh Etsy has some cute cat mugs, too.

1. Cats in Boxes Mug 2. You’re Stressing Meowt Mug 3. Cat Silhouette Mug 4. Yoga Cat Mug

Somehow I have gotten off track. What can I say? I drink tea every day and having a mug that I love is critically important to my happiness.

  1. Cat Slippers.I got these as a birthday gift from my daughter. Carla came up with this idea all by herself and my husband helped her order them. They are cozy and soft.
Cat slippers

Egads you’d think after nine years of blogging I’d be a better photographer.

 

  1. Dreyer’s English. My dear friend and mentor sent me this book as a surprise. I love books about grammar and usage and I have only just cracked the cover on this one but am already enjoying it.

    Dreyers English

    The cover of this book is made out of a material that makes my skin crawl. I can’t stand touching it. Normally the cover is on my floor. But I braved the awful texture just to recover it for you, Internet. Otherwise, the book is just… black. Much clearer which book it IS, with the cover on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Artichokes. I don’t really know when “artichoke season” is, but it seems to be happening right now. My local grocery store has piles of beautiful, enormous artichokes for $3 apiece, and they make for a delicious lunch. Plus, it seems to me that someone (the grocer?) has gone through and snipped off the sharp part of each leaf, which makes preparing them (and eating them) much more pleasant. I’ve been going through one or two of these bad babies a week.

 

 

There now. Let’s sit back and bask in our newfound good mood. (And do share what’s bringing a smile to your face today, too, won’t you?)

Dinners This Week

My current mood is shifting somewhere between “can’t stop cringing about how awful high school was and how immature I was and how desperately sad it was that I actually thought high school was good at the time when upon reflection it clearly was NOT” and “bleak contemplation of the universe’s eventual and wholly unknown end which will lead to Absolute Nothingness, at least for me, and even if I’m lucky enough to miss the end of the universe it will be because I am already dead.”

And I am expected to make dinner, every single night, on top of all that. BLEAK.

Something I don’t think you know, probably because I have failed to tell you, is that Carla rarely eats dinner with me and my husband. RARELY. We are talking once or twice a week if we are lucky. Which means that I am cooking her dinner and then putting her to bed and then cooking dinner for myself and my husband. And she’s SO PICKY, which means that I expend a tremendous amount of energy thinking about how to tempt her to eat new foods and trying to figure out how to schedule the few foods she will eat so that she isn’t getting chicken dinosaurs three nights in a row, or whatever. YES, I feed my child copious amounts of chicken dinosaurs. SHE EATS THEM.

Sorry. I am apparently also feeling a little yelly at the moment.

Where was I? Oh yes. Rehashing high school failures, fretting about the acceleration of dark energy, moping about our endless need to eat.

So, here’s my hastily-thrown-together meal plan for the week which I came up with while sitting outside the grocery store this morning. Oh. We are also having Brand New (Potential) Friends over for dinner on Saturday, which could be contributing to my woe.

Dinners for the Week of February 26-March 5

 Note: The farro salad was so delicious the last time I made it, there’s no way it can possibly live up to expectations. But I’m going to make it anyway. I will roast the green beans and diced onions before adding them to the farro.

  • Tacos

Note: This is one of the few things Carla eats with any regularity. She has also expressed desire to help make the dinner, which should be fun.

Note: This dish was so good when I made it a couple of weeks ago, there’s no way it can possibly be as good this time. I’m really setting myself up for failure this week.

Note: As you may have sensed, I put this on the weekly menu when I am not particularly moved to strain my brain thinking of new, fresh recipes to try. Oh well. It’s an Old Reliable, even if it’s lost most of its excitement factor.

Note: We haven’t had this in a while. I probably won’t eat the chicken, but I can load up with chickpeas.

Note: Yes, basically we are doing exactly the same thing that we did the last time we had guests. My mom suggested my grandmother’s special salmon recipe, which my husband vetoed because fish can be… controversial. I wanted to do Lemon Chicken and My Standard Salad, but my husband is tired of the lemon chicken (which used to be our Go-To Guest Meal) and I am still not eating chicken and plus chili allows me to do everything in advance except serve the actual food. (If I made the lemon chicken, I would have to figure out when to put it in the oven, and then I’d constantly be fussing about whether it was done yet or not. Not really conducive to good conversation.) My husband will be making chocolate chips cookies.

  • Out
  • Leftovers

For Carla, my big plan this week is that I am going to try to get her to eat a hamburger patty; I bought some ground beef for the tacos and one of the chilis, and I am going to steal some to make her a mini burger. She has deigned to eat a meatball recently (just a bite or two, despite meatballs being one of her ENDURING FAVORITES a couple years ago), so I am really hoping I can get her to try the hamburger. Carla eats steak (on occasion), and I spotted two perfect Carla-sized (and Carla-priced) filet mignons at our meat counter today, so I am going to make one for her this week and freeze the other. We have a piece of salmon in the freezer, so I’ll try that one night. She used to eat salmon reliably every week, but when she had a brief bout of stomach flu this winter, it was right after eating salmon… and she’s been avoiding it ever since. (I get it.) I also bought her a tiny container of Hormel chili to try (prediction: she won’t), but I’m guessing I will end up making her chicken dinosaurs when our guests come over. And to round out the Carla Meal Plan, we’ve got tacos, chicken dinosaurs, and probably a “snack dinner” (with a bagel and cream cheese, some pepperoni, some fruit, some grape tomatoes). She gets a side of snap peas, broccoli, or green beans with each dinner, and I usually give her rice or bread, although we are working on eating plain penne. (She was penne at school, but not at home; she eats no other kind of pasta except food-colored spaghetti noodles.) There is also always fruit. Blueberries have been plentiful at our grocery store and delicious, but we also have a lot of apples on hand. So that’s it in this week’s What I Try to Get Carla to Eat. I wish we were having pork chops on a night when we could all eat together; Carla has eaten pork in the past, and I think if we all sat down together she might eat it again. Oh well. There’s always next week, when my family will inevitably require sustenance AGAIN.

Tell me what you’re eating this week, Internet.