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“Don’t eat poop or snow”

My 3 year old has been distilling his knowledge to me. I think he’s close to writing a best-seller.

Last night he told me “Mommy, don’t eat poop or snow.” Duly noted. Boogers are still fair game though.

We’ve talked with him about eating snow, he’ll pick it right up off the muddy car to eat, the gnarly sidewalk…it’s gross. So, that I understand. Where he got the poop part of the advice from, I don’t know. I’m trying not to think about it. I’m hoping he just had an epiphany and he didn’t learn it through experience.

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This kid’s going places.

Last night he also mentioned his first imaginary friend, yay! I thought this might be an interesting part of his development. What kind of fanciful creature would his sharp little mind conjure up? Guess what his imaginary friend’s name is…go ahead. Can you guess? It’s…

Other Mommy.

I… don’t know what to think of that. My husband finds it to be hilarious and got a good chuckle out of it. Fine, it’s fine. Maybe Other Mommy can wipe his a** next time he needs a pull up change. I’m not bitter.

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Kielbasa Stew (or Bean Stew if you Prefer)

One of my go to recipes is Kielbasa Stew. It was modified from a recipe I found on a can of beans, originally called “Cannellini Florentine,” which is odd in that there are more kidney beans than cannellini beans. I guess cannellini sounds more appetizing? At any rate, my husband suggested adding kielbasa, because, why not. I also took out some ingredients that didn’t add any flavor or texture to the soup, which made it an easier and cheaper meal to make.

This soup is hearty, yummy, and pretty cheap to make. It’s good after 20 minutes, it’s good when it’s simmered in the crockpot, and it’s good as leftovers. It almost makes a lot, so if you’re entertaining, just make (or buy) a nice loaf of crusty bread to go with.

The kielbasa can be omitted, and you can replace the chicken broth with veggie broth and you’ve got yourself some hearty vegan fare. You can also replace the spinach with kale if you’re an absolute monster who hates delicious things.

Kielbasa is pretty cheap, and usually there’s a two for one deal at my grocery store, so I always pick up a couple kielbasa (insert “just like college” joke here). As the saying goes, a kielbasa in hand is worth two in the fridge. I think that’s right.

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Kielbaaasaaaa

And away we go…

Kielbasa Stew (or Bean Stew for the vegan crowd)

  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package kielbasa (I usually go for the Turkey version, the horseshoe link size that’s always with the bacon), sliced into coins. Omit if you’re doing vegan option
  • 3 cans chicken broth (veggie broth for vegan), this is flexible too
  • 1 can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannelinni beans, drained and rinsed
  • brick of frozen spinach, or handfuls of fresh spinach, eyeball it

Brown the kielbasa in a soup pot, 5 quart size should be fine. Set the kielbasa aside and saute the onion and garlic in some oil (whatever kind you want). Once the onion is soft, add back in the kielbasa. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the spinach is soft.

You can adjust the broth and spinach to your liking. I find it easy just to plop one of those frozen bricks in there.

Here’s some I had left night for leftovers. There’s not as much broth because when I made the soup I just used some leftover broth, so it wasn’t as much as normal. Still tasted fantastic!

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Refer to it as “rustic” and people will think you’re really fancy. And yes, I grossly mistreat my butcher block counter top.

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Cooking on a budget…a really tight budget

A couple times a year I find that I need to cut some fat outta the ole budget. Being as our family budget is already pretty lean, the first place I go is our grocery bill. High times for us are marked by good beer, fancy people snacks, and random sh*t I try once, decide I don’t like, then throw in the back of the pantry. I’m looking at you $12 bag of chia seeds. That was not chocolate chia pudding, that was seedy phlegm.

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Chia seeds help control your appetite because they are so f*cking gnarly you don’t want to eat them.

I find that there are a few things that lend themselves well to being thrifty at the grocery store. One is having a taste for all types of wine (any old box will do), a husband who has a taste for all beers (he liked PBR before it was cool) and a few kitchen gadgets.

I’m going to be sharing at least one recipe a day that works on a budget. They may not be the most sophisticated dishes, but they do the job.

One thing I totally advocate for is a bread machine. I got one for my wedding a few years ago and have used it pretty consistently. It’s bulky and takes up some kitchen space, but I find I use it a couple times a week. I buy yeast by the jar (rather than the packets) and keep it in the freezer so it lasts longer. You will also need to buy some dry milk and bread flour. In my “wealthier” times I buy King Arthur flour, but now it’s whatever is on sale. I have never noticed a difference.

Here’s the machine I have. It’s really worth the investment.

A few of my recipes will utilize this machine. It’s really useful, and you can program it so that you just throw in the ingredients at night, and when you wake up in the morning you have fresh bread. That’s literally the best smell to wake up to!

You can always check your local thrift stores and church yard sales as well, there’s usually one or two bread machines floating around, just make sure that the bread pan and paddle aren’t missing, I think those are expensive if you have to replace them (and may as well just buy a whole new machine).

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What a difference two years makes

Getting back into the swing of things! Trite as it sounds, a baby (now fully formed little guy) really changes everything about your life, good and bad. It’s really impossible to be selfish, but things that I used to take for granted (decently polished toe nails, reading a book with more than 500 words, taking a dump without someone staring at me and handing me toilet paper) are slowly returning to my life.

I have been remiss with my writing, so I’m giving it a go and trying to really get back into it, not unlike many of the pre-baby things I liked to do! The little guy is now old enough where I don’t have to eagle eye every second of the day. I even got to make and can some raspberry jam this week! Granted little guy was at daycare, husband was at work and I actually had the day off work, but I accomplished something delicious!

 

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Musical Theater Makes Me Uncomfortable

I hate when someone sings in public. No matter how amazing their voice is, I always cringe and secretly (not so secretly) wish they would stop. I don’t like musicals or musical theater, and I definitely hate audience participation, unless it is a comedy show and someone is being made fun of.

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I saw this with my Mom and it was the literal worst.

 

I get second hand embarrassment really easily, I can’t even watch Wife Swap. I think I am more embarrassed for others than for myself. Not that I don’t do things that are really embarrassing (I have been described as the “most awkward person” by more than a couple people), but I had food poisoning on a road trip once, and since then nothing really embarrasses me. If you’ve truly had food poisoning, you will understand. I call that “the trip I lost any shred of dignity and several pairs of my favorite jeans.” Plus if you’ve met my husband, you’ll understand my tolerance for embarrassing behavior.

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Not too much phases me these days.

 

In Denver i worked for a non-profit that was holding a gala event, and a part of the gala involved the local performing arts school doing various broadway songs. Basically the worst thing ever, I would have paid money to avoid it. The end of the show culminated in “Let the Light Shine In” from Hair. I had to see a rehearsal at the school and it was just me and maybe 3 other people in the audience. There were about 20 kids on stage and they came at me, smiling and emoting. There was no avoiding eye contact, and I was sweating profusely. It was my nightmare. You could have thrown 30 spiders directly at my face, and I would have been cool with it as long as it meant I could leave.

In short, please don’t sing around me, unless you’re being ironic or hilarious.

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Holiday Flavors

It’s time for holiday coooookies! I said that in an Oprah voice in my head (which I frequently do, but only in my head, I’m horrible at impersonations). Half the conversations in my head are in Oprah voice.

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I know Oprah, I’m just as excited about the impending holiday treats as you.

I’m more excited about holiday cookies than any who isn’t pregnant or five years old should be. I really like spice flavors, so it works out in my favor (or flavor, amirite? Wordplay!). I’m totally breezing past the Starbucks lattes, there is not a Starbucks anywhere in the vicinity of my house or place of employment, and I could have sworn they had pumpkin spice lattes year round. That and I don’t want to be a caricature of suburban white woman. I already love Pinterest, Anthropologie and jeans tucked into boots, I don’t need to stereotype myself even more. I will say I do not own a pair of Uggs or any Pandora jewelry, so score one for me.

I have already gone through a package of pfeffernusse (don’t you judge me) and they were pillowy soft and delicious. Grab a pack yourself, if I can find them in Vermont, I am sure they have them at your neighborhood store. There are various manufacturers, all are good. They are little, soft, gingerbread cookies coated in a thin sugar shell.

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Just go straight to the customer service desk and ask for Pfeffernusse, they will know exactly what you’re talking about. Just kidding, they will say “God Bless You” and hand you a tissue.

Yesterday I picked up a box of these bad boys. They are like wedding cake cookies, but with salty cashews in them.

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Don’t feel shame if you eat the whole box in one sitting. I wholly support this activity.

Last night as I opened the box, I had the following conversation with my husband Tom:

Me: drooling and gurgling

Tom: What are those?

Me: Cashew cookies, would you like one?

Tom: are there nuts in them?

Me: blank stare

Tom: Do they have cashews in them?

Me: Are you really asking me if these cashew cookies have cashews in them?

Tom: They don’t look like they have nuts in them.

My husband, ladies and gentlemen! He did not have a cookie and I side-eyed him for a good 15 minutes after this brief conversation.

I have a whole list of cookies I pinned on pinterest, and fully plan to make at least one of the recipes, which I will share on this blog. As for now, on to the next box of holiday treats!

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Slacker Extraordinaire

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I wrote, but life has taken a turn that I knew was coming and was wholly ready to take, but it’s meant that I have all but given up any attempts at recreational activities that extend beyond Curious George and pumping milk.

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Obligatory pic of my adorable son.

I’ve always been more of a creative type, so part of my reason for starting this blog was just to get myself to a place where I was writing, not expecting anyone to read it, just get it out there. I missed the boat with my life’s career choices. I have an MBA, and it was the biggest mistake of my life, personally and financially, but that’s a different story.

I’m at a point where I have a family, a mortgage and a lifestyle (VERY modest, but it’s there) to support, and with my husband being a teacher, I have no real options to pursue an artistic chute unless it’s in drips and drabs in my free time, which has been non-existent since the birth of my son.

My son had obviously been feeling my creative yearning and has thus decided to not sleep, so he could support my writing sessions.

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Luckily he is only like this during the hours of 8pm to 6am. F*ck sleep, amirite?

Husband is tucked away in bed, blowing his stank breath in the direction of my empty pillow. Baby is in walker contraption that keeps him contained for about 15 minutes (of heaven) at a time, and I have my computer on the dirty kitchen counter, between a tub of margarine and bag of rye bread.

It’s easy as a child to hear “follow your dreams” because your dreams far outweigh the reality of bills, adulthood and responsibility. What did you want to be as a child? Princess Astronaut Veterinarian? Obviously a wise choice as the field of princess is expected to grow over the next 25 years and one does need to specialize (that’s where the astronaut vet comes into play).

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“I only use the services of the finest princess astronaut vet to express my anal glands.”

Did I expect to be a  database manager slash admin assistant? No. Is there any shame in what I do? No, I’m totally proud of the job I do, even though I can feel the seering disappointment in my CEO’s gaze as he reminds me, yet again, that I have an MBA. He says this in one breath and then asks me to scan a copy of the UVM hockey schedule and email it to him in the next breath. I just want a paycheck that supports my personal life and allows me to explore my interests, which I don’t think is a bad thing. It boils down to what you want to be defined by. My co-workers do an amazing job and work their asses off, dealing with the complexities of an international NGO with minimal (and I mean minimal) staff. They are their jobs and they are amazing at it. I am amazing at spending my paycheck, speedily.

So, here I am writing in my kitchen with a beautiful view of the sunrise in  a lovely house supported by my sometimes fulfilling job that I wasn’t really made for, but you know what? I love my life. Except for husband’s morning breath.