Friday, May 28, 2010

Just a Polyp

Yesterday came and went.  The colonoscopy and endoscopy went well.  There was a polyp.  The doctor did three biopsies and we'll get the results next week.  Really, it looks like nothing.

The take-away lesson here is that you have to take care of you.  If you notice something wrong, go see the doctor.  Chances are good it'll be nothing and it's better to know.

Yeah, and here are a few other take-away lessons for future colonoscopies: baby wipes, diaper rash cream, start at noon, and stop drinking after starting the cleanse.  Just sayin'.

And thank you very, very much for the prayers.  I appreciate them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just Name It

I've been really stressed lately.  Money stress.  Health stress.  Career stress.  Liberals-trying-to-reshape-America stress.  America-as-I-know-her-disappearing stress.  All amounting to being too stressed.  Not sleeping stressed.  Inhaling too many M&M's stressed.  Oh, hush, like you've never mowed through a medium-sized bag of M&M's in a few days (and frankly, if you haven't, today is not the day I want to hear about it, maybe tomorrow).  I digress.

I've been stressed to the point where I've not been able to pray well.  We're told in the Bible that when we can't pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.  Oh - what do I mean by "pray well?"  Well... I mean putting words to my thoughts, er, putting my thoughts into words.  I mean taking the worries and queries and wonderings and praises and recognitions and putting them into words and addressing the Lord, be it through verbal or silent prayer.

Lately, I've been so stressed all I can do internally gasp, "Lord?"  The whole prayer is encompassed completely in that one utterance.  My heart has felt so bound up that I couldn't even speak for my heart - if that makes any sense.

The LOST finale (excellent, by the way) was last night and long after it ended, my mind whirred and purred while I attempted to sleep. Throw in some revealingly awful nightmares and I didn't sleep.  Sigh.  Nothing like some bad dreams to show you exactly what's weighing on you.  I've been so tired and frazzled that my normally prone-to-get-misty-with-emotion eyes practically leak all the time and my mind is mush.  I feel like a walking tear drop.  It doesn't really work for me, this leaky-eye business. 

This morning, when I "woke" up (really, how does one wake up when one didn't really sleep?), the world and all it's troubles felt utterly overwhelming.  And then, probably from the Holy Spirit's prompting, I felt urged to pray.  

Only this time, I felt an urge to specifically name what I was giving back to/asking the Lord.  I named it.  I got very specific and very clear and as the words came out of me - out loud in the car - an amazing thing happened.  

With every word out of my mouth and offered to God, I felt stronger.  Naming each thing before God took the power from the thing and replaced it with the power of God. The process took the weakness out of me and filled my spine with confidence that God has it.  He has it.  

I could tell you I'm ashamed it took a month or so (more like months, ahem) to remember to name each thing before God, but that would be a lie.  Sometimes it takes the time it takes to get back where you need to be with God.  Sometimes you have to get low enough that all you can see is the worry so that all you can focus on again is God. 

There have several moments today when that weakness threatened to make me wobble again and immediately I prayed - in a clear and calm voice and I named it.  Sometimes, you just have to name it.

~ G

Saturday, May 22, 2010


How did I explain to my husband the significance of the LOST series finale?

"Imagine this were the last - EVER - Super Bowl and the last football game that will ever, ever be played. EVER. And tonight's airing of the pilot is like the final playoff game. EVER."

Sigh.  What are the chances of getting to watch (undisturbed) tonight's re-airing of the pilot and the series recap and series finale tomorrow?  Slim.

Plus, we have a very big week ahead of us.  It's a lot to ask Darling to give me tonight and tomorrow "off" and expect him to carry the whole load Wednesday and Thursday.  I do the "cleanse" on Wednesday and the procedure is on Thursday.  I'll post on Friday about the results.

Lovely.  A post about LOST turned into a post about my butt.  See?  This isn't why I'm not posting right now.  Can't get my head out of my ass.  (Confused about the enhanced interrogation of my butt?  Read this.)

And thank you, thank you for all the prayers.

~ G

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not Worrying Takes Energy

How did I spend yesterday you ask?  Okay, I know you didn't ask, but humor me.  I spent an hour or so at the gastroenterologist's office.  Fun times.

Fair warning:  Stop reading now if you've got a queasy tummy, don't wanna know, don't really care, or are too hardened to give a rip.

Ahem.  Here goes:  For the past six months or so, I've had intermittent bloody stools, among some other choice symptoms.  I warned you it would be gross.  So, what did I, a very mature and responsible wife and mother, do?  I ignored it.  At an October visit with my internist, I consciously told her I was fine and only my asthma was kicking up and would you help me, please.  When my OB/GYN asked the same question "anything else going on?" at my annual in March, I lied again.  It finally occurred to me that if I lied about my health being dandy, it probably wasn't dandy and I needed to grow up, get a grip, and tell my doctor.  But, seriously, it's my butt.  Who wants to tell people about stuff happening with her butt?  It's. My. Butt.

Sigh.  So, I made an appointment to talk about my butt with my internist.  You'll be proud of me.  I was honest and told her all the details at that appointment a few weeks ago.  She listened to me.  Did an exam.  Ick.  She proceeded to say something to effect of "given [my] very challenging vascular issues during pregnancies and this wasn't a problem then, [she's] not comfortable simply calling this internal hemorrhoids. [She's] also concerned that [I] always feel "full" up to my throat without any other symptoms of heartburn.  [She] referred [me] to Dr. S so he can decide what to do, chances are it won't be a full colonoscopy."  Oh, so-ho-ho charming.

Yesterday I saw Dr. S.  He listened to my story.  I assured him I hadn't had any symptoms in a month, aside from always feeling full, and I didn't really need to be there.  He laughed and continued talking.  Bah.  After our very frank, very detailed discussion where I kept asking myself if I might be exaggerating and could really just laugh and tell him him I was a sick attention-hound and could just go now -no pun intended-, but realized I had already been minimizing my health and needed to sit right there and after asking me many questions about how I did with anesthesia during my D&Cs (post miscarriages), he declared this:

"I'm not comfortable with theses symptoms and how they don't mesh with any other diagnosis.  I want to do a colonoscopy to check for varicosities higher up, I want to check for polyps, ulcers, and cancer.  I also want to do an endoscopy to check for any varicosities in your esophagus.  Plus, reflux from pregnancy might not have gone away and you could have some damage we need to address.  I'm not comfortable with waiting and seeing.  There's nothing to be gained by it.  You're young and a little too young for cancer, but sometimes we see it in women in their 30's.  I've gone in before, thinking it's just internal hemorrhoids, and found cancer.  Other times, I've gone in sure it was cancer, and it was just an ulcer.  I want to do a colonoscopy and an endoscopy to see what's going on.  It's better to know it's nothing."

So.  There it is.  Intellectually, I completely agree with the logic.  Intellectually, I completely agree we need to know it's nothing.  And, on the off-chance it's something, we need to know sooner than later.  The logical side of my brain comprehends and agrees.  The emotional part of me wants to curl up in a little ball and cry for a week.  But, I'm a wife. I'm a mom.  No where in that contract is there a "curl up and weep for unlimited days" clause.  (If you have one in your contract, lemme know so I can appeal mine.)

Darling came home early last night, made dinner and got the kids to bed so I could zone out.  (Huh, guess my clause is unwritten.)  Since then, my mindset has gone from denial to embarrassed to terror to denial.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, I'm a writer and getting it out via words is cathartic.  It helps me organize my thoughts and ... yeah, I don't know.  I write.  The other reason I'm telling you is I want to encourage you to take care of yourself.  I'm only in my 30's.  Obviously, I have some things I need to address and with the help of my doctors, I'm addressing it.

Chances are very good it's nothing.

There's also a chance it could be something.

So let my butt talk be a lesson to you:  Don't lie when the doctor asks if  "there's anything else going on or are there any other questions" you might have.

Very long, wordy story short, I'll either be posting a whole lot this week to get my mind off my butt (there's a visual for you) or I might be scarce.  Either way, I'll post next Friday (5/28) and tell you the confirmation diagnosis of "it's nothing."  Or I'll tell you it's not nothing and beg for more prayers.  And there it is.

The end.  ahahahahahahaha

~ G

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

Middle One asked to learn the Lord's Prayer.  Precious, I know.  Tonight he was praying with me instead of repeating.  This is what I heard:

"Our Father, who art in heaven,
Howard be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, 
I will be done..."

I choose to believe God's laughing as hard as we are.  

Or harder.

~ G

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Make Your Voice Heard!

Ever wonder how politicians figure out what their constituents want?  Ever wonder how restaurants know what patrons prefer?  Ever wish you could be one of those people who gets to sound off on the latest issue or product?  Well, you can.

Join Polling Point and make your voice heard. Aside from giving my conservative perspective, I earn points every time I complete a poll.  I've been responding to Polling Point for a couple years and recently received my t-shirt for points.

So why am I bringing this up on my blog?  Well, no one's paying me.  But, I just finished a poll on immigration, my state's education policies, and whether or not I approve of Obama's policies.  (I'll give you one guess on how I answered that last question.)  It occurred to me that you might be interested in joining and making your conservative voice heard, too.  Join and pass on the link.

~ G

Elena Kagan's Colors

Want to know more about Elena Kagan's political positions?  Curious to know more about her thought process?  Her senior thesis at Princeton is available for perusal.

I think this says it all:
“Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself. forever and further reduced labor radicalism in New York to the position of marginality and insignificance from which it has never recovered. The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one's fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope.”

Want to read it for yourself?  Here you go:

Elena Kagan's Senior Thesis Princeton University

Thanks to Reaganite Republican and No Sheeples Here.

~ G

Friday, May 14, 2010

Letter to the Editor

The following comes from ..In a Handbasket.  Rosemary LaBonte wrote a letter about immigration to the OC Register and it wasn't published.  So, they took it online.  Heck, they might get more traffic this way anyway.  Read on:

"David LaBonte"

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry.

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is ... continue reading here.

~ G

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Cute Wears Off

Ever have one of those days when your kids' "cute" has just plain worn off?  Yeah.  I'm having one of those evenings.  They're workin' on m'nerves.

I even stooped to calling them "ungrateful turkeys."  Yeah.

The story?  Well, after multiple meltdowns (theirs) and finally reaching an hour close enough to dinner to qualify the food as "dinner," I asked Middle One and Big Kid what they wanted for dinner.  The answer: Mac and cheese with hot dogs.  Easy enough, right?  Apparently not.

We were out of the boxed mac and cheese.  So, I asked them if they would mind homemade mac and cheese.  They said, "no."  I made a basic white sauce, turned it into a cheese sauce, mixed it with steaming hot macaroni and cut up hot dogs and served it.

Things were going well until Little One started calling it "yucky."  Then, Big Kid and Middle One fell like dominoes.  Suddenly the meal wasn't good.  Suddenly it was inedible.

Meltdown time (mine).  I lost it.  I informed them that only one of their friends' moms actually knows how to cook. No other mother of any of their friends knows how to make biscuits or pancakes or bread from scratch.  No one makes pizza from scratch.  No one knows how to make gravy from scratch, much less homemade mac and cheese.  They are lucky to have a mother who knows how to cook and they don't even know it and frankly, tonight, they've hurt my feelings.  Somewhere in there I threw in "ungrateful turkeys."

Bedtime can't come soon enough.

And yes, I promptly called my mom and apologized for being an ungrateful turkey and not appreciating the good food she placed before me when I was a kid.  She accepted it gracefully. I expect similar phone calls from my kids in 20 or so years.

~ G

Opportunity Society or Welfare State?

Paul Ryan in an interview discussing the Roadmap for America's Future.  Some noteworthy lines:

"Do we want an opportunity society with a safety net or do we want a cradle to grave welfare state?

"We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem."

"We need to reform the tax code to make it more entrepreneurial, more pro-growth because you have to have growth and spending discipline to fix this problem." 

And favorite line - when asked if he's considered running for President: "My head's not that big and our kids are just too small."

~ G

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The "D" Word

As you already know by now, I curse.  Actually, I can swear like a sailor.  Thank you, thank you very much.  There is, however, a word too vile for me to utter, hurl, spit, or snarl.  It's the "D" word.  You know the one of which I speak:


I now have 4 sets of friends who are bandying about with that word.  That's some dangerous territory.  Far be it from me to offer advice.  Darling and I work hard on our marriage, but that doesn't mean I'm in any position to tell my girlfriends what to do.  All I can do is offer my perspective.

That makes me wonder, though, whose advice is more helpful to the woman whose marriage is troubled: advice from the friend who's on her subsequent marriage or advice from the never-divorced, married friend?  I don't know.

I do know it pays to have girlfriends who value marriage as more than just a vehicle for personal happiness and children.  There are times when I feel overwhelmed with frustration in my marriage.  There are times when I sound as if I could venture beyond basic griping and my girlfriends reign me in quickly and remind me of my commitment before God to honor my marriage.  I know this happens because periodically, in the midst of gritching, a friend will say, "but you know he loves you and have you thought about...(insert helpful marital advice)."  I know that surrounding myself with women who value the sacrament of marriage helps keep my marriage healthy.  My friends love me and they are on my side, but they are also on the side of marriage.  When I'm having a rotten day or week or month with Darling, having friends who love me enough to love my marriage is vital.

Another thing that helps keep my marriage healthy - and offers serious solace about my marriage - is Dr. John Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  I'm not a huge fan of self-help books,  but this book is different.

I didn't realize, for instance, that most marriage counseling is based on research gleaned from self-reporting surveys, not science.  A woman who's happy in her marriage will generally say she's a "7 or 8" on a scale of 1-10, "10" being the happiest.  A woman who's being abused will say she's a "10."  Needless to say, self-reporting surveys are not necessarily accurate pictures of what makes a successful marriage.  Most marriage counseling does more damage than reconstruction.  Well, duh.  Look at the research on which they're basing their advice.

Gottman's approach is based on decades of scientific research.  He's studied couples - newlyweds and also couples married for 40-50 years - to determine what makes a marriage work.  He uses blood samples to track stress hormone levels, blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration levels, etc to support his findings.  Reading his book is like sitting down with my parents, aunts and uncles, and elders in the church and hearing what makes a working marriage.  The only difference is I'm not defensive or reading between the lines or discounting solid advice because it's not from some buttinsky relative or churchy chick, but from a researcher sharing defensible theories.

Anyway, my brain is on overload thinking about my friends.  My heart hurts for their struggles.  I do think, however, that those who want to save their marriage and are willing to work to save it, will.  And I do know that when you and your spouse work together to get through a struggle, you come out stronger and healthier on the other side.  And that is worth it.

~ G

P.S.  I am an Amazon Associate, so if you purchase the book (which I do happen to own), I get some kind of financial incentive.  I'm new to the whole "Amazon Associate" thing, so no idea what I actually "get."

I Love that Man

Okay, yesterday I posted about having a heavy heart.  Darling and I talked and, once again, I was reminded why I love that man.  He took my panicky, close-to-hyperventilating self and spoke calmly, rationally, and offered up some solid ideas.  I love that he's utterly dedicated to me and our family.  I love that when I'm worrying myself into a purple snit, he is calm and rational and more than willing to carry me.  Make no mistake, sometimes we trade those roles.  I'm glad he's my husband.  I love that man.

~ G

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Should Know By Now hand out popsicles OUTSIDE and not in the kitchen.  We bought $1 popsicle forms at Target this weekend and made our own orange juice pops.  Today the kids wanted some.  Like, duh.

In a moment of sheer stupidity optimism, I handed them their popsicles - from the sink.  It's now possible to follow a sticky, polka-dotted trail from the kitchen sink (where I defrosted the forms enough to remove said popsicles) to Little One's perch at the table this snack time - which happens to be, um, Darling's chair.  There's an amoeba-shaped orange patch by the island where Middle One stood and a series of little drips, courtesy of Big Kid.

Sigh.  You'd think I was a rookie.  ;-)  Time to go Shark the kitchen.

~ G

Heavy Heart

My heart feels heavy.  As Big Kid used to say, "I have sadness."  I have sadness.  And I have stress.  Without going into huge details, I will simply say that Darling and I are out of agreement about his career strategy.

Yes, it's his career, but something we SAHMs don't really talk about is how being a SAHM puts enormous trust in your husband's ability to provide for the family.  It takes confidence and faith to leave your career, stay home to raise the kids, and allow your husband to be the sole breadwinner.

Darling and I are a team in raising our family.  He's providing for our family financially while I'm providing care for our children and family.  He trusts that I'm caring for our children in a way that will prosper our family emotionally and spiritually and I trust that he will maneuver in his career in a way that will prosper our family materially.  Both roles are vital for our family to prosper.

Sometimes I feel as if I am at the mercy of his career decisions.  Sometimes I can see why some women wouldn't want to give up their personal financial security (via their career), to stay home and raise the family's children.  I can see it.  I can see how sacrificing a career on the family altar might seem like too large a sacrifice.  I can see it today because today I'm feeling utterly vulnerable.

Basically, I need to remember that Darling is my mate, my life partner, that we're in this together, and if we're both honest about our wants and needs, we'll come to an agreement.  Trust is way harder than it sounds.  So is marriage.  Just sayin'.

~ G

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Domestic Sanity - Cabinets, Pt. 2

Here's how I was able to keep some semblance of normalcy while on bed rest with Little One.  Because I wrote out the boys' schedule, what they would eat, when they napped and played and all the little details about their lives, I could relax a little and let my mom take over.  When my neighbor had time and could come over and help, all she had to do was come in, look at the clock, then open my cabinet door to see what the kids were doing next.  Darling didn't have to ask how I did the laundry or where we kept the extra detergent.

If you are on bed rest or if you have a very helpful MIL or a mom who wants to help with your little ones or if you have the opportunity to leave for the weekend while your husband keeps the kids, I strongly encourage you to write out what someone would need to know to do your job as a SAHM.

The boys' daily schedule, with recipes above.  This list is still up for two reasons: One, it helps me when my brain fails and I need to remember what on earth we do after lunch.  Two, I'm a sentimental fool and can't bear to take it down until I know how I want to store/preserve it.  

"If boys are busy and happy and you need a diversion..."  This is my "how to help me around the house" list.

All the emergency info.

~ G

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tips and Tricks for Domestic Sanity - Cabinets Pt. 1

I have a secret.  I post my two favorite baking recipes inside my kitchen cabinets.  Awhile ago, Darling said, "you're amazing, who just decides to make biscuits for dinner and 15 minutes later there are hot, buttery biscuits on the table?"  Sigh - now you know why I call him "Darling."  How could I not?

I digress.

The secret to my success with getting biscuits on the table is several years ago I wrote out the recipe (and it's doubled and tripled self) on a piece of paper and stuck it on the inside of cabinet door.  Now, when I want biscuits, I open the cabinet to the glasses and voila, there it is.  I did the same with my tweaked pancake recipe.  The base recipe is on the inside of the cabinet and I adjust the flour/grains every time I make it, based on what I have available.

So there.  My secret's out.  Use it for your own good.  Recipes you love that make your family happy should go where you can find them easily.  And who cares what the inside of your cabinets looks like?  If anyone knows you well enough to come into your home and look for her own glass, she should know you well enough to not care about your "notes to self."

The evidence:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cheap Meat Chili

Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Total Time: 45 min.

What You Need:
1 tbsp butter
3 roasted, seeded, chopped Hatch green chilis (or 1 -4 oz.can chopped green chilis)
1 Cup cooked black beans (spiced like these)
1 -10 oz. can Rotel
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. salt
several good grinds of pepper
1 -14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 -14.5 oz can tomato sauce
~1 lb cheap, cooked beef (like these leftovers)
grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese
sour cream

What You Use:
4 qt saucepan, with cover
wooden spoon

What You Do:
1. In a saucepan over med. high heat, melt butter.
2. Add chilis and beans.  Saute until you smell the chilis, then cook another minute.
3. Add diced tomatoes.  Stir well.
4. Stir in all spices. This makes HOT chili, reduce if necessary.  Let cook for a couple minutes.
5. Add tomato sauce and Rotel.
6. Cook until sauce is starting to bubble.
7. Stir in beef.
8. Cover, reduce heat to low, let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Beans, chilis and butter.  Should smell go-ooood.  If it doesn't, chili may not be your thing.  Just sayin'

The tomato-based crew.

The spice team.

The chilis, beans, spices, and diced tomatoes.  Stir it up and simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.

The leftover meat from the Cheap Cuts Spicy Short Ribs.

Cheese and sour cream aren't just for purty decoration: They're to cool the whole mess down so your mouth doesn't explode.  Darling likes his chili hotter n' hot, so I make it that way.  I like mine with some heat, but need the cheese and sour cream to smooth it out.  If you're not a heat-loving family, reduce the chili powder and cumin to 1 Tbsp or even just 1 Tsp.  It's your chili.  You're the cook for you family.  Make it yours.  My recipe's just a guide for you.  As my Mom says, "an old recipe is like a good friend, you can take liberties with it."  I hope you treat my recipes like good friends.

~ G

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Black beans - or any dry bean, really - makes a great, frugal pantry staple.  Periodically, I cook up a whole bag, cool, and freeze in 1 and 2 cup portions.  They make welcome additions (or stretchers/fillers) in chili, meatloaf, salads, burritos, enchiladas, soups, with rice or just by themselves.  How do I make them?  Like this:

What You Need:
1 - 16 oz. bag dry black beans
1/3 - 1/2 Cup dry spices* (salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder)

What You Use:
4 qt. saucepan, with lid
large spoon
lidded storage container
freezer bags

What You Do:
1. Rinse the dry the beans. Sort the beans to remove anything that doesn't look like a firm, black bean.
2. Drop sorted, rinsed beans in saucepan.
3. Dump spices on top of beans. Mix well. You're looking for good coverage on the beans. Let sit for 30 minutes. This allows the spices to cling better to the beans, which means tastier beans.
4. After 30 minutes, cover the beans with water. The water needs to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
5. Bring beans to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for one hour. You'll know the beans are done when they're tender and starting to split.
6. Drain beans. DO NOT RINSE.
7. Place beans in lidded storage container.  Let cool for about 20 min, then slide into fridge.
8. For freezer storage:  Only use beans cold from the fridge.  Label freezer bags with the date (including month and year) and measurement of beans (1/2 Cup, 1 Cup, 2 Cups).  Measure out beans and place in labelled bag.  Squeeze out air and seal.  Beans keep in the freezer for a couple months.

*The truth is I don't really measure my spices here.  I go by aroma.  If it smells good, I stop dumping in the spices.  Helpful, aren't I?  For the beginner, I'd say use ~1 Tbsp each of salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.  Cumin adds depth and a smoky flavor.  Chili powder adds heat.  These are your beans, so season to taste.  When in doubt, stick your finger in the mix and taste.  Keep in mind the final flavor will be muted, so if it's mild to you now, it'll be even milder when finished cooking.

Rinse the beans thoroughly, removing little rocks and bits that aren't good, firm-looking beans.

The spice team.

Dump spices on the beans.

Yep, you want this much coverage.  Stir them up and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Letting the spices dry a little on the wet beans helps the flavor.  If you add water now, you'll have more flavor in the water than in your beans.

Add the water.  Cover beans with 2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.

When the beans are done, your pot will look as if it's holding industrial sludge. Drain the beans in your strainer but do NOT rinse or you'll wash away all their delicious goodness.  After draining, place them in a lidded storage container.  Let them cool about 30 min on the counter, then lid up and place them in the fridge to cool completely before bagging, tagging, and freezing.  If they aren't completely cold from the fridge, the hot moisture will cause condensation in the freezer bag - which means ice crystals all over your beans.  So, cool them completely.  It might take a whole day in the fridge before they're cool enough to freeze.  I usually cook my beans one day and freeze the next.  They'll keep in the fridge for 4-5 days, so no rush.  

~ G

Monday, May 3, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about "lasts" lately.  You know - the "last" time you do something, see something, talk to someone - just "lasts," in general.  Yes, this is another one of those emotional posts.

Maybe it's been on my mind because Little One is getting bigger?  I know the last time I ever pick her up to carry her on my hip is coming.  My favorite hip-carry age is around 15 mos.  They're big enough to carry comfortably and they (my kids, at least) hold on tightly with their arms and knees.  I love it.  She's getting bigger and bigger and more independent and soon, before I realize it, she'll not want to be carried.

Maybe it's on my mind because I have a friend who's very sick and I have another friend who recently lost a friend?  Maybe it's on my mind because I had lost touch with my friend who passed recently?  Do we ever really know the last time we will talk to someone or write a letter to them or the last voice message they'll leave?

Maybe it's because another "last" crossed my mind?  A few years ago, a friend called while my parents were in town.  At the time, we lived thousands of miles from my parents and we hadn't seen them in a year.  I answered the phone, told her my parents were in town and said I'd call her back, and promptly forgot to call for a few weeks.  When I finally called, her number was disconnected.  Don't even ask how low I felt.  Years later, we connected briefly and she told me she had called that day to tell me her husband had left her and their kids, left them in crippling debt with no home or vehicle, and she needed to tell me she and the kids were moving in with her parents.  She had masked her voice well because, from her tone, I thought she was calling just to chat.  Had I known how badly she needed to talk that day, I would have excused myself and ducked into a quiet room and listened for hours. That was over ten years ago.  It doesn't weigh on me like it used to, but I've definitely learned to ask, "Anything going on or can I call you back?"  That was a big "last" that led to a big lesson.

Anyway, I've been thinking about lasts and how they can slip by without notice.  They slip by until one day you realize that moment was a last moment.  Maybe it's on my mind today because I've been noticing the passage of time and taking note of the preciousness of it?  Maybe it's just gloomy and gray outside today and I'm feeling maudlin?

It can be crippling, this "lasts" thing.

~ G

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Cheap Cuts - Beef - Spicy Short Ribs

Remember that freezer full of beef we bought? The freezer full that included some cheap, annoying cuts?  We have many, many packages of short ribs.  A super-easy, dry heat method of cooking them makes them tender and ready for other meals.

Spicy Short Ribs

What You Need:
~1/2 Cup total barbecue sauce, mustard
1 Tbsp (or more) Cayenne pepper
Short Ribs

What You Use:
small mixing bowl
roasting pan
aluminum foil 
lidded storage container

What You Do:
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Choose your spices, measure, and mix in small mixing bowl.  
3. Rub spice mixture into both sides of the beef.
4. Lay short ribs in roasting pan.
5. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.  If you want more browning, do not use foil tent.  If you don't want more browning, use the foil tent.  If you want a little browning, use the foil tent for the first 1 hour and 45 minutes.
6. Remove roaster from oven, cover with foil for 15 min. You can use your foil tent for this, just smoosh it closer to the meat.  
7. Remove meat from bone and set aside into a lidded container.

The makings for a tasty sauce.

Mix it all up.  Yep, it'll look... questionable.

The beef.  Pay no attention to the Little Caesar's Crazy Bread package.  The kids got pizza last night because Darling and I had a date.  Little One decided to "help" me take pictures.  Couldn't bring myself to crop it.

Slathered short ribs, almost ready for the oven.

Foil tent.  I wanted flavor more than a crust, so I tented the ribs for the first 1 3/4 hours.

Cutting up the ribs.  I think we had some with dinner, while the rest of the meat got pulled off the bone for chili.

Tomorrow's chili will taste amazing.  Slow cooked meat in chili is a winner!  Keep your eyes open for my Cheap Meat Chili recipe.  

~ G

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Top 10 dumbest things said about the Arizona immigration law | Washington Examiner

Top 10 dumbest things said about the Arizona immigration law | Washington Examiner

Sprinkler Time

I am woman.  I can fix things.  Ha ha ha ha ha.

Bought a house with a sprinkler system.  Green thumb inspiration hit and felt urge to plant a flower bed.  Planted a shrub in front of a sprinkler head.  Shrub grew.  Sprinkler head height couldn't surpass the shrub to get water to the grass.  Grass struggled, barely cheated death.  Tried installing a riser for sprinkler head to get water to grass.  Riser and sprinkler head spent summer watering house more than grass.  Various methods of tightening riser and sprinkler head failed.  House well-watered, grass still struggled.  Decided to rip out shrub, remove riser and aim sprinkler at grass.  Hopefully, grass will grow again.

Saga in Pictures:

See bare spots?

Long riser, already removed and sprinkler head replaced.  Photos of before and whole process not available as green thumb covered in mud and soil.  

Done!  Riser gone.  Sprinkler head happily nestled back in bed.

~ G


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