Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The bad ecomony strikes a blow

Today I lost a co-worker to the bad economy. She was told things are just too slow. Her departing means I am the only one left primarily in the office (other than management and sales staff who don't contribute to day-to-day duties).

I have another co-worker that has been by my side for years and it seems again, it's just the two of us. He's only in the office certain times though because they have him out doing sales calls as well. I've made up my mind not to worry about instances where I have to leave or be out because of my children being ill, doctor's appointments or much needed time off. It's not my problem if they are short staffed. I used to stress over that, but now I realize my family and my health come first - always.

Even though I will be getting more work piled on me without increased pay (haven't seen that in over 4 years...) I must again remember my mantra to be thankful I have a job. I think I better adapt another mantra....to get my resume' updated.

Just in case life throws me a curb ball or a great opportunity.

Gotta love those long weekends

Bella's favorite dress right now is the dress she wore to The Nutcracker at Christmas. Sometimes I let her wear it to play around the house. I think she wants to wear it again this Christmas if we go again. That is if it still fits and is still in one piece!

What has Kristjan's up most attention? Why it's his new pal Elmo. I still have "Elmo's Favorite Songs II" DVD from when Bella was little and he loves it. I think it's the combination of all the songs along with Elmo's voice and personality. I guess I should see if they still have "Elmo's Favorite Songs I" available. Kristjan loves music. Although, last night in bed while I was singing him some lullaby's in bed he sat up and put his hand over my mouth. Sorry that mom doesn't sound like Celine Dion. I get the hint. So I hummed the songs to him and that was ok.

Last night I made my third batch of pizzas with my own dough. I made a cheese for Bella and two vegetables for Chris and I. I did sneak some pancetta on there for a little kick though. They are not perfect yet, one pizza did not have a very crispy bottom. Next time I will try out browning them in a pan on both sides first, then top and then bake like a pal of mine suggests. That should solve the chewy bottoms.

If I follow the trail...
I just might find him. As much as I hate a mess, I do like to see this. This means the toys are being played with. It only takes minutes to put them all away in the toy buckets.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happiness is...

Quietly reading a good book
Being ticklish. Who's that hiding back there?

It's contagious

Yawn number one.
Yawn number two.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My little lady

Here is my little lady. Her school pictures turned out lovely. She's wearing a dress that was hand made by my hair stylist's sister. At the salon, she opened up little boutique where she sells hand made goods from local artists. She has purses, clothes, candles and jewelry. I have to control myself when I get my hair done not to go crazy on all the beautiful goodies in the boutique!

I already have the originals in the mail going out to all the grandparents along with the pictures of Kristjan. His pictures are unfortunately small. I have in the works a special treat to send to all that will hopefully compensate for the small photos.

Multi tasking at lunch

It is the lunch hour and once again I'm at my desk eating and updating the blog (along with working as needed). I pretty much nuke or prepare my lunch and eat while working.

I'm also trying my best to remain upbeat and positive while tolerating the environment here. I have to remember to be thankful to have a job in this economy. Almost like a mantra, I repeat those words. It's the only way sometimes to keep me from verbally expelling my frustration after 14 years of this negatively charged place.

I'm not built for the corporate world. I don't want to spend the rest of my life behind a computer screen sitting in a cubicle, putting up with corporate bureaucracy, co-worker gossip and customers' issues. I do my work well and I make sure it's done right but I don't feel passionate about it.

I will make the effort to finish college even though I seem child like in the inability to make a decision regarding my "career choice". Maybe I don't want a career. Funny how people when being introduced or seeing a friend or loved one again always ask "what do you do?". What does what I do have anything to do with who I am?

I have a dream of running a bed and breakfast in the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina. A place where I could do what I love most and that's taking care of people, gardening, home keeping, cooking and spending time with family. Just sounds so untouchable to me.

When I tell Chris I'm down with my job and want to make a change, he always says. "Shit or get off the pot." Someday I'll convince myself that nothing will happen for me until I take that advice.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The taste of summer

Here's a freshly poured glass of Chris's summer wheat. It's light, sweet and has a nice citrus flavor. At least to me it does! It's really good with a slice of orange. He made these just in time to be able to enjoy them pool side in the hot Florida sun. I think he's thinking about making another light summer style brew as well. Hopefully I will find out what he decides soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Going natural, it's a long one

WARNING! This post contains some hot topics to some people so you may want to wait for another post or just dive in and hopefully not feel compelled to castigate me.
Here's the streaker after another bath. He loves going all natural. The things you can get away with while little. I let him run around this way (for now) for a few minutes to air things out. I did it with Bella too. Hell, babies like to run around naked; so I say, let them run free for a while!

To me, babies are what we all should be. They love you unconditionally, whether you are fat, disfigured, poor or insecure. They intuitively know when they are hungry, full or thirsty. They naturally live and appreciate the moment verses stressing over what may happen to come or waste time venting over things that have passed. They find joy in nature and embrace it with all their hearts. They love animals and treat them with respect as equal to themselves.

It's a shame that growing up in this society and culture requires you to cease being a completely compassionate and humble being. I bet a baby raised in the jungle, away from mass media, society brain washing and technology grows up with all of their instincts and sense of the moment still intact. I am a little sad knowing that Kristjan will someday lose a lot of his natural ways due to this crazy world. Bella already at six years old seems much older to me. She's still an innocent child, but I see how television, video games, materialism and competitiveness have taken hold. It's up to me to manage it at a safe pace and hope that she grows up loving life, and realizing that the only moment that matters is right now. Not yesterday and not tomorrow.

So while I'm going off at the mouth I might as well come out of the closet on something. I have been for years tugging at my inner self regarding my meat consumption and my frequent research on where my meat comes from and how it gets to my table. Perhaps some of my previous posts have given you an idea. I have purchased multiple vegetarian and vegan books through the years and read some of them along with using some of their recipes. I would forget about them and go on with life. Then again I am reminded of the animals, and again I lower my meat consumption and research some more.

The more I read, hear, watch and listen the more I realize that I'm doing a great disservice to the animals (Please note: I am talking about myself here). When I learned about the atrocious and inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals I couldn't help but be moved. People say to me "why do you watch those documentaries?" or "You shouldn't watch that." I say, I think we all should know what's really going on. It is disturbing, and perhaps more people would change their way of thinking about the process if they did.

So this past week I have ceased eating land animals. For now I am still consuming seafood, dairy and eggs though. I am aware that seafood is also a hot topic because of over fishing, eggs because of the inhumane treatment of chickens and dairy...well let's see. The dairy industry is almost worse than the meat industry. Veal is a bi-product of the dairy industry. In order for a cow to produce milk she is impregnated. Her calf; if female, will become as her mother. If male, he's either sent for veal production where he is kept in a crate box unable to move until slaughter or sent straight to slaughter. The mother will then be artificially inseminated again. Once she is "spent" and no longer producing enough milk to be profitable, she herself is then sent to slaughter. So to me, the simple act of drinking milk has a lot of cruel factors along with it. One quote that I remember easily from my reading is: "The purpose of cow's milk is to turn a 50 pound calf into a 300 pound cow".

We don't need milk for calcium. That's the power of meat and dairy industry over the years pounding it into our heads that it's a required element to your diet. Because they care about our health? Sure. Right after they collect their billions of dollars. Vegetables supply much more calcium than milk. Unfortunately, the vegetables don't have multi million dollar add campaigns to help support them like the dairy industry does. But wait, that's a whole new post for another time. Crap I lost where I was going...

I learned that the new marketing strategy for the meat and dairy industry is the "guilt free" or "happy meat". I fell into this big time and only purchased these products. I'm referring to the organic milk, free range eggs and grass fed cows. This way we can eat our meat and dairy guilt free. The good part is yes, it's better to have antibiotic free milk, vegetarian fed/organic eggs and meat with higher omega 3's and less saturated fat. So if you eat it, it's best to go that route for sure. The bad part to me is that they still all end up going to the same horrendous slaughter houses in the end. They may be treated better (grass fed cows) and may have Yanni playing in their ears on their way to the slaughter house, but they still ending up dying a horrific death.

The term "free range" is not regulated by the FDA. So, me picturing chickens lovingly roaming and scratching in large plots outdoors under the sun and shade from a nice barn is completely false. They are not in the confinements of the 10" (4 to 5 to a cage) battery cages but instead are all housed in these huge buildings without windows and crammed in there on top of each other. They are forced to stay in darkness and then during certain times of the year, are starved for days to force them to molt in order to lay more eggs. After they are no longer producing enough eggs they are then sent to slaughter. Not what I pictured in my mind.

I am just speaking from my heart here on these issues. They bother me. That's it. It's just me and what I am dealing with. To sum all this babbling up would be my issue with animal welfare. It is no reflection on how anyone else eats or believes. It's hard because before I just lovingly prepared it and ate it, without thought to how it got there and now it's like eating at me that I shouldn't do it. I still feed Kristjan organic milk and I still eat a little feta cheese. I'm going to take this day by day. I know that a plant based diet is superior in nutritional value than the meat based diet and I know that I was told to hold off on animal products by my doctor because of my cholesterol. For now I'll eat a little fish, eggs from my friend Kimberly's chickens and perhaps a little cheese now and then. Maybe later I'll even phase those out too. I have no idea. I have to try and be like a baby and just live for the moment and eat for today.

I asked Bella what she thought and she says she still likes to eat animals. So I'll keep feeding her what she likes that are healthy. Perhaps when she's older she too will do some reading, listening and watching and rethink her eating habits. It's all up to her as far as the meat and dairy issue.
Same with Kristjan - although currently he's only drinking milk and eating vegetables and fruit. He does not seem to like meat. Chris decided to join me and had no problem omitting the meat from land animals and doesn't really eat any cheese except for a little feta or chevre now and then, but he does love his seafood. He still wants his salmon!

For me, it's all about being informed so that I can make a well thought out decision. I don't trust the FDA, the government, Agri business, or any company in the food industry. They are all out for profit. That's it. So I can't just blindly pick up food without thought or research trusting that it's safe, clean and now...humane. I apologize for this being so long, perhaps political or even offensive (some people take offense to not eating meat I found out).

I'm posting this finally fully aware I may receive some potential back lash on the subject. That's ok. I'm different, always have been and I suppose always will be. At least I keep you on your toes. Hell, I'm considered the hippie weirdo at the office as it is so there ya go.

Week ending May 22nd

Sat - Pesto wheat pasta with grilled shrimp & veggie kabobs
Sun - Tofu rigatoni casserole (baked rigatoni w/ creamed tofu instead of ricotta basically)
Mon - Grilled vegetable (leftovers from Sat) wraps and tsatsiki sauce with black eyed peas & pinto beans
Tues - Black beans and brown rice
Wed - Farfalle with leeks, sweet peas & soy sausage (this sausage DOES taste and has the texture of the animal product version)
Thur - Tuna salad over mixed greens and veggies
Fri - Spinach and butter bean saute' over crispy polenta rounds

Hopefully the recipes above that derived from my noggin will be posted with pictures on here or my food blog!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collecting the memories

This morning was "muffins with mom" at Bella's school. The function was not until 8:30am so we got up a little later than usual, got ready slowly and lounged around a bit. I dropped off the little man at daycare and then off to school for some breakfast. I got there really early somehow so we just hung out in the car for a while and then had first dibs on the goodies.

After breakfast we then went to her class where I got to talk to her teacher for a while. Her name is Mrs. Carter (far left in the photograph). She's about my age and has three children with one with a disability. She's such as sweet woman and wonderful teacher. I hope that Isabella's future teachers are as dedicated and patient as she is.

So, can you find Bella in the picture? I had to get one. It's a great keepsake for her. I mean, Chris's Kindergarten picture is cute because you can see a few people that we are still friends with. I think my parents have mine, but I am sure I have a couple of pals on it that I am still in contact with.

Plus, after all these years, they do bring in some laughs - especially in the fashion department. The seventies was a cruel and disturbing time when it came to clothes (and hair styles).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How quickly they grow

I stumbled across this picture and thought it was quite sweet. Bella was so very cute (still is!) and loved to be outside. This picture is from the backyard from our previous house. In the picture there is Gordon (left) and Junebug (right) who have both since passed away. They both lived very long lives and are still missed. Bella loved to play with them and lay on them. Every once and a while she still cries because she misses them. I hope that someday soon we can bring in another family member to love.
She said this was her playing outside near the owl house in the tree with Junebug.

Another use for the diaper ointment basket.

Kristjan had his 17 month physical yesterday. He's 17 months already. He actually gained a pound and 3 ounces! He's still a little dude but she said he's getting taller, head is growing and he's fine. Just little. Doesn't mean he will be a little dude, just means he's little now. May just sprout like crazy one day.

I will say that he's quite the mover and climber. He's learned to move objects in order to climb and loves to climb on the chairs, couch or whatever he sees fancy. His new thing is to come to me (I'm usually always in the kitchen - go figure) with his sandals in hand and says "side?". This means, please put these shoes on and take me outside. Like his sister was, he loves the outdoors.

Last night I made tofu with bitter greens from the Martha Stewart website. As usual I made just a couple of adjustments. I used Swiss chard instead of kale and I added some chopped and roasted potatoes to the greens. Knowing our ravenous appetites I wanted to make sure we were content after the meal and not still wanting more (leftovers are taken for lunch the next day for work). I say that because Chris and I are carboholics and we love our pasta, potatoes and rice. I have to incorporate one of those it seems in each meal when I can to get that "comfort food" feel.

The tofu after being marinated and cooked was rockin! We were both pleasantly surprised. I admit, I will use the kale as the recipe recommends for next time. The Swiss chard was a little too bitter for me in combination with the ginger and garlic. It's all in the fun of playing with it. I never seem to make the same thing twice. Hence, my food blog. Which was created to keep me in line and also help me "remember" how to make things I have made before.

Upon looking at my food blog. Looks like I need to get crackin and add some more delights!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A lovely weekend

It's was a lovely weekend. Saturday I was giving two of four gifts Bella made for me for Mother's Day. She decided to stretch them out. They were all lovely. A couple of cards and a pen she glued a fake flower on along with a note pad. This was my new grocery shopping list pad and pen. I will use them both proudly.

Saturday Chris and I went out for a date. We stopped at this beer enthusiast pub called the Brass Tap where we sampled some nicely crafted beers. We then went to eat where we only ordered appetizers, but ate very well that way. Also on Saturday Chris took me to go select my sewing machine!

I am so excited! I can't wait to learn how to sew. This is the model for newbies like me and it was on sale which was very helpful. I plan on doing some reading to learn what I need and such and then I have my pal Janet that I pray will give me a few lessons (she's a sewing Goddess). I can't wait to learn to make pillows, pillow cases, aprons, napkins and hopefully clothes! I'll have to remember baby steps...baby steps.

Mother's day was very nice. I received lots of hugs and kisses from the kids and Chris gave me a digital picture frame. I love it. I put as many pictures on there as I could with the time I had and plan on adding more. I struggled over whether to bring it to work, but for now I want to enjoy it at home. I made a tasty meal for my mom which was the corn bisque with some fresh baked bread along with a tossed salad with many assorted vegetables, roasted beets and dad cooked up some sesame shrimp for us to put on our salads or plop in our soup. Fantastic!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Week ending May 15th

Sat - Eating out with Chris (belated Anniversary celebration)
Sun - Corn Bisque with side salad & homemade bread
Mon - Mustard crusted tofu with kale & sweet potato
Tues - Grilled vegetable & refried bean tacos with herbed brown rice
Wed - Sauteed ginger tofu with mixed tangy greens
Thur - Ratatouille over brown rice
Fri - Salmon/Halibut with roasted rosemary potatoes

Sunday is Mother's Day and Friday is dad's birthday so those meals are not written in stone. But I'll make sure to have all of the necessary ingredients anyway.

This coming Monday marks the beginning of a new way of eating for me. Something I have been internally battling and that I feel is very important to me. I'll have to elaborate on it later when I feel I am ready. At the moment I am not prepared to respond to the possible reactions I will receive so just bear with me please.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A gift for daddy

This morning as I was dropping off the kids at school Bella whispered to her teacher and asked if it was okay to give me something. She took me by the hand and brought me to where they hang the finished art. She had two for me. One for me and one for daddy (shown). She told me this picture was a new orchid for daddy. I thought it was so very sweet.

I need to remember moments like this when she's got me on my last inch of patience.

As some of you may know I am constantly in "educate myself" mode when it comes to food, nutrition, the truth about food processing (corporate greed) and animal rights. Currently I am listening to a series of pod casts from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who is a writer, activist and public speaker and the the founder of www.compassionatecook.com. She has a book called "The Vegan Table" that I would like to read as well. Very informative and awakening listening.

I know I skipped yet another menu for the week. It's kind of a good thing because I have strayed this week from the "schedule". I'll put up next week's which I am currently working on along with my grocery list. I also will get back to work on my food blog which has been sitting there patiently waiting for me to add more recipes. Where's my twin when I need her?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thought I should say it again

Sunday the 3rd was our 12 year wedding Anniversary and this coming November will be 20 years we've been together. Just wanted to say again that I am so very thankful to have you in my life.

Looks like a wonderful place

I think I want to live here. Thanks Bella.

Uncle Steve you accidentally forgot to take this art with you before you left. We will mail it to you.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Catching up

Here I am in an attempt to catch up on things that have passed. This weekend we enjoyed the company of Uncle Steve and lovely Julia. We hope they had a good time and are pleased they came to visit us. At the last minute (without camera) after breakfast out we decided to head straight for the aquarium. Our aquarium has a water park feature at the end where the kids had a blast playing in the fountains and pirate ships. Sorry I do not have any photos of this. I am sure we will be visiting again before the summer ends. I'll catch some then on a more planned affair.

I think I need to do more things unplanned. They end up being fun.
My brown eyed girl. Still bringing home some great artwork from school. I'll have to share a recent one tomorrow.

I found out that Kristjan

likes chocolate.

Maybe he likes the frosting a bit more. Seems the floor ended up getting more chocolate than he did.