Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Fourth Grader's Bullet Notes on the Presidential Debate

(The first 30 minutes, anyway...we didn't make it to bayonets):
  • Foreign affairs
  • 47%-47% "Dead Heat"
  • Trade deficits
  • Debate is in Florida
  • 2 minutes to answer questions
  • Obama being very reasonable 
  • Attack on embacy
  • 2 weeks in Irac
  • both had good answers
  • Mitt Romney has a better answer about terrorism
  • They shouldn't be worried
  • Obama is right about they shouldn't have troups in Irac
  • I think they should let them deal with it to keep ourselves safe but help them by doing something else besides fighting
  • I agree with Mitt in that we shouldn't put our troups in Syria
  • Should talk things out so we don't have so many wars and so many people dying
  • I agree with Obama in that women need freedom and education
  • Fights in the Middle East
  • We need a strong military and allies
  • I agree with Romney in that we should help the world
  • We need to get our economy going
  • We need to stand for our allies
  • I agree with Obama in that we should have good education
  • We should have clean energy
  • We need better jobs
And then Big Sis needed to go to bed.

Overall analysis the next day:  "I agreed with Romney, but it seems like Obama is still being pretty reasonable."


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cakeless, Bakeless Cake Pops

I've never wanted to make cake pops.  Yuck=frosting--I scrape it off when I eat cake--but you can't avoid the frosting in cake pops, because it's mixed in.  The mere thought of the stirring of the frosting and mushed cake makes me feel oogy the way packaged Danish with white icing does. 

But Big Sis received the Betty Crocker Halloween Cookbook from her grandparents in Iowa and she chose the "Boneyard Dirt Pops" when I told her we could bake something today with a friend.  I was so psyched to find that these are not even cake pops--they're Oreo cookie and cream cheese pops, dipped in melted chocolate chips.  No baking!  So easy!  So...sweet

We used a package of reduced fat Oreos blended with eight ounces of light cream cheese.  The girls rolled balls of batter and we chilled them for 45 minutes.  Then we stuck the pop sticks in and dipped the balls in melted chocolate.  Excess "dirt" (crumbled Oreos) and sprinkles topped them off. 

We're giving some to the friends who kindly dropped off owl cupcakes the other day (*burp*). 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup

Mmmmm, I made some yummy soup for us tonight and I have to share my excitement and the "recipe" (it won't be exact...bear with me!).

As I was taking this photo, I had a bit of déjà vu; it turns out that I have been exuberant over sweet potato soup before--here's a 2009 version on gearheadmom.com (with more exotic ingredients like parsnips and turnips and butternut squash).

Tonight's soup is waaaay easy.  Here's the recipe:

Sweet Potato Soup


a quarter-stick of butter (or olive oil)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion (I used red because that's what I had), chopped
A handful of carrots, diced (because I had some--not necessary)
3 cups (or so) of chicken (or veg) broth
2 cups (or so) of milk (I used 1%--but how about coconut milk?)
3 dates (because I had some)
a clove of garlic, minced
a teaspoon cinnamon or cinnamon stick
a teaspoon nutmeg or to taste
a teaspoon ginger or to taste
4 fresh sage leaves (because I had some; not necessary or use dried)
pepper to taste

Sauté onions, potatoes, and carrots in butter till onions are translucent.  
Add spices and dates and stir to coat vegetables.  
Add broth and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer till potatoes/vegetables are soft.
Remove cinnamon stick.
Add milk, stir, and blend soup with immersion blender (if you don't have one of these, you need one!!) until smooth.
Simmer till ready to eat.

Add maple syrup or cayenne paper for sweetness or spice.

Garnish with toasted nuts (pinenuts, hazelnuts, etc.) and/or sage.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Apparently I am the Witch of the West

Little Sis sat down at the counter at Mammom's and Bampa's to write about one of her favorite holidays while we finished preparing Sunday night dinner.  Someone is excited about Halloween.  I am excited about her frankenheart in the upper right-hand corner.

It is allmost Halloween night I am going to be dorothy in the wizard of oz and my sister is going to be a animal nurse my mom is going to be the witch of the west and my friend is going to be a fairy I love halloween.

On another Halloween note, if you haven't seen the movie Hotel Transylvania, treat yourself (no trick!) and your little goblins.  It's hilarious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Junk in my Trunk

We live in a small house.  I mean, it has Good Flow, but it's still just over 900 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom.  Nevertheless, we don't feel particularly cramped ("Oh yeah?  Speak for yourself," says Big Sis, who keeps pleading with me to produce an extra bedroom for her). 

Having a small house (okay, and tendency toward clutter and tchotchke-collecting) means that we have lots of stuff:

1.  In our garage.
2.  In our cupboards.
3.  In our closets.
4.  In our backyard.
5.  In the trunk of my car. 

For as long as I've owned it, in fact, the trunk of my car has functioned as another closet, even with actual clothes in need of dry cleaning stored in there.  And I suppose here is where I admit that I get a little twitchy when I see an empty car trunk.  At the very least, it screams of lack of preparation!  Every trunk should have some towels and a blanket.  A roadside emergency kit, too.  Some water bottles, maybe.  Empty grocery bags, for sure.  Duh. 

But then, there's the potential for the trunk to be, you know, where you keep Some Stuff.  Stuff that might otherwise take up room in the garage, cupboards, closets, or backyard.  It might be the stuff you had to move from the back seat of the car when you picked up an extra passenger.  It might be the stuff that you took to that one place and then never, well, brought back inside, because you didn't need to you or why would you, like sand toys or lawn chairs.  Or Stuff you need to drop off somewhere (donations, that dry cleaning).  Add some books and handouts I use for presentations, and there you go:  my Mobile Pile of Denial

A few months ago Husband convinced me that better gas mileage and general wear and tear on the car might be valid reasons to remove some of the heavier items from my trunk, such as the milk crate full of old teaching files.  So I grudgingly effected a purge. 

Meanwhile, yesterday was a day off for me, and because my car was registering 10% oil life and that ominous "wrench" light on the dash, it seemed like an opportune time for servicing. 

A simple oil change turned quickly into "Oh, look (you slacker)...you seem to have skipped your 30,000-mile 'major' service (read: 'major' bucks), so we recommend the 60,000-mile..."

And then there was the inevitable midday call from Brandon, my service rep and new pal:  "Hey, Fer, we just noticed that your tires are at 10% tread life, but hey!  We have a special going on four tires for the price of three..."

$1000 later and thirty minutes from time to pick up my car, Brandon called and left me a message with more good news:

"So, Fer.  We didn't notice this until we just put your car up on the alignment rack, but you have a problem with what are called the 'Upper Control Arms'.  What these do is...something yadda yadda...with how your rear tires wear.  These will need to be replaced, and we can do it right now...give me a call."

I called back too late.  Which, Brandon assured me, was a good thing, because then I could probably get the automaker to cover most of the cost, since there was a known issue with Upper Control Arms on my model of car.

"By the way, Fer," Brandon added, "Any chance you carry a lot of stuff...er, weight, in the trunk of your car?  Because, you know, we generally notice this issue on cars right away, as there's a tendency for the back tires to wear unevenly.  But yours didn't exhibit the normal signs..."

Umm, yes, Brandon.  Yes, I do carry extra weight in my trunk. 

"So, the good news is that you probably mitigated the issue with that weight in the back."

"Is it possible I saved lives with my full trunk, Brandon?  Because I am going to hang up right now and let my husband know what a genius I am." 

And then I am going to use my own Upper Control Arms to carry that milk crate right back to the car.