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Melanie Forbes

Melanie Forbes -

Last Build Date: Sat, 31 May 2014 17:42:35 GMT


Extreme scoping

Sat, 31 May 2014 17:42:35 GMT

I've had a love-affair with Europe my entire adult life and want to live there one day. It's definitely a "one day" thing. Kevin isn't that excited about it. Because I'm not an EU citizen I'd have to work for a company that has clients or offices in Europe. I'm not ready at this point in my life to focus on career or travel. I've got a little one to consider. Either I win the lottery (Kevin plays even if I don't) or this gets relegated to the back burner. Out of scope.

I read an article yesterday that triggered a memory of a very magical area of the Delaware river. It involves two towns in two states, a bridge, lightly falling snow and little white lights. I got to thinking how you could get so much more house, enjoy public transportation and be able to spend weekends exploring so much more of the world if I lived there instead of here.

Initially I spent two seconds on work, dismissing it because healthcare is everywhere. I've never had a problem getting a job. Only later, after looking into so many other aspects did I really consider that back East I think they take education pretty seriously and by the way, I don't have the connections and references that I enjoy here. Not to say that it's impossible, but maybe moving and buying a first home at the same time might be difficult. I have almost 12 years at my current job. It's my understanding that that comes in handy.

Plus there are the parents who are enjoying being grandparents. Out of scope.

I am already beginning to work on things to get me closer to buying my first home. There's nothing I can research or dream about today.

What should I be researching?

How about wtf am I wearing to a wedding today?!?! How about that? It's not as fun as searching Zillo along the Delaware or deciphering public transport across the East Coast and definitely not nearly as exciting as planning future weekend get-aways such as Philadephia, Niagra, revolutionary war sites, Boston, DC, Toronto, Outer Banks, Cape Cod, Maine, Hamptons and NYC.

Guess I better do laundry.

Testing this iPhone app

Sat, 10 Jul 2010 18:51:04 GMT

Today I am so grateful for:

• livejournal and trying to get it back in my life.

• my wonderful husband who has never ever mentioned the fact that I haven't changed my name yet (still have the ex's) and it's almost been two years since we got married.

• my two awesome college student sons. I'm super proud of both of them.

• the act of strategic planning. Provides clarity and makes the what you think about you bring about come true.

• the fact that I will be working from home more often soon.

Posted via

To Do: #1. Throw away To Do List

Sat, 26 Sep 2009 06:48:31 GMT

I had a "to do" list that was tediously long this morning. I pushed it aside to write my morning pages. It would be good. It's been a long time. It won't take that long to write three pages long-hand.I woke up at 10:30 today. I can do that on my day off. The night before I researched (again) coffee houses in the area and had decided to check out Coffee and Chrome but it didn't look inviting and there was only one car in the lot so I drove on. Passed Kimmie's because it looked too diner-kitschy and resolved myself to Jamba Juice because it was hot outside. I was disappointed. I don't know why I make such a big deal about where I go to write. I'm not asking for much! Just someplace that has Panera's food (but better) with the atmosphere of Cafe Veronese and the casual comfort of Mc Clain's. And air-conditioning of course.Jamba Juice's patio is outside but I sat in the shade and almost made due until PEOPLE came and had the nerve to speak. Plus there were kalamata olives in the only veggie wrap they had. My morning pages were quickly becoming mourning pages. And it was no longer morning.And then it occurred to me that the library is both quiet and air-conditioned with the added benefit of books! No food but I was already done with that part. So after a brief stop by the closed on Fridays Brea Library I am now a card-holder at the Yorba Linda Public Library.When I was little I used to get dropped off at the downtown Anaheim public library and when I got my bike at 12 I would take myself. I remember spending a summer there participating in their kid's book club. I loved that gorgeous building filled to the brim with magic. My favorite librarian still works there. When I was on maternity leave with Sam and again when I took a year off of work I always returned to the library. Libraries give me all kinds of good energy and make me extremely happy. You'd think I'd spend more time there.After I got my shiny new library card I quickly checked my email on one of their computers and then made my way to the uber quiet study section and wrote and wrote and brain dumped and made lists and designed the main living area of my dream house. That done, I went looking for a pressure cooker cookbook so I can begin using the one I got for my birthday. It must have been the new tickle me Elmo because all the books were checked out. hmpf. I did however find a book by Michael Ruhlman called "The Making of a Chef" which is all about going to culinary school. By the way, if I ever do go to culinary school it will be the end of my vegetarian days. One of the first things you do evidently is learn to butcher animals.I needed to go to the grocery store but didn't know the ingredients that I needed by heart and thought I'd have to go home first. I knew the Better Homes and Gardens recipe was in my email but I needed my mom's lasagna recipe. Then I remembered that last week Blurb piloted new functionality where you could preview an entire book online. Some of you may remember that I took the three books that my mom put together of her recipes and combined them along with her recipe cards into a book that I gave my sister for Christmas. Of course my mom's lasagna recipe is in there and I could preview it online!!! It's a good thing too because I remembered later that Michele still has my copy!On the way out of the library I decided to take a look at the movies and music. We don't have a VHS player so the movies were pretty much out. Plus that's what Netflix is for. But I realized that checking out cd's is free. It's a cheap and legal way to fill up my ipod and expand my musical horizons. I started with the A's. Today I got Paula Abdul since I loved "Straight Up" in high school. I know it's nothing I would want to actually BUY though. I also got Erika Badu because my sister Mary liked her, Joan Baez since I'm supposed to know about her but don't and Harry Belafonte because I love him and no longer have my cassette! If I keep this up I will know so much more a[...]

Leaving my heart 30 miles South of San Francisco

Thu, 27 Aug 2009 20:17:40 GMT

That was overly dramatic. I left a piece of my heart. And it is good and normal and we even tried to make it fun.The day/night before we left we had a houseful of Max's friends. They all spent the night so they could see us off in the morning. It was a pretty cool send off.Once we got up there, I was relieved that the $47 a night 2 star motel that I reserved off of hotwire turned out to be pretty decent. I couldn't spend five nights in a hovel.After we checked in, we just relaxed for a while waiting for Matt to make it up North. I don't know if I mentioned it here before, but Matt, Max's cousin also decided to go to Cogswell. They are roommates. Once he arrived, everyone looked to me for plans. I tried to evaluate everyone's mood. Were they up for another 30 mile drive just for dinner? I knew Max and Matt were. They both love the city. Kevin will go where ever I go. Sam won't like it no matter what but he's been really good at "dealing" lately. Jeff was the unknown factor. I interviewed him and he seemed up for it so we took off for North Beach.I love North Beach. I've even written about it before. In fact, that post is a lot like it always is although this time instead of eating at Pinocchio's we ate at North Beach Pizza. It's becoming a tradition. Third time in a row! I got to walk around a bit. I hit City Lights Book Store and I even got my Z. Cioccolato in and the good news is that Sam was on board! He actually bought a ton of taffy and seemed to enjoy it very much. Times change.The next morning we tied up lose financial aid ends at the school and then had some lunch before we started moving. Their place is nicer than mine. It's a three bedroom. Justin and Cameron have the other two bedrooms. They pay more to have their own room. Did you notice the laundry room off the kitchen?!?! I should be so lucky.Once their stuff was in the apartment we went to IKEA, Target, Costco and the grocery store to get them all stocked up. In the middle we had dinner at Outback. It was kinda fun because everyone was in good spirits. We were exhausted but we got it all done. The bathroom looks weird though. For some reason they have a bright green rug, a red towel, a blue towel and a black, tan and white shower curtain which they purchased brand new that day. Strange tastes.Wednesday night Max spent his first night in his new apartment and even woke himself up to make it to placement testing Thursday morning. Kevin, Sam, Jeff and I had a nice breakfast at some country style diner before heading back to Cogswell for orientation. It didn't last long so we drove around looking at comic book stores. That evening Cogswell paid for everyone to play laser tag. I ditched all the men and went to get tickets for the Inglorious Basterds midnight show. Everyone including the new roommates Justin and Cameron went that night. That was a fun but once again exhausting night.Friday, the students had to be at school but everyone else did not. Once I figured out I would have an unexpectedly free day Max asked if I could cook him breakfast burritos to freeze so Friday I hit the grocery store and then went to Max's apartment. He likes suicide burritos so I cooked ham, bacon, sausage, potatoes and eggs and then put them all together and into the freezer.That night Cogswell was hosting Game Night. Kevin decided not to attend. Melissa just arrived with Ryder that morning so Jeff had dinner with them. That left Kevin and I to do something I've always wanted to do: Have dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It was worth it to me.Alice Waters, chef and co-owner of Chez Panisse advocates eating locally produced foods that are in season. She's believed this since 1964 when she took a trip to France and experienced it there. That way of thinking is all the rage now, but she's a pioneer.I was worried about Kevin. She changes the menu daily and he is quite the picky eater. We started with a bowl of celery soup and a mixed green salad [...]

"EWW!" and "Seriously?"

Fri, 24 Jul 2009 13:48:45 GMT

So a guy had French onion soup at Claim Jumper restaurant and chewed on a used condom.  Ew.  He's suing but he's also stating that his life has become a living hell.  He lives in fear of fatal disease (even though he's tested negative for Hepatitis and HIV).  His wife won't go near him.

Seriously?  He didn't even swallow!

Sometimes I think people borrow more trouble than they need.  I won't even get into the debate about whether it's a valid claim versus a plant.

And what is it with condoms in soup?  In 2004 there was a claim against McCormick & Schmick's.  I think soup is an easy vehicle for just about anything.  Come to think of it I found something in soup at Hometown Buffett.  It was an eaten chicken leg (in a vegetable soup!).  I think I even finished my (other) food and left.  Haven't been back but I didn't freak out and I didn't sue either.  Granted it's not a scary condom but I think sometimes we create more trouble in our lives than is really necessary. 

Here's the article that prompted my thoughts.  


Fri, 05 Jun 2009 16:02:46 GMT

  •  I still exist.
  • Work is extra special crazy at the end of a fiscal year.  I have no less than 20 projects in addition to regular day to day work.
  • Max is graduating in less than a week.  O.M.G.
  • I have a party to plan and if I don't get busy there will be about 60 people not eating.
  • Financial aid sucks and gives me the heebee geebies.  I've got to sign the papers soon.  It would be nice to understand what the hell I'm signing.
  • We have to make sure Max is ready to move mid August.  At least I get another trip to San Francisco out of it.
  • It is my goal to finish posting my honeymoon pictures before my first anniversary.
  • It is also my goal to have my name changed so that if I ever do get pregnant and deliver the baby will not say Forbes because how incredibly wrong is that?!?!  It's my ex's name!  
  • And speaking of trying to get should see the data I'm capturing about myself on the white board in my bedroom.  I love white boards.  There's like six or so columns for each day of the month.  I've never paid this much attention to bodily functions.  It's fun when it becomes DATA!
  • Data is cool because you can tell by looking at my (low!) basal body temperature the days that Kevin stole all the covers.
  • I get to go buy fresh strawberries from the stand around the corner so I can fill Sabrina's birthday cake!  Leftovers go to me as long as I eat them before Sam gets home.  He's a strawberry fiend.  I will save some for him.
  • Today Max takes his behind the wheel driving test.  After much stress and carrying on and on and on...he is actually a very good driver and finally looks comfortable behind the wheel.  I hope he passes and that nothing weird happens.
  • Even though I hardly every post here anymore and have been commenting less I still read every day.

Honeymoon Day 7 - Nottingham and Sherwood Forest

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 07:24:57 GMT

We woke up too early but we had to if we wanted to see Sherwood Forest. Before we boarded our train to Nottingham, we walked through Trafalgar Square and back to Piccadilly so that I could look through the window at Fortnum and Mason.Yeah. I didn't get to see much through the window either. We saw a lot of London but not the shop-y parts.Our train to Nottingham had older school boys off to a game of some sorts with big sticks...field hockey? They were a blast to listen to. They played this game of questions that was both interesting and comical. Once in Nottingham we had a bus to catch which meant walking uphill through the length of the city to the correct bus station. There aren't that many buses that go into Sherwood Forest so our plans were tight if we wanted to get in and get back out. It was worth it.The bus ride took us through gorgeous countryside on the way to the forest.It was fun walking through the forest. Of course the lyrics...Robin Hood and Little JohnWalkin' through the forestLaughin' back and forthAt what the other'ne has to sayReminiscin', This-'n'-thattin'Havin' such a good timeOo-de-lally, Oo-de-lallyGolly, what a day ...played over and over again in my head. And we got to get ice creams from the English Ice Cream Man! They were very delicious too. I love how in Europe, or at least England and Italy have been my experience, ice cream plays a big part of their lives. My kind of livin'.After we were done with the forest we bussed back to Nottingham and walked around. We had a bit of time to spare before catching the train to York so we decided to find the castle. Yet another castle we saw from the outside. The forest had been our priority so at least we saw it at all.There were Robin Hood related sculptures...and street names. It was a cute part of town.I also have a thing for train stations now. To see all the pictures from Nottingham and Sherwood Forest go here.[...]

Honeymoon Day 6 - Salisbury and Stonehenge!!!

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 22:01:33 GMT

We woke up in the countryside which was a nice change of pace after London. The bed and breakfast we stayed at had a beautiful garden and they served us a nice English breakfast. They also let us leave our backpacks there for the day.We did not have plans. Shocking I know. We walked onto the small road and headed for center of town which was a very small walk.It was idyllic countryside. I loved Amesbury.We went into the town and found a visitor's center in the library. Very helpful and skilled women told us how to take the bus back to Salisbury and then helped us plan how to get to Stonehenge. We had planned on walking but she said the road was dangerous and that there is a 3 mile picturesque hike to avoid the road. There is also not a single bus that goes from Amesbury to Stonehenge. Amesbury is the closest town and there used to be a bus but due to lack of funding that route was cancelled. So bus from Salisbury or walk. We had until later that afternoon to decide. The nice ladies also told us that there was absolutely nothing at all to do in Amesbury. So we decided to go see what Salisbury had to offer and then decide if we train to Bath for the day (2 hour round trip) or just hang in Salisbury. I really really liked Salisbury. So we stayed. It was churches and shopping, swans and peacefulness plus really cool pubs and tea houses.And of course the Salisbury Cathedral. It wasn't even on my "list". Not only was it absolutely gorgeous and awe-inspiring but they had an original Magna Carta. One of only four original copies, it is one of the best preserved because over the years it had gotten misfiled and luckily, the person who found it realized what it was. And I got to see it!!! (no pictures allowed though)The cathedral also has the tallest church spire in the UK and it contains the world's oldest working clock (from AD 1386). There were tons of dead people buried there; the earliest died in 1226. Such incredible history.And did I mention how beautiful it is? I wish we had time to go on the tower tour in which you go to the top! That would have been incredible. Next time.We spent a lot of time in Salisbury and I'm glad. It was a nice relaxing day. Going to Bath, while probably amazing, may have stressed me out. As it was, we had no time for a three mile hike to Stonehenge either. We decided that we needed to pick up our bags so we bussed back to Amesbury and picked them up and then we decided to brave the open road. I was nervous. Kevin felt like he was on an adventure. We both agreed that somehow walking to Stonehenge meant more than taking a bus or taxi.The countryside was still gorgeous. As you can see in the above picture, the road is like a "T" with Stonehenge in the upper right hand side of the picture. We had to cross at two points. It turned out to not be that bad and I had worried for nothing.I had arranged in advance to get inner circle access to Stonehenge. You have to apply in advance and answer a ton of questions and then they give you an appointment for before or after hours. Ours was after closing-time just before the sun set. You're not supposed to touch the stones but the guide who was supposed to be policing us told us that what we do when he turns his back is all good. I had called ahead of time to arrange a cab to pick us and our freakin' heavy (by now...not really overall) backpacks up and take us back to Salisbury where we caught a late train back to London. I got a really good rate at a four star hotel on Trafalgar Square through Hotwire. It was awesome though I would have loved a bathtub. This was one of my favorite days.To see all of the pictures for Amesburyhere for Salisburyhere for Salisbury Cathedraland here for Stonehenge[...]

Honeymoon Day 5 - London

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 19:33:26 GMT

We woke up and ate at the local Pret a Manger which is a cross between a restaurant and a 7-eleven with the quality and freshness of something you put together yourself. I say 7-eleven only because sandwiches are pre-made (that day). I believe I had a tomato mozzarella croissant for breakfast. I'm telling you their fast food is incredible in England.Then it was off to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace which only happens every other day. So it was right then or never.I'm glad I saw it but I don't need to see it again. I am bummed that I didn't get to tour the inside of the palace or take a day and see Windsor Palace. I hear Windsor is a must see.That morning I had already used up my 2G card in my camera and when I went to use my new card that Kevin got me for my birthday it didn't work. (Fry's! *shakes fist*) So we made a trip to Harrod's where we essentially paid double due to the exchange rate. Harrod's was very nice though and we got to share a sundae at the soda fountain counter.One of my favorite things that we did was the canal boat tour from Little Venice to Camden Lock. It's hard to believe that the tranquil waterway was in the middle of London. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Bridges, beautiful homes, greenery, birds and the history of the place...fascinating.And then it dropped us at Camden Lock which is a bit like Venice Beach, CA with history long before the 1960's. I loved it. Kevin didn't. Too weird for him. Afterward we picked up our bags and headed to Victoria Station (which I loved) and took the train to Salisbury and then the bus to Amesbury where we stayed the night in a bed and breakfast.To see the rest of the pictures go here:Buckingham and Harrod'sCanal Boat and Camden Lock[...]

Honeymoon Day 4 - London

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 05:51:25 GMT

I feel like I should have been done chronicling our honeymoon a very long time ago. At this rate we'll have been married for years before I'm done. Oh Well. Keep on Keeping On.So at the end of Day 3 we turned in our rental car and boarded a train in Bristol and arrived in London quite late at night. We stayed in a budget/hostel type of place though we had our own room and connected bathroom. It was very clean, but very noisy and the bed was uncomfortable. Oh well. We weren't there to sleep.Bright and early the next morning we figured out how to ride the underground and went to Piccadilly to get our London Pass. With pass in hand we went straight to the Tower of London. Where I immediately sat by the Tower Bridge and ate pastry. I need to read that "French Women Don't Get Fat" book if I ever move to Europe. The food is such high quality and readily available. *sigh*And then we spent a good part of the day touring the Tower of London. Kevin cared about things like weapons, armor and weapons. While I cared more about windows, arches and other architecture. We were both very much entertained. In addition to seeing the crown jewels, another highlight for me was seeing the carvings that people did while imprisoned. Some were very elaborate. After seeing the torture exhibit (you'd be surprised at how little torture actually took place there) we hopped on a boat to tour the Thames.We were lucky that the bridge was being raised just as we left the dock. I guess it doesn't get raised that often anymore. I don't know what Kevin liked about the boat tour other than the novelty, but I had a thing for bridges and the sky.After the boat tour we walked. And walked. And walked. The boat dropped us at Westminster and we crossed the bridge and walked along the South Bank past Jubilee Gardens and Shakespeare's Globe Theater. We crossed the Millennium Bridge and walked around outside of St. Paul's Cathedral. We took the subway to Notting Hill and walked around there till we found a pub. That's when we discovered that cider was our new favorite drink. After eating and drinking we decided to walk again. We got a little lost and somehow walked past our neighborhood and ended up at Kensington Gardens. Kensington Gardens is HUGE. I kept telling Kevin you don't want to walk around the circumference of Kensington Gardens but he didn't believe me. We'd been on our feet all day and I was getting tired. We managed to make it 3/4 around before finding another pub. We did eventually make it back to our room.All of the pictures are here:Tower of LondonThames Boat TourWalking around London[...]

Mission Accomplished!

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 01:01:46 GMT

I apologize to all the people on facebook who watched my mission status updates without knowing about the mission. I'm not usually that cryptic but I didn't want Mary and Miguel to read anything about their cake/cupcakes before their wedding on Valentine's Day.I am very grateful to have a Kevin for a husband. He's very helpful and took on the cupcake stand. I'm also very lucky that his parents already built one for his cousin Erika's wedding. So last week I drove around from store to store trying to get ideas and then the four of us...yes even Max and Sam "helped" (critiqued)...decided together how to decorate the stand. And then Kevin did all the work. That was nice. Seriously, that's how I'd love to go through life. Here's my design ... someone else make it happen!I make White cake with buttercream icing cupcakes...Red Velvet with cream cheese icing...and Chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling topped with chocolate ganache topped with a fresh raspberry.Mary and Miguel got the same thing for their cake which sat at the very top of the stand.The wedding itself was very Mary and Miguel. I like weddings like that.They look so happy! Congratulations Mary and Miguel!And for my own personal gratification...a picture of my Sam that I took at the wedding. I'm glad I bring along my camera to play with. Every so often I catch one of them in a "moment".To see all the pictures you can go here.[...]

My results are dismal

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 18:06:42 GMT

Wish Nicole would play. She'd kick everyone's ass.

1. Bold the shows you watch/used to watch.
2. Italicize the shows you've seen at least one episode of.
3. Underline the shows you own [at least one season] on DVD and/or VHS.
4. Post your answers.

50. Quantum Leap
49. Prison Break
48. Veronica Mars (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
47. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
46. Sex & The City
45. Farscape
44. Cracker
43. Star Trek
42. Only Fools and Horses
41. Band of Brothers
40. Life on Mars
39. Monty Python
38. Curb Your Enthusiasm
37. Star Trek: The Next Generation
36. Father Ted
35. Alias
34. Frasier
33. CSI Las Vegas
32. Babylon 5
31. Deadwood (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
30. Dexter (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
29. ER
28. Fawlty Towers (This was required in High School)
27. Six Feet Under (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
26. Red Dwarf
25. Futurama
24. Twin Peaks
23. The Office
22. The Shield
21. Angel
20. Blackadder
19. Scrubs
18. Arrested Development
17. South park
16. Dr Who (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
15. Heroes
14. Firefly
13. Battlestar Galactica
12. Family Guy
11. Seinfeld
10. Spaced
09. The X-Files
08. The Wire
07. Friends
06. 24
05. Lost
04. The West Wing (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
03. The Sopranos (Heard this was good. I may add to Netflix one day)
02. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
01. The Simpsons

Facebook Dreaming

Sat, 07 Feb 2009 17:24:19 GMT

I had two bizarre dreams this morning one of which is directly related to facebook. Although not the way it begins. That's just weird all by itself.

I was at a slumber party at Oprah's. But it wasn't grand or anything. Facebook comes into play because there were a couple girls from High School there. As each of us woke up we trickled into the living room. In the living room there were boys from High School. They must have spent the night with Stedman.

We were definitely adults at this time. I went to the refrigerator and grabbed a diet Dr. Pepper. One woman complained that she had given up soda and that I was tempting her. In High School it would have been regular Dr. Pepper and who gave up stuff then?

After we all chatted for a bit (Oprah and Stedman remained asleep), we decided to go to the playground outside and play tag. I never played tag in high school. We must have been regressing at an alarming pace. It was super fun although the men seemed to have an advantage over grown up women who were much slower and wearing inappropriate tag clothing. But I woke up feeling that sense of being free and easy as a kid. So thank you Facebook.

The other dream was weird too but not facebook related. We were supposed to visit my sister Mis who had purchased property in the remote and less populated area of South East CA. We were having a photo shoot with a famous actor. I don't know why and I don't know who the actor was. I only knew that Mis called and asked us where the hell we were because famous actor man is waiting.

And then she was at our hotel with Kevin in her car and me following in mine. And she demanded that we go to her remote place that was about 45 min. away. We get separated. We are off of the freeway on a small road that was cute and country like. For some reason I decided that I'd be better off rollerskating the rest of the way so I left my car by the side of the road and skated merrily along. (Hmmm regressing again) After about 15 minutes I come upon a humongous hill and I'm kind of excited and scared to skate down it. I do it and it's fun and exhilarating. I'm now too far from the car to go back but still really far from Mis's so I decide to call and that's when I realize that I don't have anything at all on me. No cell and no keys. I skate on and find a cell phone by the side of the road and call for a ride. Max answers Kevin's cell and I start negotiating a ride.

I woke up feeling that the dream was kind of weird but all I can think about is how big that hill was. Definitely not as fun a dream as playing tag with your friends.

MHT (Mel's Healthy Tip) #2 - Brown Rice

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 05:17:25 GMT

I've chosen not to eat the simple carbohydrates. I have a tendency to over-complicate things in general so why not carbs too?

I never liked brown rice until I tried the following recipe. It's easy to put together and risk free because it bakes in the oven. The result is fluffy and flavorful brown rice that isn't so bad anymore at all. I have been known to mix it with pinto beans in a burrito, add it to soup and lately I've been mixing it with vegetarian chili (canned) for a healthy and quick dinner.

Baked Brown Rice

* I use any kind of brown rice including long grain. I sub out the butter with olive oil. The taste is just slightly less delicious. I don't pre-boil the water. I just use hot tap water. Yes I know that's bad but I'm lazy sometimes.

1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

Mel's Healthy Tip #1

Tue, 03 Feb 2009 02:22:13 GMT

As I said before, I am posting tips. Maybe they'll be helpful and maybe they won't. However, it may prompt discussion which is always good and it may invite you to share a tip of your own that I could use.

One of my favorite things is Sarah Lee Delightful 100% Whole Wheat Bread. It is only 45 calories per slice. Of course I eat two slices (and sometimes four!) which provides 6 protein and 4 fiber grams while only costing 90 calories.

This lets me have toast, sandwiches, hotdogs and hamburgers (veggie of course).

It's easy, tastes good and I always have it on hand.

Incident at the Grocery Store

Fri, 30 Jan 2009 23:43:51 GMT

Many deals to be had due to superbowl Sunday. I filled the bottom of the cart with 12-packs of soda. Seven to be exact. That's five across the bottom and two stacked on top.

I checked out and walked across the parking lot toward my car on a slight decline. One 12-pack fell off in front of the cart and the cart ran over it. Right in the middle of the street. Soda was squirting everywhere and I was a traffic hazard like a big rig with a spilled load on the highway.

It turned out to be not such a big deal you know? I quickly got the cart free of the soda and picked up the messy 12-pack in one hand and pushed the cart to my car with the other hand. As I was loading my groceries into the truck I was approached by no less than two people at two different times. Both wanted to make sure that I planned on taking that 12-pack back into the grocery store and making sure the store would give me a new one to replace the destroyed one for free.

I appreciated their concern initially but told them that I was the one that packed the cart. They said "Still. You should do it."

I said that I only lost two cans out of twelve and they said, "Still."

Finally I had to tell them that it really isn't that big of a deal. It's my fault and it's not a big loss at all. No.

Am I missing something?

New Years Resolutions Gone Wild

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 17:26:02 GMT

This year I made a quiet resolution to myself that I shared with a few people in conversation. Basically, I wanted to fly. There are people that I know in real life (not just TV shows like "Leave it to Beaver") that have their households run like finely-tuned machines. When I say that it sounds like I'm looking for perfection but I'm not. I want to have my house always "company ready". I'd love to spontaneously have people over without any thought at all to how the house looks. I'd like my clothes put away in the closet. I want wake up each morning to a bare desk that invites morning pages.

The main reason I am going down this path is so that I get what I really need. Because along with the peace of mind that a well-organized living situation provides I will also gain TIME. I know a family that after dinner the husband and wife wash, dry and put away the dishes. They bathe and get the kids in bed. Leftovers are packed into lunches for the next day. The key is that they do everything without thinking about it. It's a habit and it gets done fast.

So I started keeping my kitchen sink fairly clean (remember no dishwasher here!). I started deciding what I'm wearing the night before. I'm building these habits see?

But I was feeling like crap. At first I thought it was resistance until I remembered that I'd been slowly getting worse since before Christmas. I also noticed clothes were getting to be too tight. At first I thought that I couldn't possibly commit myself to eating healthy and exercising along with becoming more organized until I realized that I was shooting myself in the foot trying to do one without the other. There's no way I could put into place new habits while becoming more and more run down.

The first thing I did was quit the full calorie soda. After our wedding last September, I went from diet to regular in case I got pregnant (no phenylalanine). It's funny how we think. Like a baby needs full calorie soda! So now I'm drinking water and tea and the occasional diet soda and I feel so much better.

I started using sparkpeople again. I bought a wii fit that I love. I joined a "biggest loser" group at work and have a chance to win $1,000.

I think that if I eat in a way that energizes I gain time as well. I've always subscribed to the idea that goals need to be specific and measurable. I'm following my gut now not my head. I also know that in order to succeed, sometimes you have to fail a lot and with each failure it brings you closer and closer to your goal. So I'm not going to worry. I'm just going to keep moving forward and see what tomorrow brings.

I will also be making posts about things that work for me in this process and hopefully people reading this will share their ideas with me. I could use them!

That time of year again - Oscars

Sat, 24 Jan 2009 06:05:22 GMT

I deliberately took today off of work. Last Monday I knew I needed a day for myself. I had no plans and that was kinda the point. Turns out I had my Oscar season kick off event.

This year I thought I had decided to forgo my mad obsession to see every major Oscar nominated film prior to the Oscars. I didn't see that many 2008 movies. At least not Oscar caliber films. I tend to like the action movies and go with my dad whenever a new one comes out. Those don't normally get Oscar nominations. Why can't there be more Lord of the Rings type films?

So in my meanderings online this morning I happened to see the nominations that were recently announced. The analyst in me decided to see how many films were still playing and it turns out quite a few. In fact, if my day had 10+ hours free to watch movies and the theaters cooperated, I could have seen all of the Best Picture Nominations today.

Instead I saw just one. The one that no other person in my household would ever care to see. Sam wants to see Benjamin Button and Milk. Max wants to see Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire. No one wants to see "The Reader".

As I drove through the drizzle and then walked to the ticket counter I enjoyed the damp weather and the quiet. It felt just like this movie.

I haven't even seen the other movies but I don't think it will win Best Picture or even Best Actress for Kate Winslet. It was well done and thoughtful though. It was quiet. It was interesting.

I would never have seen this if it wasn't nominated. It's not my type. And that is exactly why I do this. I enjoy the stretch.

Dad's Back Bay Birthday Celebration

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 19:07:41 GMT

Yesterday we had lunch at the Back Bay Bistro at Newport Dunes. It's in a beautiful location and has a fairly decent menu. Dad and I both had the grilled salmon. They had a nice spicy seafood chowder as well. The main thing about the place though was the view over the back bay. Very light and modern inside and the view adds to the tranquility.


After lunch we walked around the Back Bay and Dad and I took some pictures.


This beautiful HDR landscape is one of the shots my dad came away with. He's really doing well with that HDR stuff.


This is what I took pictures of. :)


On the way back to the car I told Dad that I loved the sky. He said, "Buttermilk sky." Is that what they call it!?!?! I learned something new. Thanks Dad!


Afterward we had birthday ice creams at Baskin Robbins! Happy Birthday Dad!!!

To see all of my pics you can go here.

I'm taking back New Years Day

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 08:20:03 GMT

Right around Christmas at some point I felt sorry for myself for about 3 minutes. It was because my schedule was crammed tight and my ex's was not. I knew that once he made it to his parents house he'd have pretty smooth sailing from that point on and that he'd get to hang out with his family including Max and Sam and his parents and his brother's family. They'd eat and they'd play games together. They play games all day and all night. I love games. How come I can't lay around and play and eat and play some more? With my kids too!On Christmas there just isn't time. Christmas eve we go to Kevin's parents and the Christmas day we have half a day to do our thing with my dad and then they are off with their dad which is as it should be.So after the 3 minutes of pouting I decided to take back New Years Day. No one I know has a New Years Day tradition. I told Kevin. I told Jeff. I told the kids that New Years Day is mine and that we will be celebrating as a family.I declared it Favorite Foods and Game Day.For breakfast I made crepes for them and baked oatmeal for me. I remembered that Melissa had given me a jar of Bananas Foster Jelly that she made and I filled my crepes with that. DELICIOUS! Kevin always puts honey on his and Max loves powdered sugar and lemon juice on his. Plus we had those super juicy lemons! Later for appetizers, I had onion dip and chips for Sam and I and tortilla chips and salsa for Kevin and Max. Right before dinner I ruined Sam's appetite by serving shrimp cocktail with fresh shrimp that I boiled with a bunch of different seasonings. For dinner I made Kevin's favorite salisbury steak with Max's favorite potato casserole and everyone's favorite roasted cauliflower. For myself and my vegetarian/pescetarian ways, and because I wanted to be traditional I made Greek Lentil Soup. In Italy they eat lentils on New Years for prosperity like they eat black eyed peas in the South. I chose this recipe because it was fairly easy and was chock full of healthy ingredients like greens and had the oregano lemon flavoring. I was supposed to make an apple tart but we were all full.Right after breakfast we started playing the World of Warcraft board game that we got them for Christmas. I don't think we finished until 10pm. It's an awesome game. New Years is mine forever.[...]

Let's talk about Christmas

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 07:59:07 GMT

It went better than I thought it would. What with the wedding, work related projects and visiting Seattle I didn't get started until the weekend before. To top things off I absolutely refuse to do anything less than mindful when it comes to giving gifts. It's very important to me to think of something special for people so that when they open their gifts they know.But it's like everything. I underestimated myself. I started before that weekend. In my head I had been thinking about everyone for a long while so when it came to that weekend I basically had to write a plan and then execute it.One of my most favorite gifts that I gave this year was to our family but mostly Max and especially Sam. We visited my sister in Washington just a few short weeks before Christmas. She runs a bed and breakfast out of her house and has a basket with snacks in it in her family room that guests can grab from. Sam was in love with the snack basket.He said on more than one occasion, "Please can we have a snack basket?!" My response was, "How long do you think that would last in our house with you, Max and Al eating from it?" We agreed on maybe three days.But his face would light up when he saw the snack basket.I'm not a snacker. I eat plenty but I do it at meal times so I do not appreciate snack food like he does. He has lived in my house and has been snack deprived his whole 16 years.I thought I should maybe do this snack basket thing but I did not want to contribute to bad eating habits. I decided that I would try to make it 80% healthy and 20% not healthy. I'm fortunate that my kids like healthy snacks.I spent over $150 at Smart and Final, Costco and the grocery store and came up with this:which I put into a box and wrapped. I put the remainder of stuff into the bed of Kevin's truck:There's pretzels, peanuts, chips, sunchips, 100 calorie popcorn bags, pistachios, sugar free gum, gummy bears, sunflower seeds, beef jerky, 100 calorie cracker bags, fruit strings, granola bars, raisins, more even healthier granola bars, trail mix, goldfish, corn nuts, peanut butter crackers, 100 calorie reeses and butterfingers and tic tacs.I'm hoping they figure out what they really like and then I'll only replenish those things. So, the best moment of the day was when Sam asked, "How do you do that? How do you know how to get gifts that your kids actually like?" That was one of the best things he's ever said to me. My answer was that I try to remember the last time I saw him really happy and make that happen. If I was really good I'd make it snow here. He'll have to settle for snacks, cash, a World of Warcraft boardgame, a nice sweater, gift cards to local fast food hangouts that they go to after school with friends and Hot Topic tshirts.Christmas morning my dad came over for breakfast. I put out all kinds of fruit along with baked oatmeal, bacon and baked egg souffles that were a copycat recipe for Panera Bread's Artichoke and Spinach Egg Souffle. That was a really good recipe.I didn't like that they called for crescent dough on the outside. Puff pastry would have been so much better. However the souffle part of the recipe was spot on. I used it to create the best frittata that I have ever made in the days that followed.[...]

Juicy Sweet Lemons (and more or less)

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 07:16:09 GMT

Things are never as simple as they should be for me. I have been known to over think things.Melissa wrote me an email today specifically to tell me that the lemons from Charles and Michele's house were the juiciest lemons ever and did I notice? I found this hilarious because not only did I notice but I took a picture of them.They were juicy and sweet. I told her to look here for the picture so I had to upload it to my flickr account where I keep all my pictures. I can't just upload one picture so I uploaded all the recent food related pictures so the lemons wouldn't be lonely.And now I need to write about them but I get tangled in my logic or lack thereof.What goes with lemons?Do I post about how I also used the lemons in the Gingerbread cupcakes with lemon cream cheese icing that I made for Solstice? Or should I save those for a Solstice post with Solstice pictures? But there were only three other pictures so I'm not sure they warrant their own post? I had a lovely time and enjoyed everything Sara put together so much so that I wasn't spending very much time taking pictures.What goes with lemons?I could post all the things I made with them on New Years Day, the day I took their picture. But that's skipping Christmas. Now I'm unchronological and I'm nothing if not chronological!I want to post Christmas but there was more than food on Christmas. For that matter there is more about New Years than food as well. I want to tell you about what I gave the kids for Christmas along with how I made the Panera Bread Egg Souffles. I want to post about New Years food but I want to tell you why I made food to begin with. It wasn't just because we were hungry.And for that matter, I never did finish posting about our honeymoon. I think I'm only about a quarter through it. I didn't post about visiting Melissa in Seattle. And today I took my Dad to the Newport Back Bay and had a great time and took some more pictures and when am I going to post those!?!?For now, just lemons. Michele has plenty more where those came from too. You should get some and make lemonade.[...]

Tamale Pie

Thu, 11 Dec 2008 07:09:18 GMT

Ok so the other day I made tamale pie and said that you'd hear more later for two reasons. One, I didn't have a picture and I love posting pictures and two because no one has ever heard of this dish. I have searched the internet high and low looking for something comparable to no avail. I want to put this out there and see how it developed.I have my theories. In the cookbook my mom made me, she said that this recipe comes from Alice Matae a friend of my grandmothers in 1940. This dish makes a lot of food with inexpensive ingredients. It's probably some Great Depression concoction. All the recipes for tamale pie usually had ground beef covered with a cornmeal topping. This isn't like that at all. It's like a pudding consistency. Maybe a soft polenta? It's odd for two more reasons. The protein in this recipe is tuna. That lost most people at work when I mentioned it. GROSS! Tuna in cornmeal? Yum. It's delicious. Don't knock it till you try it. The other reason this is really weird is that for the olives and the corn you are supposed to put them in UNDRAINED. I assume it adds more flavor but for some reason that grosses me out a little bit but I add them as stated anyway and then promptly forget about it.There is also too much oil I think and I hate it when recipes list instruction in the body of the directions that apply to the ingredients above. The first thing after the ingredients says mix all ingredients. If I wasn't a person who read recipes all the way through first I totally would have drained the olives and the corn. Tamale Pie1 cup salad oil6 cups milk1 can corn3 cans tomato sauce2 cans tuna3 T chile powder1 can pitted olives2 cups yellow corn meal3 eggs beaten2 tsp sald1/2 tsp pepper1 onion choppedMix all ingredients. Drain tuna and flake before adding to mixture. Do not drain corn or olives. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Stir once or twice during baking.I also made this cherry crisp which was delicious.You all don't know how much I love almond croissants. I ate them often in England and whenever I can in CA. Well they recently renovated the coffee stand in the CHOC hospital cafeteria and turned it into a nice little place with fresh pastries and the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. And they have my almond croissants. If I wanted to I could eat then every single day but I restrain myself.[...]