Sunday, September 27, 2009


I am feeling well again, as easily as I felt sick. This body of mine is a mystery.

Last night I made my weekly menu. For the first time in months, literally, I will be making nine meals at home (I plan Monday-Sunday, including lunch on Saturday and Sunday). Oh, how a social calendar can dwindle when the days get shorter. My menu looks like this (all recipes, as usual, come from The American Heart Association cookbooks, of which I have two):
Monday- French-style braised sole with quinoa and green beans
Tuesday- Chicken and Potato Casserole with mushroom sauce, spinach salad
Wednesday- Grilled steak and zucchini with mashed potatoes
Thursday- Baked Crab Maryland, spinach salad
Friday- Chicken fajitas with spanish rice and beans
Saturday- (lunch) turkey and swiss paninis with apple and broccoli salad (dinner) spinach-stuffed veggie pizza
Sunday- (lunch) leftover pizza (I've made this before and it is thick like pie: impossible to eat in one meal) (dinner) spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, garlic bread and spinach salad

To best serve my menu, my body, and my community, I got up at 7:00 this morning to hit the St. Paul farmer's market. I like the SP one the most, because it is easy to park, easy to maneuver, and easy to leave. And it's right next to Black Dog cafe, where I like to get a treat and coffee. Armed with two shopping bags (I couldn't possibly need more...), I began to shop. My bounty included:
9 Red potatoes
green beans
8 fat carrots
7 small and 4 large onions, both white and red
6 green peppers
8 Haralson apples
2 huge bunches of spinach (one kept fresh, one blanched and frozen)
1 bunch of parsley (some fresh for this week, the rest frozen into ice cube trays)
1 very large zucchini
4 heads of broccoli (I do not need this much, but it looked so lovely and keeps well)
1 dozen brown eggs

I barely made it to the car, especially since I had coffee in one hand! I have said it on facebook before, but I will say it again here: don't buy more than you can carry! Alas, I never remember. Perhaps I should stop going to the market alone?

In addition to the fresh, local goodness of it all, I love this as well: all of the above for $28. Can't beat that with a stick. I will supplement the rest of my menu plans with a trip to the supermarket this afternoon. Whole Foods for bulk (I am out of flour and sugar, both needed this week); and good ol' SuperTarget for the rest.

I hope you enjoy your eating week as much as I will mine :-).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Okay, okay...How to Survive 2.0

(I have once again neglected my blog. Thanks to Les and Jen for reminding me. It's funny how I want to write a book someday, but I can't even stay current with my one literary output.)

How to Survive a Building Project with Your Husband (who reads this blog...)

For the last three months, my darling husband and I have been working on making our backyard the sanctuary we always hoped it could be. Together we have built a deck, two large planters (okay, I only designed and picked out the materials for these), and are 70% done with our patio. The plan is to finish the patio completely tomorrow, if the rain decides to stop (and my body decides to heal; yes, regular readers, I am sick again).

Doing anything with my spouse is fun. That's generally why we got hitched in the first place. But when we create things together, it is enormously rewarding. The working side-by-side, sharing the joys and the frustrations, feels like love to me. But we are both very smart and capable people, so working together can be tricky (this is assuming it's easy for dumb and clueless people to take orders from others?). For example, he doesn't so much like cooking, but he will cook with me when I ask. When we cook together, I'm the Head Chef, and he's the Sous Chef. It's definitely a joint effort, but someone has to be in charge. He knows a lot, but I know more. It's my arena. With building projects, the roles are reversed. He's the Foreman, and I'm the Grunt (sometimes literally, as I often just schlep the tools and materials around; I'm very good at handing things to him). So, here it is, version 2.0 of how to survive life, rules to surviving a building project with your husband:

1. He is not always right. Ha! Betcha thought it would be he IS always right! Couldn't be farther from the truth. It is very important to speak up if you think something is wrong or could be done differently. It is equally important to be as tactful as possible in these situations. He is not WRONG. You are making an observation or a suggestion. Mostly, this is because later, if you have kept your mouth shut and you say something, he will inevitably say, "Why didn't you say that before?" Now, my husband is awesome, so he does not feel threatened. Often, he asks for my opinion/help/etc. If your husband is a jerk about it, you should probably let him work alone.
2. Let him carry the heavy stuff. I was in pain for days after moving 150 42-pound patio stones from point A to point B. Do the math; that's 6,300 lbs. of concrete! I moved it in 1 1/2 hours. Men (at least mine) are built for that stuff.
2A. Recognize that he gets sore, too. Take breaks. Rub each other's muscles. Take hot bubble baths together. It's a nice reward at the end of a hard work day.
3. It's okay to play the girl card. You are working together because it's fun and it'd be silly for one person to go it alone. That's why you get yourself a life partner: no alone-going. But unless you're super-girl, there's some stuff you just can't do. I, for example, cannot handle a jackhammer, a tiller, a compactor, or a sledge hammer. And I'm strong. You read the about the 6,300 lbs., right?
4. Make breakfast; make snacks; mix the Gatorade; make lunch; but go out to supper. I know my husband thoroughly appreciates my willingness to prepare the foodstuffs during the working times, but I see it as a break. But, because I'm being helpful and productive, it is not viewed as a break. Win/win. After worktime, however, I'm beat. Someone run to Subway. Possibly on the way home from yet another Menard's trip. Which leads to...
5. Be prepared to run to the store at any time. We're lucky. We live within 5 miles of Menard's, 10 miles of Home Depot, and 2 miles of two local hardware stores. Running to the store is easy for us. We have run out of things, changed our mind about things, or simply forgotten things. Better to just go get the right widget than to stress over it. You'll be back before you know it.
5A. You can play the girl card at the hardware store, too. Especially if you look cute in your work clothes. I, of course, always look cute, so this is easy. Men will carry things for you, help you pick things out, or just ask you 800 times if they can help you.
5B. Above rule does not apply if said husband is with you. Sorry.
6. As mentioned in #1, make suggestions, but let him make all the big decisions. He's the Foreman. Trust his decisions. He will be the first to say if they don't work out. Then you can work together to change or fix (or ignore).
7. Compliment his good decisions. This sounds like placation, and maybe it is, but it's important. I am SUPER sad when I don't get complimented on my cooking. Everyone likes a good "atta boy!"
8. Be appreciative. You are working hard, but because of that whole big-strong-man-doing-all-the-hard-work situation, he is undoubtedly working harder than you. Because let's be honest, if it were up to you, you would've hired someone to do while you two sip lemonade.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Have fun. If you get in a snip, get out of it just as fast. Working together is awesome fun and rewarding. Don't ruin it with a quarrel. Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. But don't take it too far. He won't like it when you jokingly spray him with the hose. Trust me.