Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In the Throes and Thaws

Of course the snow's been falling.
What surprises me though, is the tiny little puny amounts.
I've been able to shovel the driveway in less than half and hour.
I can still go from Here to There with relative ease.
Native Syracusians are still wearing shorts.
I can open my front door without piles of snow falling in on me.
I can still feel my fingers and toes.

It's just been very pretty and not very devastating.

I don't want to tempt the wrath of the Snow Gods, but Syracuse does have it's reputation to worry about. We won the Golden Snowball last year (and the year before, and the year before that...and so on)  with our glorious 100+ inches of pure WINTERTIME. See if you think I'm making this up! But this year we are getting stomped by everyone but Albany.

Just lovely little cotton balls.
Without the teeth and peril, and fear of becoming the Donner party.
It's almost liveable.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home-made Hokey-ness

Dear Blog,
I've missed you so.
The week/days leading up to Christmas have been abundantly full of festivities: Cookie Exchange. Field trip to the Gingerbread exhibit. Thrift store treasure-hunting.
I tried to make as many of my own gifts as possible...or to give gifts that are experiential or consumable.
I couldn't write about what I've been up to, because I didn't want to reveal any gifts before Christmas. You see, I fool myself into thinking that people actually read this blog! I know I'm mostly just talking to myself. But that's ok. Really.
Anyways, now that all of the presnts have been unwrapped, I can reveal without spoiling anything.
This year, I totally had time to do all of this:
1) Bake Coconut Macaroons, Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies, pack them off and ship them to Florida in time for pre-Christmas munching. Then I discovered that the Coconut Macaroons are really fantastic dipped in chocolate...and so more macaroons were toasted and dipped for other gifts.  
2) I made jam for the first time ever. Strawberry Champagne Jam. Also, Pumpkin Butter. Those were given as gifts too. The jam has a beautiful, vivid color. But, my, oh my, is it ever sweet. I have warned everyone that they may just want to use it as syrup. Next time, I will use less sugar than the recipe calls for. I don't want someone's onset of diabetes to be on my conscience.

3) I made Kaluha Body Scrubs and Lavendar Lemon Cookie Body Scrubs as presents. Michael and I had a silky smooth slippery evening trying those out. We determined that they are Pure Awesomeness and that every couple should do the same. Really, they exfoiliate your skin, smooth rough spots, all while indulging in a delicious aroma-therapy experience. And they are edible and romantic. I think these scrubs are my favorite experiment so far!
4) I created some Man-lets for some manly/metro men in my life. Also made bracelets and earrings and necklaces for several lovely ladies. Many of my beads were from my jewelry and refashioned into new beads from bracelets turned into adorable earrings. The earrings and bracelet I made for my mom were from beads I bought off a monk...which you can read about in one of my previous posts (Namaste Beads).
5) I put together a felt board for Noah and created some felt creatures and shapes- Christmas themed- Frosty, a Christmas tree with ornaments and a star. And an underwater scene with a whale, octopus, and starfish.
6) I put together a dress up box for Noah from scarves, ties, and old hats from the thrift store.
7) I made some of my own wrapping paper out of Noah's fingerpaintings and other art.
8) I put together a book of my poetry and photos I have taken...mostly of Noah or nature pics.

Overall, it was very satisfying for me as the Giver to be able to make these things instead of shop. However, I don't know how the Receivers feel! Sure, sure, they all said thanks and smiled...but would they have rather received a tie or a candle or a gift card? I don't know?!
Another thing... it can be very time consuming to make gifts. I have the time right now, so no biggie, but when I go back to work or have another kid, time will be a little tougher to come by.

I must say that I was given some terrific gifts made by my Aunt Beth. She's been sending her own creations for a few years now, and they are TREASURES!  This year she made an amazing book for me...she took a philosophy book and "reclaimed" it with collage art, lovely pieces of lace, doors and flaps that open... The book has a gardening theme, so she included bits of wisdom and herbology throughout...and even packets of seeds. It is so detailed and personalized. Inspiring! I will have to photograph the book and post pics on this here blog. You just may swoon.
My gift creations weren't nearly as inspiring. But, to be fair to myself, I am still in the learning phase of craftiness. Aunt B is a craft-pro. I'll get better. My creations will become less hokey as I go! Let's hope!

I would love to hear about your experiences giving, receiving, and/or creating presents.
Hope your holiday was joyous!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tree Hugs and Kisses

Wish I could spend more time just walking around in the woods looking at trees. I love, love, love them so.
I am a genuine treehugger. There's no denying it.

Last week, before it started snowing here in NY, I went to the Beaver Lake Nature Center to select a holiday gift for someone special (I can't go into more detail...since the receiver may peek in at this here blog). It was in the 30's, breezy, and gloomy. But that was perfect for my mood. You see, I had been listening to Tori Amos all morning and looking at the gray sky and dreading the long winter. I was in a slightly bitter, melancholy state when I arrived at the BLNC.

But lo and behold...there were the trees singing to me...the lyrics of a Tori Amos song...
"Look, I'm standing naked before you..."
And naked they were. And glorious.

Not many brave souls were at the BLNC for a hike or jog.
Lucky me.
I was able to spend some quaility time alone admiring these beauties.

The gnarls, the pretzel, heart-shaped wooden wonder, the bark.

A feast of BROWN
Brown is lovely.

A spot.
A view.
For my eyes only. It was very intimate.

Now the snow has started falling in this part of the world.
The BLNC will soon be visited by snowshoers
and cross-country skiers.
I'll try not to be greedy.
I'll try to share these- loveliest of trees
as they dress up all in white.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You're still using PAPER? Sheesh!

Do you like to drink coffee?
Are you still drinking it out of a silly paper cup...that will not be recycled...which will continue to contribute to landfill overflow? Disgusting. Tssk Tssk.

Well, why don't you just go right out and get yourself a snazzy non-disposable cup!
I only recently got with the program. Before that, I was ruining the world like the rest of you. Actually, I am more guilty than most 'normal' people because I very much enjoy drinking coffee out and about in cafes so that I can people-watch, read books, write poetry, and pretend to read books and write poetry while I'm really people-watching.
Now I carry with me at all times...a beautiful and cute pink travel mug...kind of like this...

By the way, a travel mug would make an excellent holiday gift for any coffee or tea drinkers in your life.
You can always carry around a cool mug too. Or if you're really desperate for coffee, and you didn't bring your own non-disposable cup...just have the barista pour that Mocha Choco Latte straight down your throat. I guarantee that after that experience, you will not forget your non-disposable again.  

I am just proposing small little ecological baby steps here. Go get your coffee buzz on. Cheers!   


A poem of mine from way back in the day....

Take the 7:20
To wherever you lead yourself
Touch off
Take off into towns
Named after presidents
Gleaming in rain-soaked streets
We become perfectly meaningless streaks
Just passing through
Take my address
Take my big love
Take down these numbers
Scrape them into skin
We can step around
Photograph or sue
Everyone we’ve been
Passed through

Take my place
Don’t have to talk about ghosts
I’ll take my death when I get there
Haven’t you heard?
We are all so small
We count everything we’ve lost
From the very first day of our pasts

With adoration
With devotion
I hope for a handful of salt
To take from the ocean

Passing through

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Easy does it there, buddy!

I am trying to use "Easy does it there, buddy!" (with a Frances McDormand from Fargo Minnesotan accent) as my new mantra through the holiday season and beyond.

"Easy does it there, buddy!" is what I will be telling myself when I have radical urges to buy enormous amounts of stuff. I have overdone it in the past, and it dosen't make people happy to get lots of junk from makes them feel GUILTY for not reciprocating. And it has, in the past, created much credit card debt. And all of that stuff and junk breaks or wears out after 6 months or so...planned obsolescence...or it is no longer fashionable. It's a lose-lose situation. Oh, yeah, and it is harmful to the planet. Our junk and stuff is mostly non-recyclable, ends up in the landfills where it is burned- which releases toxic waste into the air, water...which we breathe and drink. Basically, we are poisoning ourselves with the crap we buy.
Merry happy friggin toxic Christmas.
And are you aware of what we do to the world to make all of this disposable stuff? Well, if you watch
The Story of Stuff, you will suddenly become enlightened, and probably sad, and a bit angry, and perhaps hopeful. It's a 20 minute video. Annie Leonard explains it all better than me at

So, "Easy does it there, buddy!" means that I will try to shop with Annie Leonard perched on one shoulder, encouraging me to shop with a conscious, to be mindful of how what I buy affects other people and the world. I will still have presents under the tree, but I will try to give gifts that are experiential, consumable, local, handmade... I get tons of inspiration from Angela and her blog My Year Without Spending. Her November 17th post on Experiential Gifts for the Holidays was especially helpful for me to brainstorm ideas for my loved ones. Visit her here:

Of course "Easy does it there, buddy!"- my new mantra- applies to other areas in my life. I'm hoping it will remind me to be less reactive, less stressed. Shhh...I'm channeling my inner pregnant police lady.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Over Thanksgiving break,
I was grateful for this little munchkin...

...and this delicious Mediterranean Frittata prepared by my loving husband...

...this sculpture outside of the Science Museum that occupied Noah
long enough for me to admire...

...this tree, its layers,
the process of shedding and renewal...

...and I was also grateful for this good-natured old cat...

...who allows Noah to dress her up in fancy hats...

She Blooms

Cyclamen Update!

She opens up a few of her buds.

Brilliance! Fairies, butterflies,
something with a hint of magic hovers on those slender stalks.

And she cleans the air for us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If not now...when? Excuses for not writing.

On most Tuesdays, I have a little time to myself while Noah is at co-op. The luxury of 3 and a half kid-free hours is truly treasured. However, I must fill that time with something I deem 'productive.' Not running errands or cleaning the house or napping. No no no. I decided that I have to spend that time writing and/or reading. Not on the computer. Blog posts just don't count. I see this time as personal enrichment hours.
But there is never an ideal situation. There aren't any cafes nearby to write in. I can't go home and be reminded of the millions of other things that I should be doing, and have the cats jumping on my lap. So I sit in the grocery store cafe and argue with myself over why I should even write in the first place. After all, everything's already been said much more eloquently by someone else. And, oh yeah, I suck. By the time I finish going through my lists of insecurities and oppressions, I have a short window of time to focus on Writing. And by then, I'm hungry. Or I have to pee.

Excuses for not Writing (with a capital W) today:

1) Location. I am sitting in a grocery store. It's a nice enough store. I'm on the second floor overlooking the floral department and cafe. I'm surrounded by employees munching their quick lunch breaks. Chewing abounds. Carts are chug-a-lugging. Moms and babies goo goo gaga-ing. Renewing. Baptizing themselves in the flourescently lit consumerist river. Filling baskets with Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. Eyes full of hope, dread, panic, weariness.

2) Grocery store music. Just loud enough to distract. Sappy enough to sicken. Old enough to evoke associations which lead to memories. Catchy. I find myself unwittingly singing, "Oooh...aahhh...I want to be with you everyway...." and  "If you don't know me by will never never never know me...ooh...ooh..."

3) Entitlement. Damn you, Virginia Woolf. I love you, honey, but should I be convinced that I need a room of my own to sit and Write (capital W again) in? If women wait for that to happen, we will go on waiting til the cows come home. And no cows are ever coming home to me. (I don't really know what that expression means.) Yes, if you want to be a Writer, a professional writer, you need time, space. But we can't all be Woolf, we can't all have wealthy aunts who give us that 600 pounds so that we can indulge in our 'art'. I'm not bitter.
My room is like a coffin full of cat fur. Nothing alive and vibrant gets written there.
So, here I sit in a grocery store. I can have a creme brulee coffee and a chocolate chip muffin for 2 bucks. A table and chair of my own overlooking bright flowers with plenty of folks to spy on.

If I want to write, I should just tell myself to shut up and write. Right?

After much deliberation, I got around to wrting a few ideas for stories/poems down. At least it's something.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meatless Monday: Grilled Portobello or Eggplant 'Burgers'

If you are fortunate enough to live someplace warm, like FL, where most of my family and friends reside, then maybe you should consider something GRILLED for your Meatless Monday dinner tonight.
Might I suggest for you the vegetarian's steak: the PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM.
Portobellos are so hearty and flavorful.
You can marinate the shroom in some Italian dressing, or garlic oil, throw it on the grill until the juices are flowing and the 'meat' is tender. Stick it on a bun with all the fixin's (cheese, lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers, caramelized red onions...whatever floats your gastronomical boat).

Yummy. Easy. Super low fat. Healthy Healthful. Cheap (but not as cheap as beans). And you can rest assured that you are not eating a friendly animal. That makes me feel good to know.

Or maybe you'd like to try a grilled Eggplant Burger? Well, that is also very easy and delicious...
Just take an eggplant (remove the skin, or not), slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Marinate or not. Grill it. Melt some cheese on top, maybe feta? Bun it...or try it on toasted sourdough. Also wonderful.


Grill while you can Floridians. I envy you. Even though its not super cold yet here in NY, I will not be venturing into the great outdoors to grill up my dinner tonight. For the LeBlanc's Meatless Monday dinner, we will be enjoying the fabulousness that is Chana Masala.

Wander Lust, Road Trips, and Things to do in DC

Michael has a job interview at Montgomery College in the Tacoma Park/Silver Spring, MD area on Dec 11th.
The three of us are loading up the car and taking the trip to DC together. And maybe Susan will come to.

I've been to DC before. Did a road trip with Melissa a few years back that included DC. My memory of that trip is a little fuzzy. I've discovered recently, that if I begin to write fuzzy memories down, more details emerge. Sometimes the details are invented by my mind trying to fill in the gaps. Sometimes my mind whips up new and improved memories, fulfilling wishes, erasing scars, eliminating shame and despair. I'm thankful for this.

I remember that we drove from FL to DC, laughing often and stopping at many roadside attractions to take pictures. Mel and I were both taking a ceramics class at the art center at FSU, and had darkroom access as well. So we fely compelled to take many pictures with our fancy 35mm cameras, with plans to develop them when back in Tally. I have, from that trip, a black and white photo of a huge paper mache elephant. The elephant had creepy black circles around its eyes. I have another photo memento of a semi that had "Keep Humping" painted on the side of its trailer. I also have a photo of a little boy dipping his fingers into the pool in front of the National Monument. I'll have to dig those pics out and make sure they match up with my memory of them.

From DC, Mel and I must have driven to Ohio to visit her Aunt Jane and Grandmother. Apparently, the particular town that Mel's granny lived in was living with the painfully scary memory of a flood that had engulfed the area. Were there flood lines on the sides of buildings?

After Ohio, we drove to Kentucky and visited Mammoth Caves. That was pretty awesome and a bit claustrophobic. Maybe we ran out of film, because I have no photos of the Mammoth Caves. I do remember darkness, then multi-colored lights illuminating the stalagmites and stalactites.

Somewhere along the way, probably winding through the Appalachian or Smokey Mountains, Melissa and I both had to pull over and barf. One of us barfed in the car too. I don't remember who.

One last little tidbit of a memory...I was driving at one point at night through so much fog and mist that it felt for sure that we were in the clouds. It was very surreal. I couldn't see a thing in front of me. We crept along agonizingly slow. I don't know where we were headed, or how we managed to escape. But I was sure that it was hell. Were we high? Maybe? Just driving to the convenience store from the hotel for Funyuns? I'm definetely not sure if that's accurate, since Mel and I would have never smoked or anything like that.

Anyways, now I am looking for things to do in the DC area with a kid. I think we'll say hi to the pandas at the National Zoo. Go to the top of the National Monument to see the city from a bird's eye view.

I'm excited about the possibility of living in the DC area. But not too excited. Don't want to get my hopes up.
But the area is closer to my family and friends in FL.
The area has more opportunities for Michael and I for employment. More opportunities than Syracuse. Perhaps I can even utilize my International Affairs Masters degree if I live in DC.
I want to live in a more urban area that has public transportation options. I know DC's not the best in these regards, but it's an improvement over the Cuse. More cultural experiences: museums, monuments, etc.
And of course, oh my goodness, the richness of history, the excitement of living in our capital!

I love taking trips. I love to get up and go and look out the window and listen to how people talk and what food they eat and observe the differences and similarities. I love possibility. New beginnings.
My mother used to say that I was left on her doorstep by a band of gypsies. I wouldn't be surprised if that's true. WanderLust.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cyclamen, my favorite houseplant.

Admire the Cyclamen's heart-shaped foilage.
In the center, many buds
will soon be opening.

Then, delicate fushia flowers will adorn their long, slender stems.

In Victorian days, Cyclamen were the Christmas plants given to neighbors and friends.
Now the tradition is to give Poinsettias.

Supposedly, you can make a tea from the Cyclamen petals.
However, it is officially POISONOUS.
Beware of her dangerous beauty.

It's Monday Again. Quiche, Anyone?

You know what Monday means, right? Meatless, baby.
Don't cry, Glenn Beck, I don't want to take away your steak.

I am just suggesting that you try a meatless meal one day this week...just Monday. You can just try it. There are plenty of things that you know are delicious that don't happen to be meaty.

Like Gingerbread cookies.

Here is our family in gingerbread form.
That's me in the Nerds shirt and fish skirt. Micheal's eyes are M&M's. Noah is a sprinkle bear.

Perhaps you don't want to make a meal out of gingerbread?
Well, then, you are no fun!

Ok, maybe you require something more substantial.

I recommend QUICHE for your Meatless Monday meal/experiment/extravaganza.
Quiche is elegant, yet hearty. Fantastic for any meal of the day...but I prefer a dinner quiche.
It's healthy. It's quick. It's cheap. It's easy.
And believe me, being cheap and easy is a good good thing! ; )

Here's a simple way to do it (Quiche, that is):

1) CRUST. You can make your own. Or you can do as I a refrigerated pie crust. Brown it.
2) CHEESE. Whatever kind you have. Whatever you like. Grate it or slice it. Whatever. Put it on top of the browned crust. This forms some kind of wonderfulness. It also prevents your crust from getting soggy from the eggs and other fillings.
3) FILLING. Use whatever you like. This is the fun part. You get to experiment. Try different flavor combinations. It's a culinary adventure. Look in your fridge and see what veggies are in danger of becoming Food Waste, and use it up! Or if you need a little inspiration, saute green and red peppers, onion, and garlic. Or try some mushrooms and spinach. Maybe just tomatoes and  fresh basil. How about broccoli?
Go wild. Be conservative. Do whatever. Really, you can't fail here.
Spread veggie filling over cheese.
4) EGGS. Take 3 or 4 eggs. Whisk them with a little skim milk. Pour whisked eggs on top of the veggie filling. Sprinkle a little paprika on top for color...or oregano. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Or until quiche is no longer jiggly.

Serve this with a fruit salad on the side. Or roasted asparagus. Or a caesar salad. Or some green beans.

Or maybe with some warm gingerbread cookies right out of the oven.... and a glass of cold milk.

Have a full and happy belly!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beer-Infused Wasted Food

Last night, I whipped up this beautiful Pot Pie.

Unfortunately, it was inedible. In fact, it was disgusting.
These things happen sometimes when I 'go rogue' in the kitchen'...sigh.
Everything was going great. The veggie filling was sauteing, the bottom crust was golden brown, the roux was standing by .
And then, a very stupid thought entered my mind, "Hmm...maybe I could add BEER to this?!!!"
Have you ever heard of a beer-infused veg pot pie? Nope, me either...I was being a maverick, blazing the trail for epicurians everywhere.
We happend to have some Saranac India Pale Ale. I purchased this ale because it was made in 'the foothills of the Adiorondacks'...and I am compelled to be a locavore whenever I can...especially with beer and wine. Nothing like supporting the local economy and getting a buzz to boot.
But, alas, the Saranac Pale Ale is a wee too bitter in my book.
And the potatoes and carrots completely absorbed the bitterness like little sponges. Bleh! Blick!

The worst part of all of this?
Not my husband's loss of faith in my cooking abilities.
Not the fact that we ended up feasting on Honey Bunches of Oats for dinner.
Not the pain of seeing such a gorgeous golden brown pie crust,
crunchy and flaky, and then not being able to enjoy a single bite.
Nope, nope, nope. None of that.
The worst thing about this is the wasted food.
I lose sleep over food waste.
Wasting food is like throwing money away.
I was trying so hard to not let the baby carrots in the produce drawer shrivel any further, and the celery was going limp, and the potatoes were growing new eyes. So the pot pie was (would have been) an awesome and delicious way to rescue those veggies from the sad fate of the compost pile.

O! The tragedy of waste!
Don't be me.

I could really use a beer now. Beer Therapy. Anyone have any suggestions?
I would prefer to try something from the central/upstate NY area...but not anything sucky.

Hmmm....I wonder why so many of my posts involve some kind of failure on my part?
Maybe I should change the name of my blog to something like...
Confessions of an Un-Domestic Goddess!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Weekend...

We visited the farmer's market.
Brought back Brussel Sprouts on a stick.

I didn't realize they grow that way.
I always assumed they sprouted up like little lettuces out of the ground.

Nothing hotter than a man who loves his vegetables.

We also raked the leaves that had filled our yard.
Yellow. Brown. Crunchy.

Some leaves were still falling.
Like this one that floated gracefully until it came to rest on Noah's sweet head.

Noah jumped in every single pile. Buried himself completely. Popped out again.

His happiness is boundless.
And so contagious.

Sunday evening.
The non-Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkins beg and plead to be used for something
other than decorations for the front porch.

I bathe them. Chop them. Roast them.

They will be transformed into Pumpkin Butter.
Homeade Pumpkin Butter will be a fine Christmas gift for someone.

Meatless Monday and a Lesson in Tofu

Meatless Monday approaches. Do you have your Meatless Monday meal planned? Well, just so you know, you can find some truly awesome recipes from Meatless Monday participants on their website:

I recently tried a few out.
Ok, this may sound gross or otherwise unappealing, but I tried out Barbequed Tofu!!!
I admit it. I have been a tofu skeptic. I would much rather use a vegetable or bean than a flavorless block of white spongy sliminess. I have tried tofu in stirfries with plenty of ginger and sesame oil...but it still was too tofu-ey.

With all this said, I loved the Barbequed Tofu...and amazingly... my husband did too! And he is even more of a tofu snob than me.
You can look up the recipe on the Meatless Monday site, but I'll just tell you what made this tofu experience different than all of those sad sad times before.
  • First, you FREEZE the tofu.
  • Then you slice/shave the frozen almost replicates sliced turkey in appearance. 
  • Finely chop some onions (Sweet Vidalia, in our case). 
  • Smother in BBQ sauce (Dinosaur Jr. for us). 
  • MARINATE in the fridge for a while (4 hours, in our case). 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour or so. 
  • Serve on Sesame Buns with Coleslaw and a Pickle.
Oh my Barbequed Goodness! This was delish!

The MARINATING is really what made all of the difference here...and I think the thin meaty-looking slices helped too. There were no leftovers in our house.
So the valuable lesson about cooking with tofu is this: Since it is utterly bland on it's own, marinate it in a strong flavor, and you will have much better results.
Tofu is made from the ever-versatile and healthful soybean. And boy oh boy, is it cheaper than meat. The block o' tofu I purchased was $1.99 at Wegman's.

We only used half the block for the Barbequed Tofu recipe. I think I will slice the other half, marinate it in a Thai Peanut sauce, serve it with shredded steamed carrots over noodles. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Any tofu cooking pros out there? Any suggestions or recipes? I'd love to hear all about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Defense for Blog Fail...and some Book Reviews

It has been a week and a half since I last blogged. There were extenuating circumstances. Really. My darling, dear 3-yr-old son placed a magnet on my laptop! Needless to say, the hard drive was completely wiped/scrambled/fried. Like an egg. Or your brain on drugs.

I hired a 'geek' to attempt to retrieve anything from the hard drive. But the geek failed. Geek Fail, nothing worse than being defeated by a 3-yr-old wielding a magnet. So, precious digital photos, goodbye. Luckily I had much of my stuff backed up. But still. It took a while to get my laptop back, get a new hard drive installed, get all of my programs and drivers and etc. etc. back. 

Then, of course, we celebrated my favorite pagan holiday of the year. Being the pagan I am, I was so busy making candy apples, carving pumpkins, and throwing together Noah's costume, that the blog was neglected once again.

King Noah of the Jack-o-Lanterns

My kid has a GUN! Good Lord. What kind of politically-correct liberal am I?!

Finally, the Co-op has been calling and requesting my assistance. Oh boy. We had a 3 and a half hour board meeting on Tuesday night! Lots of work remains to be done, typing up the minutes.

And then there's our little secret. Michael is teaching 6 classes this semester...driving to 3 different campus's... and he is doing online tutoring...and tutoring on campus. Sheeeesh. So to help in some small way, I have offered my skills to Michael for his online tutoring. For 3 hours on Wed nights, I rap the knuckles of college freshmen, and help them get in line and clean up their grammar and punctuation. College freshmen are pretty much just like my high school seniors. Oh my goodness, why oh why do people have so much trouble getting their subjects and verbs to agree!?

I have such high hopes for this blog. I would love more folks to follow and interact with the blog, leave comments, join the discussion. I can't wait to get back and do the Meatless Monday posts. In fact, I had pictures and a recipe for a gorgeous/delicious quiche...and I was all set to post them...but then the Magnet Wielding 3-yr-old came along, and those pics are history. Ok, I will wipe away my tears and move forward.
Stay tuned!

One last thing. I finished 2 books.
Margaret Atwood's "The Year of the Flood" is awesome and prophetic. And I don't give a darn what the New York Times Review of Books says... But then, I'm biased. I'm a maniac fangirl when it comes to Atwood. "The Year of the Flood" takes place in a consumer-based/corporate-run society. The main characters are on the fringes of this society gone awry. The tale is told from the perspectives of 2 women in the God's Gardeners cult. Religion. Science. Non-consumerism. Hippies. Who could ask for more? Not me, I tell you, not me!
Also, I read Shirley Jackson's "We Have Always Lived in the Castle." Jackson's wrote "The Haunting of Hill House," horror/spooky fans.

I must say, Castle was disturbing...but the narrator, Merricat, was the quirkiest character I've met in a long while. If you are agorophobic, and you handle most of your social interactions through your computer, you may find yourself relating to this strange girl. It was a perfectly creepy read for Halloween.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Noah's Thrifty Duds and Shopping Mindfully

The official reason for this post is to show you how you can get cute clothes for your kids...and still be super thrifty. But, honestly, I just wanted to share these fun photos of my silly boy. ; )
The sweater he's wearing cost a single buck at our Childcare Co-op's Clothing Sale. It's a Children's Place label. 

The corduroy pants were also a buck. They're Polo. Not that I care about labels myself.

It's been easy to dress Noah for free or cheap...and still have him look like a sharp-dressed, handsome lil' devil. Since we moved to NY, we have received hand-me-downs from other LeBlanc boys. Free stuff!! That's been awesome. Also, since we've been involved with the Co-op, we've been able to smartly shop for clothes, due to the huge clothes sales that occur twice a year. Nearly free stuff!
It's a win-win-win-win situation to buy second-hand, gently used clothes for Noah.
1) We save a bunch o' moolah.
2) I don't have anxiety about Noah very rapidly outgrowing his barely worn clothes. (Stop growing up so fast!) And if he gets somthing dirty or stained, as little boys do, no only cost a dollar...or less.
3) We aren't buying new stuff...meaning we aren't buying into all of the wasteful packaging, not supporting the shipping of these clothes from China or wherever, not contributing to the environmental/psychological/social harm caused by our system of constantly buying new junk!      
4) It's a fun adventure for me. I have such a feeling of satisfaction when I find something awesome for free or cheap. It makes me feel smart.
I must admit, my broke-ness was originally the motivation for my frugality. I used to addictively shop the sales racks at the mall. I would drive to the 24 hour Wal-Mart in the middle of the night to ease my jonesing for something shiny and new. And oh, Target, my love, how I've adored you and your 50% off, and your $1 junk isle.
I have the credit card debt to prove my lust for stuff. The materialism junkie.
Now, however, I TRY to be mindful of what I purchase. How does it effect the world I live in? Can I do without? Can I borrow? Can I get it for free or cheap? How can I be savvy about this? How can I support my values and ideals, instead of just following trends like a useless zombie? Dawn of the Dead does take place in a MALL, you know.
I am a work in progress. I'm still learning ways to BE.  
I have yet to try out  or ...but I will soon and let you know!
Anyone else have any frugal epiphanies to share? I'd love to hear about it! ; ) 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Morning's Drive

This Morning's Drive

Sometimes the beauty here stops me in my tracks
The trees are raining a delicate yellow spray of tiny lacy leaves
As I take my son to school
He is quiet and watchful as we drive through
this feathery 'car-wash'

Surprisingly, the geese remain, even in October
Grazing beside a pond
Red trees reflect across the water
Their hearts, a fire, bleeding out into the ripples

I see this in just glimpses driving by
A woman on the sidewalk pushing a stroller
She wears a halo of sunshine
Now I've witnessed an apparition

The synchronicity of two cars changing lanes at exactly the same moment
One on the left, one on the right, merging to the center before me
Perfectly timed to the chords and melody on the radio
A dance performed for me alone

I want to pull over and applaud this day, to thank someone
I want to kiss someone's holy blessed momma! ; )

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

30's are the new 20's...or f u Advanced Maternal Age!

Boy am I glad last week is OVER!
My birthdays always seem to cause an unreasonable amount of stress and I get a bit melancholy. I say the stress and depression are unreasonable because I have so many things to celebrate, to be thankful for. I have a good life. I am lucky.
But still...this nagging persists. It tells me that I have to do more, buy more, be more, write more, have more kids...The feeling is akin to a prolonged panic attack. This sudden realization that time is marching on. The realization that I can't follow every path, accomplish every goal, because one day this will all...STOP.
It's sad. What makes me the saddest is knowing that someday I will be seperated from Noah and Michael. How ridiculous am I? It's birthday time, time for jubilant bliss, streamers and cake, toasting to my Life. And my mind wanders over to visit with Death and Seperation. What a party pooper. 
So, I turned 35 on Sunday. Big deal, right? I don't feel old. I enjoy good health. I shake my butt off 3 times a week at Zumba. I eat a mostly meatless/ heavy on the veggies diet. I laugh a lot. I sleep well. I don't smoke (except for the occassional crack...but who doesn't do that?). I drink in moderation unless I happen to be around my roll girl Melissa, who brings out the PARTY in me. But she's in FL and I'm in NY, so I drink in moderation! Yep, I'm the picture of health.
But 35 suddenly means that I am classified by a term that I never heard of before this week.
No, I'm not a  "Cougar".
Suddenly I am classified in medical terms as someone who has reached:
What???! I am trying to conceive, but my eggs are declining in quantity and quality! Miscarriages are more common! If I do become pregnant, it will be considered an 'at-risk' risk of birth defects!
I put exclamation points after each of these sentences to illustrate the intensity that I was feeling all week leading up to turning 35, leading up to ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE.
My birthdays usually cause me to reflect on my mortality, but this birthday dealt a particularly hard blow with the realization that I may not be able to produce LIFE much longer.
When I spoke to my father on the phone Sunday, he was quick to tell me that the 30's are the new 20's...which would mean he's in his new 40's. But men don't have to worry in quite the same way...sperm are fresh and new everytime they are released. Women are born with all of their eggs, and the eggs age right along with you. Me and my 35 year old eggs.

To top it all off, bits and pieces of  Eliot's "Prufrock" kept entering my mind all week:
"I grow old...I grow old...I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled..."
"I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, and in short, I was afraid..."
"That is not what I meant at all. That is not it, at all."
The torture! The agony! The pretentiousness!
But if you know me at all, you know that I don't stay down for long. I feel better already now that 35 is here. I will find a way, somehow, to live with my ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE. Or maybe I should reject the label altogether? That's right, I DO 'dare disturb the universe.' I DO 'dare to eat a peach.'



Gray Sea

Gray Sea