The Microwave Should Always Be Safe

Why do they make bowls and mugs that are NOT microwave safe? Who are these people out there who use mugs and bowls but never put them in the microwave as a way of making the stuff inside them warm? And, if there really are people like that, why do they get all of the good looking bowls? And, since I know I am not such a stove-using fancypants as that, WHY DO I BUY BOWLS THAT DO NOT GO IN THE MICROWAVE? Just because they are pretty and I forget to read the sticker on the bottom?

No more.

I just removed my lunch from the microwave using my shirt as a hot pad. It is a delicious, overly heated bowl of leftover rice with leftover chicken and leftover broccoli and leftover peas, pulled together with freshly-ground pink salt because that shit makes everything amazing. You can’t make delicacies like that on the stove. That is a microwave feast, my friend. And I need to bowls to go with it so I can take my warmed-up leftovers out of the oven barehanded with my shirt all the way on, like a classy woman.

NO MORE BOWLS THAT DON’T GO IN THE MICROWAVE, universe. I am looking at you, Target. Don’t do it. I am not buying them anymore and when I finally finish breaking all of the ones I have in a few more years, I expect some seriously good-looking bowls that I can nuke forever.

The Evolution of Normal, a Story of Smoothies

James and I have a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning. It is a great protein/fruit/veggie option for us and it is relatively fast, so you can’t beat it. Unless someone is making french toast, but pretty much no one ever is.

This school year, James is the main smoothie maker. I get the girls dressed and presentable looking (while they are cute kids, this is seriously the hardest job of the day. At least besides homework and dinner and bedtime. Why, why do I have to give explicit step-by-step instructions for getting dressed every #%$#^*@ morning?! “Take off your pajamas. No, they don’t go on the floor. Now put on your shirt. That is backwards. Now get your pants. No! You cannot lay back down. Socks! You must wear socks.” EVERY DAY. While I tackle this nearly impossible task, James makes breakfast (peacefully alone downstairs, reading the paper and humming to himself.)

And so he makes the smoothies. I don’t even know what is in them anymore, really. I know that when he took over, there was a cost calculation of the value of fresh vs. frozen spinach and he updated my shopping list (frozen now, which doubles its value by never rotting into a pile of slime in the back of the fridge or making me feel like I should make a salad when I don’t want one.)

When we first started, we made Jamba Juice-style smoothies. Raspberries and orange juice and sunshine. They were bright red and sweet and delicious. The girls even loved them and would drink them in the car on the way to daycare (note, if your kid ever spills a smoothie into the seat during the summer, clean it up right away or that shit bakes in.)

They start out as a pretty rainbow…

Then we started adding protein powder to make them more filling. And then some spinach for veggie power. Once I switched over to kale, though, we lost our child smoothie fans and I had to buy a nicer blender so that no chewing was required to consume them. But we pressed on, adding carrots and extra fiber and swapping juice for milk for water. Once I tried adding broccoli stems, but James told me I’d taken it a step too far.

This year, we switched to pea- and rice-based protein powder instead of whey (As I age, my body has begun not-so-politely declining dairy.) When we first started using it, I noticed that it tasted like… peas? But worse? This website says, politely: “With a distinct taste, pea protein can sometimes be a tough ingredient for any smoothie.”

But the blending ruins the rainbow.

Combine that taste with the fact that we use red and blue and orange fruit, and green spinach, and brown protein powder and it comes out a brackish green-brown.   Not the cheery, commericalizable red of years past, or the clear, healthy-looking green of smoothies in health cookbooks. The color of your local pond after rain.

But I love it.  I drink it happily every day.  I am drinking one right now. Even though it looks like poison and I am not sure if it objectively tastes good.

And that is how I know you can get used to anything.

Except, maybe, getting my kids ready for school.


Lauren and James’s bog smoothie

  • 1 cup of water per person.
  • Protein. We like Orgain plant-based protein in chocolate from Costco. Follow serving size suggestions from the brand.
  • Extra fiber, like wheat bran or psyllium husk. I found a nice, inexpensive one at Trader Joe’s (always Trader Joe’s <3).
  • Chia seeds. They are the hotness.  Add to everything.
  • Handful of greens like spinach or kale. Never romaine lettuce or arugula. 😉
  • Carrot if you’re feeling super veg. Probably not broccoli, though.
  • Banana, fresh or frozen.
  • Frozen fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries (my personal, though most expensive favorite.) Some of the multi-berry blends are great.

Put it all in your blender, liquid first, then blend.

Tip: If you don’t have much frozen stuff, add some ice to keep it cold. Warm smoothies are the worst.

Enjoy. And if you don’t enjoy, keep making it and drinking it anyways. You’ll come around eventually.

Thank you, Nordstrom Cafe

Hi Nordstrom Cafe,

I know you probably don’t hear this very often, but you helped me save money. At least, kinda (the way I often claim to be “saving money”, right James?), and you introduced me to a new beverage that I LOVE. So thanks for kicking the New Year off right.

It all started because I had a gift card with $2.65 left to your parent store. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked, but there are literally NO THINGS for $2.65 in Nordstrom, and I was not about to leave money on the table.

So I wandered down to you, looking for something warm to help me face the brisk 52 degree North Carolinian winter and comforting after spending far too much on jeans when there is so much suffering in the world.

The “London Fog.” I had no idea what it was, but I decided to try it. Mmmm, smooth and lavender-y. Frothy and sweet.  Finished off my gift card and only required pocket change to complete the balance.  Exactly what I wanted, which–like–never happens on jeans shopping day.

The experience was so positive I am wearing the jeans and tried to make a London Fog myself today. I googled recipes and bought the right tea and even whisked the milk. Not the same.

I need a new gift card, and then I will be back.

Thanks, specialty flours

Dear Bread and Cake Flours,

Thanks so much for coming to stay for the last two weeks at our house. I have to admit, I was skeptical when James added you to the shopping list at the start of the holiday season. I thought, ‘we have 25 pounds of all purpose flour. ALL PURPOSE flour.  Why do we need any other kind?’

I was wrong.  The cookies and the cookies and the cookies were amazing snickerdoodles-with-santa-hatand light and fluffy.  Santa ate SO MANY while he made the trampoline. The scones were dry, but I think they’re supposed to be dry, so great job. I deeply loved the homemade sandwich bread and our Christmas tradition cinnamon rolls,cinnamon-rolls and the pumpkin bread.

Oh, and the pie crust! pieLiterally every single day of break you were bringing some new deliciousness into our home. And everything was just *that much better* than it would have been with all-purpose flour.

Furthermore, thanks for your gift to me going forward: I had not yet identified a clear resolution for 2017. Up until your early December arrival, I think I had been eating pretty well (except, the occasional (daily) piece(s) of candy/candies).  But now I have an obvious New Year’s resolution to eat fewer delicious carbs. (Or not.  That actually sounds terrible.)

Anyways, thanks.  You are special, specialty flours, and you made our holiday extra festive.  Come visit again soon!

Amazeballs.

This blog will not just be about my kids. They are probably the funniest thing in my life, and I want this blog to be funny. But they take over pretty much everything and I have to fight back. So I am going to post a recipe. It is easy, it is healthy, it is “Amazeballs.” (Don’t worry; its not “amazeballs,” the annoying pop-star term. This is a classy recipe.)

Amazeballs
Adapted from a recipe on Gimme Some Oven.

1 cup rolled oats (like Quaker Oatmeal)

2/3 cup of wheat bran (sometimes tricky to find. I can usually find it in fancy grocery stores in the bulk grains section. Whole Foods and Fresh Market, for example. You can also order online.)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or peanut butter chips or mini peanut butter cups)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbs. Chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
That’s it.  Put them all in a bowl, mix thoroughly, shape into balls. Store them in the refrigerator. Its a really flexible recipe, so play around. I added pretzel bits once, cranberries instead of chocolate chips, etc.  This is my go-to, though.

Amazeballs are good for:

  • Workout recovery. For physical activity of any kind.
  • Pre-workout snack when your running buddy convinced you to get up way earlier than people should be up and you feel kind of nauseated at the idea of moving.
  • A sweet-but-healthy addition to when you brown bag at work. (You packed a lunch!  Amazeballs! You deserve a treat.)
  • When your husband doesn’t pack himself a lunch because the family is out of time in the morning, but you know he won’t buy anything because he’s frugal about the over-priced cafeteria and doesn’t like to leave his desk, so you quickly throw some snacks, like Amazeballs, into a bag. It’s better than nothing!
  • For breakfast for your children because they think it tastes like cookie dough but you know it has protein and complex carbs. In fact, from a nutritional perspective, you pretend they ate scrambled eggs and toast. (Why won’t they just eat scrambled eggs and toast!?)
  • When you get home from work and you should make dinner but you can’t because you’re too hungry and drained of energy. Eat an Amazeball to revive yourself and you’ll be ready to cook in no time. Or, more realistically, eat two, give them to the kids as well, and buy yourself another 40 minutes until you think of something/have cereal.

Friends.

Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.

Our family’s semi-annual trip to the dentist was a highlight of my day. They had this new, super comfy headrest and the hygienist hardly spoke while she polished my teeth, so I could just lay there with my eyes closed. Ahh, it was a day of appreciating the dentist chair.

The rest of the day had too much crying and whining and work presentations with mathematical content. While I was cooking dinner, I reached the end of my patience–hours earlier than usual. I normally make it smoothly until second bedtime until I lose it. Today, I lost it in the kitchen at a pan of potstickers that were supposed to be dinner and got unyieldingly stuck to the pan. (I just heard that in my head as I wrote it. WTF, potstickers!? I should probably feel like a moron, but I feel mad. Instead of just calling them “potstickers,” why don’t we address the underlying problem, Trader Joe’s?) Any way, as I was throwing a seventh-grade style fit at the Asian food in my kitchen, Ella interrupted to ask me to come help her find something. Something I had JUST handed her. (Originally, I blamed her first distraction for the potsticker situation. I’ll have to reevaluate that, given the new information.)

I told her to go look by herself. Three times. She got that I wasn’t caving, so she left. Not to look; to write me a note about my behavior.

To those who don't speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, "Friends help each other [who knows] look for things."

To those who don’t speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, “Friends help each other [who knows] look for things.

She brought it in, hung it on the dishwasher next to me, and cleared her throat.

Friends help each other. A beautiful lesson I taught her. Or Dora the Explorer. I am an advocate of “helping.” Not maybe at earlier today in the kitchen, but going forward, I think I can get behind this new model of friendship and communication. I have sayings ready for several new signs to deck out the house:

  • Friends appreciate a good stretch of silence every so often.
  • Friends moderate their use of hand soap. Seriously, D2.
  • Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.
  • Friends do NOT need poop assistance of any kind. Ever.
  • Friends enjoy a wide variety of music, with each song in daily moderation.
  • Friends understand and make peace with the inevitable instance we forget something when leaving the house. They never just sob “I need my ___________” over and over in the car.
  • Friends LOVE having their hair fixed. Brushed, even styled. When it is time to style it, they hold still, admire your braiding skills, and remember not to immediately practice somersaults.
  • Friends always know the location of both mates to at least one pair of shoes at all times.

Excuse me. I am off to make these signs. And look for Ella’s thing.