Thanksgiving Short Week Meal Planning

The Prof and I are busy busy busy ’round the house this weekend.  Hanging a few pix, painting a table, cleaning out the boys’ toys, switching the summer and winter clothes.  It is at last below 70 degrees down here (not much below, though!), so we flung the doors and windows open and I actually mopped the floor for the first time since we moved in!

After I get the boys’ clothes totally switched, then I’ll get them packed up for our brief trip north for Thanksgiving.  I am looking forward to the trip.

These are our meals – both for the short week to come, and the full week after (since we will be on the road next weekend and I won’t be able to prep).  So far the Costco haul has really helped reduce the grocery bill by a LOT, and my goal is to go once per month.  We only have to get a few things at the grocery to supplement, and we’ve only gone out to eat once in the last week (chicken fingers brought to an outdoor movie last night with friends).

Our meals:

Curried carrot soup

Crockpot sausage and potatoes

Pea Soup and biscuits

One pot Cajun black eyed peas

Crock pot chicken taco chili (h/t Lag Liv)

Chicken patties, mac and cheese

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Monday Morning Meal/Takeover the World Planning

Oh well, we had as good a weekend as can be expected after a white supremacist anti-Semite was chosen to be Trump’s chief strategist, and it was revealed that Trump didn’t know he had to staff the West Wing himself.  Obama is ‘spending more time with him’ than a typical outgoing President does, given his complete lack of experience with political office and lack of in-depth knowledge about any of the issues he’s about to be in charge of.  (Guys, before I have so much as a status conference I know every bit of the history of my case upside down and sideways.  My kids practice their spelling words for days before a test.  Jack has done a bazillion math facts to try to improve his skills.  Lack of preparation is only lauded in government, I guess.)  He did not expect to get this job, methinks.  He wanted to start a right wing news organization and make some money off it . . .  While he tries to learn what the NAFTA acronym stands for, the West-Wing-staffing reins have been handed off to a man who hates Jews, black people, and women.  The most powerful office in the world is about to be staffed by a guy who beat his first wife and refused to let his kids go to a school with Jews.  Blerg.

So, in order to hide from this alt-right new reality we are all living in, the Prof and I spent the weekend putting our house in order.  Control over something small is helping us get through.  I trimmed back my outdoor plants, cutting off the dead blooms and leaves and planting a few of my spider plant’s bazillion spider plant babies.  The Prof hung things (like pictures, hooks for yard implements, a ladder hanging device in our tiny coat closet).  I unpacked boxes of books and shoved them into an empty piece of furniture we have, for now, til we can get a bookshelf together.  I also went through the boys’ toyboxes, weeding out junk and organizing.  I do this at least once a year – before Christmas – and ideally more than once.  It’s amazing how many socks, old chips, half-fruit bars, and other detritus you find in the bottom of their toybox.  Gross, but satisfying to clean up.

It’s looking better in here.  We wanted to sell our dining table but nobody seems to want to buy it, so now we’re just going to live with it for now and put our kitchen table, which is essentially a picnic table, outside.  Next weekend we’ll waterproof it and put it on the back porch, and then this will feel like a house.

For dinners this week, we’re having some good stuff.  In an attempt to reduce our ginormous grocery bill and get our budget in line, I bought a Costco membership.  After a $110 membership fee and $275 shopping spree last week, I have approximately a billion pounds of meat in the freezer now, some giant jars of pasta sauce, 40 rolls of paper towels, and 4 dozen of Annie’s cheddar bunnies which you’d better believe my kids are gonna learn to like.  This week, we spent only $40 at the store to shore up a few staples like milk, half and half, and bread (I normally spend at least $250-300 a week).  I think this Costco thing is gonna work out, even though I paid money to shop there.  I will use my Costco goods to make the following this week:

  • Pork chops, baked potatoes, and broccoli
  • Corn chowder (leftover, I pulled it out of the freezer)
  • Curried carrot soup (you can only buy carrots in “entire-farmer’s-field” size)
  • Sausage, green pepper, and pasta bake
  • Red beans and rice (which I made last week and froze, we are sharing with our friends who just had a new baby)
  • Black bean and Ro-tel burritos.  I bought a full flat of black beans and Ro-tel, as we use them a lot!

Hopeful we can shrink the grocery budget and use the extra to buy Christmas presents – boy, Christmas snuck up on me this year!  I’ve got my nieces about covered but that’s it, and I’ve usually bought everything by December 1 (the only way I can enjoy Christmas is if the shopping’s done early, otherwise it’s just stressful).

The Prof is working out.  My day to work out is tomorrow.  We are trying to up our “self care” routine right now.  It’s important.  It’s all, all, important.  Bless you all.

Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen | 5 Comments

Hot Air

I’m not sleeping.

It’s taken me several years to find my rage.  As Madeleine Albright famously said – “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”  The crucible of a law firm has sharpened me, and I am more pointed and dangerous and willing to scratch.

The election was such a thrill and then such a gut punch.  I was surprised at how physical my dread and disappointment were, how much it has shredded my body to go through this.  The one consolation I have is that this orange buffoon, who is not curious and does not work and does not read and almost certainly did not actually want this job, is miserable right now.  The party of “personal responsibility” and “pay our debts” has elected the dude who lost a billion dollars in a year and instead of paying a cent of it back, used it as an excuse to not pay taxes.  (Meanwhile, I will pay 10% or more of my income to student loan debt repayment for 40 years by the time I’m done – no bankruptcy, and I pay tax on all but the first $5000 of it every year, because the tax code was written by rich dudes, for rich dudes).

Day one, when he is woken at 4:30 am and given his day’s thousand page stack of briefings and told of the 47 or so decisions he has to make in the first hour, he’s going to put his crumpled face in his paws and cry.  I’ll bet Melania has more hustle and more done in the first week than he does. This is a spoiled little rich boy who has never worked a day in his life – he just swans from depositions to tv appearances to interviews to dinners, and skips them if he doesn’t feel like going.  He’s about to learn for the first time, at age 70, about what hard work is.  Speaking as a woman who has billed 200+ hours over the past four months in addition to splitting the care of three children, he is NOT going to like it.  The proletariat elected Marie Antoinette as its revolutionary hero, and in about point zero three seconds he’s going to throw up his hands and tell them to eat cake.  They will eat him alive – they’ll have to, because they’ll be starving to death.  Half of them because Trump signed a contract with them for services and then refused to pay once the work was done.  Winning business strategy – make a promise, reap the benefit, renege on your promise.  Hey voters – – – you’re about to see what it’s like to be a Trump contractor.  And you didn’t even make him sign a legal contract with you, that at least you could sue him over!  Dude’s already said “psych, not overturning Obamacare” and he’s not even in office yet.  What else did he promise you that’s he’s not even going to pretend to do?

As the survivor of domestic abuse (age 20-23, haven’t seen him since then and he’s not even American so I won’t be seeing him, so don’t be concerned), and numerous more minor sexual assaults that I’ve been expected to simply fold into my experience and “get over” (which of course I have, but only lately have I found that to be infuriating), I am sad to be validated by this country’s blind-eye to female pain.  My domestic violence law professor once noted, truthfully, that judges are more likely to remove children from the custody of their father if he beat their dog in front of them, than if he beat their mother.  And in fact, in actual statistical fact, a judge is more likely to award full custody to a man who beat the children’s mother, than to a man who did not.  I’ve been wrapping my mind around that one for a few years.  Just add this latest electoral insult to the pile.  I read that women around the country have been re-living their assaults as “Pussygate” happened.  We’ve also been validated – we always thought that nobody would defend us or care if we reported our assault, and we were right!  Nobody does care!  Sexual assault isn’t even a disqualifier for the White House!  A man can literally do whatever he wants to scads of ladies, and their reports of anguish won’t tarnish him one bit.  He is expected to take what he wants, and we are expected to get over it.

I’m being flip here but underneath that is a truth I’ve been trying to come to grips with for years – there is literally nothing I could have done to make Ben pay for his abuse.  I was too physically weak to block his blows – he was a short dude, only had an inch on me, but he could overpower me easily nonetheless, so no retributive punches would’ve landed that wouldn’t have gotten me knocked unconscious right back.  If I’d reported a thing at the time, I’d be accused of slandering his name.  I’d be the one ostracized, while we waited to get “all the facts.”  And if he ran for office somewhere now and a woman came forward and said “he beat me” and I heard about it and I stood up, re-lived that trauma, and said “he beat me, too,” the whole world would still fucking elect him, because they literally do not care.  Beating or abusing someone weaker than you is not even a factor that goes against you.  I cannot tell you how painful that is to really grok, in the way I grok it now.  99.9% of men in this country are stronger than me.  Do you fully understand now, the way I do, that we exist un-raped at their pleasure?  The only thing keeping us from being chattel is a social construct, of what a civilized society is and does.  And we just voted to blow that up.

The party that is now in power refused to hold a confirmation hearing on the very qualified and responsibly moderate Supreme Court nominee chosen by a legitimately elected President, simply because the President was a different party.  This unprecedented decision has hurt businesses immeasurably over the last several months – it has stalemated countless business forecasting decisions, forcing several groups to just be on hold for months, unable to move until this seat is filled.  And they GOT AWAY WITH IT.  So now what?  We do the same back?  We each hold the line against the other, until we have zero Supreme Court justices?  What if President Trump is told that one of his executive orders is unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and he says “fuck you bitches, I don’t care?”  The only reason any prior president was restrained by the Supreme Court’s decision of what is constitutional is because they  respected the judiciary and exerted self control, not because the judiciary has some kind of army to go and strong-arm the president.  The system of checks and balances isn’t in place because each branch of government has equal fire power.  It’s because each branch follows the rules.  When you destroy that – when you say “I only follow the rules when I feel like it,” then you no longer have a civilized society.  You end up with autocracy.  Saddam Hussein was a thin-skinned autocrat.  You go against him, you get executed.  The thin, gossamer web of civilization is so easily torn aside.

We all exist un-raped, literally and metaphorically, because of a civil construct.  Take down that civil construct, and you will find out what “might makes right” actually means.  You think Trump is “small government”?  You think there is no possible future where he could start seizing your assets and jailing his opponents?  And you think the Party will keep him in line?  They can’t even control his Twitter-rage.

The reports of Nazi symbols and “Build a Wall” chants and such will die down, I believe.  They are horrifying, but I think most of it is shitty kids trying to get a rise, and look – 13 year olds get to act like assholes.  You box their ears and tell them to quit, but they’re feeding off the heightened emotions of the election and they will eventually simmer down (I hope).  The pain they inflict is real, but my point here is that let’s not spend our time worrying too much about the middle school because these kids have no filter, no maturity, and cannot be expected to behave like civilized adults.  Let’s keep our eyes where they belong – we will soon have a president whose development arrested at about middle school age.  The 70 year old shouting “Build a Wall” and “grab that pussy” is more of a concern to me.  As are the draconian, decidedly NOT small government policies his disaster of a cabinet is going to put in place.  While shouting about restrictive “sharia law,” these people are fouling the name of Jesus Christ in trying to enact a shadow sharia law in this land, claiming it is in His name.  God, we need our Pope – our Muslim-prisoner-foot-washing, prostitute-blessing, science-following, disabled-person-hugging Pope – now more than ever.  I’m not a Catholic, but holy heck is that man actually living out the promise of Christ much more closely than the Trump cabinet members chanting His name in support of more guns, more intolerance, and more violence (and less vaccinations, less contraception LESS CONTRACEPTION, less refugee relief, and less feeding-of-the-poor – because we all know those poor people deserve to be poor, and Trump inherited-millions-of-dollars has earned his riches).  If Jesus were here he would throw their tables off the temple floor, and then go and sit with a black immigrant transgender refugee teen and wash the teen’s feet with his long black glossy hair.

I never fully understood – or much paid attention to or cared about – the narrative of Hillary Clinton as hateful corrupt Lady Macbeth murderer bitch.  Until I began walking in the halls of ambition and power, until I got a little closer to the nucleus of people who ‘run things around here.’  Let’s cut to the chase and skip the hedging – they’re all dudes, they’re all white, and they want to keep it that way.  I can’t tell you how many times a powerful man has put his hand on my skirt-suited knee and then stared me down and dared me to do something about it.  Once, a man who went to a third tier toilet law school, graduated bottom of his class, and had never really distinguished himself as a lawyer, told me I had to earn my right to be a lawyer for him and I would do only paralegal-level work for him at first.  Putting me in my place.

This is why I grew to love her so, so much.  This is why the “I could have stayed home and baked cookies” comment began to ring so true for me.  It’s not that staying home has no value – Jesus, she spent her whole life working to improve the lives of mothers and children.  It’s that she got so sick of less smart, less skilled, less talented, less prepared, less hardworking men condescendingly telling her that that’s where she should be.  I cannot believe that woman has not literally, actually exploded, bits and pieces of skin and bone and red hot blood in a blast zone for a hundred mile radius.

The one saving grace here – the one tiny sliver of a silver lining, as Rome burns – is that I am flying high on the updrafts of hot air.  I am riding a wave of rage that is going to make some changes that will help the weak.  I have several projects going.  When they come for the Muslims, I will speak for them.  When they come for the gays, I will speak for them.  When they come to have their way with the ladies, I will fight for them – for us.  I have much to offer, and I’ve finally found my voice, and I am not going to be silent.  Thank you, Madeleine.  Thank you, Susan B. Anthony.

Thank you, Hillary.  President elect of my glorious feminist broken heart, if not my country.

Posted in Sometimes I Get Hepped Up and Think I Know a Thing or Two | 5 Comments

Halloween 2016

We had a really fun Halloween.  As promised, my parents came to stay with us the day before.  All Saints Day is traditionally a huge holiday here, meaning lots of people go to church the day after Halloween – and the kids therefore didn’t have school.  Their father and I still had to work, and though we invited my parents before we realized this was a random mid-week day off, it worked out that they could stay and watch the boys that day.  I think a fun time was had by all – they really enjoyed having Nana and Grandpa Doc in town (as always), and I got my dad to paint the boys’ faces like he used to do for us kids when we were little.  Jack was a power ranger with a zombie-looking face, Liam was a green ninja with face paint of his own design, and Craig was a little bat – wearing an old costume I’d made for Jack years ago.  I didn’t realize til later that it suited him perfectly since he was recently bitten by a bat!  (And had to receive rabies vaccinations and everything!)

There is a street here in uptown New Orleans that just goes wild on Halloween – the houses have amazing decorations, people come for miles to trick or treat, and the street is effectively closed off (though not technically, and some stupid drivers try to wend their way through the crowds, which never fails to make my blood boil).  One neighbor had a little boy dressed convincingly as a Halloween skeleton decoration who would lay perfectly still and then creep up on you suddenly, giving you a heart attack as the decoration came to life – my mom got me good with that one.  Another neighbor hosts an insectarium on his screened front porch, with real live glowing scorpions, giant beetles, all kinds of creepy stuff.  It’s truly a sight to see.  The police patrol on horseback, and the horse this year was dressed as a unicorn.  I can’t even describe it – it’s New Orleans at its finest.  The people who live there must spend a million bucks on candy.

The day before Halloween, my mom came to Scottish music Sunday at church, which was really pretty special, with bagpipers playing out front, fiddlers playing in the fellowship hall, a beadle, and our pastor in a kilt.  I throw that in here just so that I will remember it – I don’t have much time to describe it better but the music was stunning.  The day after Halloween, the boys had a great day doing science projects with their grandparents.  My dad also fixed some things and hung some things and all around helped out.  It was great to have them, not just for the help but the company as well.  We were sorry to see them go, but they’d been gone a while and were happy to get home.

Now it’s the next weekend.  We staggered through the week, but a friend came to town Friday and I had a great catch-up lunch with her, followed by early drinks with the whole crew from work.  We really enjoyed an evening out on the town – I got to show her my new city (she’s from the old city in Alabama – a dear friend.)  This weekend has been mostly chores – I spent most of yesterday comparing old grocery store receipts to find the cheapest places for staples, as we really spend a staggering amount on food and I think I could cut several hundred from that budget if I was more strategic.  There’s only so many hours in the day, of course, and I can’t clip coupons or go to eleventy million different groceries in my tiny amount of time for domestic chores on the weekend.  But I thought a one-time deal, where I really compare prices and see what’s cheaper where, might be worth my time.  In the end, we decided to buy a Costco membership, so I’m about to head there.  Buying bulk chicken, chicken stock, eggs, ground turkey, etc. may really help this creaking grocery budget.

The week’s meals are mostly pre-made soups, yum.  I had lots of dried beans and tis the season for bubbling pots of beans, so I’m doing lots of crockpot/stockpot pre-cooking this afternoon.  I already have slow cooker refried beans going (one deviation from this recipe – I always saute the onions first, or your whole house smells like raw onion for days).  I’ve got tons of wild rice and some leftover heavy cream, so I’m making chicken and wild rice soup as well.  Some old split peas need used up or tossed, so I decided to try Ina Garten’s recipe for Parker’s split pea soup.  And I have dried red kidney beans as well, currently soaking in a pot for me to use later in Emeril’s red beans and rice.  In addition to these, we’re also having a night of ravioli and red sauce, and another night of chicken broccoli mushroom stir fry.  Funnily enough it’s still in the 80s here, so it’s not even like a chilly season for soup.  Nevertheless, DST ended and it’s about to get dark at 5pm, so I need my comfort food.

Last week I made corn chowder with chiles (a fan favorite) and chicken tortilla soup, both of which I highly recommend and both available at this link.  I poured the tortilla soup over cubes of swiss cheese, and cut up strips of corn tortilla to sprinkle on top – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Hope your November is cruising along nicely.  I’m headed to Costco to buy All the Things, then come home and work on cleaning the floor and cracking the whip over those boys to fold their laundry.  (Jack does the laundry now, and it’s wonderful.  I keep telling the Prof to make Liam do all the dishes (he can’t quite reach the laundry machines, which is why that job falls to Jack, but with a stool and/or his brother’s help, the dishes would be totally within reach)).  I need to delegate the floor cleaning and bathrooms too, and then we’ll be in business.  We don’t currently have a maid service (we have a private school bill instead, yuk), but truly I wouldn’t need one to come but maybe once every other month to do windows/fan blades/baseboards/wash the floor, etc. – if I could get these kids doing more chores!!  (And if I had a magical non-shedding dog, which I do not, sadly.)  We are slowly working our way up to that.  Gotta get ’em trained on the first thing before you add more, and they’re really getting pretty solid on the clothes-folding.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Off to join Costco and try to save some dolla billz.

Posted in Bitchin in the Kitchen, Holidays and Celebrations, Parents and Siblings and Cousins, Oh My! | Leave a comment

Busy bullet points

  • Shortly after my last post, I billed almost 50 hours in 3.5 days and then flew to North Carolina for a quick trip to see the sis, see the niece, and play a reunion show with the old band.  It was a 48 hour trip – I left NOLA at 5am Thursday and hopped a plane in North Carolina at about the same time Saturday.  A few snapshots:
    • The sis and the beab picked me up in their brand new minivan, and then we grabbed Jason’s Deli for lunch.  I chased Hannah around the restaurant some, and she was much more willing to be separated from her mom than last time I saw her.  There were even smiles while she was in my arms!
    • Cold cut sandwiches packed snugly in our paper sack o’ goodness, we headed home to their sprawling suburban palace, where the sis and I worked remotely the rest of that afternoon from our perch on the screened in back porch, while Hannah toddled and her daddy worked on website designs.  It’s chillier by far in NC than in LA, with warm days but brisker nights and weekends, and it was incredibly pleasant to wrap up in a sweater and write briefs with a glass of iced tea on the porch.
    • That evening, we headed to Target where they bought some Halloween decorations for their new house and I bought Hannah her first birthday present (sparkly purple shoes!).  Then we ordered the entire menu at an Indian place and had a leisurely meal, feeding Hannah bits of the less-spicy curry, which she loudly demanded whenever her mouth was empty.  We closed the place down, and then went home and immediately fell asleep on the couch.
    • The next morning, the sis had to work in her office, and I had to work some as well.  I wrote briefs from my bed, again enjoying the novelty of billing hours in a new place at least (ideally I’d have taken the whole day off, but deadlines loomed . . .)  I turned in my stuff, took a shower, hailed an uber, and headed out to a band friend’s to practice for the evening.  We queued up our old band recordings, and he fiddled along while I tried to recall all the words – some I know cold, some I needed reminding.  Then I put on my cowboy boots and he, his wife, and I headed downtown for sound check.
    • We sound checked at the small venue, then had a BBQ meal at the train-car shaped restaurant next door.  The sis, her hub, and Hannah joined us for dinner, and Hannah crawled all over everyone and charmed the whole restaurant with her prodigal walking (she started walking pretty early, 10 months or so, and so people always coo to see her walking since she’s so small).  Then they said their good-byes and took the peanut home for bed, and I went in to do the show.
    • The show was great.  These guys are all still playing, mostly together, though on different instruments in different bands.  They’d played together as this band, however, for ten years, and so the performance was a mix of strong musical chops and instincts, muscle memory for the old songs, and very little practice.  It made it all loose and fun, in my opinion, and I beat the hell out of my leg with the tambourine and sang the mostly-right lyrics and had a blast.  We had some old “groupies” come and make requests, which we more or less were able to bust out, and I caught up with old friends. I didn’t even mind my 4 am wakeup the next day to catch an early flight.
  • I was in a rush to get home for a couple of reasons – first, the big boys had a campout with the Cub Scouts and I had to get home and watch the littlest boy.  Second, rarely like being gone long, because it puts me so behind in life.  My weekends are not resting time – I have to do the laundry and the toilets and the shopping and all of this.  It just really sets me on a road to panic for the rest of the week if I lose much of my “domestic chore” time – I feel better if I can be here.
  • The boys had a great campout with their dad – slept just fine.  Meanwhile, Craig and I hung out together.  I remember him doing so many cute things that I meant to write down because I knew I’d lose them, but I didn’t write them down . . . and of course they’re gone now.  This is why I still write on this blog – so many of these memories would be lost forever if I didn’t write them down, and while I know I can’t hold it all, I do like holding onto the special stuff.
  • The next week was a blur of work as usual, though it’s finally somewhat slowing down.  On Friday evening, we celebrated our tenth anniversary.  We had delicious French food at a local place, and the Prof gave me my gift – he’d arranged for a trip to the place we honeymooned on St. John!  We don’t normally do gifts, just a fancy dinner, but for double digits . . . it seemed time for something special.  I, on the other hand, bought him a handmade artwork off etsy – you tell the artist 10-12 cities important to you, and she snips them out of old maps and shapes them into a heart.  It looks really good.  He loved it.  (For context, just know that the Prof is kind of weirdly obsessed with maps.  I say that with affection.)
  • Saturday, the Prof and our neighbor built most of our backyard shed.  At last I was able to get the weedeater out of my living room, where it has been sitting all this time.  That evening, we went across the street to carve pumpkins in the neighbor’s driveway.  It’s fenced, so the kids and dogs ran free, and we had a great time.  Sunday morning, we packed the shed tight and cleaned the living room, then headed to another friend’s place for Po-Boy Fest.  One fried chicken thigh and pepper jelly po-boy and one catfish meuniere po-boy later, we walked down the street from the friend’s house to the boys’ school, which was smack in the middle of po-boy fest.  The kids danced to music on the basketball court, we chatted with friends and drank cheap beer, and everyone had a great time.  Then we headed home for more food and friends – dear friends of ours came over for grilled burgers and pasta salad, and oohed and aahed over our freshly de-weed-eatered living room.  (We still have a surplus table, as we had a kitchen and dining room eating area in our last house but have lost one of those in this house – so it’s still a bit odd and crammed in here, but we’re almost there.

Now it’s Thursday already.  We’ve all got colds and I had to go get a sick kid from school today – hence the ability to post! – but it’s been a less hectic work week all around.  My parents will be here this weekend to celebrate Halloween with us, which I’m looking forward to.  It’s been a good week.  Here’s hoping our colds stay mild, our Halloween stays awesome, and my parents’ travels here are safe.


Posted in Carolina, Domestic Bliss, Drama Queen, New Orleans, Parents and Siblings and Cousins, Oh My! | Leave a comment