Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 CSA Week 8: Another Delightfully Usable Basket!

I was pumped when I got the email about this week's basket. I think we can easily use everything. 

Heirloom tomatoes (3)
Sungold (a type of cherry) tomatoes
Cucumbers (3 giant ones!)
Fresh onion (3)
Cabbage (1 head)
Peppers (3)
Papicha (a cilantro-esque herb I've never heard of and am super suspicious of since cilantro is disgusting)

This is remarkably easy. I will eat most of it raw: cukes, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers.  I will buy a kohlrabi and maybe some fennel at the Farmers' Market tomorrow morning and make a slaw (I described my go to slaw here) with the cabbage.  We actually did put some of the fresh onion in a couple of recipes we made last week, so we might have a shot at using some of those in dinner recipes.  Dr. BB has been using lettuce in his sandwiches and stuff, so that's where that will go.

The papicha smells like cilantro and I am not sure I'm going to have the gumption to try it, although if we make tacos this week, I might try a teeny tiny bit on one.  We'll see.

Done and done. I like this high season with lots of delicious yummy vegetables that are easily eaten raw.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Housewarming Presents We Can Use

It has recently come to my attention that food and alcohol are the preferred housewarming presents of the Midwest.  But, since food is a delicate situation around here so your casseroles and pies will probably go uneaten and we still have a bottle of wine left from when someone brought it to a holiday party we had three years ago, these gifts while appreciated in terms of sentiment, actually aren't appreciated in terms of actual use.

So here are some alternative ideas for housewarming presents.

1) Gift cards.  Seriously.  Who doesn't like a gift card to Amazon, Target, a local grocery store, or a local hardware store?  My sister-in-law gave us a box of Magic Erasers and a $25 gift card to Target and this was super duper useful gift.  We have spent well over $500 at the local Ace in town and gift cards for that store would have been gratefully used.

But, I know. You want to get them SOMETHING, not cash or cash equivalents.

2)  Paper goods.  Someone else stopped by with toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic cups, and some bottled water. They did this two weeks after we moved in and all of those things came in handy.  It probably cost them $20, but it was super convenient for us.

3) A potted plant.  This isn't for everyone (just like casseroles and wine aren't!), but my favorite housewarming present of all time was a plant a friend from grad school gave me. I have since moved with this plant four times and have given offshoots of it to other people as housewarming presents. If you have a friend who has a green thumb, consider this.

4) A return address stamp. I sent one to my sister when she moved last summer and I ordered one for us when we moved (this one from Gulf Road's Etsy shop for $20.35 + 4.99 shipping). I like these stamps for newlyweds AND housewarming presents, actually. 

5) Nightlights.  I found a two-pack of nightlights tucked away in the back of a bathroom closet right before we moved and boy was I glad to have them the first few nights we were in our new house when I didn't know where anything was and chances were there was a cardboard box in the way.

6) Personalized door mat. I purchased some fairly boring door mats (one for the front and one for the back), but if someone had gotten me a fun door mat, I would not be adverse to replacing one of them.

Consider names on the door mats ($19.99 + 9.99 shipping from Qualtry) or a fun Harry Potter-themed mat ($38 + 12.99 shipping for the it's home mat from Franklin and Figg or $30 + 16.95 for the 9 3/4 mat from Whimsical Vinyl).

7) If you're local, offer to take trash.  One of our friends came over and just took a bunch of our recycling. Our bin was already overflowing and he knew that we wouldn't get it removed for over another week and he just took a bunch and put it in his can that he knew he and his family wouldn't use. It didn't put him out too much, but it was really appreciated by us. 

8) If you're local, make a list of recommendations. Best grocery story, best handyman, best plumber, best free entertainment, best walking trail, best whatever you're the expert in.  I might not need to know "best ice cream" at this exact moment, but for my friend who wrote out a list of best ice cream places (by taste, price, and location - no joke) I have nothing but respect.  I will use that list someday, I promise.

9) Cleaning supplies. The next time I hear someone is moving, I'm putting together a laundry basket with some Windex, Chlorox, a microfiber duster, some paper towels, a broom/dustpan, and some gloves.  You just need this stuff when you're moving and who knows where they got packed?

10) A first aid kit. Damn it if I didn't cut myself when we moved here and I had no idea where the Neosporin or BandAids were. We eventually found out camping first aid kit (it's in a bright orange backpack we use for camping/hiking, so it was easily located) and used our supplies out of that, but it was a bummer when we unpacked the first aid supplies the next day and realized they were literally in the box right next to where I cut myself.

Friday, July 21, 2017

CSA Week #7: Tomatoes Arrive!

I really did do well with the basket last week. I don't know if there was much waste at all. Let's see if we can continue this trend. This week is not as heavy on things I can just throw raw into my lunch, so it might be a smidge more challenging.

Sungold tomatoes
Cucumber (3)
Rainbow chard
Green beans
Bok choy 

I'll make a salad for lunch one day this week and that will use the lettuce.  The cukes will just get chopped up and eaten, mostly for snacks. The tomatoes are already gone. Ha. Half the box was in my belly during the walk home from picking up the basket.  We still have green beans left from last week. Dr. BB says he'll help me eat them, but then he never does, so we'll see how that goes. If worse comes to worse, I can eat them raw in lunch, but green beans are not my favorite, so I generally resist that. 

We used the chard in a frittata last night.  We're going to make a chicken and fennel slow cooker dish for dinner Monday and Tuesday nights.  I don't know what we'll do with the onions, but if I'm being completely honest I'll let you know that I'll probably throw them away in three weeks.  I'll stir fry the bok choy at some point next week for lunch.

And that's it. Things are slowly starting to normalize, but I'm currently traveling back to forth to Michigan on the weekends because of a crisis in MY family instead of to Iowa for Dr. BB's family so that normalization is slow to arrive.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

There Is a Talking Rabbit In My House

I have a well documented antipathy towards rabbits.Keep this in mind as the story unfolds.

I was playing Qwelf, a party game I can not recommend enough when you are playing with people you barely know, with my mother, sister, brother-in-law, and his mother last weekend.  One of the cards my mother received required her to tell a story from her childhood while tap dancing (of course). 

She told a story about how her younger brother, Kevin, who was almost a decade younger than her, got upset when my mom told him that his talking Bugs Bunny toy didn't like him anymore because he was pestering her.  He hid the toy in the coal bin (Appalachian Pennsylvania) and when he went to bed that night, he was crying because he wanted Bugs Bunny and my Grandmother made my mom and another one of their siblings get the damn thing out of the coal bin.

By the time the toy was cleaned, it never worked right again.

My mom wistfully mentioned that she felt terrible about this entire episode and wished she could replace the toy.

With a 30-second search on Etsy, Bugs Bunny was procured.
Now he's sitting in a box on my table awaiting a trip to see my mom.

Creepy thing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Good Country by Laleh Khadivi

A Good Country by Laleh Khadivi was our June book club book. It's a novel chronicling the journey of a Muslim teenager from straight-A student to stoner surfer to religious radical. It raises questions about growing up as a minority in the United States, finding yourself, and how to prevent normal teenage mistakes from having horrific life-altering consequences.  In our book club we talked about how plastic we were as teenagers, flitting about from one philosophical idea to another with no stress we talked about how religious minorities sometimes become radicalized in response to being surrounded by a vocal majority, and we talked about how hard parenthood is. 

We didn't actually talk about this book much because the plot holes were just too much to ignore. The writing was lyrical, but honestly that same smooth rhythm nearly put me to sleep every time I picked up the book. So this is a book that is worthwhile because I think that tackling the issue of religious radicalism of vulnerable young people is brave and thought-provoking, but the writing itself could have used some cleaning up.

And the ending. I have mixed feelings on the ending. On one hand, I love that it's ambiguous in many ways. It's very true to life. On the other hand, it's so abrupt that I wonder if younger readers might not get the emotional impact that the unresolved ending provides.  I lean towards liking it, but I have some reservations.

So read it. I think it'll be a conversation starter and maybe that's all we need right now.

Friday, July 14, 2017

CSA Week #6: Serious Summer Goodies

Okay, we're slowly digging out our vegetable overstock.  This week has some delicious entries.

Cucumbers (3, including some 2 white ones)
Garlic scapes
Summer squash (2)
Lettuce (2 heads)
Green beans
Snap peas
I think we can actually do this. The beans, cukes, and peas will just get eaten by me in my lunches or as snacks. Those are remarkably easy.

I think I might convince Dr. BB to grill chicken breasts for dinner a couple of nights and he'll put BBQ sauce on them, but I'll have make salad with some of that lettuce.  Dr. BB has been grilling zucchini with his lunches, so he's on that. I might make some zucchini bread next week if Dr. BB is getting zucchini-ed out. 

We threw the cilantro away because it tastes like soap.

I'll use the scapes eventually. They are a nice substitute for garlic - a bit milder, but we actually prefer them over the bulbs.

We're winning the CSA game this week!

Monday, July 10, 2017

2017 Yearly Goals, Quarter 2

Here's the update on the second quarter goals. Here's quarter one.

Area One: Fitness Goals
1) Workout four times a week - I met this goal in 11 out of the 13 weeks.  In weeks 25 and 26, things were bad with my mother-in-law and I just didn't get it done those weeks.  I worked out only once in week 25 and three times in week 26. I did work out five times in weeks 15 and 22, so my average was 3.85 times a week. Solid B work there.

2) 11,500 steps a day - I missed my step count on three days throughout the quarter. Considering the amount of traveling and other drama that took place during this quarter, I count this 96.7% as exceptional.  My average step count during this period was 12,876. Solid A work.

 3) Weigh myself weekly - Ha ha ha. I did this 5 out of 13 weeks. We don't even have our TV plugged in right now (I weigh myself on our Wii Fit), so this is going poorly and is going poorly in Q3, to.  Oh, well. Something for improvement in Q4, I guess.

This area definitely didn't go as well as it did in the first quarter, but I'm going to cut myself some slack because of all the other stuff going down.

Area Two: Communication Goals
1) Update my blog twice a week - I updated 18 times in the second quarter, which is an average of 1.4 times a week. This is actually worse than in Q1, which is shameful. I have an entire series planned about the house buying process about things I wish I had known that most online searches actually didn't talk about and I really want to write that before I forget, but I haven't had a ton of time to do that just yet.

2) Make contact with four people (MDTT) at least once a week - You guys! I missed one person one week!  I am super happy with this 98% success rate. 

3) See my mom four times in the year -  We actually canceled a vacation with my family because of my mother-in-law, so I didn't see her this quarter. I have a small amount of faith that we will somehow make up this vacation because Dr. BB feels realllly guilty about all the time we've spent with his family, so we'll see if I can pull this off for the entire 2017 calendar year.

4) Send a letter or postcard to my grandmother and two of my elderly aunts at least once a month - In April, they each got Easter cards, in May they got Mother's Day cards, and in June I wrote each of them a breezy letter about house buying. 

5) Post a photo to Instagram at least once a day - I missed two days in the quarter. Not bad.
Some Q2 Instagram hits.

Area Three: The Rest of My Life
1) Vacuum twice a week -  Since we've moved to a place with very little carpeting (just on the stairs), I think I'll switch this to sweep twice a week, but in Q2 I didn't vacuum at all for two weeks (we were moving), I vacuumed just once for two weeks, and met the goal the rest of the time. Considering the level of confusion and chaos in our living situation during this time frame, I'm satisfied with this outcome.

2) Brush Zelda's teeth when I feed her at night - I missed this six times when we were home and her toothpaste was packed for three nights. This puts me at a 90% completion rate. Again, I'll take it.

3) Get my sewing machine out at least once a month - In April, I sewed up our duvet cover. Again. That thing is mostly just spit and my half-assed attempts at reinforcing its seams at this point.  And that was the last time I used it. In my defense, my sewing supplies were packed early and they still haven't been unpacked, so it was unlikely this would get done.  I'll do better someday.  Maybe when we sleep in our own bed more than three nights in any given week.
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