Thick and hearty chicken soup

On July 31, 2010, in Yummy Goodness, by Wendy

1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
1/8 black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 greek yogurt
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken, cubed
1 Yukon Gold potato, parboiled
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and add carrots, green onions and garlic. Cook until soft. Add flour and slowly add milk, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce and spices.

Bring to a low boil and let thicken. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in yogurt and add chicken, potato and broccoli. Heat until all ingredients are warmed. Serve immediately.

Tagged with:  

Yes, I’m only having one.

On July 31, 2010, in Family, Friends, Kid, by Wendy

And no, I’m not going to change my mind, so please stop telling me that I will.

I still can’t understand why people pin self-centered and over-privileged labels on only children. Do people who use those labels honestly think that kids with siblings are more inclined to put others needs before their own? What is it about having brothers and sisters that automatically makes you less selfish than an only kid? Isn’t it also the classic Psychology 101 assumption that the oldest kid is forced to take care of the younger kids and is resentful about it, the middle kid is invisible and trying desperately to get someone’s, anyone’s attention, and the youngest kid is coddled and grows up a spoiled rotten brat.

Labels suck, don’t they?

From what I’ve seen there is more competition to get mom and dad’s attention when there are multiple kids around and some go to great lengths to try and stand out from the pack of siblings, whether it is excelling in school or acting out criminal behavior. Also, if you’re the type of person who is drawn to new shiny trinkets and loads of scheduled activities, you’re going to buy them whether you have one or ten kids. Over-indulgence is a parenting choice regardless of how many kids you have.

Our budget is stretched with just one. We moved from a one-bedroom rent controlled apartment that we lived in for 10 years to a two-bedroom apartment priced at market rates shortly after our daughter was born. We had tons of hand-me-downs and she was breast-fed. As soon as the hand-me-downs dried up and she was eating solids, our food and clothing expenses soared. There is just no way we can afford a third bedroom and another mouth to feed as long as we stay in the City (and we have no intentions of leaving).

I’m an older mom and I was very active before I had my daughter, but there are days when I just can’t keep up with her. I see other parents (and nannies) at the park who are taking care of more than one, and I’m exhausted just watching them. Some make it look really easy, but most look and act completely frazzled and just about to loose what little composure they have left.

Also, my daughter started sleeping through the night about six months ago, and I’m finally starting to feel rested. The idea of starting all over again brings tears to my eyes. I don’t think I can take another year and a half of sleepless nights.

Mitch and I are able to have me time. He has his weekly poker game, and has a beer with friends at least once a week. I’ve just started enrolling in classes again and making plans to see my friends. We also have time for us. We’ll get a sitter so we can go out for dinner or to see a band. I don’t know many parents with more than one kid who says the same thing. They spit out very acidic comments about how they *used* to be able to do stuff before the second or third kid came around and now they just couldn’t possibly do stuff like that. That kind of self-imposed martyrdom is not appealing to me.

Siblings aren’t always great friends, and you just never know how things are going to work out with your set until they exist. It’s another reason why we stopped at one. Many people told me that they didn’t really start liking their brothers or sisters until they were adults well into their 20s and 30s. There was a lot of strife and bad blood between them and their siblings, and it took years to get over that. Some were close in age and most would assume that everything would work perfectly, but it didn’t in their cases.

From my experience, only children can’t rely on the convenience of a live-in playmate, and they learn how to develop friendships with other kids a lot easier than I think siblings are able to do. I’m an only child, and I grew up okay with not having a brother or sister. Of course, there were occasions when I wished I had a sibling, but it’s natural to think you want what you don’t have. In general, I was very happy growing up as an only child and I have several very close childhood friends who, to this day, are like family to me.

So far, our daughter warms to people easily, and she’s never been shy around others. She has a BFF that she sees several times a week (another only child) and they are developing a great friendship. It’s hard to predict whether our daughter’s experience is going to be like mine in the long run, but we’ve made our decision and we’ll just have to see how it turns out in the end.


San Diego Redux

On July 30, 2010, in Family, Travel, by Wendy

Visiting Placerville

On July 30, 2010, in Family, Friends, Travel, by Wendy

Placerville photos

Fifty hours off the grid. No cell phone, no email, no internet, no television, no radio. You might wonder how we survived.

We prepared and ate lots of delicious food. Grilled chicken three ways: on a kabob, in a pita and on a salad. Grilled veggies, noodle salad, watermelon, shrimp tacos with crispy fried taco shells. Ice cream. Yummy yum yum.

We played Pictionary and gossiped and shared parenting tips. We swam, then dried off, then swam some more. Several naps were had by all. And then I took some pictures.

I had a lot of fun playing with my Canon Rebel that Mitch gave me a couple of years ago. I’m taking a photography class now and I’m re-learning how to shoot with manual setting. I didn’t take any shots of the landscape. Being that it is high summer, everything is kind of dead looking. I’ll focus on landscapes next time we’re up there. It will be so beautiful in the fall when all the leaves on the oak trees turn colors.

I wanted to do some night photography, using a technique I learned in my photo class, but we happened to have a full moon that weekend, and the sky was too bright. Hopefully, next time I’ll have a little less light so I can play around.

I did portraits, both posed and candid. I’m really happy with how everything turned out. It also helped that I had beautiful subjects to shoot. I’m really getting the depth of field thing down, but still need some practice.

On Sunday, we woke to an overcast sky and a break in the heat. After breakfast, we decided to take advantage of the cooler weather and go for a walk on the property. As we were walking back to the house, there was a loud crack and then the sky lit up with lightening. It was awesome. Izzy didn’t think so though. She ran back to me and hugged my leg because she was scared. She wanted me to pick her up, but just then, the rain started. The drops were huge and I had my camera with me. I had to protect the camera from the rain, so I shoved it down the front of my dress and covered it with my arms. Mas was so sweet; he came running out with a plastic bag for the camera, but didn’t find us on the lower trail.

Izzy definitely didn’t like the thunder and lightening, and I was getting a little nervous about being in the forest while lightening was striking, so we high-tailed it back to the house. While I protected the camera, Sarah comforted Izzy and helped her walk back home. On our way back, a couple of young bucks crossed our path. It was so great to see them that close up!

We saw lots of wild life while we were there: a flock of turkeys, a doe and her fawn, quail, vultures, lizards, spiders. And we heard lots and lots of braying hound dogs.

I think one of the best parts about being in Placerville was the freedom the kids had to come and go from the house. Izzy went to the front yard, came back in the house and then headed out to the back yard, playing her little made up games or sitting in the dirt having her daily dust bath. It was the first time I’ve ever allowed her to be out of my sight. It felt really weird at first, but Sarah assured me that everything would be allright. It also helped knowing that there were three other adults and Bella helping to keep an eye on the kids. It was so nice to sit down, drink my coffee and have a conversation without being on constant alert. The country life ain’t so bad afterall.

Sarah, Mas, Ethan and Bella make a beautiful family and are a wonderful set of friends. They bring out the best in all who know them. We are so grateful to know them and have them in our lives. It was a magical weekend and I’m looking forward to our next trip up to their house.


Anything Puffs

On July 17, 2010, in Yummy Goodness, by Wendy

Another great idea from A Little Yumminess:


2 cups cooked chicken (good use of leftover store bought rotisserie chicken)/2 cups sauteed chopped frozen or baby spinach (I added peas and mushrooms as well on my second attempt)
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cloves garlic minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin (optional)
pinch chilli powder (optional)
1/2 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 10-oz. can refrigerated crescent roll dough (you can use the regular size or the bigger crescents depending on if you want mini or larger puffs)
salt & pepper to taste
Note: You might have leftover filling depending on how much you fill each puff. The leftovers work great on their own or in grilled cheese sandwiches


Preheat oven to 350F
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil till onion is tender and slightly browned.
Add cumin, chilli powder (if using) and salt and pepper. After a minute or two, add cooked chicken or spinach or anything else you are using as a filling and fry for 3-4 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and allow to cool for 8-10 minutes and then add cream cheese to incorporate.
Unroll crescent dough and divide to create triangles. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in each triangle. (Amount of filing depends on “size” of dough you are using). Fold sides over to create a free form pinwheel. Mine look different each time.
Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tagged with:  

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

On July 7, 2010, in Miscellany, by Wendy

Saturday started out as a lovely day. Izzy woke early and we headed out to MacCaulay Park. We brought snacks and sidewalk chalk and had lots of fun drawing on the ground.

She insisted on adding whiskers to everything I drew.

Even the fish and the octopus got whiskers.

We stopped by Goodwill and found some new books for Izzy. She’s really losing interest in her baby board books, so now I’m stocking up on little kid story books. She really likes her new books but can’t seem to get enough of The Aristocats, The Little Mermaid and The Jungle Book. In fact, I have to read those stories every day. It’s a good thing I like them.

Isadora fell asleep on the way home, and transfer to crib was successful. I went into the kitchen to putter around. Mitch went to a neighbor’s house to hang out and was going to pick up a decaf latte for me from Farm Table (yum!) a little later.

While I was checking email, FaceBook, etc. I heard a terrible sound coming from outside. I can’t see the street from my apartment unless I stand on my dining room table, and only then just get a sliver of the north side. The sound was so upsetting, like an animal crying out in extreme pain, and I had a completely visceral reaction. I was shaking and started sobbing uncontrollably.

I looked out to see a woman holding a limp dog in her arms and she was screaming and crying and asking for help. It just broke my heart because I wanted to help her, but I couldn’t leave Izzy home alone to go out there to see what I could to help.

I kept seeing people approach her and then turn away. What the hell was wrong with these people? Why weren’t they helping her? I called Mitch and asked him to go down and see if he could help her get a cab, drive her to the vet, do anything to just MAKE THE SCREAMING STOP.

I began to understand that she let her dog walk off leash and he dashed into the traffic and got hit by a car. I was simply heart sick by the animal’s cries of pain and of the woman’s cries of anguish.

I started playing the “what if” game in my mind. What if Izzy broke free from me and ran into the street and was run over by a car? What if that was me holding her limp body, asking for help, and people turned away? I almost threw up I was so distraught.

Finally, a Fire Truck showed up to take control of the situation and Mitch came home to report what he learned. He, along with several other citizens, hailed several cabs and offered to give her money to take her and that poor suffering dog to a vet to get fixed up. She refused everything, which is why people were turning and walking away. She wanted to wait until Animal Care and Control would show up (even if it was going to more than an hour) to take the dog away so they could destroy instead of going to a vet for help. She apparently couldn’t afford the vet bills. More than an hour! To let that dog suffer, and let the people of the neighborhood live in her distress, for what? To not pay a vet bill?

I later learned that people called 911 for help. She wasted so many resources for no discernible reason other than getting rid of her pet who was no longer cute.

I am outraged by this woman’s lack of care for her animal. To let a dog walk off leash in this neighborhood, where cabs, buses and cars drive 50 miles an hour to make the next green light is just irresponsible. To take the life of an animal under your care because it’s cute and fun, but with no plans to see to it’s health and well being is just unconscionable. If you can’t afford to take care of your animal, then don’t get one.

I still can’t shake the sound of that dog crying.


A Collection

On July 6, 2010, in Kid, by Wendy

Several things I wanted to write about Izzy, but haven’t had the time…

1) On Izzy’s second birthday, she sang the alphabet song all the way through, by herself.

2) After Izzy’s second birthday party, she sang, “Happy Birthday, two years old” for several days.

3) She still talks about cake.

4) Izzy is really getting in to role playing. She loves to change her doll’s diaper and put all her babies to bed.

5) Pretend games are happening more and more. She would often “feed” me a bowl of strawberries at bedtime. Her latest favorite is playing tea party with the new tea set from Green Toys.

6) This kid is getting a little sassy. Our conversation went something like this:
Izzy: Mama, I need a bicycle for my bath.
Me: You don’t need a bicycle for your bath.
Izzy: Whatever, Mama.

7) Izzy is starting to give me kisses and tell me she loves me without any prompting. I am in heaven.

8 ) She’s losing her adventurous spirit with food. It’s all about the cheese and crackers now. She won’t even eat her beets anymore. I’m so sad.

9) Whenever I draw something for her (kitty, bunny, fish, octopus), she needs to give it whiskers.

10) Now that we have noise muffling, blackout blinds in her room, she’s falling asleep faster and sleeping in later.


Super Hero Cape

On July 6, 2010, in Arty Crafty, by Wendy

Here’s the final product of my sneak peek last month!

I found a great tutorial for Super Hero Capes over at The Long Thread. The instructions were really easy to follow. I drew out the pattern in about 15 minutes, cut the fabric in another ten, and the sewing and pressing probably took about an hour. All together, this was a quick project, and easy for me to manage over the course of several days since I don’t get solid blocks of time for my projects. It was also a fun challenge because I had never done appliqué before. There was no way I would have even attempted it using my old machine. I am so in love with my new Singer Confidence 7470. Sewing is fun again! The appliqué came out great and I’m looking forward to doing more.

Ethan’s birthday is coming up soon tomorrow, and I made the Super Hero Cape for him. How did the time get away again? I really did think I finished in time to mail it to him for his special day. Well, a little belated won’t be too big of a deal. I hope.

I love the fabric I chose. The lining is from Three Rivers Fabric. I love the blue, red. And orange. So vibrant!

I took the yard to Britex so I could find a corresponding color for the outside of the cape. The clerk helping me was the best! She grabbed several bolts of fabric and helped me choose the best red and orange to use.

Hope to have few shots of Ethan wearing it soon!

Because this was such a fun and easy project, it will be my go-to gift for little kids as their birthdays roll around. I’m making one for Izzy in lime green with a cupcake pattern for the lining. Stay tuned for photos of the next completed project.

I forgot that today was Monday so I’ll have to shift everything down and move a couple of things around next time I’m in the kitchen.

Sunday: Salmon with rice cooker mac and cheese and broccoli.

Monday: Veggie Lasagna with zucchini, kale, mushrooms, black olives and fresh basil. It was delicious and usually Izzy can’t get enough of lasagna, but today she refused to eat it. After the 1:00 a.m. I’m hungry screams from Saturday night, I made sure she ate something before getting down from her chair. She had carrots, hummus, pita, an apricot and some almond milk.

Tuesday: Slow cooker chili. I really should brown the turkey tonight before I go to bed.

Wednesday: Lasagna leftovers. Hopefully Izzy will eat it this time. Mitch will have to figure something out if she doesn’t. He’ll be on his own while I’m at photo class.

Thursday: Spinach Raviolis

Friday: Chili left overs

Saturday: Tilapia, quinoa and zucchini

Sunday: Soup and grilled cheese. Quick, easy and no leftovers. We’re headed to San Diego next week. Yay!