Recipe: Antipasta

I was a vegetarian for seventeen years. Yeah, I know- I busted the run right after Bean was born with a parmesan crusted chicken breast that still makes me drool thinking about it. Then last year I had my first steak. Oh lawsy, it was divine. But every once in a while I still get a hankering for some of my old veggie staples, and this is one of my favs.

Vegetable Antipasta

MARINADE

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • fresh basil leaves, chopped

VEGETABLES

  • one eggplant, cubed or sliced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
  • 1 zucchini, sliced

Prep all your veggies and steam them (except artichokes) in a basket over boiling water for two minutes. You want them just barely tender so the marinade can seep in and flavor them best. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk together until emulsified. Pour over the warm vegetables and toss. Add artichoke hearts. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The eggplant and mushrooms will sop in the marinade and change to an almost meaty texture. Serve on a platter with olives, cheese and cold cuts if you like.

Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

I’ve lost myself lately. It’s easy to do in the hustle and craziness of a lived, messy life, but I looked up the other day and realized that life was driving me instead of me taking the life I wanted. If we forget to look towards the sky once in a while, we start to believe the dust and peril and pain is reality- when it truth, it’s simply a byproduct of the magnificence of souls descended to mortality. If we’re not careful, we can confuse the forms for the spirit. And I haven’t been careful. I have been numb.

There’s a million reasons why– life is hard, things aren’t fair, I’m tired, my heart hurts– and none of them matter. What matters is noticing and having the courage to do something, even if its hard. What matters is my remembering who I am and looking heavenward again to get my bearings.

We are all divinity in embryo- slivers of light, genomes of God- and we forget this so readily. We sell ourselves for a sack of silver, or for comfort, or for safety, or some other paltry worldly thing that makes us feel protected, because we’ve bought the myth that this is all there is… we’ve lost our faith in the promise of more.

How could I ever hope for my children to use their wings if their mama folds hers up and forgets they’re there? How can I ask for those I love to be courageous and turn to the skies if I am unwilling to do the same? There is much I don’t know, but I do know living a half-life is not for me- not for anyone- this is not what God wants for me, or this mama wants for her children.

So while I don’t know what it will look like, or what life has in store for me, I’m looking up, and meeting it head-on. I’m not afraid- I have faith and I am ready to leap.

[Lyrics, of course, from the song Defying Gravity from Broadway play WICKED]

The Harvest

We have the best Home Teacher in the world. He was just released as a bishop before he was given to us, and we’ve reaped the benefits of his love and care over the years. He’s like a grandpa to my kids, and he has an affinity for Bean like few other people. Earlier this spring, he planted a garden in the derelict Little House backyard. He hauled in good soil, built raised beds, and taught the kids how to till, sow, water and tend. We’ve been reaping the benefits all through the late summer and early fall, but this week he came by for the final harvest before shutting the growing season to a close.All summer Bean has been watching the hard melons and cabbages grow and grow, and it was finally time to pick them. Bean is by far the most avid gardner, and he loved checking the yard every day. He even… wait for it… tasted a tomato.Look at the utter joy on his face… that, folks, is the stuff of a mama’s heart- and it worth more than gold and is more precious than rubies. Though the sunlight is its own nice touch. No way in hell is he eating cabbage, but he grew them with utter delight.And now, the last garden resident has about four days left before I unleash Bean and let him do what he’s been waiting for all summer- it’s Jack-o-Lantern time!Thank you to all the Home Teachers out there who do so much more than just phone it in. Not everyone can do what our does, and not every family needs what we do, but this is one area where we are perfectly blessed, and blessedly grateful. Thank you Dr. F. We love you.

Around Little House Right Now

Not much happening around here today. Went to the dollar-movie and saw Cars II earlier, and then came home and mowed the lawn. My next assignment isn’t due until 11pm tonight, so I’m off for a few hours. Here’s what’s up at Little House…Boys have been submersed in Lego mess- although after this picture I kicked them all out in the yard to enjoy the late October mild weather while it lasts. They are in the fort out under the Maple tree right now- see above. Sweet.

At the kitchen table, Abby has been busy all afternoon making things- as evidenced by more pictures to follow.  Not sure what’s happening here…

Peeking out the dining room/kitchen window at my freshly mowed lawn.

The ghosts on the door are new today. They locked me out and found it irrationally hilarious after I snapped this picture.

In the living room, watching Abby try and tell me her room IS clean. Her fashionista sense is in full swing today.

And I found this on my bed. What’s happening at your house this afternoon?

Mama Told Me There’d Be Days Like This

The platitudes rise up on the tides of my disquiet mind; when it rains it pours, good things come to those who wait, this too shall pass. I want to shake them out my ears like bubbles of water from diving too deep, but they won’t go away. Frowning, I push my tumbled night hair back and pull on my socks. Padding towards the kitchen, the kids are already bickering downstairs, as I tip the tea kettle under the faucet and look out the window. The blue flames kick to life under the kettle and sizzle the tiny droplets clinging to the chrome to instant steam. Low morning sunlight streams through the window of Little House, and lands on the cerulean blue marble that tops the tea kettle. I love this tea kettle- it was a wedding gift a million years and three lifetimes ago, but the blue marble makes me happy.

I turn and stare vacantly out the window, tuning out the kids and noticing the lacy edges of gold on the Maple in the yard. That’s new- in the last few days its gone from deep green to frosted with autumn. By next week, it will be entirely yellow and the yard will be filling with leaves. The kettle bubbles and hums quietly behind me. Into my mind springs the scripture from Ruth 1:16, like a bright shiny flame. It matches the blue marble in intensity. Where did that come from? It’s preferable to the platitudes, I think. I should have paid more attention. A watched pot never boils…

My tea is steeping now, tendrils of curling steam rise in the still sunlight and leaving a ring on the old round oak table. The kids stampede upstairs in search of food, and I imagine a clipped British narrator giving the voiceover to my morning “And then the young, in search of food, find their mother, who has been stalking zebra down by the watering hole, but was stymied when a crocodile took her wildebeest…” The tendrils of steam from my tea are now scattered and wild from the flury of kids’ hungry mouths. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…

The phone rings.

My friend’s voice in my ear, and from the hello alone, I know all is not well and plans for the weekend have been derailed. Hot tears spring to my eyes. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just life, and school and responsibilities- but I had been looking forward to getting out, getting prettied-up and having some non-Serengeti time. Sometimes its nice not to be mom for a little bit. I wipe tears with the back of my sleeve, sniffing, and spread peanut butter on the first of six English Muffins Bean will consume today. Sadness washes over me. All dressed up and no place to go…

The baby birds are fed, clothed and evicted from the nest for the day, and I lean against the door and shoot the deadbolt. Quiet. Opening my laptop, the familiar Apple chimes ding, and the new software and OS I had installed this week brighten the screen. Pulling up my paper for a feminist theory class- oh the irony- the little rainbow of hell starts to spin. Oh no. Don’t panic. It keeps spinning. And spinning. No no no no no.

The the application quits. Oh no. Do I want to sent it to Apple? I never know- and this time I play it safe and do. I relaunch. Nothing. I force-quit, and reboot. Happy chimes, for a brief shining moment, it seemed all was well, but no… the spinning rainbow of hell. And on and on and on. It’s always darkest before the dawn…

I call my friend whose son had installed the new software for me on Sunday. She offers to drop it off at Apple downtown since she is headed that direction. I weep with gratitude. Oh, yes, please- let the Geniuses have it- make the spinning rainbow of hell go away…

Turns out my hard-drive was in the middle of taking a flying leap off a a high bridge onto a hard surface. The ever-so-slightly snotty boy at Apple informs me the drive is a total loss, and surely I had used Time Machine and backed up recently, right? Yeah, um… No. The irony? There is a backup drive was already ordered and on it’s way via UPS; I was about to get all responsible. By days… If it can go wrong, it will…

It wasn’t even 9 a.m. I want a do over. Got up on the wrong side of the bed…

Death Knell for a Couch

Remember how Bean cut the couch open? Well, since then, its been an ongoing slow death spiral, as the duct tape (aw yeah!) got peeled off, and the slices in the leather were slowly lengthened as little hands and feet found themselves unable to resist the temptation to pull and push just a little more. Each night I would go downstairs and there would be more and more couch fluff on the ground, the stairs, the bookshelves, the laundry…

What was once a fine, leather L-shaped sectional now resembles nothing so much an an eviscerated Taun Taun in the snow. I stood in the doorway trying to decided what to do. The thing is big- and its beyond all hope- truly. The dump or a bonfire is the only destination for it now, but there’s no way I can get it out of the basement myself. So I got drastic.

I had a guest room downstairs. In a moment of what I can only call brilliant inspiration, but my kids would probably call Mom-Going-Crazy, I moved everything out of both the family room and the guest room (except the Taun Taun) and started from scratch. After several hours, and untold trash sacks, the guest room is still a guest room, but it’s now also the Wii and play room. I moved the TV armoire and all electronics into the guest room, and then dumped every single bin of toys in a giant pile on the floor and set to work culling and tossing. It took all night, but as of right now…

Instead of a tv room and a play room, we have one usable, clean, well organized room. The Taun Taun is alone, behind a closed, locked door, with a few other storage items, but no longer contributing the temptation of its fluff to curious hands and clogging vacuums. At some point, I’ll get someone over to help me get it’s carcass on a bonfire. Taun Taun has given up the ghost.

Now how long before Bean decides he has to see what’s in the mattress in the guest room?

Reality

It’s 1:43 in the morning. I’m still in my workout clothes from this yesterday morning, and just now flopping onto my soft, welcoming bed. The laundry had been piling up for days, and I simply couldn’t put it off any longer. Everything except the basket of pajamas and my stuff is folded and put away. Tonight, before laundry and after the kids were fed and put in bed, I wrote a four page paper on the effects of social-expectation on the self-esteem of young women, took a timed test online, and submitted a powerpoint presentation. Earlier, I ran to the grocery store to replenish our depleted fridge, and visited with a friend who stopped by while I made enchiladas and english muffins. It was my day to carpool- well, every afternoon is, now that I have a smaller car and can’t split it out with more people and kids. I missed an assignment last night because I don’t have the right software for my computer, but a friend is mailing it from Provo, and the professor was nice enough to give me an extension. In my email was a second note from one of my children’s math teacher- we’re still not making the progress needed, and he wants to meet with me. The kids brought home volunteer sheets and book-orders and I had to disappoint them with reality. Ditto school pictures. They wanted to go to ice cream for FHE, but with the paper and PPT due, I had to disappoint them, again. There are dishes from dinner piled in the sink, and I don’t even really want to think about the kitchen floors or bathrooms. A cursory wipe down with some Clorox wipes was the best I could swing today, after I rushed them out the door this morning, jumped in the shower, and attempted to answer some email before I had an appointment. There was an email from a friend who thought I was angry at her for not communicating much, and I stopped long enough to apologize and reassure her that I love her. My kids primary teacher called to ask where they were yesterday, and I explained that I had been in an all-weekend class and was unable to arrange for the to get to church- despite the fact that I took my lunch from class and used it to speak in church as I had agreed, long before I realized I had school this random Sunday. I made it back to class on time, albeit in my Sunday best while everyone else was in sweats. Tomorrow my kindergartner is off, but the boys have school, and my Visiting Teaching companion has been calling and wants me to get on the ball. I was also asked to volunteer some time for women in need downtown as a service project, and reminded that we have our Souper Thursday coming up. It goes from 10 am to 8 pm, but childcare is only available from 11-1. That’s not a lot of help to me. My car is making a funny noise, and it’s over the time when the oil should be changed, but I can’t figure out how or when I will get it in, so I’ll worry about it after tomorrow, when I have an 8-page paper due. The boys both have scouts tonight, so perhaps I’ll get some writing done then, while Abby colors. I lost a filling on Friday, but I haven’t had time yet to figure out what to do about it- something will come to me, I’m sure- it always does.

On Sunday, a woman sat down near me as I was waiting to go speak- she said her husband was traveling for four days, and she was absolutely dreading the week and didn’t know how she would make it, “I really hate being a single mother.”

I just stared; a burning lump lodged in my throat, and turned around, lest I break into a million little pieces.

Rant: Falsies, My @$$

Okay ladies- don’t get sucked in. Don’t believe the hype. Everywhere you turn right now is some mascara company claiming to have the new formula that makes your lashes look lush and long and full like falsies. It’s all b.s. The ads are photoshopped, and most of the women in the magazines are actually wearing false lashes. The Covergirl Lash Blast ads even says so in the smallprint at the bottom- they word it carefully- but Drew’s lashes are augmented! Everything from Lancome’s new Doll Lashes at near $30 to Falsies available at Walmart for around $5- and while some of them are nice mascara, none of them deliver.

So- what’s a girl to do? Only one thing- learn to put on false lashes!! Seriously, ladies- it’s not hard, and the payoff is fantastic. Mo turned me on to this years ago, and I was nervous and sketch about it at first, but I’m a serious devotee now. I don’t wear them often- I don’t generally do them for daytime, but when I want some serious pop, nothing beats a pair of demi-whispies for some glam.

They can be subtle- or totally over the top- but have some fun:

      

So don’t be afraid! Give it a shot! Here are some tutorials from my favorite makeup girls if you want to see how easy it is to do. If it’s not for you, no biggie- but don’t let inability to do it be the reason you don’t. Have fun with yourself and with being glamorous!

One of the Crazy Ones

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I’m curled up on my bed with my MacBook in my lap- a modern, streamlined little gem of a machine that holds more promise and power than sci-fi novelists could have dreamed up. Next to me is my sleek, heavy, sliver iPod, where what used to be shelves of disks in clunky plastic cases now can slip in my pocket and be accessed by gliding the tip of my finger across the smooth glass. And nevermind the iPhone, where we can instantly look anyone in the world face to face from the palms of our hands. My kids are sitting here, watching a Pixar movie and laughing with glee for the 100th time- at least.

It’s not hyperbole to say Mr Jobs changed the world. I was late coming to the Apple party, despite having grown up right down the street from Apple Headquarters, and despite knowing the Jobs’ from simply living in the same area. But I have become a devotee with the fervor of all converts- the beautiful, minimal, well-designed products that are simple, lovely and have taught us about intuitive manipulation- blurring the line between man and machine. Apple has been on the cutting edge of everything for decades- everyone else, let’s not fool ourselves, is playing catch-up and copy.

When I was a kid, my neighbor and I used to go to Pixar seminars in the foothills off of Page Mill Road, where the first shop was. They would hold open house nights and you could pop in and check out what they were working on- I can recall seeing the bluelines for the lamp looking at the audience. Yes, that one. I never knew what a big deal Steve Jobs was- he was just someone who would talk about cool stuff. He wouldn’t have known me though- I was just another person in the neighborhood- and he actually chewed me out once for misunderstanding something he said to me. I’m sure I’m in good company there.

One of the things I had somehow missed were the sage and profound things he had said over the years. Social media has been inundated with quotes and youTube links to talks, speeches and quips he knocked off. TED has some particularly good ones. I’ve been touched at his sincerity and the searching soul he clearly was- along with a lot of other things, as are we all. I think its pretty clear he was a genius- and well, geniuses don’t really function on the same plain as the rest of us mortals. I find myself grateful for his own brand of crazy, and I hope someday to be worthy of being considered a rebel, a troublemaker, one of the crazy ones. Thank you Mr Jobs. Godspeed.

Happy Birthday to Me

Figure I may as well mark the milestone. Today is my birthday. This is what I look like today, at the end of my 39th trip around the sun- but it is not who I am. The tiny lines and freckles on my face mark my earthly journey, and they don’t bother me much. It’s what’s inside that makes me proud, that makes me stand taller and hold myself in esteem. And I realize now, as I stare down the nose of forty, that I like who I am becoming as a mother, a woman, a human being, and a daughter of God. I must have needed some serious refining, because the paths I have chosen and been given are not the easy, simple ways- but I would not be who I am without that hard road. Today I thank God for the broken road, the hard road, the rocky path, and the patience He has in allowing me to hammer myself on the anvil of life and become whatever it is He knows lies within.