Friday, July 29, 2011

Eating Down the House

We have entered the phase of vacation preparations called "Eating Down the House", which means that we have to make do with what is here, and not buy anything new to eat this week. Otherwise, I will come home to a fridge full of slimy, furry lumps of yuck, that smell so bad the cat needs therapy.

It's not so bad in the beginning, we can make very nice dinners out of what we've got. By the end of the week, it's getting a bit more challenging. But by today, two days before we go, it's just awful....tonight I have to make dinner out of two beets, a rather dodgy tomato, some leftover Fettucine Alfredo and molasses. Toby is getting nervous, because he knows his tuna stash is next on the menu.

Thing 2 complained that there is nothing to eat in the house, and I replied "I know!
That's why we are getting out of here!"

I have a secret to tell you: I've been trying to save money on groceries (so I can spend it in France!!) and so the rest of my family doesn't know it, but we've been eating down the house for weeks! They just thought I was serving terrible food!

Now, I know full well that cheap food does not mean bad food, far from it; it's not all lobster and steak at Chez Loudshoes usually anyway. But we have been eating a lot of pasta and beans the last month or two, and I think they might be on to me. The Mister asked if we could have something with "real meat" in it sometime soon.

I think he is referring to the last batch of chili I made a few weeks ago. (Chili is one of Thing 2's and the Mister's favorites, and although I can take it or leave it, it is pretty easy to make in the crock pot and the leftovers are easy to re-package and sell as a whole different meal somewhere down the line. )
I put in some leftover quinoa I had cooked up earlier in the week. Quinoa is a grain, sort of rice-like, that is supposed to be a miracle of nutrition and the current darling of the health-food disciples. I like it because it's filling and cheap, and I can make a salad for lunch out of it in about 10 minutes flat.
Anyway, it has bit of chew to it, and since I had about a cup leftover sitting in the fridge, I plopped that in the chili.....who's going to notice?
Well, quinoa has a distinctive little white "C" shaped bit in it, that does not disappear when you put it in chili. The Mister came upstairs from eating his lunch at work and asked if I had put anything new in this batch, and I confessed that I had tried to stretch it a bit with the quinoa. He said he thought it might have had little worms in it. But, and here's the bit I really like, he kept eating it anyway. Even though he thought it was full of little white worms.
I swear to God, that man will truly eat anything.

At some point before that, I tried to make another crock-pot meal called "Chili Mac" which is sort of a cross between chili and macaroni and cheese. Again, cheap, filling and right up my family's oh-so-sophisticated alley. It didn't turn out quite as the cookbook promised; it was a bit gloppier than expected and not terribly tasty. The Mister ate two bowls of it and froze the rest for lunches, having christened it "BARFY" for identification purposes.
Undaunted, I tried an Indian inspired crock-pot dish called "Dal", which is lentils and coconut milk and spices served over rice....again, cheap and filling and sounds like it could be good. Again, not so much....a bit loose and bland, this was christened "INDIAN BARFY" and frozen for future use.
And yes, we've eaten the rest of those, too.
Beggars can't be choosers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pack Up Your Troubles.

We are going away on holidays next week, and I am just about at the point of organizing myself for my holidays that, if anyone told me it was all called off and I didn't have to go, I'd be altogether thrilled.
Not that I don't want to go on holidays, it's just that I don't want to get ready to go on holidays. Its so much work to get yourself organized to go on holidays that you need a holiday when you are done. Which works out well.

This year the Loudshoes family are veering wildly from our usual plans of a week up at a cottage on Lake Huron. (The cottage was sold last winter, and we don't know the new owners and they would probably charge us considerably more for the use of their dwelling than a couple of haircuts and a really good loaf of homemade soda bread.)
This year, we are going to Europe; specifically, Ireland, France and England. For two weeks, not one, which is stretching my organizational abilities to their max.

The girls are beside themselves excited, and the Mister is totally thrilled and I am trying hard not to think of this as more than a shitload of work and worry.
My father asked if I was getting excited for our trip and I said that I was beginning to have dreams about missing planes and forgetting passports and losing luggage, so yes, I think I am.

I'm always this way before a trip, trying to plan for every eventuality and driving myself absolutley crazy with all the possible disasters that I have to avert. ("Umbrellas in case it rains! Bandaids and moleskin for blisters! Immodium in case of diarhhea! Anti-venom for snakebites! Sunscreen! Rubber bands! An axe!" I have to remind myself we are going to London and Paris, not Mumbai and Mount Everest.)
I guess I come by it honestly; when my father's mother came to Canada to visit us from Ireland in 1967, she brought her own tea, because she was afraid we wouldn't have any good stuff here.

I have to tell myself that no matter what I pack, I will take lots of things I wish I hadn't, and I will forget to bring something so vital, so necessary, that I will wonder if I had been smoking crack while I was packing. One time we went to the cottage and I forgot to pack sheets for the beds.....all of them. And another time, I sent Thing 2 to summer camp with no underwear and no pajamas.

We are also visiting the west coast of Ireland, where my father comes from. We will be staying in the house my grandparents built, where my dad grew up and where my parents lived when they first got married. I love that house and west Kerry, and I'm really pumped to show it to my kids.

Currently, here in southwestern Ontario, the weather is stupid hot. It has been over 30°C for over a week now, and on Thursday, it was 35°, which is ridiculous. I have been keeping and eye on the weather, and in Dingle, where we will be going, it is 16°C and drizzly. (Says my father, "I could have told you that; it's always 16 and drizzly. April, August, November, February, 16 and drizzly.") With the heat and drought here, the beaches of West Kerry never looked so inviting.

This really will be a trip of a lifetime; the girls are at a terrific age to be going overseas, and I'm thrilled to be able to go to Paris, however briefly.

I just hope I pack enough tea.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kibbles and Bits

My new iPhone has an "auto-correct" for when you spell a word wrong, it will suggest another word to replace the dubious one. Sometime this is helpful, sometimes this is a pain in the ass and sometimes it's hilarious. (i.e. look up )
When I text the girls, sometimes I want to put in "honey", as in "ok, honey". Seems inocuous enough, but for some reason, my phone disputes the input of a noun as an endearment, and corrects it to "homey". As in "thanks, homey, I'll see you later", or "Love you, homey". It sounds like I am a particularly affectionate gangsta rapper.

The Mister and I took Thing 2 and a gaggle of her friends to the beach was stinking hot and extremely crowded (Two of my favorite things! Along with blue cheese and accordion music!) The Mister and I huddled under a beach umbrella and people watched.

  • I get that lots of people like tattoos; it's not something I'd ever want for myself, but if you do, knock yourself out. But I do puzzle over the choice of tattoo some people get...for instance, I understand the whole "chinese character that means 'strength' " even if you are not Chinese, or a rose or a flag somewhere, but we saw a guy with a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja urtle on his upper arm. That seems like a very strange image to which you would want to associate yourself for the rest of your life. Especially since, in another couple of years, you are going to have to explain what a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is, endlessly.

  • A bathing suit that is too small to cover your bum is fine when you are three years old, but less acceptable when you are thirty three. Why not buy a bathing suit that fits you and does not require yanking out of your butt-crack every twenty seconds?

  • Sunscreen is your friend, particularly when you have Irish/Scottish/English DNA that was never designed to see more than 4 minutes of continuous sunlight ever. I'm pretty sure there was going to be some horrific sunburns making some lives pretty miserable around 9:00 last night. A couple of people could even be described as "deep-fried".

  • No matter how diligent I am with the sunscreen, I always manage to miss a spot or two, which then announces itself at top volume around 9:00 at night. Yesterday: the tops of both my feet, three square inches at the top of my leg and the back of my left hand.

There is a farmer's market near us that sets up every Friday morning, and I like to go and get a few fruit and veg there every week. (I don't care what the foodie police tell you, the farmer's market is NOT cheaper than the grocery store, but the stuff there is amazing. I like that it's all local and all, but it also means that I can't buy mangos or limes there. I still end up going to the grocery store, too.) There is a family, I think they are Mennonite or Amish, and they have eleventy-two children who are home-schooled who help with the stand, and they all are adorable and blond and terribly earnest and nice. Their job is to get bags and make change and tell the customers the difference between spinach and arugula. Last week when I was there, the oldest kid, about 11, tried to give me 8 dollars in change for my 6 dollar purchase. The problem was, I gave him a 10$ bill. I gently told him to think it out again, and he insisted that that was right, so I said he should ask his dad and he looked like he was going to burst into tears. So I said that was fine, and now I have to figure out next week how to slip 4 dollars back into their coffers without anyone noticing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

No-Frills Follies

I ended up standing outside the No-Frills store for about 25 minutes this morning, waiting for the Mister to finish his errands and come pick me up. (And for the 1 millionth time I wished he would get a cell phone. He says he doesn't need one, a sentiment with which I would respectfully, but violently, disagree. I suspect he really just doesn't want me to be able to reach him 24/'s bad enough that we work and live together.)

And as I stood there, basking in the sunshine, watching the fish thaw and the milk go sour, I had ample opportunity to observe my fellow shoppers. (Translation: I was bored to death.)

  • There are lots of people with small children at the grocery store. Why grocery stores do not have ample public washroom space is beyond me....every single one of those kids has figured out that the way to liven up an otherwise dull shopping trip is to announce "I have to pee" smack in the middle of the dairy aisle. Because it is summer holidays and school is out, there were lots of children of various ages. Most were biddable and happy enough to go along on the outing, but there were a few (mosty 10 year old boys) clearly were going to make whatever adult was foolish enough to tote them along, pay. And dearly. I was glad I wasn't in their sights.

  • There are lots of elderly people at the No-Frills, probably because it is the cheapest grocery store in town. Some of them were couples, and a few of the men exhibited the same outward demenor as the above mentioned 10-year-old boys.

  • Many, many people are completely oblivious to their surrroundings. Like, to the point that you wonder if they have special needs or something. I saw one woman pull out a grocery cart from the Grocery Cart Incarceration Unit, and the stand right in front of it while she made a phone call, making every other person herniate themselves wrangling their carts around hers.

  • The No-Frills store is one where you put a quarter in a little slot on the cart, to spring it free of all the other carts it is handcuffed to. A surprising number of people offered their carts to newcomers when they were done with it, and opted to forgo getting their quarter back. I just loved that.

  • Apparently, at No-Frills, smiling, manners and exchanging pleasantries are all considered "frills" by the staff. I wonder if their job applications specify "must be surly, unco-operative and have a keen ability to display passive-aggressive behavior towards customers".

  • No-Frills makes you buy your plastic bags for 5 cents each. They say it's to encourage people to be environmentally friendly, but I think it's just a way to make money. Seriously, does the environment care whether or not I pay for the bag I throw my garbage away in? Anyway, this results in some people resorting to truly hilarious methods of carrying their groceries out to their car. I saw one guy fill his hands and arms with milk, produce and frozen burgers, and carrying a package of 48 rolls of toilet paper in his teeth. I'll bet if he had been an African woman, he'd have had a box of detergent on his head, too.

  • People buy a LOT of soda pop.

Finally the Mister came (they had had some sort of computer brou-ha-ha at Best Buy and he got all caught up in it.) and we went home speedy quick to put everything away. A morning well spent.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Things That Make Me Go "WTF".

1. The other day, I was stopped at an intersection, because the light was red. I was in the right hand lane, waiting to go straight. The guy behind me, honked and then swung around me into the left lane and passed me so he could make a right turn on a red light. Like I was infringing on his constitutional rights by occupying the right lane.

2. One of the reasons I don't go to movies very much any more is because it drives me bat-shit crazy to hear other people talking after I've paid 12 bucks to hear the people on the screen talking. (Other reasons: It's too freaking cold in there. Why do theaters have to be kept like walk-in refrigerators in the summer? Also, 12 bucks is too much money for some of the crap they play in theaters...I'll wait for the DVD, thanks.) So why, when I do go, which is when the movie has been out for weeks and the theatre is blissfully empty, do the only other people there sit right behind me??

3. Taking an elevator for one or two floors. You get a pass from me if you are A) elderly, B) toting small children or C) have a visible disability (like toting small children). But if you are able-bodied, mobile and smart enough to work the buttons, there's no need to wait 10 minutes to take the elevator down from the second floor.

4. People who complain that their gym doesn't have enough "good" parking spots. Because you wouldn't want to wear yourself out walking 30 extra feet when you're going to spend the next hour on a treadmill.

5. Clients who call for an appointment and their answer to "when would you like that" is "I don't know". Seriously? You didn't think that question was going to come up? Like, at all??

6. We had a guy who worked at the salon for about 3 days, once. One of the managers has a first name that you've probably never heard before. When introduced to her, this guy said "oh, I'm never going to remember that! I'm just going to call you 'Miss Thing' instead! " To his manager. On his first day. You can see why he didn't make it to the end of the week.

7. I once had a panhandler get snippy with me because he thought I wasn't being generous enough. Dude, I just gave you money, for free.... there's nothing in this for me. Why would I give you more? And does that approach ever work? Do people feel bad for not handing you enough money without anything in return?

8. We once had a lady call the salon to say that she wanted her money back. Her son's wedding had been 6 months before, and she had been happy enough on the day of the wedding, but she just saw the wedding pictures and didn't like the way her hair looked in them.