Blog Archive

Thursday, November 29, 2012

San Diego: Part 2

To continue about our San Diego trip back in September...

Saturday morning, September 29, Donovan had scheduled everyone to "do" a Crossfit workout at his oldest brother's gym.  Joining Crossfit was on my "do when Dave moves back to Davis" list...but obviously neither of those things ever happened.  So I was happy to be able to try it, especially with a huge group of friends.  And it was just as awesome as I thought it'd be.  Eddie was being a royal pill, whining and throwing a fit because I wouldn't hold him while I worked out.  Kateri didn't do the workout and was very sweet to haul Eddie out the door to let me do my thing.  Apparently, he cried the whole time, even as she bribed him with lemonade and chips at Subway next door.  I really hate being watched while exercising, I guess for fear that I'm being judged and that I'm not doing it properly.  So I was sort of intimidated by the competition between our groups of two.  But...Skyler and I were on a team together and we beat everyone!  Woo!  We did some bar/weight lifts (I sucked at those), pull ups, and rowing.

Afterward, everyone piled into cars to take off for the beach.  We took Ahmik's kids along with us since he had to stay at the gym to work.

The beach was darn near perfect that afternoon: nice and warm from the late-season heat wave and no wind.  We all brought or bought our own lunches. Our family had some tasty Mediterranean food from a little shop right off the sand, where it isn't weird to order your food while only wearing your bathing suit (which is what Jennifer and I did).
Our beach area.
Eddie and Batiste playing in the sand.
Us Bowers.
Edward and Jennifer.
That evening we took Ahmik's kids back to our condo to get cleaned up.  The Jones kids treated everyone to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, where we ate the yummiest spicy scallop dish ever.  Ahmik's baby boy, Gavin, was NOT happy to be there so we all took turns walking that precious 3 month old around outside so his mama could eat her food.  The only way I could get him to calm down was by singing BINGO, except the EDDIE version I used to sing to Eddie ("There was a Mama who had a baby and Eddie was his name-y...").

Then we all walked down to the other end of the shopping center to party at the Crossfit gym.  Given the paleo diet fad at these gyms, it was funny that we were all drinking champagne and juice while eating cake.  Toasts were made, skits were performed, songs were sung, and stories were told. The kids ran around like crazy people, popping balloons with dry erase pens, and the adults sat around chatting.  It was a great time.
Party at Crossfit!
Kateri and Dale's actual 40th anniversary was on New Year's Day of this year, but we celebrated it that night.
Kateri and Dale celebrating 40 years of marriage.
On Sunday morning, Edward and Jennifer took off in a rental car to drive up to Santa Barbara for a wedding.  The rest of us went to the zoo.  Since we were a bit late, we just wandered around on our own and met up with everyone for lunch.

It was a hot day, but we had lots of fun seeing all the animals.  I was very proud of my mom and Eddie for walking around on their own the whole time.  Of course, we had the stroller for Eddie but he refused to sit in it...until he passed out late in the day.
Two Bowers and a Levie studying the zoo map.
Monday morning us Bowers met up with my friend, Leah, and her two kiddos at a park in Coronado.  I was in the same class as Leah's older sister in high school and we became 'friends' on Facebook.  Things like this are exactly why I love Facebook, blogs, and email--allowing virtual friendships to turn real.  Over the last few years we followed each other's lives: marriage, kids, home ownership, etc.  It was fun to be able to meet up and let our kids play.  Really, her kid played with me and Dave while Eddie busied himself playing with other kids' sand toys.
Leah and her kids.
After the park, us Bowers headed northeast into the hot interior to visit the Wild Animal Safari Park.  We were only there for about 3 hours and it was empty, given the heat and that it was a Monday.  Since we had nothing else to do and had already paid for the 3-in-1 park passes, it was worth going.  My phone was nearly dead by the time we got there, so I didn't take many pictures.

We got to see the racing cheetah and get a Slurpee before taking the last tram ride of the day.  The low angle of the hot sun made the tram ride a little uncomfortable, but I was happy to see the white rhinos (two of three left in the world!) and giraffes.  Afterward, we walked over to see the lions, who were right near the fence, making our view spectacular.  Eddie was so confused about why there was a Land Rover car in the pen with them...and then he was so surprised when a male cat jumped up on top of it:  "MAMA!  DAT KITTY LION ISN'T ALLOWED UP DERE!"

Passed out.  See Eddie's blue mustache from his Slurpee?
When we got home, we went to the beach one last time.  My mom and Dave walked down to a Mexican restaurant to pick up some food for us that night.  I had carne asada nachos made with fries instead of chips....sooooooo good.

The next morning, we packed up the condo and drove Dave to the airport for his flight back north.  My mom and I drove north to spend the night in Santa Barbara to see some of our friends.  More on that later....

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post Thanksgiving Weekend

Friday morning we started out with a yummy breakfast before my folks headed back to Livermore.  Edward took Eddie and the neighbors to the park on their bikes and we just sorta hung out and worked on a few things around the house. 

That night we all biked to the shopping center for some froyo (I'd gotten a 58% off Groupon punchcard) and rented Brave and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It was Eddie's first nighttime biking adventure and he did a great job--although I am very glad we had 4 adults so we could bike on all sides of him to sort of "herd" him towards the right side of the street (he's not really aware of right vs. left yet).  
I found a working red taillight on the ground at school. Dave attached it to Eddie's bike so he's road worthy!
Edward and Jennifer have awesome road bikes but Eddie sure thinks his bike is cooler, what with the bell, flag, and basket.
Eddie wanted Dadda to sit with him by the window.  So sweet, the two of them together!
We watched Brave with Eddie right when we got home, while munching on big bowls of cheesy popcorn.  I'd heard that the movie was a bit scary for little kids, but he did surprisingly well.  All week, he'd been telling us made-up stories about mean bears coming into our house and breaking things: "Once upon a time a biiiiiiig bear came into Mama's house and broke the coffeepot and the door and then Dadda glued it all back together."  So seeing the bears in the movie was pretty ironic.  I'm glad there was a nice bear and not just the scary one...I think that helped him stay calm during the movie.  Jennifer and I watched the other movie much later that night.  It was a cute story.
Eddie sure enjoyed having his favorite people at the house for the holiday.
Saturday morning we had another yummy breakfast, just before we all scooted out the door.  Edward and Jennifer hopped on their bikes toward Napa for a night on their way back to Mountain View.  Us Bowers had an appointment at the UC Davis Neurocognitive Development Lab--they had him wear a "special hat" and watch a show to determine where the blood goes.  The instrument wasn't working so he didn't do anything to record results, but it was still a neat experience.  I think we'll go back again this week to actually record him.  
As far as Eddie's concerned, the best reason to participate in all these cognitive studies is being able to play in the toy room.  He's been there about a dozen times over his life span and he never gets tired of playing in that room.
Then it was off to Target to get Dave a flu shot.  After that, the boys headed off to Mike and Bernie's to repair some faucets while I did some Small Business Saturday shopping and went to the library for a few hours.  Thanks to American Express' $25 credit when you shop at a "small business," I got a new USB-charged bike light for free.  Woo!  

The library was nearly empty and I loved it.  Usually the Main Reading Room is full to the brim and someone is always munching loudly (you're not supposed to eat in there), tapping a pencil repeatedly, or listening to their music too loudly.  But on this post-holiday afternoon there were only about 10 of us in that majestic room.  I got so much done, too!
Isn't this room fantastic?  
Sunday was spent doing chores around the house: I organized all my empty canning jars (about 100 of them) and the zillions of lids and bands, refilled the sugar and flour containers with giant sacks from Costco, did loads and loads of laundry, etc. Dave got the Christmas lights up on the roof and cleaned out the gutters, just in time for the rain that will come in tomorrow.  

That afternoon Eddie was in his room for quiet time.  He was up and playing the whole 2.5 hours: I could hear him on the baby monitor yelling, screaming, singing.  It was hilarious.  When I went in to get him "up," his room was a giant mess.  Toys and "pretty things" (plastic jewelry) EVERYWHERE.  He was a good boy and actually cleaned it all up while I helped (read: told him what to do while sitting on the floor).

We went out to Indian food that night and Eddie surprised us by doing SO well at the table.  I brought Memory, the card game, which occupied him while our food cooked.  He didn't like the mughlia saag (my favorite) but chowed down on rice, chicken tikka, and the lettuce garnish and plum sauce from our plate of too-spicy samosas.  I wasn't too pleased with the restaurant because we'd been told by another waitress on a previous trip that we could use our expired half-off Groupon any time since they always had coupons like that out.  That particular waitress was on vacation but our waiter that night was adamant that she and no one else could not honor an expired coupon.  We contemplated leaving but she comped us the samosas so we decided to stay.  I'll be writing a letter to the restaurant owner about the lying waitress. Also, I didn't feel too badly when I saw that Eddie had gotten rice absolutely everywhere on the booth seat.  It was like the rice exploded!  And he wasn't even that messy while eating.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Feasting 2012

To kick the day off, we all slept in.  Edward, Jennifer, and I went downtown on Wednesday night to a bar, where Dave met up with us for a late night drink.  My folks graciously stayed at our house with sleeping Eddie until after midnight.  Everyone except Eddie awoke very sleepy on Thanksgiving morning.

For breakfast I made some gluten free pancakes, two kinds of sausage patties, and a giant frittata using late season tomatoes from my dad's garden.  It was a delicious way to start a marathon cooking day.
This year, everyone helped cook something, which was nice for me since I usually end up doing 95% of the cooking.  I think I probably did only about 75% this year.  
Dave and Jennifer made the chocolate mousse.
Jennifer making mousse.
We had soooooooooo many side dishes that we could have completely skipped the meat.  Because of Edward and Jennifer's food allergies, we had chicken instead of turkey and everything else (besides the bread) was gluten free.  I really don't think anyone would have been able to tell it was all gluten free.  Here's what we made:
  • Roasted chicken
  • Yams
  • Stuffing (made with gluten free bread cubes, sausages and olives)
  • Greens (mostly from my dad's garden)
  • Two kinds of cranberry sauce
  • My dad's pickled green beans
  • My dad's fermented green tomatoes
  • Gravy (roux made with sweet rice flour)
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Broccolette slaw
  • Warm Brussels sprouts salad (the BEST way to eat this veg)
  • Green salad with apples and poppy seed dressing (given to us by the neighbors as a thank you for hosting their kids while they cooked)
  • Olive focaccia
  • Braided wheat bread
  • Olive wheat bread
  • "Pumpkin" pie with gluten free crust (I used butternut squash instead and you couldn't tell)
  • Apple pie with gluten free crust (as link above but made with pecans instead of coconut)
  • Chocolate mousse
With 7 people we didn't even finish off one chicken.  Who needs meat when you have so many side dishes?
Thanksgiving buffet, with more on the table.
I had hoped we'd eat at 5:30 pm and for the FIRST time ever in the history of me cooking a giant meal, we sat down a half hour early.  

My mom set the table with her mother's cross-stitched linens and my dad's mom's silver and china.  
The silverware was "polished" using my mom's grandma's aluminum pan.  Edward, Dave, and Jennifer were in charge of the silverware; they were really into it.  Unlike traditional polishing, which removes some of the silver metal (thereby wearing it down), this electrochemical reaction just converts the dark silver sulfide (formed from the silverware and sulfur in the air) back to shiny silver.  Ta da, so fun!
Chemistry in action!
Jennifer was so excited about this technique because she and Edward have real silver flatware as their everyday utensils and she doesn't want to have to polish it all the time.
Eddie was nap-free that whole day and he surprised us by doing quite well during dinner.  I almost let him watch a few shows while us adults ate our magnificent meal because I feared he'd be cranky and restless.  As my dad said, "it'd be better to be thankful he wasn't ruining dinner than to wish he wasn't at the table in the first place."  It made me laugh, especially when he offered to justify anything that way for me.  After getting up from his seat a few times, he settled down to eat, drink cider and milk from his own wine glasses, and tell us lots of stories about bears breaking into our house.  
Regaling Uncle and Auntie about some big bears.
Toward the end of the meal, Eddie trotted off to his room to get a stack of dress up hats for us all to wear.  

After Eddie was in bed that night, us adults settled into the living room with some dessert and a rented copy of The Expendables 2.  It was crap so I ended up going to bed at 9:30 pm, shortly after my folks headed back to their hotel.  I was exhausted from cooking all day and it was sooooooooooo nice to assume a horizontal position.
Shoot, everyone was exhausted.
The recipe was called "death by chocolate" and I believe it.  We omitted the chocolate cookie crust to make it gluten free and it was already way too rich.
If it looks like pumpkin pie, and it tastes like pumpkin pie, then it is pumpkin pie...even if it's make with roasted butternut squash instead, right?
I am forever thankful for my supportive and quirky family, my hard working husband, our incomes, the freedoms of our country, our rambunctious Eddie, our health, and much, much more.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pitching a Fit

Dear Eddie Pie,

I'm putting this picture of you on the blog so that someday, when you're a parent yourself, you will have visual evidence of how you acted and how I dealt with it.  I can't necessarily say that I dealt with it properly, but it is what it is.  I feel like I'm parenting by the seat of my pants, which is to say that I don't really know what I'm doing.  And without your dadda here all the time, I don't have anyone with whom to commiserate.  

On this particular Wednesday, you and I sat down to a plate of banana bread with cream cheese, fried eggs, and a cup of OJ for breakfast at 7:55 am.  I ate my meal and sat patiently with you while you bounced around in your chair, licking the cream cheese off bits of the bread and eating all of the egg (minus the yolk, which you've decided you don't like).  After about 20 minutes of sitting with you, near-constantly urging you to eat your breakfast, I decided to clear my dishes and get ready for school.  Another 20 minutes passed, with you getting off your chair many, many times and me telling you to eat your breakfast many, many, MANY times--with the threat of me throwing it away in the compost can.  You even had the added incentive of watching a show on Netflix (probably Blue's Clues or Bob the Builder) and eating a Jolly Rancher hard candy...but only if you ate your breakfast in a timely manner.


You didn't.  So I threw out your food and washed the dishes.  You escaped the warm house through the doggie door in your PJs and socks to play in the cold, wet sandbox in the side yard.  You took your two favorite toy swords with you.  When you came inside you were dirty and you washed your hands in the bathroom sink while I removed your dirty jammie pants and socks and your very wet PullUp you'd worn over night.  Then I got you dressed while you "brushed" your teeth (really, you just chewed on it and sucked the tasty paste off of it).

You asked for a show and a piece of candy.  I declined and told you why.  You proceeded to freak out--crying and yelling demands that I give you what you wanted.  I told you I was sorry you were feeling frustrated and asked if you thought yelling was going to change my mind.  You said it wasn't.  (You're a smart kid!)  I gave you about 5 minutes to calm down before telling you it was time to go to school.  Part of me wishes I could have let you calm down before heading out the door, but I felt I had no choice.  Maybe I'll look back on choices like this and wish I could have a do-over.

I carried you, kicking and screaming, out into the garage--all while carrying my lunch and my heavy school bag.  I put you into the bike trailer.  Through tears and a runny nose, you demanded that I get your swords from the sandbox.  I declined, telling you that you should have remembered to bring them inside with you if you wanted them.  You freaked out even more, this time trying to climb your way out of the straps of the bike trailer.  (Remember a few months ago when I had to hand-sew brand new straps onto the trailer seat since the old ones had disintegrated over the last two years?  It appears that your mama sews quite well because nothing tore during your rage.)

I asked you a few times to calm down and speak to me with your big boy voice.  You didn't want to.  Instead, you yelled and screamed REALLY loud--always when there were a few passersby on the path by our house--and threw your blanket onto the ground in protest.  When I got my helmet on and started biking down the driveway, you calmly asked me to put your blanket on your lap, so I did.  And then you began screaming and crying again as I biked away from our house.

In fact, you screamed and cried the whole 12 minute bike ride to Cassie's house.  I got some weird and scornful looks from other adults as we made our way downtown.  I smiled and kept on pedaling. I tried to strike up distracting conversations with you, but it didn't really work on this particular morning.  "Eddie, look at all that water flowing down the street.  It's flooding the bike lane!  Where do you think it's coming from?"  You respond with a bought of silence and then more wailing.    "Oooh, look.  The workers are using a pump to drain the swimming pool.  That's where the water is coming from."  You respond with a firm, "NO MAMA!"

At Cassie's you finally calmed down and went inside without my having to carry you inside.  Telling you to go inside, or at the count of three I'll carry you inside yourself, you generally do it yourself because you don't like threats like counting.  (God forbid!)  Once inside, you were once again your sweet self.

Your kiddo brain probably doesn't realize it, but Mama won.  No tantrum will keep us from getting to school, eating healthy meals, or going to bed at a reasonable hour.  You can try, but it won't work.  My job is to love you and show you that tantrums don't work.  Discussions and good actions do.

I love you, pumpkin!  Tantrums and all.  After all, you're awfully cute when you're sad/mad.

XOXO to the moon and back,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gualala with Friends

For the Veteran's Day weekend, we got to have some friends come up to Gualala with us.  Well, they didn't travel with us but came up a few hours after Eddie and I did.

Eddie and I did our usual Friday-before-we-leave-for-Gualala stuff: breakfast, gymnastics, got the dogs from the house, ran a few errands in the car in town, then hit the highway.  This time we stopped at Costco for some supplies (like a zillion eggs and a giant watermelon I'd promised Eddie), pizza for lunch, and a copy of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.  I intended for Eddie to watch it in the car during our long drive, but our janky headrest DVD player wouldn't recognize the disc as being the correct region.  No matter, Eddie was content to watch the first Ice Age for the zillionth time...he still laughs like crazy at the melon/dodo bird scene, as if he's never seen it before.
Eddie is obsessed with "red melon" right now.  Maybe Ice Age has something to do with it?  Sadly (for him) this is probably the last melon of the season because I'm NOT paying for off-season melons.
The Bower menfolk were still at work when we arrived, so I set to working getting dinner ready.  Tri tip on the grill, sauted greens with bacon, salad, and fresh, cheese-stuffed gnocchi from Costco.  The pasta turned out only "okay"...Dave and I prefer the dense chewiness of the vacuum packed variety at the regular grocery.

Our friends, the Bairs, arrived a couple of hours after dinner and ate some left overs before I showed them the little apartment where they were to stay.  Dave and Eddie had finished installing a new vent hood in the kitchen and started a fire in the stove for them so it was toasty warm when they walked inside.  I'd put a bunch of (really, really old) whole cloves in the humidifier kettle on the stove to try to cover up a stench in the apartment, but sadly it didn't work.  Danny and Anna were good sports, though, and didn't mind the stale smell.  (Dave is working diligently to find and fix the smell.)
We had our regular pancake/bacon/egg breakfast the next morning before heading out for a windy and cold walk on the runway.  Eventually, we made our way downtown to have pizza before loading the very tired children into the van and lulling them to sleep while I drove us around to see some Gualala sights: the river, the redwoods near the campground, our soon-to-be residence, the water company office, etc.  We then decided to let the kids (and their dads...) continue their nap so I drove us up to Point Arena to the pier.  Once everyone had woken up, we got some ice cream at a shop and wandered around on the pier watching the boats, fishermen, and surfers.
Three Bairs on a mission to find some mushrooms!  I had misplaced my phone charger that day so this is the only picture I have of our friends... Danny is my officemate at school, a fellow soil scientist.  His wife, Anna, is a wonderful mama to little Elia and to a soon-to-be baby boy.
When we got back to the house, we all wanted to rest a bit but John convinced us to go outside to search for mushrooms behind the garden.  No luck.  Later on, while I was making dinner, Danny, Dave, and John did find one down at the park...but it was the size of a store-bought mushroom.  I think it'll be a week or two before the King Boletus really start to bloom.

Of course, we had our traditional abalone and "green pasta" dinner that night.  We bathed the kiddos and got them into the their jammies before the Bairs departed back for Sacramento.  Eddie was especially sad to see them go; I know he wanted his "friend Elia" to stay to play.

The next morning, Sunday, we just sort of hung out and did nothing in particular (a rarity for us up there).
Eddie and I cuddled on the green chair to watch some of the new Ice Age movie.
We did take a truck and the backhoe loader up to the north end of the runway to collect the accumulated horse manure from the "neigh" bors (get it?).  I really, REALLY need to practice using the loader bucket on that machine...yikes.  I'm glad only Dave was there to witness my miserable attempt.  I was able to flatten out the existing compost pile from the previous months and mix it a little.  But then I let Dave have the controls and he showed me how to really mix the pile.  We sure lucked out, having 5 horses living so close our future giant garden--the thin coastal ridge soil needs all the organics it can get.
All of us Bowers (I'm in the mirror of the backhoe).  Here you can see Dave and Eddie dumping the load of manure into the pile.
While Eddie took a long nap that afternoon, I got to take a short snooze before Dave and I headed to the little apartment to install a tv.  There's no cable, phone, or internet there but now people can at least watch a movie (if we find a player to connect to it...and maybe some rabbit ears).
Me and my Taters.
Dave and Puppy: she's like a blue belly lizard: crazy and fast until you flip her over and rub her tummy.  Then she's falls asleep.
Peggy treated us to some Thai food take-out that night.  I loooooooooooooove that there's a Thai restaurant in Anchor Bay now!  The proprietors are currently renting the Coast House, which will be our house starting next year sometime.  I hope they can stick around because the coast is that much more perfect for our family them their yummy food there.  Mmmmmmmmmm, I could slurp down Thom Ka Gai soup all day long.

Dave had to work Monday, so I got up early with him so we could have our coffee together before he left.  And so I wouldn't feel guilty about making him load the car for me.  =)

After breakfast and whatnot, Eddie and I drove around on the ATV.  We took a bucket of apples and a knife up to see the horses.

I told him that each horse could have only a few pieces of apple (halves) since apples are full of sugar and are "treats" for them.  Eddie was eating an apple at the time and looked down at it, sorta confused like, and asked, "Apples have sugar in them?"  I said yes, it is natural sugar but it isn't good for anyone's tummy to have too much sugar--it is important for everyone to eat a balanced diet.  For horses that means some grain and sweets like carrots and apples but also lots of hay.  And for people like us that means protein like cheese and meat and green veggies and carbohydrates like pancakes and bread and oatmeal.  Oh boy: this kid is three and he can contemplate things like fruit versus refined sugar?  What a smart cookie!  We've been talking a lot about eating a balanced diet--mostly when we're eating dinner and I have to convince him to eat a particular item.  I used to get away with saying, "Oooh, Uncle LOVES collard greens.  Don't you want to get big and strong like Uncle?  You gotta eat those collards!"  But now I have to actually explain why he should eat collards: "They are full of natural vitamins and minerals and fiber and they taste so yummy.  Eating things like that will help make you big and strong like Uncle and Daddy."

We ate some lunch with Peggy before heading off down the road.  I miss diaper days for road trips like this. Back then, Eddie would just pee or whatever into his diaper.  Now he makes me stop so he can use the potty.  And sometimes he says he needs to use the potty, when really he just wants to get out of the car.  It bugs me so I'll make him wait like 10 minutes while I find a "good place to pull over" in which case he often loses interest or forgets about wanting to get out of the car.  On this trip, however, he was still able to trick me into pulling over for a no-flow pee break.  Of course, I had to make a pit stop for myself in Jenner later on.

I think we rolled into our driveway at about 3:45 pm and walked into our freeeeeeezing cold house.

 The batteries were dead in our thermostat but I had to wait for 30 minutes for the correct temperature to register on it once I replaced the batteries before I could turn the furnace on.  It started at 70 and slowly fell to the correct temperature.  Brrrr.  Eddie was hiding under blankets on the couch watching a show (only his eyes showing).  With him occupied under the blankets, I was able to unload the car, put everything away, and even start dinner (which kept me warm).   
Eddie and the miniature horses enjoyed their apple snacks.
Me and this sweet mini horse.  I spoke to her human owner last time and he said they have the small horses trained to pull carts, which I think is adorable.
Since I'd cut up a whole pineapple last week, we used up the remaining fruit for pineapple fried rice.  It was scrumptious, even though Eddie declared he didn't like the "yellow stuff".
I used a recipe from but used spam and added a cup of diced kohlrabi that I needed to use up.  It was more moist than I would have liked, but my wok just wouldn't get hot enough to crisp up the rice.  Maybe I need to fry the rice separately from the other ingredients and combine at the end?
It was goooooooood.
As it was still quite early after dinner, we went to the grocery store to get a few things and then it was bed for everyone.  Whew, these weekends away are pretty tiring.  I can't wait until we're all in one place!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election 2012 Dinner

Like most people, by the time Tuesday rolled around, I was sooooooooo sick and tired of hearing about the election.

Four years ago I went to an election night party with some friends.  We watched the tallies and projections in real time by watching the news, ate yummy food, chatted, and poured champagne when Obama won.  Almost immediately after, we all set our bubbly down in disgust (and astonishment) when Proposition 8 passed.

This year, I just didn't have the energy to watch the election news in real time.  I was recovering (still am) from a nasty cold and the anticipation would have depleted my energy stores too much.  So I decided to find something else to do after work to distract myself.  I settled on cooking a new meal, which always takes more concentration than whipping up a usual (in which case I often have the news on while I cook).

Just for fun, I decided to make two dishes, one each for the two presidential candidates.  Focusing on their stereotyped/non-political features I decided on a Kenyan stew for Obama and Mormon Funeral Potatoes for Romney.
The perspective is weird in this picture because I rotated it to get the right dishes on the appropriate sides: Mormon funeral potatoes on the right and Kenyan stew on the left.
I'd never cooked with cardamom in a savory dish before (unless it was in a masala), so the Kenyan stew intrigued me.  The potatoes honestly sounded kind of dull, like scalloped potatoes.  But I figured they must be good since they are served to loads of people at so many church social functions (I've read about them on many of my LDS friends' blogs).

The Kenyan stew was scrumptious--the cardamom and coconut milk were fantastic together.  I used fresh shelled beans from my dad's garden that I'd put up in the freezer a couple of months ago along with some green peppers from his garden that my mom brought me last week--emphasizing these "Grandpa" ingredients to Eddie made him immediately decide the stew was his favorite.  And he ate his whole portion!

My favorite was the funeral potato dish.  I was surprised at the tart "kick" it had from the yogurt and sharp cheddar cheese--I love a sourness to my foods.  It was so good I had an extra serving that night for "dessert."  Mmmmmm.

So we were a split household.  But we still love each other.  =)

Here are the recipes in case you'd like to try them.

Kenyan Stew
  • 2 cups cooked beans (I used black and fresh shelled pole beans)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 can of  coconut milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 24 cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
In a pot, fry the onions in olive oil until lightly browned. Add garlic, green pepper and fry for another few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT KALE), to the pot and simmer until everything is tender and the flavors have come together. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt accordingly. Stir in kale and cook about 2-3 minutes, until kale is slightly wilted. Serve with rice.

Mormon Funeral Potatoes
  • 3 cups diced potatoes (that have been baked and cooled)
  • 1/2 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 cup grated onion (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup crushed cornflakes, Panko flakes, or crushed corn chips
Combine soup, butter, sour cream or yogurt, milk, cheese, onion, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the diced potatoes and stir gently until combined.

Place potato mixture in a 2-3 quart casserole dish or 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle crumb or crushed chips over potato mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

And what would a political post be without spouting my OWN political views or opinion about the outcome of the presidential election?  

For me, this presidential election was really a single-issue one.  Since the economy is going to suck no matter WHO was elected (Rosanne Barr, Romney, or Obama), I wasn't to concerned with that.  Our taxes are going to increase no matter what.  I'm fine with some increases because we cannot have social services/infrastructure/technological advances/etc. without paying for them.  Why more people don't understand that reality is beyond me.  

I also wasn't concerned with foreign policy because frankly, I just don't know that much about it.  And for things like that, I just have to trust that people who are MUCH more educated on the topic than me will make the right choice for a given time and situation.  Sometimes I just have to accept my ignorance for something and defer to professionals.  

So.  That left the issue of equality.  In this race that encompassed equality of medical care, equality of all genders to decide what's best for their bodies, and equality in marriage/benefits.  Simple.  I feel that unless all of our citizens are treated equally, then we cannot move forward on anything else.  That made my decision for president simple.  

However, I was completely prepared for the "other" side to win the presidential election.  And if that had happened, I would have accepted it and marched forward living my life as the citizen any president would want me to be: a financially/medically/socially/resource responsible one.  That means I will:
  • not conceive babies I cannot afford (no federal/state funded family planning for me)
  • feed my family sustainably-grown and healthy foods (foods that are good for our bodies and our nation are expensive--if everyone were to pay the "real" cost for their food our population would stabilize and our medical costs would decrease)
  • live within my means
  • maintain and improve my and my family's health with preventative medical care, good food, exercise, and intellectual stimulation (let's not forget that our brains are part of our bodies, too) so we don't put undue pressure on the country's medical insurance program
  • adjust my lifestyle to accommodate resource pressures that will soon affect all of us (fossil fuels, fertilizers, chemical boosters to grow crops, metals used in electronics, potable water).  It's coming, baby.
  • make more of an effort to keep up with current foreign events
Congratulations, best wishes, and good luck to our 44th President, Mr. Barack Obama.  Don't let us down, okay?

Sunday, November 4, 2012


The boys spent Friday together while I was at school.  For two solid hours before nap time, they biked around the neighborhood.  Dave took a bunch of pictures that afternoon, but this is my favorite.  Doesn't it just scream, childhood?

I love that Dave is an active father--participating in every single aspect of Eddie's life.  From breastfeeding and cloth diapering to bathing and clothes shopping, he's fair game for anything.  Eddie sure is a lucky little boy.