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Thanksgiving- Reject Style!

21 Nov

I  enjoy Thanksgiving.  While most of my friends treat this festive day like the Opening Ceremony for Foodie Olympics. Making fancy dishes, cooking for three days, caramelizing onions and whatnot.   I have to say, my most favorite part of the holiday is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Why- because I really LOVE Christmas and at the end of the parade the Man in Red appears- squeal!  Yes, I realize I may have watched Miracle on 34nd Street a few times too many.

I could wax philosophically about being thankful every day and not just one day out of the year, or go on some plight of the turkey rant (trivia: I was a vegetarian for 10+ years) but really I think my reason has more to do with most of our family gatherings resembling SNL skits- like this one!  Okay maybe it wasn’t really that bad but we had some doozies.

When the Hubs and I bought our first house we decided to use the extended weekend to tackle one of the big home improvement projects we had on our list-baseboards.  Since that year, home improvement projects have become part of our Thanksgiving ritual.  Baseboards, fireplace mantle, stair railings, and so on were happily improved upon during our break.   A few years back we moved into a house that wasn’t in as much need of improvement.  We didn’t know what to do.  Since then we have hosted people at our house, gone on vacation, even gone to our relatives house for turkey and pie.  It just didn’t feel right.  There was no paint, no liquid nails, no last minute trips to Home Depot on Wednesday night.

This year we are returning to our roots.  We are painting our master bedroom.  As of the night before T-day we have cleaned out the room, taped off the edges, and have one coat on the ceiling.  Woohoo! We are on schedule!   It feels good to be spending the weekend in grubbies with a paint brush versus Sunday best and a fork.

Now don’t fret.  We will still have a traditional meal.  Well, a traditional meal- Home Ec Reject style. We have the agenda set and know what time to put the turkey in the oven.  This is what is on the menu at the Reject establishment:  turkey, Stove Top Stuffing, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy (because I didn’t get to Trader Joe’s to pick up the frozen mashed potatoes), broccoli hidden under a cheese sauce, and a Jell-O pumpkin pudding pie and popcorn- because we seem to be having popcorn with every meal as it is the Ninja’s new favorite thing.  It is a nice mix of homemade and not-so home made but it works for us.

So to wrap up:  I am thankful for a family that has a great sense of humor and and loves me and my need to do things a bit differently, a home, a husband who is okay with having a purple bedroom, and my two hooligans- one who insists on having pumpkin pie (a testament to how much I love her because I hate pumpkin pie) and the other one that loves popcorn!

What are you thankful for?

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A note to afterschool staff

16 Oct

This week Light’s On Afterschool is being celebrated across the nation. This is a day to celebrate and advocate for before and afterschool services.  Over the past few years as a school age parent we have used a variety of afterschool services- from school age care, to specialized classes and even school sponsored clubs.  The one thing that we know we can count on is that afterschool programs will be available to them and that we are fortunate.  Light’s On Afterschool is also a day to advocate for programs and services to keep schools open and accessible to children and families after the school bell rings.   As a working mom, I want to take a moment and celebrate the amazing work of a great group of people.

Dear Staff,

Thank you for all that you do.  While I could rattle of a list of thank you’s for the obvious things like having a safe & supervised program, providing healthy snacks, helping them with their homework, and so on and  so forth.  What I am really thankful for is the little things that I don’t think are always recognized, so here goes my list of what I am thankful for.

  • Thank you for understanding that we have a non-traditional schedule and for being willing to work with us.
  • Thank you for always saying “yes” when I ask if I can drop them off in the morning because I have a last minute, early meeting even though that is not our typical schedule.
  • Thank you for having an open door so when emergencies come up the kids know they are always welcome at the program until one of us can come get them.  
  • Thank you for being a part of the school.  Seeing you at carnivals, back to school nights, etc reassures me that you are connected with the school. 
  • Thank you listening to me when I have a concern or a special request and following up, it shows me how much you care. 
  • Thank you for giving my son an extra snack to share with his sister on the days he is picked up before she is released.  While this may seem like nothing to you, it shows me you care about fostering kindness- even if it isn’t reimbursable.
  • Thank you for creating a cohesive group of kids.   I cannot count the number of times we have been out and about and a “big kid”  comes running up to my two and gives them a hug or shouts a loud  “Hi” across the grocery store .  When I ask them how they know each other, it comes back to you.
  • Thank you for hiring staff who make memories.  Every car ride home entails a detailed list of of what Mr. X said that was hilarious or the crafty project they made with Ms Y.  The staff don’t just make the program fun for my two, the staff are the program.

What I am trying to say is thank you for being you.  You make a difference and your small actions may a big difference!

Love,

A mom

If you too use a before and afterschool program for you children, why not take time this week to say thank you to the program staff.   They deserve every bit of gratitude and much, much more.

Take a Note From My Book

6 Oct

Our world was rocked in September. The Hubs came home to find our house had been broken into. They had used a crow bar to pry open the door and then kicked it in the rest of the way. A few years ago we added a swing bar lock to the door (to keep the hooligans in the house). We thought we were pretty secure. We always locked all the doors and windows, but it wasn’t enough.

It looks like they were targeting jewelry and pills. Ha, ha on them! Most of my jewelry is from Target and the strongest thing we have in the medicine cabinet is Tums and Tiger Balm. They trashed our bedroom looking for the stuff. Broke our dresser and took a small safe that had some personal documents in it.  They did take quite a few things that had sentimental value and not a lot of street value.  To think that someone is mistreating my great grandmother’s charm bracelets makes me sad and angry.

Thankfully our insurance company has been amazing to work with. They had someone out to secure our house within a few hours. They had a new door in place within a few days. This is pretty awesome considering we have a odd sized door. They have been efficient and friendly every time we interacted with them. I have always thought they were awesome but now in my book they are tops and irreplaceable.

We learned some valuable lessons. I thought I would take a moment to share them.

1. If they want in they will find a way in.  

2. They know the usual hiding spots. Our “secret” drawers that were in our dresser were not so secret. (Yes, all the undies went directly into the washer)

3. Take pictures of your valuables. Whether they are sentimental or high dollar, take a photo. It makes the insurance reporting easier. I spent a good week and a half trying to remember everything that was in the jewelry drawer.

How this relates back to being a Home Ec Reject

Things have been really busy on their own this month. The Hubs started back to school, the Hooligans have had their extra curriculars, work has been swamped and well our housekeeping has dropped a bit- like it really only gets picked up on the weekends. When the police came by they took one look at the living room and exclaimed “Whoa, they really trashed this place!” We were a tad bit embarrassed to let him know that the room was in that state when we left in that morning. The sad thing is it was a Wednesday, it could have looked worse if it was Friday.

I am sharing my tips based on my experience.  I am not a home security professional.  If you know of any other tips please post below and share with the community.

Epic Fail in the Housekeeping Department Results in Win for Healthy Eating

25 Aug

Disclaimer:  There may be a bit of griping in this post~sorry!

A bit of back story…
The Hubs is a student and has the summer off. My job requires me to be super busy during the summer. Typically he takes on the household duties like laundry and dishes in addition to watching the hooligans and making dinner. This summer was a bit different. For some reason, the dishes kept getting overlooked. I did them for the first month but about 4 weeks ago I went on dishes strike. It turns out he did too. Every once in a while, one of us will give in and do a load, but when you have a back log it really doesn’t make much of a dent.

This leads to tonight’s conversation…

Hubs:  What should we have for dinner?

Home Ec Reject (HER): Dunno! We have some salmon in the freezer we should probably eat.

Hubs: What should we have with it?

HER:  How about one of the box o’ pastas we have in the cabinet?

So with a plan on making salmon and pasta for dinner I went into the kitchen to make dinner.

Challenge #1:  The grill pan was not in the cabinet. Dang! It must be somewhere in the mountain of dirty dishes that has grown from the sink.

Challenge #2:  Box o’ pasta selected but wait, there are no clean pots in the cabinet either. They must be the base of the mountain because I can’t see them.

Solution:  Salmon cooked in foil and steamed rice using the rice cooker. Add some microwaved frozen veggies and we have a healthy meal! How the heck did that happen?

PS-  I served the meal on paper plates.  I just couldn’t add any more to Mt. Dishes.  Sorry about that environment!

And the award for worst school lunch goes to…

17 Aug

School started for us this week.  We are back in the swing of homework, early wake ups and one of my least favorite things- packing lunches.  I really wish my kids would eat hot lunch.  My oldest hooligan only eats beige foods and the younger copies what the older does.

As much as I wish I could say I am one of those mothers who packs all organic snacks, hummus & veggies, and free range rotiseiere chicken sliced and wrapped in whole grain tortillas- I’m not.  I have to admit I send my kids to school with a sack of high fructose corn syurp, partially hydogenated soy bean oil, enriched flour, and let’s not forget about all the preservatives in the deli meat.

I have tried the healthy stuff.  It just comes back, all warm and squished.  So when the goal is to make sure calories go in the game plan changes and you get this.

Lunches

Mmmm! How’s that for some processed foods!

The current lunch of choice is a meat and cheese sandwich (one likes white meat, or turkey to the rest of us, and the other likes dark meat, or roast beef), chips, a drink pouch, and some kind of treat.  This week they chose Zingers but then decided they didn’t like them.  Now, I am making them S’Mores out of grahams, Nutella, and  marshmallow creme.

What do you pack in your child’s lunch?

Happy National S’More Day!

8 Aug

August 10th may be the actual National S’More day, but in our family EVERYDAY is S’More Day!  I have talked about our love of S’Mores before the last time we made S’More Sandwiches.  I will be celebrating S’More day with my daughter at “Just the Two of Us” Girl Scout Camp and then again as a whole family once we return.   I kind of find it fitting that we will be at GS camp were we are guaranteed to have S’Mores at one of the campfires and, rumor has it, they were first created by Girl Scouts in 1927.

We take S’Mores very seriously in our family.  Below is a list of some of our top recipes and combinations- in no particular order:

  • S’More Sandwiches– Thank you Drewski’s for creating this amazing dessert
  • The Thanks-A-Lot S’More- Take two Thanks-A-Lot Girl Scout cookies, add a marshmallow, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and voile- instant S’More.  If you can’t wait for the marshmallow to melt use marshmallow creme.
  • S’More Crepes- I know, they sound so fancy.  Especially for someone who sucks at cooking.  I cheat and use Melissa’s Crepes( from the produce section).  We add chocolate chips and mini marshmallows or use marshmallow creme and Nutella.
  • PB Cup S’More- We sometimes use peanut butter cups instead of chocolate bar pieces.  The marshmallow melts the cup and blends well with the peanut butter
  • Chocolate Bars with Either Almonds or Rice Cereal- This adds a little extra crunch!
  • Candy Bar Pie- Okay, this isn’t really a S’More but it has two of the three ingredients.  I melt a chocolate bar, mix in a container of Kool Whip, pour into a graham cracker pie shell, and refrigerate until set and ready to serve.

This is how we celebrate National S’More Day.  What are your favorite S’More versions or do you prefer the classic.  Hope you take some time to give a marshmallow a roast this Friday!

I Actually Melted the Table

30 Jul

Yes, you read that correctly MELTED the TABLE. I bet you are wondering how I managed to do that. It was a sheer accident. I know, that was obvious. Like anyone would actually melt a table intentionally.

It all started when smoke came pouring out of the microwave. I grabbed a hot pad and pulled the smoking item out of the oven and ran with it outside. I plopped it on the table while the hubs got the hose and doused the smoking item with water.

After a bit of kitchen CSI we figured out what happened. I forgot to put the water in the Easy Mac cup and the noodles turned to smoking charcoal brickets. LESSON LEARNED: always add water to the Easy Mac BEFORE you put it in the microwave.

During the final clean up stage we found this melted spot on the table. A permanent reminder to always follow the recommended directions.

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