Saturday, March 28, 2009

Calm before the storm

Though considering today's weather, it's more like the storm before the maelstrom. I was hoping to go for an easy 3-4 mile run in my gear for tomorrow's half, just to make sure nothing is uncomfortable and everything I need to carry will fit into all the little skirt and singlet pockets. There's rumbles of thunder out there, and it doesn't look like there'll be a break in the rain at all today.

Normally, I don't mind getting my feet wet. Splashing through puddles is rather therapeutic. But not today, unless I break out the old shoes. Come to think of it, with the three kids cooped up for the day, I might need to splash through a few puddles, just to stay sane. :)

Saw what might be my next running skirt at the Expo. Jiggy Skirts. I didn't get a chance to do more than check out the fabric and cut, since they were too crowded during the demo of a "feature" I place no faith in - something about a little metallic patch in the waistband that's supposed to improve your balance. I think that sounds silly, but what isn't silly is the three pockets, and the way the waistband is built. Two pockets up front, and a larger one in back. Not tiny key pockets either. Pockets which will hold real items. Cute matching tops, too. Prices are pretty good. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the sizing info from their order page, but I sent an email. Fingers crossed on hearing back from them soon.

Still to do today, in prep for tomorrow:
  • Set up new playlist for iPhone, starting with 3-5 songs that are lower BPMs. I'll need the help with pacing, lest I forget to do those first two miles as a warm up.
  • Make sure there's enough muffins or waffles for breakfast tomorrow. They'd prefer waffles, but muffins can travel in the car, if the kids are slow to get moving.
  • Should probably have them set out clothes and shoes tonight, along with sweatshirts and such.
  • Prep gear bag for checking. Decided to use DD's old pink backpack. Should be easy to spot among all the black bags Publix handed out. Don't know quite what to pack yet. Should be dry tomorrow, but the expected temperature ranges from 40 at start to the low 50's by the time B1 is running his race, around noon.
  • Relace shoes with pretty orange laces, to show support for all the middle schoolers (especially mine) in the Run for Something Better.
  • Relace B1's shoes with pretty - I mean manly - orange laces.
  • Work out travel & kid juggling details with Dad. He's due back later today, so I have time to get the MARTA cards and map put together before we talk. I don't envy his day. Dropping me off at 5:15 am at MARTA, then getting kids fed & ready, to drop B1 off with school group for their bus ride downtown, then on to the train with kids of questionable morning temperments. And that just covers the schedule up to about 9 am.
Time to get started, since I plan to knock off early tonight, in hopes of getting more than four hours of sleep.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup)

This is a regular on the menu, and has always been on the "Win" column in the ongoing supper war with the kids. Very easy to make, and there are easy to find substitutions, if you don't have an Asian market nearby. I'll cut thin slices off a small roast, just before prepping the rest for another meal, but you can also grab a pack of the thin sliced/shaved beef from the meat counter at the grocery store. Basil Meatballs (beef or poultry), or Garlic-Ginger Baked Tofu also work well. If you want to keep it completely meatless, use the baked tofu, and make the soup with vegetable broth.

4-6 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 inch piece of ginger, grated & juice squeezed into broth
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1 Tbs Fish Sauce
1-2 Tbs Soy Sauce (to taste)

4 Servings of Rice Vermicelli (or regular)
A few slices of beef for each bowl

Cook vermicelli according to package directions, rinse and set aside. Combine broth ingredients together and bring to a simmer, while you prep a platter of add-ins:

Basil Leaves
Cilantro Sprigs
Mint Leaves/Sprigs
Chopped Scallion
Sliced Jalapeno
Bean Sprouts

Place a serving of vermicelli in each bowl, and top with a few slices of raw, sliced beef. If you're using a thicker slice, or meatballs, cook them as part of your prep. The thin slices will cook when you pour the broth over top, as long as you have it at a good simmer. Ladle broth over pasta & beef, then serve. Each person can add items from the salad plate to their bowl at the table.

Rainy day driving in Atlanta

Just don't, if you can avoid it. As Evan of Atlanta By Bike puts it:
Atlanta receives some 50 inches of rain a year. That's considerably more than legendarily soggy Seattle which only gets 38 inches a year, so you would think Atlanta drivers would have no problem with a little precipitation. Well you would be wrong. Really wrong. The fact is anytime water falls from the sky Atlanta's roads are suddenly filled with thousands of chicken littles who give surrender what little driving skills they possess to a bizarre ritual that I call Atlanta Rush Hour Rain Syndrome.
Trouble is, when it's raining, all hours are rush hour.

Rather than deal with normal connector congestion + downtown chaos + construction + ARHRS, I will be taking MARTA to the Georgia Dome, so I can pick up my race number at the ING Health & Fitness Expo. It will take just as long as driving, but I'll be less cranky. I hope.

Have downloaded the latest podcast from Gardner at Liberty Conspiracy and my current audiobook (half-finished) by Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

You know, now that I think about it, the smells on the train should go pretty well with the book. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 12

Week 12 Shopping:
Dekalb Int'l Farmers Market - $104.97
Kroger - $10.91
Trader Joes - $6.65
Total - $122.53

Year to date - $1,772.22

Average Weekly - $147.68

It's not quick, but the average weekly number is continuing to drop. Week 12 was a little of a stock up week, at a much lower cost than my trips earlier in the year. I purchased much of the protein we needed for two weeks while at the farmers market, and divided it up for easy cooking - details. Carried us nicely through last week, and a couple of meals into Week 13. There's still a packet of the basil meatballs (chicken/turkey) in the freezer for Saturday.

The shopping for this week is already complete, but I think next week is a good time for another trip to the farmers market. I won't be doing a lot of miles for the first half of the week, so prepping two (or more) week's worth chicken, turkey and beef for the freezer can fill the time.

Supper Wars

Malaysian Fish Curry, Rice, Pineapple - Cucumber Sambal
Very, VERY good, but kids did not like. Wasn't too spicy, so dislike had to be because of their automatic "eew" about fish.

Pho (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Green Salad
Thin sliced beef, chicken broth, vermicelli and handfulls of fresh bean sprouts, basil and cilantro.

Lemongrass Chicken Skewers, Sticky Rice, Green Beans
Minor grumblings about spiciness, but they liked. Will cut back on the red pepper flakes or green thai chili next time.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti & Meatballs
Salad, Cheesy Flatbread
This went over better than last time I made the whole wheat spaghetti, because I tossed a little of the sauce with the pasta, and they hadn't seen the label on the box. It's so odd that WW ziti, macaroni, etc., are all okay, but they freak out about spaghetti.

Baked Tofu & Veggie Fried Rice

Turkey & Black Bean Tacos Mango Salad
Tried starting sauce with a vegetable and chili paste, like with curries. Love it.

Garlic Ginger Beef w/Snow Peas, Broccoli
Leftover Fried Rice
Left onions rough chopped, for easy removal. No whining.

Allergy Woes

Spring allergies are here. We were okay for the first couple weeks, but the sneezing has escalated over the last several days. The yellow coat of dust on cars became noticeable over the weekend. There's a box of tissues in every room, sometimes two. I line the children up for Alavert before breakfast.

Everyone's tired, and easily winded. We have matching purple circles under our eyes. B1 had to break out the inhaler for his asthma. Story time is limited to 10-15 minutes, regardless of where we are in the chapter, due to scratchy throat.

Best news of the week is the weather. There may be some heavy storms, which is not great, but the rain is so very welcome. I selfishly don't even care about the benefit of four consecutive days of rainy weather on the long-term regional drought. Four days of rain means four days of pollen being washed away. Four days closer to the end of extremely high pollen counts.

Four days of rain also means B1 and I have a chance to catch our breath before the ING Half Marathon on Sunday. I'll be running the half - though running might be more walk/run after the week of upper respiratory ick. B1 will be finishing his half. His middle school participated in ING Run for Something Better, and the kids get to finish up their batch of shorter runs with the final 1.1 mile on the half/marathon course. I'm quite proud of B1. He got rather excited about the running, and I'm pretty sure he's over 20 miles for the last several weeks. Hopefully, this excitement will continue into the future.

Since there's not a lot of running for a couple of days, what with the not being able to breathe and all, I'm playing indoors. Trying out a bit of upper body work with the yoga and core. Using a 15 lb kettlebell. So far, I like it. It's rather fun to swing it around, especially if picturing the cartoon "strongman" in my head while doing so. Only thing I'm not so happy about is when the weight slams into or rests on my wrists during a few of the exercises. My hands may be large, almost to the point of being man hands, but I have itty-bitty wrists that are like toothpicks in comparison.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm not sure, but I might be a domestic terrorist

I'm used to being thought of as "odd" for some - or most - of my views, but some recent news items have left me wondering if I might be a bit more dangerous.

from an article at Fox News:

If you're an anti-abortion activist, or if you display political paraphernalia supporting a third-party candidate or a certain Republican member of Congress, if you possess subversive literature, you very well might be a member of a domestic paramilitary group.

That's according to "The Modern Militia Movement," a report by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), a government collective that identifies the warning signs of potential domestic terrorists for law enforcement communities.

And this little icon from Homeland Stupidity popped up at WenchWisdom:

And, from Glenn Beck's Monday show:

Now, how many of these things in my life show up on the checklist?
  • Donated money to 3rd party candidates and Republican Liberty Caucus wing of GOP
  • Used to have Ron Paul bumper sticker. Can occasionally still be seen about town in a "Who is Ron Paul?" shirt, when not wearing "Government is the negation of liberty" or "Got Liberty?"
  • Has a copy of the Constitution on her iPhone
  • Former/current Libertarian Party member
  • Gun owner
  • Unhappy taxpayer
  • Donated money to libertarian/free market groups, such as CATO and Ludwig von Mises Institute
  • Member of Free State Project
  • Owns hard currency
  • Fan of small government, states rights and the sovereignty of the individual.
Update: Apparently, I'm not that dangerous after all. From WenchWisdom:

Suddenly Domestic Terrorism is No Longer Fun
Yesterday, the MIAC amended their report to the FBI to exclude a lot of what they perceive to be "terrorists", and now it's no longer fun to poke fun at the whole situation--a situation created by a group of loonies with tinfoil hats and a handful of 9-11 Truthers.

One thing that IS fact from their list: militia members tend to vote third-party. That's all.

It appears I can no longer commit treason and tyranny simply by waving the flag, posting links to videos of Constitutional discussion, and by owning a gun--my fun has been taken away!

Now I actually have to WORK at being a domestic terrorist....sheesh! :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Patty's new "shoes"

The tires on my commuter were shot. This weekend, B2 helped me swap out the tires and clean the chain, while DD was off on a play-date. B2 had a great time with the tire levers, and did a good job working the old tire off the rim. The tires were so much easier to work with than road tires we could probably have managed without the levers, but he wanted to play with the tools. The tube was as old as the tire, so I was going to replace anyway - no worrying about lever punctures.

After the tires were on, we cleaned up the chain and re-oiled. B2 was very helpful with shifting gears and testing brakes, to make sure I put them back together before we rode down to the park for a quick spin. No long rides, just in case something went wrong. Nothing did, and I think I'm really going to like the smoother ride of the City Ride tires. Might drop Patty off with the mechanics at the Silver Comet Depot in the next week or two. The chain is rubbing against part of the something-or-other in one particular gear, and that's not something B2 and I can fix. (It has done that for as long as I've owned it, btw - have always just avoided that gear.)

All is well, and I was back on the road today, to pick up food for Peter T. Dog at Red Bandana. We've had him eating Avoderm, but he doesn't seem to like the senior formula, unless we mix it with something else. The something else has been the high protein formula from Trader Joe's. It kind of defeats the purpose of "senior" if we're mixing with regular, so we're going to see if he likes the Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul: Senior Dog Formula. It has glucosamine and chondroitin to keep him happily running, and salmon for his dry skin. If he doesn't care for this, we'll go back to mixing. For the next six months, I know he'll be getting enough exercise to keep off the weight.

As for my little bike mechanic, I offered to pay him for his help, or take him out for a mocha or something. He said no. He just wants the old tires and tubes. I know he wants the tires to make a double ring for jumping cars. The tubes? I have no idea, and am a little scared to ask. This is the same kid who, at the age of four, walked up to me and announced "I'm gonna tell you something you may not even want to know... it is a bad idea to build a powered water fountain in bed, even if you use big cups" Then, he asked me if I could come upstairs... to my room.

R.O.Y. G.... mud

Sunday's long run was beautiful. Just under nine miles. Picked a great route, which I'm trying to figure out how screenshot & post now. (I shaved about 1/3 mile off the map, just the part takes me to & from home.) Temps climbed from 48 to 54 during my excursion. A couple rolling hills, a few level stretches, easy proximity to Starbucks and other sources of water bottles and restrooms. I ended up stopping at Home Depot, but that's just because I knew the temptation to sit down with a scone and a venti coffee would have been too much for me.

There's a little game I play with the kids whenever we're hiking or at the botanical gardens. It's a competition to find all the colors of the rainbow in the course of the day. We've been doing this since B1 was an only child. Camera phones have made it so much easier than trying to juggle the clunky kodak camera of 10 years ago, so it's now something we'll message to each other from the road, or split into teams during a day trip. (Winning team gets to pick where we eat lunch/dinner, or what type of ice cream we pick up on the way home, if we're not eating out.)

As I passed the first of many butterfly bushes seen on the 8.9 miles, it occured to me that DD would enjoy the flower photos. Her older brothers wouldn't really care, as they're only interested in the game when food is at stake.

First up, the blooms of the REDbud tree:

Freshly planted ORANGE marigolds:

Happy YELLOW flowers on a butterfly bush...

This got me about 1/2 way through the run. I'd been scouting for violets, periwinkle, pansies and the greenest green of lawns on the way out, and figured I'd snap photos of the best on the way back.

GREEN grass, BLUE sky, INDIGO pansies or periwinkle, VIOLET - well, violets. That was the plan.

Somewhere around 5-1/2 miles, on the way to the greenest lawn, I hit a lovely zen state. All I could hear was the sound of feet hitting the pavement. The air was perfect, the sun on my face was warm.

GREEN grass, BLUE sky, INDIGO.... VIOLET... GREEN grass...


Close up view of green grass, and a deep tire track in the soft dirt, not quite mud.

Totally missed the transition from sidewalk to grassy shoulder. Wasn't hurt, but muddied up elbow, hand, knees, and nose. A very nice lady pulled over in her minivan to make sure I was okay. I thanked her, and let her know it was just dirt. She paused for a moment more, while I brushed off and started running again.

The remaining three miles were uneventful. I held off on snapping photos, and paid attention to the ground 4-6 feet in front of my feet the rest of the way home, to make sure it stayed that way.

The boys enjoyed a laugh at Danger Mom. (I'm known for being rather clumsy.) DD was more supportive, and let me know it would be okay if we found the rest of the colors in our own yard. Which we did.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Woo hoo! First day of Spring!

While picking up replacement tires for the hybrid, I jumped at the chance for a quick ride on the Silver Comet Trail. Absolutely gorgeous day.

On the bridge:

View from the bridge:

20.53 miles, which I'm going to call 20, even though I don't normally round down.
20 miles on March 20th, first day of Spring.
I know, corny. I'm blaming Spring Fever. Or pollen.

It's a fun lunch day!

"It's a fun lunch day!" was the excited cheer in my kitchen this morning. My daughter noticed the fruit snacks (Stickerz) and YooHoo on the counter, and headed off down the hall, skipping on the way to tell her brothers the awesome news.

I'm usually pretty good about packing healthy lunches. Sandwiches on whole wheat or oatmeal bread - homemade bread 80% of the time. (1- Crunchy peanut butter & honey - crusts cut off. 2 - Creamy PB&J. 3 - Creamy PB, just a dot of honey, cut into triangles.) Some days are cheese and crackers, with a small baggie of cashews or almonds, instead of a sandwich. Apples, bananas, grapes, honey tangerines, or dried fruit. Alternate between chips and sliced carrots, so there's always something crunchy. Desserts are vanilla yogurt cups, or home baked oatmeal cookies. Water or a juice box to drink.

I keep a stash of typical lunchbox fare. Not a big stash. A small box of the brightly colored fruit snacks. Rice krispy treats or Oreos. YooHoo drink boxes. Every once in a while, lunches are packed with a couple of these items.

I used to feel guilty about those lunches. Not because I worried about the kidlets eating a little of the bad stuff. I know they eat healthy food at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which far outweighs a once-in-a-while junk food lunch.

"What will people think when they see this?" was what ran through my head. As if a critical glimpse inside a lunchbox could somehow cause a neon "bad mom" sign to appear above my head. (Though, given the increasing number of food rules, that day could be coming.)

I don't know if it's the number of lunches I've packed over the last 10 years, or that I'm finally getting past the insecurity of needing things to always look "proper", but I just don't care anymore.

A fun lunch day?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rest Day & Bike Maintenance

Ran a long-ish 9.5 miles on Tuesday, and another 4 miles Wednesday. Today should be a rest day.

Except, it's a really beautiful day, 73 and sunny. Perfect for a short ride to Trader Joes. Which I can't do.

Patty (commuter/hybrid) needs a new pair of shoes. I noticed a little bit of cracking around the tread on the back tire last time I hooked up the foot pump. I took a closer look today, while getting ready to clean chain & gears, and there's cracking in the rubber of both tires, in the tread and fine cracks most of the way around the rim.

I'm not sure how long tires are supposed to last, but 2-1/2 years of riding (somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 miles) is how long these tires made it. Don't know how much is regular wear & tear, and how much is exposure to the elements during storage. The bike isn't completely protected on the carport. No rain, but it does get greater swings of temperature and humidity than it would in a garage.

I'll try the replacement over the weekend, while finishing Patty's spring cleaning. Stuck one of the wheels into the truck, and will pick up new tires tomorrow at the Silver Comet Depot. Should pack the road bike, too. It'd be a shame if I didn't go for a quick 20 mile spin while I'm out there.

If getting the new tires popped into the rim, or reattaching the brakes after putting the wheels back on proves to be beyond me, I'll drop her off at the bike shop early next week... and take the opportunity for another SCT ride.

And for dealing with the frustration of a rest day? The dog needs a run. About three miles ought to do it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rainy Days in the Kitchen

The last two days have been all about home & hearth. I'd like to say it was part of some awesome homemaking/mom plan, or a part of my sensible training plan and an official "recovery" from the cold & wet 10k, but it wasn't. Just didn't feel like being outside.

Sunday was filled with loads of housework and a bit of experimental cooking. Took B2 along on the Farmers Market trip. He was put in charge of keeping an eye out for a few of the less common items on the list - lemon grass stalks, for example. He enjoyed some much needed time as an only kid, and also enjoyed sampling coffee from several regions of the globe. (He's partial to Columbian french roast and the Turkish blend. Not as fond of the light roasts.)

Turned into a little bit of a stock up trip. Picked up dried apples for the next few batches of granola, replaced a few spices from the bulk bins, and grabbed most of the protein we'll need for close to two weeks. Still, the total was pretty good.

Got home, unpacked all the goodies, and set to work:

Browned up a few slices of bacon, added onions, garlic and a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes. The sauce was put up for any night which becomes a "fast food" night. Let it simmer on the back of the stove while I did prep for Sunday's dinner, Malaysian fish curry. Chopped veggies, roasted coconut flakes and measured out spices for the curry paste. If I have any decent pictures, I may post the recipe later this week. It was a composite of about three other recipes, and quite tasty. The kids weren't fond of it, but that wasn't really surprising. Even though two of them had a hand in making it, they just couldn't get past the fact of it being fish.

The time I'd normally be running or at yoga on Monday was also spent in the kitchen. Combined the containers of ground turkey and chicken with an assortment of fresh chopped herbs and veggies.

Turned the 4.5 pounds of poultry into ready-to-cook protein for six meals.

Lower Left:
Grated garlic and onions and a handful of basil leaves, chopped. This was mixed in everything, along with a little sea salt and black pepper. Set aside two 1/2 lb packets of the mix at this point and popped them in the freezer, to be used some other time with pasta or rice, or in tacos.

Lower Right:
1 grated carrot, 2 chopped scallions, 2 Tbs of chives, grated ginger and a handful of cilantro, chopped. Mixed with poultry, red pepper flakes, lime juice and an egg white, then formed around eight lemon grass skewers. Popped them in the freezer - they'll get moved down to the fridge 3-4 hours before cooking tonight.

Upper Right:
Bread crumbs (heel Friday's homemade bread), grated parmesan and asagio cheese, handful of parsley, chopped. Added to part of poultry mixture with egg yolk, and formed into 16 meatballs. Eight to a package, then popped in the freezer.

Upper Left:
Grated asagio, cubes of cheddar. Added asagio to poultry, then divided into balls. Added one cheese cube to the center of each, and flattened into burger form. Five burgers, stacked with foil in between, wrapped, bagged and frozen.

Since last night's supper was Vietnamese beef noodle soup (Pho), prepping the beef was next. Part of the top round was thin sliced for the soup; the rest cut small and placed in a ziploc freezer bag with honey, lime juice, teriyaki, freshly grated ginger and garlic. The bag went in the freezer, to be used for beef fried rice sometime in the near future.

Last, but not least, the cookies. A batch of cinnamon oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, ready for school lunches, rewards for trying mom's latest experimental cooking without too much complaint... whatever. Couldn't skip the cookie baking. After all, what could be better for a day you're avoiding cardio than a big bowl full of raw, buttery, cookie dough?

Sun's out today, so I'll be back on the trail. Good thing, too. My freezer is full, and the cookie jar - well - let's just stick with it being a good thing I'm out of the house today.

Half Training, 3/9-3/15

Monday, 3/9: Yoga/Core, 30 min

Tuesday, 3/10: Easy Bike, 15.75 miles (16.2 mph)

Wednesday, 3/11: Easy Run, 4.6 miles (9:59/mi)

Thursday, 3/12: Easy Run, 3.1 miles (8:54/mi)

Friday, 3/13: Rest

Saturday, 3/14: Silver Comet 10k Race (8:51/mi)

Sunday, 3/15: Rest*

*If mopping up the wet leaves and muddy footprint (twice), couple hours of pushing the cart around the crowded farmers market, three loads of laundry, two to three hours of cooking, and 90 minutes of ironing counts as rest.

Monday, March 16, 2009

20/20 - Bailouts and Bull

First off, I'm so very glad we have a DVR with our Comcast service. I had to get to bed early Friday night, since the alarm clock was set to 5:30 a.m. for Saturday's race. Thanks to the wonders of dual tuners and the DVR, I was not only able to record the next-to-last episode of "Battlestar Galactica", but didn't have to miss John Stossel's 20/20 special "Bailouts and Bull".

Watched it with the kids during lunch Saturday. As with Stossel's other specials, this one was great. I'd seen most of the subjects covered, through Drew Carey's webcasts on Reason TV, but thought Stossel and his team did a great job packaging the issues together, and taking the questions to our representatives in Washington, DC.

I'm not sure how much of the segments the younger kids were able to follow. I figure it's like other grown up topics - they'll absorb as much as their brains are ready for, and ignore the rest. It's good they saw the economists who don't agree with the constant cries of crisis and calls for more bailouts. And that my daughter, who does worry and ask questions after the economy is discussed on the evening news, saw the segment showing the middle class is actually doing alright.

But... the biggest reason I wanted them to see the special was the final segment. Stossel spoke with two people who perfectly illustrate a lesson I want my children to hear at every possible opportunity.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. In it, she details her year of working a variety of low-end and minimum wage jobs, and not being able to make ends meet. At the end of the year, she had nothing to show for her labor... except for the material for her book.

Adam Shepard is also an author, of the book Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. In the book, he details his year - no savings, no shelter, and an entry level, low paying job. Though they started out from a very similar point, Shepard ended the year with a completely different result than Ehrenreich. He ended the year with a furnished apartment, $5,500 in savings, and a used truck.

Ehrenreich's conclusion, based on her struggles and failure, is that it is almost impossible for the lower income workers to get ahead in today's economy, and extremely difficult to even just stay afloat. Shepard's message is that it's not easy, but if you are willing to make sacrifices and work hard, success isn't out of reach.

Attitude makes a tremendous difference. If you start out with "It's impossible. I can't." in your mind, you'll prove yourself right. If you start with the thought "I can. Now, what's the best way to get it done?", then you'll find a way.

It's always wonderful to have real world examples to point to during discussions of life lessons and character. I'm so glad to have seen Friday's show with the kidlets.

The Bailouts and Bull episode is available in segments on YouTube, and probably in full from ABC's website. Here's the segment I've been talking about:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 11

Week 11 Shopping:
Harry's Market (Whole Foods) - $100.34
Publix - $27.61
Total - $127.95

Year to date - $1,649.75

Average Weekly - $149.98

Lower than last week, but it will take a few weeks before I start making a noticeable difference in my average.

It wasn't a bad week, as far as the budget went. Had I not done the majority of my shopping at Whole Foods (Harry's Market), it could have been lower. But, the weather was gorgeous last week, and a trip to the International Farmers Market would have meant less time to play outside at the park with the kidlets. Plus, we'd not have discovered the additional options for fresh ground nut butters which are not available at either the Whole Foods close to the house, or the Int'l Market. Not Almond or Cashew, as both other places have that. What I'm talking about are the two machines filled with nuts and chocolate chips. We tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter, but have plans to go back in a couple weeks to get the Chocolate Almond Butter. Mmmmmm....

Supper Wars -

Butter Chicken, Brown Rice, Peas, Naan
Tried it with coconut milk, instead of yogurt this time. (Per B2's request.) All three kids loved it. It was pretty good, though it was a bit too mild for me.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Couscous Salad
The chicken was declared the best chicken ever by the boys. Since it's something I've done before, I'll have to attribute the difference to the all natural, free range chicken breasts from Harry's. For the salad, I used a touch too much mint. Will scale back a touch next time.

Garlic Teriyaki Wings, Yucca Buns
Mango Salad, Sticky Rice
Other than complaints about the chicken skin, well received. Again, I think the all-natural, free range chicken makes a difference.

Hoisin Beef w/Snow Peas
Brown Rice, Broccoli
Finally have the onion chop size perfect. The kids are not complaining about the onions, as they're the perfect size to slide off to the side.

Grilled Cheese, Sliced Apples
Left the teenager in charge - ducked out for enchiladas and a movie.

Eggplant Curry, Naan
Turkey Burgers (Kids)
The kids tried the eggplant curry, but I knew it was both tangier and spicier than they'd care for. Had basil turkey burgers and crunchy baby carrots for them.

Tamarind Glazed Pork Chops, Sticky Rice
Braised Carrots & Broccoli
Really good. I think I'll add less tamarind next time, or a touch more sugar. The sauce was a bit too sour for the kids, though they did like the flavor of what had carmelized on the boneless chops. The veggies had mixed results. In a complete switch from the norm, the girl loved the broccoli, and the boys ate all of the carrots.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ending on a high note

My Asics 2130s ran their last race today, the Silver Comet 10k. It was cold. It was breezy. It was drizzling.

It was also my fastest 10k to date - 54:59

35-39 Age Group: 29 out of 95
Gender: 136 out of 432
Overall: 539 out of 1,024

They're still going to be the first shoes I reach for when I roll out of bed for an easy three or four miles, and for riverside runs on the crushed gravel trail. But for anything over five miles on concrete/asphalt, the 2130s are out of rotation. It wasn't just the cold wet socks causing aches in the feet this morning.

The ING Half Marathon is March 29th, so I'll be tinkering with my run schedule. Last long run will likely be this coming Tuesday, and then I'll spend the rest of the two weeks running 3-5 miles, every other day, with a bit of time on the bicycle or in yoga.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nutty Granola

DD and I are taking advantage of the return of winter weather to run the oven all afternoon. Oatmeal breakfast muffins, honey wheat bread, both in loaf and hamburger bun form, and Nutty Granola.
This is our second batch. Came across this particular recipe at Running with Food, and followed it back to Lethally Delicious. Made it last weekend (that's when we took the photos), and went through it really quickly. My fruit & nut mix is slightly different than the original, and I'm making this batch slightly larger than the first, in hopes it will take us a little longer to eat it all up. More than three days would be nice.

4 cups Old-fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 cup English Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Georgia Pecans, chopped
1/2 cup Cashews, chopped
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Chopped Dates
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Maple Syrup

Did a quick chop of the dried fruit on the cutting board, then mixed everything together, except the maple syrup. Stir the syrup into the oat/fruit/nut mixture in two or three portions, then turn the whole bowl out onto a greased cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring it two or three times.
Wait impatiently for it to cool, then start eating with milk, silk, yogurt, fruit, ice cream, etc. Is not too sweet, not overly sticky. Not too crunchy - no worrying about the dental work.



It's been an absolutely gorgeous week. And yet this is what I have to look forward to tomorrow morning, when I have to be outside. Before sunrise. What happened to Spring?

Plus, the weather's rather icky today, so I'm craving comfort food. Will be tough to resist the temptation to order a frosty beer and big plate of red meat and potatoes (or really anything on the menu - it's all very good) during race packet pickup this evening... at 5 Seasons Brewing Company.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I've got the new shoe blues

I purchased a new pair of shoes Tuesday. Ended up going with the Nike Zoom, after trying the Asics 2140. I loved both of my pairs of 2130s, but the updated 2140 just felt a bit too stiff. Not in the typical new shoe way - more like having a part of the shoe I expected to flex, binding my foot instead. The Nike Zoom was light, felt nice & springy, and didn't make me feel like I had my foot strapped to a board.

As comfortable as they were in the store, and loping around the parking lot, I'm not so sure about the Nikes now. I laced them up for an easy run yesterday, on the path at Riverside Park. By a mile or two in, I noticed my left foot was much happier than my right. Everything on the left foot and ankle - great. The toes of my right foot were starting to feel numb, my instep was beginning to ache... not good.

Stopped and relaced at the half way point, to keep my heels in place. (That's one thing I do miss about the Asics - the narrower heel.) The last two miles or so were much more comfortable, but I'd already messed up the right foot for the day. Spent the evening rolling my feet over a tennis ball, and taking an moment to stand with my arches over the top of the wooden door jamb when I'd make the trip out to the laundry room.

Seeing as how great the Zoom is on my left foot, I'm going to pop in the superfeet green arch supports for today's three mile run, to see if it helps. (Added to the 2130s while I was upping mileage last fall) If it doesn't, back to the running store, to find what will. Thankfully, it's a local store, with a fit guarantee.

The Silver Comet 10k is this weekend, and my 2130s will be fine for that distance. It's going to be raining, so wouldn't really want to be in new shoes for the race anyway. That leaves me with two weeks to figure out the shoes, and get them broken in for the ING Half at the end of the month.

Update: With my green superfeet supports in, the shoes were quite comfy for today's run. Will have to see how it goes with a longer run or two next week. If they stay comfy, I'll be ready for the 29th.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Butter Chicken - a supper war victory

I've made this before, a few times. Two children liked it each time, even though they thought the last time was a bit too spicy. B2 thought the idea of yogurt in dinner was disgusting, so has been fussing every time. I asked him last week if he'd mind giving it another try if I used coconut milk, in place of yogurt. He said yes, so I did.

I prefer the flavor with yogurt, but this was good too. Other variations include using tofu, tempeh or roasted vegetables in place of chicken.

1 large onion, rough chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & rough chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1-2 small plum tomatoes (or a cup of grape/cherry tomatoes)
3-4 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 Tbs Cashew Butter (or a 1/3 cup cashews, added to food processor)
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp curry
2 tsp salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2-3 Tbs Canola (or high heat oil)

Grate the ginger, and squeeze the juice into the blender. (Toss the pulp) Place all of the above ingredients, except the oil, into a food processor or blender, and blend it to make a curry paste.

Heat oil over medium high stove - add curry paste. Simmer the curry paste until much of the moisture has cooked off, and it's become quite thick. At this point, start watching for it to take on a shiny quality, as the the oil starts to break. (That's what you want to see before adding yogurt or coconut milk)

2 cups plain yogurt, or 1 can of coconut milk
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,
or 2-3 breasts, cut into bite size chunks

Stir yogurt into paste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often (it will stick). Add chicken pieces. After it comes back to a simmer, cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Scoop chicken out to serving bowl, then raise the temperature back to medium high. Bring the sauce to a boil, and cook until you see the oil separating (see photo). Pour the sauce over the chicken in the serving dish and serve with rice. We like to have Nan and green peas. (I was lazy Sunday, and purchased the Nan, instead of making it.)

In case I had any doubts about declaring this an official win in the ongoing challenge to get the kids to eat something weird (as in anything with flavor), my daughter & son were looking over my shoulder while I pulled the photos off the camera.

"Ooh! Mom, when can you make that again?"

Spring cleaning for the bikes

I'm going to brag.
I cleaned my bike.
Not dusting or polishing.
Not handlebar tape replacement.
The messy stuff - I cleaned the chain and gears.

By myself.

Printed instructions from Degreaser, old toothbrush (hello kitty), a couple of rags and chain oil.

What started off looking like this:

Ended all clean & shiny:

Got everything reassembled, and went for a very pleasant (except for the stinky bradford pears) three lap ride of Columns Drive (2.5 mile road, total of 15 miles). I wasn't quite sure of my work, so wanted to be someplace with marked bike lane, not a lot of traffic, and never more than a comfortable walk to the truck.

Bloo's pedals whirred smoothly. Shifting gears were smoother than on my last ride. It was good. And, now that I know I can do it, I can take over general cleaning/maintenance on the other six (or seven?) bikes in the family. Major tuneups and replacements will still be handled by the bike shop, but I can do this part. Before I start on the hybrid and the kid bikes though, I think it's time to look into a moderately priced stand. My ironing board, covered with beach towel and weighted with tool chest, worked alright for a one time thing, but I can't imagine trying to do all the bikes this way. Especially not the girly bikes.

Sometimes a shrug is just a shrug

I've been reading a lot about "going Galt" lately. I was catching up on some reading while waiting through a couple of dentist and orthodontist appointments on Monday, and hit three pieces in one sitting. Plus comments. Lots of discussion board topics popping up out there, too.
  • An editorial by Stephen Moore, on WSJ online, Atlas Shrugged - from fiction to fact in 52 years.
  • Over at Angry Bear, a historical look at "going Galt", with a comparison of GDP growth under the last dozen or so presidents.
  • Articles about conservatives making plans to drop out, to cut the amount of taxes they'll pay, as a way of battling the policies being passed by the democrat run congress and signed by President Obama.
”Do you ever wonder,” wrote Dr. Helen Smith, “after dealing with all that is going on with the economy and the upcoming election, if it’s getting to be time to ‘go John Galt?’”

The themes had stuck with her readers, too. Within days, Smith had collected nearly 200 comments and a steady stream of e-mails from readers who were responding to the possibility of a Democratic victory by brainstorming ways to pull out of the economy. Four months later, Smith — a host of “Ask Dr. Helen” on the right-leaning web site PajamasTV — is collecting stories and suggestions from readers scattered across the country, all of them using the “Atlas Shrugged” analogy as a rallying cry against President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

Smith was a little ahead of the curve of what has become an incredibly popular meme. Across the broad conservative movement, from members of Congress to activists to economists, Rand’s final, allegorical novel is being looked at with fresh eyes. According to the Atlas Society, a think tank that promotes and analyzes Rand’s work, sales of “Atlas Shrugged” have tripled since the presidential election. One congressman says that Rand wrote a “rulebook” that can guide conservatives through the age of Obama; another calls Obama’s policies something right out of the mind of Rand. One economist says that Rand’s fantasies have become reality. Smith is one of many activists citing Rand to explain their decisions to sell their stocks, or to explain why the president’s “demonization” of run-amok CEOs is aggravating the economic slowdown. The popular meme is giving critics of the president’s policies a way to explain why, they believe, it’s doomed to fail — because Rand predicted all of this.

“Just this weekend,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on Wednesday in an interview with TWI, “I had a guy come up to me in my district and tell me that he was losing his interest in the business he’d run for years because the president wanted to punish him for his success. I think people are reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ again because they’re trying to understand what happens to people of accomplishment, and people of talent and energy, when a government turns against them. That’s what appears to be happening right now.”

The plot of Rand’s novel is simple, despite its length — 1,088 pages in the current paperback edition. The United States is governed by bureaucrats, “looters” and “moochers,” who penalize and demonize creative people. The country is in decline because creative people are disappearing — they have followed the innovative John Galt to a mountain enclave, “Galt’s Gulch,” where they watch society crumble. Creativity has gone on strike (the working title of the novel was “The Strike”), and the engine of capitalism cannot run without it.


For Dr. Smith’s readers, like their counterparts writing in to libertarian blogs and protesting Obama at “tea parties, ” the novel is most useful for the concept of “going Galt.” “I do some consulting on the side and the taxation on that income is unbelievable,”wrote one reader to Michelle Malkin. “So, to heck with this. I’m ‘going Galt’ on my consulting.” “I’m considering moving to a small family farm in a foreign country,” wrote a reader to Smith, “and looking into the practical side of the issue right now. It will take a year or two of preparation, but might be feasible and even comfortable.”

Smith, who’s still mulling over ways that she can “go Galt,” sees a possibility for a moral stand. During the Iraq War, she read about a painter who’d painted less, reducing his income, in order to dodge taxes and thereby make sure he didn’t fund the war. “I’d go John Galt just to not pay for programs I don’t believe in,” said Smith. “If we’re opposed to socialistic concepts — if we know they don’t work — why should we pay to support them?”

That's just what I read in one morning, but there's a whole lot more. I know it isn't something new. Radio talk show hosts have been talking about it for years. It's not always about quitting and walking away, either. Back in December, Neal Boortz proposed the top income earners cut spending to the level of the middle class, to show the impact of their money in our system. (I remember this, because I thought this made more sense than the threat to sit at home & do nothing - which was too much like the far left democrats who annouce plans to leave the country if republicans are elected.)

Why does shrugging have to be a battle strategy? I'm thinking about it, and not as part of lodging a protest.

It's tax season, and I'm looking at the numbers for my work as a freelancer. My total invoices have gone up, but the money we get to keep has dropped. I figured it was a good time to sit down with all the tools available online to help answer "Should I keep working?" for the modern working mom. They weren't that helpful for my situation, so I ended up using the tax calculators from the IRS and TurboTax websites.

Just for fun, I put myself in the mindset of being stuck in a conversation between my ultra right mother and far left brother-in-law or uncle. (Okay, so it wasn't just for fun. I know I'll have to tell my mom this has nothing to do with any protest/movement, as well as being on the spot for my "real" reasons.)

Whether or not I bill another hour this year, our tax rate does not change. As long as that is the case, a liberal does not see it as an increase in taxes. It does not matter that the additional income wipes out eligibility for deductions and tax credits, the underlying tax bracket remains unchanged.

Our federal income tax bill for 2009 goes up by a little over $5,000 with my income. Less than $3,000 of that is the income tax. The remainder of the increase comes from the phase out of the tax credits for dependents, along with a reduction in the allowable deductions for a few other items. But, to the folks in charge, that's not a tax increase. Technically, they're correct.

The folks "fighting for the middle class" are doing exactly what they've said. They're keeping us in the same tax bracket. They may raise the cap on social security, meaning there's more deducted from the paycheck over the year. But, social security is not income tax. The income phase out for child credits, or the amount eligible for the IRA, childcare and mortgage deductions may be lowered, but it's not a tax increase, it's closing a deduction / loop hole.

Add to the $5,000 in increased federal taxes:
Self employment taxes - $2,000 (Which I wouldn't have if not working.)
State taxes - $1,200 (Over the amount due without me)

There are extra expenses which go into me working, beyond the deductible business expenses. There's afterschool childcare, at about $4,000 per year. Summer/Day camp, $3,600 per year. And the weekly maid, another $4,000 per year. If I wasn't working, there'd still be summer enrichment activities; but it would be a few weeks of half day tennis, swimming or art, at about half the cost. And, I might still keep maid service, but it would be every other week. (Note that I'd be cutting my housekeeper's income by $2-4,000, and reducing payments to afterschool programs and camps by at least as much. That's a different rant though)

There's also the extra time and effort. I juggle schedules and care for five people - work, school, meals, laundry, music lessons, sports/activities, doctors, dentists, etc.... it would be much simpler if not bound to print deadlines.

I work part time. I do it because I enjoy it. Finishing a project gives me a sense of satisfaction. That is the second part of the argument made by those who poo-poo the idea of middle class workers giving extra effort the shrug. Yes, there is more than just the monetary reward for working. But the money does make a difference. When me having a job nets a profit, even after all those things mentioned above, it adds to my incentive to work.

For me, the decision whether or not to "go Galt" is not part of a battle plan. I'm just looking for the answer to a simple question. As the "not-an-income-tax-increase" reduces the amount of money I get to keep at the end of the day, the number of times I ask myself the question goes up.

"Is it worth it?"

It's only a matter of time before the answer becomes no.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 10

Week 10 Shopping:
Publix - $64.02
Trader Joes - $14.52
Trader Joes (Bike) - $20.82
Whole Foods (Bike) - $50.06
Total - $149.42

Year to date - $1,521.80

Average Weekly - $152.18

You know when you're zipping along on weight loss, and you hit a five or ten pound milestone, and just can't quite get past the "speed bump" on the way to the next part of your goal?

That's where I am with the grocery budget. I'm pretty solid on the average of $30 per person for the week, but that's where I am.

I could get it lower, by shopping for conventional items at the chain supermarkets. I'm just not sure it's possible while I'm purchasing any organic fruits and veggies, along with grass fed beef and cage free eggs. Hopefully, the arrival of spring and summer will mean lower prices on a lot of the produce, as locally grown stuff becomes available. And, there was the $25+ spent on supplies for nutty granola on Friday. We should get four batches with the nuts & fruit, though I will need more rolled oats. Assuming that's roughly $6/batch, I could just purchase a box of granola each week. But I'm not sure that's a savings I want to take. DD & I had a great time making the granola, it's absolutely delicious, and we know exactly what's in it.

For the next few weeks, I'm going to try holding steady at the $150/week average. As the local produce hits the shelves, I'll see what I can do to try and drop to $125-130.

Another good thing about spring, it is a lot nicer for frequent small trips and errands by bike and on foot. I'll be saving on gas, if not on the groceries. This past Friday, the weather was lovely, and I rode to pick up the bib for Saturday's 10k, and then kept pedaling right on down the road for the nuts/seeds/fruit shopping spree.

Supper Wars:
I was in the mood for a bit of the spicy stuff this week, so there are a couple of suppers with kid/adult designations. I had them try a bite, but then eat a meal in their own comfort zone. As much as the kids need to keep trying new things, I'm not pushing the chili and curry very hard. They get to keep trying heat in small doses.

Black Bean Chili, Salad
Baked Pasta w/Beef & Sausage
Kids weren't fans of the black bean chili, which I expected. They did try it though, before scarfing down their Pasta.

Turkey Tacos, Black Bean Chili, Salad
Oddly enough, a bit of the chili, mixed with the turkey and stuffed into a taco shell - gets past the "eww" factor with the kids.

Teriyaki Chicken, Green Beans
Brown Fried Rice

Casserole Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash
Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips, Petite Peas
As usual, the butternut squash is only a hit with one of the three. Will keep trying.

Lentils & Couscous Curry,
Baked Pasta (leftover)
Broccoli & Carrots
Again, the spicy stuff was a bit much for the kidlets.

Smothered Potatoes, Spinach Salad
Leftover Roasted Chicken
The potatoes are thick sliced, browned in butter with spices. Onion slices are added, then the whole thing is topped with chicken, beef or vegetable broth and allowed to simmer down until it's all absorbed by the potatoes. It's really delicious, and the kids won't eat the onions, so I end up with more onions than potatoes on my plate - which I love!

Saturday night was sandwiches and fruit, picnic style. The first two Harry Potter movies were being shown back-to-back, so the younger kids & I made an evening of it. (It was guys' night out for the oldest child & dad.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Half Training, 2/23-3/8

Combining two weeks this time. Between rest days for sick kids (or me), map projects, orthodontist appointments, and organizing everything for 2008 taxes, I'm just glad to see how many days in my online training log have something in them. It's been a bit of a blur. Good reminder of why I always build in an extra week or two into any official* training plan.
*By official, I mean the hodgepodge plan put together from a combo of Hal Higdon, RunnersWorld and various running bloggers.

Monday, 2/23: Rest

Tuesday, 2/24: Easy Trail Run, 4.5 mi - 9:56/mi

Wednesday, 2/25: Easy Run, 3.5 mi - 9:31/mi

Thursday, 2/26: Easy Run (w/dog), 4.25 mi - 9:30/mi

Friday, 2/27: Core/Yoga, 65 min

Saturday, 2/28: Rest

Sunday, 3/1 (Snowing!): Easy Run, 3.1 mi - 9:23/mi

Monday, 3/2 (Snow Day): Easy Run, 3.1 mi - 8:52/mi

Tuesday, 3/3: Yoga/Core, 60 min

Wednesday, 3/4: Easy Run (w/dog), 3.25 mi - 10:01/mi

Thursday, 3/5: Bike (Grocery), 3 miles

Friday, 3/6: Bike, Hills (Errands), 5 miles

Saturday, 3/7: 9.2 miles, total
Chattahoochee Road Runners 10k - 57:41 (Official), 9:18/mi New PR!
Plus, since the race was close to home - easy 3 miles, getting to and from race.

Sunday, 3/8: Easy Run, 3.1 mi - 9:26/mi

It's less than three weeks until the ING half. This week will be a combo of running and cycling (hopefully both utility and just-for-the-sake-of-riding), with a the Silver Comet 10k on Saturday. Having trouble getting signed up on, so I'll need to go by Big Peach Running Co. to register. It's a much flatter course than the first five miles of the race in Sandy Springs this past week, so I might even have a shot at breaking the 57:41 time.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Perfect day!

The week that started out with snow and cold, is ending with this:

It was a little chilly during yesterday morning's ride to Trader Joe's, but today was so nice, I decided to do all my errands on bike. Picked up my number for tomorrows Chattahoochee Road Runner 10k, then kept pedaling right down the road to Whole Foods, where I proceeded to completely blow my grocery budget for the week on dried fruit, nuts and seeds. (Will be making Nutty Granola later this evening.)

I'm bubbling over about the arrival of Spring. (please, please, PLEASE, let the nice weather stick around for a while) Yesterday, I saw three spandex clad cyclists, out for a ride. Today, I saw another commuter! He was riding around in street clothes, like me. We waved.

More later. Right now, I'm off to the kids' school. We're reading the last chapter of Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief in my son's 4th grade class, and continuing Neil Gaiman's Coraline in DD's class. I'll be bringing the kids home with me, so have to drive the truck... darn. If there were sidewalks, we'd be using them instead.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Asked during a conversation this past weekend about all the goings-on...
Do you remember the movie Americathon? John Ritter was president, in the 1970s. Supposed to be a glimpse into the "distant future" - you know, around 2000? He had to sell the White House and move into a condo when the country went broke?
I did not remember that movie. Thankfully, we have YouTube.

Since it's from 1979, I'd guess it was on after my bedtime. And, if it was shown earlier than 8:00 p.m., it's not the sort of movie my mom would have let me watch.

Shame it's not available through Netflix.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Grocery Challenge & Supper Wars - Week 9

2009 Grocery Challenge - Week 9 (Stock up week)
Atlanta Farmers Market - $55.33
Trader Joe's - $140.41
Publix - $22.72
Week 9 Total - $218.46

Year to date - $1,372.38

Weekly Average - $152.48

Had my grocery receipts clipped to my notepad, ready to be entered into the lists, along with the notes on suppers for the week. I was so organized, yet somehow managed to outstupid myself. I set everything down on the dining table Saturday, right in the middle of rainy day art projects.

All was cleared away for dinner, but came back out for Sunday's snowy day projects. And was cleared away again, along with wet gloves, hats and sweetgum balls. By the time we were clearing up the table for tonight's supper (no school today), I realized what I'd done. There is no way I'm going to find those receipts.


I had planned to talk about the differences in shopping at the Asian/Mexican market, in an old supermarket, as opposed to the warehouse sized farmer's market, but I'll have to try for a short version.

Week 9 was supposed to be a stock up week, and it was, to some extent. I tried the Asian market closer to home, instead of the Farmers Market. I got a great price on jasmine rice, and hoisin sauce, but felt limited by the choice of produce. There was plenty of fresh produce, but I had to do more sorting through bins to find it. The seafood is amazing, with many things you can't find anywhere else (live frogs, anyone?), but boneless, skinless chicken breast wasn't available. Finding the tapioca flour needed for yucca buns was a cinch, but there wasn't one chorizo which wasn't super processed, smoked and loaded with chemicals. I'm going to stick with the Int'l Market over in Dekalb, and save the Buford Highway trips for specialty items.

Without the receipts, I'm going by the bank debits, so there's a couple bottles of handsoap and a jug of laundry detergent included in the totals. But, I do have photos.

Atlanta Farmers Market (Formerly Hong Kong Market):

Note the lack of meat & poultry. I don't insist on buying everything organic/free range/grass fed, but I've gotten a bit pickier about knowing something about what we're eating. At the Dekalb Market, the farm or distributor is named on the cases, along with the grass/grain/range information and price. At Trader Joes, the packages mention the non-antibiotic & hormone feed.

Now, for Trader Joe's. Gotta say, bike shopping is the way to go here. Walking in with 3-4 bags to fill, and a truck to carry everything home for me made for a much pricier trip. Two bike trips spaced through the week would have gotten everything we actually needed, with a smaller total at the end of the week. I picked up both spicy and sweet Italian sausage, ground beef, chicken breasts and thighs. I still have some of the spicy sausage and chicken thighs, which will be used this week, but it really wasn't the most sensible trip I've made.

Supper Wars -
Chicken Paella
Have been asked to leave out the green peppers. When I explained this would change the flavor of the dish, since it all cooks together for a while, we reached a compromise. I'll leave the pepper in big pieces next time, so they can be easily avoided. (I wasn't a bell pepper fan at the age of nine, so it's not a big deal.)

Sausage & Plantain Frittata, Yucca Buns, Fruit
Will use mild sausage next time, instead of spicy, to get past the preferences of small people, but otherwise good. The yucca buns were a BIG HIT.

Mozzarella Stuffed Burgers, Sliced Apples
Garlic Roasted Russet & Sweet Potatoes
The burgers were a combo of beef & sweet Italian sausage. I browned the portion of the mixture over our burgers and popped it in the freezer to use later for pizza & pasta sauces.

Broccoli & Baked Penne
Basic white sauce, with egg, mozzarella and parmesan added.

Baked Teriyaki Tofu, Brown Rice
Stir Fried Veggies
Carrots, celery and broccoli - all okay. Kids were bugged not by onion, but by the use of both yellow and red onion. (??) Not sure why, since they won't eat the onions. Maybe B1 just had to reach a little further to come up with feedback.

Pizza & Salad
Included sausage/beef from Tues

Beef & Barley Stew, Cheese Toast
There was skepticism about the barley, until B2 made the announcement "It's okay. It's just like rice." After that, the only complaints were about the parsnips. Will do this again, but with potatoes and carrots, instead of parsnips and carrots. (Nobody noticed the minced onion - hah!)