Archive for October, 2011

Thought for the day

October 27, 2011 2 comments

I don’t measure success by the size of my bank account. I measure success by how much love I receive, and how much I’m able to give back. I measure success by whether I’m the kind of person that my family will want to help when I’m old and unable to help myself. I measure success in how much I smile and laugh, and how much I make others smile.

You can have the best degree and the most secure, highest paying job in the world, but at the end of your life, it won’t mean much if nobody feels a bond with you that is worthy of making them stick around.

Categories: Uncategorized

Happy birthday, Olivia.

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: Special occasions

A Thank You and Exercise Talk

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

For anyone that was able to donate (and even if you weren’t but you sent positive vibes) for Snow and Matt and their vow renewal, thank you. The event was a success, I’m told. The bride and groom looked smashing, and the photographer made it there on time, after raising even more money than she had hoped. The cake and flowers worked out without a hitch, as well. They really had an amazing day, from what I understand, so thank you again.


I’m still hanging in there with yoga, and really getting the hang of the sequence of the video. Last night I tried a Pilates and Yoga combination video for something a little more strenuous and I really liked it. I’ve been stiff all day because of it, but that will fade a little more each day as I stick with it.

We have eaten a lot of crap the past couple of days, but that will change. We have a refrigerator full of groceries and a menu ready to go.

Louie is still hanging in there with Weight Watchers and the Points Plus version of it. I don’t know what he even took for lunch today when he went to work but he hasn’t gone over his points at all. We had salad for lunch, so I think he should be okay, even if he took something with a lot of points to work.

I do need to buy more fruit, though. I shopped at Wal-Mart and they wanted like $1.38 for pears. I can get them at a local place called Valli Produce for 49 cents a pound right now. Other produce is comparable, also. I’m going to be going right past there Monday anyway, so I’ll stop then.

All in all, the change in our habits is still going fairly smoothly. I’m still sucking down as much Pepsi as I ever was, though. That’s the hard part for me. I really don’t care for water and I have an aversion of drinking from plastic cups, so it becomes too easy to just grab a can. I have to work on that next. For now, though, we’ve taken small steps and I feel a lot better because of it.

Categories: Food

Making lemons into lemonade

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment

One of my closest friends is renewing her wedding vows Saturday before her husband re-deploys. He just got home last month after a year. Originally, she mentioned that she was sad that her original wedding was tainted with such poor photography, so one of her other friends stepped up and said she’d do the photos for free, and she would trade services with a florist and baker she knew. She’d take photos for them to use in their advertisements and she’d use the photos in her portfolio. A cake was decided on. A facebook invitation was created, because it was to be a very small affair. The photographer RSVP’d yes in June and then never responded to attempts to be contacted after that, either on a personal or professional level.

Cue 4 days before the vow renewal (yesterday) and the photographer spits out a bunch of excuses as to why she didn’t get notice and she’s doing it grudgingly, and tells my friend she canceled the baker and florist but she guesses they can do it anyway. Sounds to me like she got a paying gig and just doesn’t want to do this one.

Several of us got together on Facebook. We have flowers coming to her house tomorrow, a cake ordered, plans in the works for putting together the flowers when they get there, and even a photographer that is willing to use the photos for her portfolio in exchange for gas money.

Here’s where I can use your help. I know money is tight for everyone, so if you can’t give, it’s okay. No need to explain. If you can, though, please imagine yourself in her shoes. This was supposed to outdo her original wedding and she finds out just days before that the majority of the services for the wedding are only going to be done with resentment, and the person doesn’t want to do them at all.

So if you have anything to spare, even five dollars, it would be awesome if you could contribute some gas money toward the photographer. Again, it’s okay if you can’t, but if you can, you’ll be a part of an amazing group of women from all over the world, getting together to give our “sister” a beautiful day. Japan, Italy, Canada, Illinois, Georgia, Arizona, Hawaii, and more have already been added to the list of locations that have come together to help one person with her special day.

Here is the link if you can add yourself to that list of people.

Categories: Special occasions

My own open letter (contains profanity)

October 12, 2011 4 comments

I was just reading someone else’s open letter and it made me want to write my own to the same person holding that sign in that picture and looking intimidating as he tells us all to quit whining.

Here we go with the entitlement crap again. How easy it is to say “Just work harder…”

Let me tell you something about working harder.

My mom was born in 1950. She dropped out of high school at 16, because back then, a diploma was just a nice thing to have. She was married at 18, abandoned by her husband, divorced, and married again at 19. She was expected to stay home and make babies because women’s lib was just getting started. She didn’t grow up at a time where everyone took out a loan and went to college. A lot of women did, sure, but more did not.

She worked a few jobs over the years, until I was born in 1979. Then she stayed home with me while my father worked. She did have a job here and there, but she wasn’t the breadwinner. She was earning money for Christmas gifts, clothes, and so on. On the outside, we were pretty privileged, except that my father was an alcoholic domestic abuser with a wandering eye.

After having enough of his abuse, she left him with me in tow in 1987. She worked at a nursing home for a while, struggling to put food on the table. She often went without eating and there were many nights that we had peanut butter and crackers for dinner. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with this. I didn’t know there was anything missing when I ate plain hamburger with a spoon. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with drinking powdered milk. My mom made a game of it all, because at that time, they wouldn’t approve my mom for food stamps because she was still legally married to my dad and he made too much money. Bootstraps, blah blah. More like trying not to starve to death.

My mom took a job in August of 1988 at a screw manufacturing company. She was a temp for a year, then she got hired on. She had a 401k. She had insurance. She busted her ass. She worked 10 hours a day during the week,  and 6 hours on Saturday, every single week for 18 years. Granted, the overtime did fizzle out toward the end, but it wasn’t because she wasn’t willing. She is diabetic and the job physically took the life out of her legs and the rest of her body. I watched her, in later years, walk out of that factory crying because she hurt so bad from doing her job, but you know what? She got up the next morning and did it all over again.

In 2007, the factory closed and Rockford’s screw products became China’s screw products. Along with that, between the CEO of the company and the bank in charge, the employees’ 401k match from the company disappeared into thin air. So did a large portion of what was paid in. My mother’s retirement went from $23,000 to $5,000. She had no insurance. She had no job. She had nothing. Fortunately, she lives/lived with her boyfriend so she wasn’t homeless, but she lost everything else. After 18 years of dedication and literally giving her health to her employer because she wasn’t afraid of a hard day’s work, she was left with shit. Absolute shit.

Then her health got even worse. She had no way to pay doctor bills, so she just didn’t go. She couldn’t afford all of her medications, so she just didn’t take them. Or if she did, she’d take partial doses. Obviously, her health got even worse from there. She was eventually approved for social security, and eventually she got medicaid, but at 61 years old, she’s inches away from renal failure. Part of that is because of her own stubbornness, but most of it is because of the damage that was done with some asshole in a suit stole everything she worked for her entire life and left her with no way to take care of herself. Remember, part of that was because of the bank itself. It wasn’t that she didn’t have the money there initially. It was taken from her, along with her co-workers.

My mother has 34% of her kidney function left. She can barely walk. I’m scared to death to go around her when I have a cold because if she gets pneumonia again, she could die. There’s not a damn thing I can do about any of it. I don’t know if she’s 1%, 53%, 99%, or any other number, and frankly, I don’t care. I only care that she’s my mother and I can’t help her because the economy hasn’t been kind to me either.

So don’t tell me or my mom to suck it up, because this could be you someday. All it takes is one bad illness or one oops in your endocrine system and you’ll be walking the very path my mom is on. It’s easy for you to say to stop whining now. You have nothing to whine about.

In the meantime, come here and bend over so I can shove 53% of that sign up your ass.

Turning over a new leaf

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week when we did our grocery shopping, I came across an amazing sale on produce. In addition to that, my grocery list and menu for the next two weeks had minimal meat on it, as you saw yesterday.

My husband struggles with weight, and he asked me to stop making desserts. This is hard for me, as I have a big sweet tooth,  but he is more important to me, so I intend to. I can still get sugary satisfaction in the form of fruit, and it’s better for me, too. He lost a great deal of weight before just from no longer eating meat, or eating very little of it, so I decided that was the next step.

Add in that my mom is nearing kidney failure, and while she doesn’t live with me, I want to support her dietary needs as much as possible, both by having dinners on hand that she can eat when she comes over, and by not making foods that tempt her when she makes conversation by asking what we had for dinner.

The change, just from adapting over the weekend, is phenomenal. I don’t know about anyone else in the family, but I feel so much better. We’re not eating convenience foods (although I am still working to cut out soda for myself), we’re not eating nearly as many carbs, our calorie count is way down, and our vitamin intake is way up because we’re not eating crap. I feel so, so much better. Even after only sleeping for 5 hours, and being interrupted in the middle because the hubby came in from work and asked about my day, I feel amazing. My body feels good. My mood is stable. I’m content.

Of course it could also be the yoga I started doing again. I felt so relaxed when I went to bed last night! I’m sure that helped me get as much rest out of those five hours as possible. I refuse to exercise in front of my family, because I am bashful about it, but I can’t wait for them to go to bed so I can do it again!

I love how great I feel. This is motivation to keep on going indefinitely. Hopefully our pocketbook cooperates. In the meantime, if you have any inexpensive, non-processed meatless meals to share, I’d love to hear about them!

Categories: Food

Wall Street

October 9, 2011 Leave a comment

You may not agree with what they’re doing. You may think it’s just a bunch of hippies standing in the street. You may think they’ll get nowhere because they lack organization.

What you can’t deny is their existence. Even if you, personally, feel they’re not going to accomplish anything, you have to appreciate that they’re willing to try. You have to admit they are out there, sticking up for those of us that are trying to make due with $35 for groceries. They’re out there, sticking up for those of us that lose homes, jobs, healthcare coverage, and our pride. They’re out there, so maybe, just maybe, nobody else will have to wonder where their next meal will come from or if their children can have crackers next week. Nobody should have to live like that, not even for a week, and those aren’t the worst examples.

We at least owe them media coverage as a thank you for their efforts because they’re tired of surrendering their happiness so some fat cat in an office can get even richer.

Right Here All Over (Occupy Wall St.) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

Categories: Uncategorized

Our menu through 10/20/2011

October 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Most of these recipes are meatless. The only exception would be the chicken recipe at the beginning of the menu and 3 instances where there is ground turkey. I’ll put an asterisk by those. The majority of the recipes can be found here, and if you don’t find them, just ask me for any that you’d like.

Week One:

  • Sunday
    Lunch: Chicken gyros, Mexicali salad
    Dinner: Lentil Spinach Stew
  • Monday
    Lunch: Taco salad
    Dinner: Veggie chili
  • Tuesday
    Lunch: Macaroni and cheese
    Dinner: Spaghetti
  • Wednesday
    Lunch: Butternut squash soup
    Dinner: Fresh fruit, apple bread
  • Thursday
    Lunch: Vegetable pizza
    Dinner: Tortilla soup
  • Friday
    Lunch: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
    Dinner: Bubble up pizza casserole*
  • Saturday
    Lunch: Tortellini with spinach and cherry tomatoes (recipe has mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in the title)
    Dinner: Chili*

    Week Two:

  • Sunday
    Lunch: chili mac* (using leftover chili from night before)
    Dinner: taco soup*
  • Monday
    Lunch: Gigantes, salad
    Dinner: Chile rellano casserole
  • Tuesday
    Lunch: Bean burritos
    Dinner: stuffed squash
  • Wednesday
    Lunch: taco salad
    Dinner: spaghetti
  • Thursday
    Lunch: spicy tortellini chowder
    Dinner: hearty rice skillet


Breakfasts aren’t set beforehand, but are usually cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, or some kind of egg dish. They’re very carby, typically, I admit. Snacks are made up of fruits and veggies, for the most part. I cook as much as I can from scratch, but I use canned beans in the bean recipes and spaghetti sauce/boxed pasta from the grocery store, typically.


Categories: Uncategorized

The gayest baby on the block

October 7, 2011 6 comments

I don’t really know what makes someone homosexual, except that they’re wired to be attracted to someone of the same sex from birth. I haven’t studied it, and it’s just something I always accepted. Either you’re straight or you’re not. Period.

Here are some things that will not make a little boy “turn” gay:

carrying a purse
wearing pink
liking princesses
having painted nails
using pastel blankets
playing dress-up in pastel dresses, etc.
having gay parents
having straight parents
Anything else

I chose to list things for little boys because I don’t really see people telling little girls they will be lesbians if they play with trucks or wear blue. There is definitely a double standard there, but that’s something for another post.

You don’t turn a person gay. They are or they are not. The arguments behind claiming that wearing a certain color is connected to sexuality don’t even make sense. Your parents and their sexuality don’t determine the gender of the person you choose as a mate, either. If that were true, there would be no homosexual people because all straight people would have straight children.

I don’t mind if my sons do turn out to be gay. They can be anything they wish, as long as they’re honest with me and they’re happy in their own skin. I don’t see what it would hurt if nail polish did make a boy want to kiss another boy, but it doesn’t.

Little boys like to play dress-up just as much as little girls if they’re left alone and not told that it’s icky to do so. It really insults my beliefs and my intelligence when a stranger at the store makes a big deal out of my son’s green toe nails. He’s two. He doesn’t have gender hang-ups. He just wanted to participate in something the rest of us were doing. It makes him happy, and I was honestly pretty proud that he managed to sit in the big person chair long enough to get 10 toes painted without falling off.

I choose not to interfere in my kids’ exploration of sexuality, gender, or favorite colors, and along the way, I choose not to tell my son that he can’t play with a baby, no more than I would tell my daughter she couldn’t play with a truck.

I’m really getting fed up with society’s judgments of what makes a man a man. A good man takes care of his family (Mama would like a room with a view in the home, please), works hard, is honest, and does his very best to be a decent human being. That is the type of man I am trying to raise within my sons. If they learn to do it with painted nails and tinkerbell pajamas, or a baseball uniform and a bucket full of toads, I hardly see what difference it makes.

Categories: Uncategorized


October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I took the kids to Goodwill tonight so I could get Ronald some pants. I got some bras for myself, some cleaners, some school paper, and a Halloween costume for Olivia. My total was $36.60.

I made some comment like “Can’t beat that!” and the woman behind me chimes in with “That’s a lot of money when you don’t have anything to spend…” in such a way that would indicate that she doesn’t have $36.60 to spend and I was throwing money away or being frivolous. I can assure you that I wasn’t being frivolous.

The pants: Ronald had the same pants for a year. My mom did buy him some shorts over the summer, but he hasn’t had new pants since around the time of his 12th birthday. He just turned 13. He was literally wearing his last pair of pants that fit, and there was a giant hole in the knee. Kids at school were starting to notice that he was wearing the same pants, and he was walking funny because they were too small. It was only about three weeks that he had to do that, but it was about three weeks too long. I bought him 4 pairs of pants, costing $2.99 each.

The bras: All but two of my bras are nursing bras and those, as well as one of the non-nursing bras are way, way too big. I’m not done nursing yet but the size of my chest would imply otherwise. I declared as much as three months ago that I needed new bras. I still didn’t get new bras. I got used ones. From Goodwill. So pardon my frivolous spending of $1.99 each on four bras but they were needed.

The paper: The kids need it for school. Once you’re in the higher grades in school, you go through a lot of paper. They sell it there for 69 cents.

The cleaners: They’re new cleaners, sold at the front of the store, but they’re cheaper than the dollar stores around here. I have children and desire a clean home for them.

The Halloween costume: Okay, so when it comes to things people need when they’re poor, Halloween costumes doesn’t rate that high but I bought it at the Goodwill for $1.99, with the tags on it. I call that a bargain, and my by-then-3-year-old wants to dress up and get candy. I don’t think I’m being wasteful there either.

I understand being hard up. I really, really do. I have had similar thoughts inside my head when the person in front of me was spending $1,000 on a tv and I could barely afford batteries for the remote, but I kept them to myself. It’s not their fault, nor is it my fault that spending $36.60 on three big bags of stuff at the thrift store seems like a gross display of wealth to her.

It seems like no matter where  person turns, they’re doing it wrong. When it comes down to it, I shouldn’t care what someone else thinks, but I think it needs to be said again that perhaps we should worry a little less about what’s coming out of someone else’s wallet and assume a little less that people are just throwing money around that they could spend on necessities. I’m truly sorry that the woman behind me tonight is in such a bad place that she looked upon me as rich, but rich is something that I definitely am not.

Categories: Uncategorized