Wednesday, March 31, 2010

School lunches and the future of our children

Sunday after i got back from my trip to Kansas i caught up on a couple of shows the kids had recorded for me. One of them was Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. That one really struck a nerve.
Back in the day i usually took my lunch to school and don't really remember eating much at the school cafeteria. I was lucky enough that mom got off work by 2 (she was a lunch lady) and made dinner every night.
Because most homes now have both parents working meals tend to be the most convenient vs. the most nutritious/fresh option. And these include school lunches. Especially now in today's economy all businesses are looking to see where they can cut back and save so of course fresh is going to cost more than bulk, processed items. And these items are not good for our kids! All this preservative laden stuff is poison to our kids. Kids get much more nutritional value from a sandwich brought from home but of course we can't make them eat it once they get to school and especially once they are teens. my kids wouldn't be caught dead taking their lunches when they were in high school. I've been trying real hard to cook more at home - one, because its better for you and two, to save money. But being a working mom sometimes it just doesn't happen and we eat whatever. The point is though to try to eat more times fresh vs. processed. this way i can control salt intake, and know what is going in my food.
 Jamie's show is a big wake-up call and i think he needs all the support from parents he can get to improve lunch meals in the school system and to get kids to learn to like fresh meals and even help prepare. We can give our kids a good breakfast and a good dinner but that need a good lunch too in order to keep going through the afternoon and be able to concentrate in school and keep up that energy.
If this interests you at all, please sign the petition at Jamie's site.

365-18 The Birds

Driving around while doing some errands i came across this site at a busy corner. For some reason all these birds had congregated in this area. It was quite noisy and seemed to be some kind of bird party in progress - they were a chirpin and making a fuss. It did bring to mind that Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds starring Tippi Hedren (Melanie Griffith's mom) - only those birds didn't make a sound. If you haven't seen it - the movie takes place around early 50s i guess in anytown America. And one day the citizens notice the birds kind of just are everywhere - like in the photo - and watching. These aren't your cute little sparrows but the large, black crow-looking birds. And one day these birds just go berserk and start attacking everyone . That part is gross, not a movie you watch with little ones around as they will never look at a bird the same again. If you like suspenseful, scary movies this is a good one to rent - creepy...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kansas Here i Come

On Wednesday i leave for overland park, kansas for a business trip - right up tornado alley. We will be super busy with minimal time for sight-seeing, not sure if there is anything to see there, but we will get to sample at least a couple of nice restaurants. Wish i had more time (and $$$) to travel for fun vs. business, but gotta do what we gotta do. And i know i'll forget something, i always do (don't you hate that?). The good thing this will be a short trip (back on Sunday) and then its back to the really important stuff like blogging and taking photos - ;)
It will definitely be a great opportunity to people watch and i'm sure some future blog stories will come out of this experience.
i will have my most essentials for my "home" away from home-
  • a good book (eat, love, pray)
  • my camera
  • my blackberry
  • a laptop
  • comfy pjs
  • my shuffle (music)
  • stamps for sending postcards to the kids
  • and most important my necklace with the Virgin de Guadalupe
what's your essential travel piece? and your favorite souvenir to pick up? i always get postcards and a shot glass from Hard Rock cafe.

365.10 Blue

Ok, after viewing a couple of the shots i took on our snow day, couldn't resist. i played with the flash and white settings on several shots. I thought this one came out interesting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

365-9 The bridge to....

Where do you want the bridge to take you? It's your journey. You can dream of what you want to be waiting for you on the other side. You can decide what you want it to be. And you can make it happen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

365-8 Atoms Away!

Today on the first day of spring it snowed. Snowed! But i am tired of winter (i'm not much of a cold weather girl - once is enough for me and we've had more than once already). So instead of posting another snow picture......

The other day i took a walk in my neighborhood. It was a gorgeous day - the sun couldn't make up its mind whether to stay behind the clouds or shine its full glory. It was a good day to practice some more with my camera. Because of changing light i had to keep changing the settings in order to get the best shot. I came across one of these red berry-type bushes - the way the photo came out it almost looks like atoms flying at you - almost.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

365-7 Reflections

After several tries I was finally able to manipulate the settings just right to get the reflection of the trees in the water to show up in the picture.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

365-5 Photo project

You can barely see the suns rays stretching upwards as it was starting to go down at days end.

From Little Mermaid, Mary Kate/Ashley to Final Destination

My mom is having a garage sale this weekend so i decided to clean out a part of our movie collection. Mind you what you see here are just those movies on Video Cassette. Because back in the day when my kiddos were little we didn't have any of seasons of anything available - so this collection is almost all Movies. In the early 90s, you could begin to find seasons of things like Blues Clues, Barney and short 30 minute music type videos like Disney Sing-a-Longs. Its so funny to go through and see all the movies they loved  and how many of them keep returning in updated formats. So some of these we also have the same versions in DVD format. I refuse to buy them again in BluRay. They are old enough now that they can do that, but they might as well wait till they have kids of their own because who knows what type of format these will be shown in then. This is just part of that stash:
  • Little Mermaid,
  • Beauty and the Beast,
  • Pocahantas
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 
As they they got older
  • Mary Kate and Ashley (at least 10 different movies, there were more but we only have 10 - ones from when they were late grade school/junior highish)
  • Sandlot, (this is a must see if you have grade/middle school boys - all about growing up in the 60s). The boys are all about playing baseball, one of them decides to let the new, nerdy kid on the block on the team and they end up being life long friends 
  • Now & Then (same as above except the girl experience). The girls come to term with one girl's parents divorce, another with the death of her mother - also are lifelong friends.
Then eventually
  • NSYNC  - great to watch on today's big screens!
  •  Final Destination  - too scary and bloody
As you can see i didn't make too much of a dent but did get a nice pile in the garage sale box. The classic Disney's we'll watch again until the VCR totally breaks down as well as NSYNC. Its amazing how much we can accumulate through the years. Now i need to tackle getting those home movies on a DVD format. It never ends, but the memories are priceless. Oh and as you ca see i also have a huge LP collection. What are LPs you may ask, they are records. Most of you may also ask 'what is a record?' The pre-historic version of the CD. And getting all those on CDs or an iPod may be a task for when i retire -- we'll see.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Radiant Fruit 365-4

More and more lately i've been looking for ways to  cut back on spending (as is everyone else these days). One way is to cook more meals at home. This not only costs less than eating out, it helps with my weight goals as i can manage what i put in (salt, sugar, etc.) in my food and manage portion size. We were going to do a healthy potluck at work this week and i was thinking of taking a vegetable or fruit salad. Strawberries were on sale this weekend at the grocery store (buy 1 quart package, get one free) so i decided on the fruit salad. i found a great recipe on the Food Network site by Elie Krueger from Healthy Appetite. With minimal ingredients - strawberries, kiwis, melon and then a honey, lemon juice and mint (i did forget the mint in mine) for dressing. Very easy and very delicious.  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shadows 365-3

Today's photo captures the late afternoon suns rays through my bedroom window on this first day of Daylight Savings Time. I thought the different intensity of the shadows was interesting - how same light coming through one window could cast such a variety of shades.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring blossoms 365-2

 Check out the pic of the day for 365 Photo Project  - Spring is truly here and these little blossoms are a welcome sight!


All year long i've been gathering egg shells in preparation for making Cascarones for Easter Sunday. Cascarones are a Mexican tradtion and much more fun than just searching for and then eating boiled eggs. To make Cascarones you use hollowed out egg shells, Easter egg decorations, confetti and tisue paper. This process can be as easy or as complicated as you would like to make it. Around this time you can also find some already made for purchase in some Mexican super markets or bazaars. But what is the fun in that? If you keep it simple it can be a great project to do with the kids. My family has some great memories of making as well as breaking these.
Some people hollow out their egg shells by poking holes on either end of the egg (such as with a straight pin) and then blowing through one end so the raw egg comes out on the other. I just carefully crack around one end to make just a big enough hole for the egg to come out, about a half inch or so, then thoroughly rinse the inside of the egg and let dry. I do this basically every time i'm cooking something that involves eggs which is why it takes me all year to gather. As you can imagine sometimes my egg doesn't crack like i want it to so i can't save it for this project. But i end up getting quite a good amount. I save them in empty egg shell cartons until time to do final preparations for Easter Sunday.
Today i pulled out my stash ( I had about 4 1/2 dz this year). After last Easter i went to all the sales and bought some egg dye. Since i have all nieces (i have 2 girls and 1 son - all over 18), i'm using the Disney Princess egg dye set today, following the directions on the package for dying regular boiled eggs. If you don't want the dye to get under your finger nails you may want to use dish gloves or other thin plastic glove to handle the dyeing process.
i dyed all my eggs and set them out to dry on newspaper. Depending on the time and how creative you want to get with your eggs, you can decorate any way you like. Some people really go all out and do beautiful designs with strips of colored tape (such as masking tape), etc. Have fun with it!
Once dry i filled about 3/4 full of confetti. Some people use flour or glitter but that just makes a huge mess in your hair and when you have girls it can be murder to get it out, confetti is hard enough.
Once all my eggs had the confetti i cut out small circles of tissue paper (any color will do) big enough to glue around the hole to keep my confetti in. Done!
My sisters and mom also do this so come Easter Sunday we have lots of eggs to hide and break on each others heads. Adults get in on the fun too. It's said that if someone breaks one on your head you will have good luck. Don't know about that but depending on who broke it on your head you may have a headache. We've taught the kids to gently break it on each other's heads and especially mommy's. The older kids can get carried away with it sometimes and we remind them to be gentle.
We break the cascarones outside of course and if you also hide boiled easter eggs you'll want to let everyonje know to check before cracking on someone's head if its a boiled egg or a true Cascarone. Otherwise - ewwww. Once the eggs are broken its all organic so no damage to the environment since its just egg shells and paper (again this is another reason i don't like to use flour or glitter for my 'fillings').

Friday, March 12, 2010

Photo Project!

I am participating in the 2010 Mommytography 365 Project! For this year long project I will be posting an image a day, to get me out shooting, using my camera and learning new things with it daily. Anyone interested in photography can join, no need to be a Mommytographer. There are teens to adults, male and female, as well as people from all over the world. Come join the fun!

365*-1 - Bubblegum Suncatcher at an angle

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Family Traits

Last night I learned my great Tío* Nacho passed on. He was the last of my grandmother’s family (my dad’s mama). He was also the last of my father’s family period. My father as well as his parents, his brothers, and sisters and all of his aunts and uncles are gone. We, the children are the oldest of this side of the family. My Tio was also the last of that generation (the greats) on both sides of my mother’s and father’s family. Tio was quite a character - they all were really. He had a great memory and was a great story teller (as was my grandmother and their other brother). I however did not inherent these traits, my younger sister did though and she remembers things and will tell stories from our childhood to our kids. All the while I’m thinking, really?! Are you sure it happened that way?

My tio Nacho (Nacho is the nickname for Ignacio) loved, LOVED to read and I’m told (by my sister who remembers everything) that he even had a large collection of books – a library in his home. This is a very RARE thing in the boonies of Mexico. I had never seen such a thing in this town where our parents are from, but it would explain my love of reading and why I hoard books. I can’t bear to get rid of any and although I no longer have the time I used to for reading, I will still buy a book I fancy for the day I do have the time to read it – like when I retire. I have a pretty good library too.

Tio Nacho also didn’t like people touching his things and I’m told when he would read if he had to go do something else and laid his book down, no one was to touch it. Just leave it where he left it (the room with the library of books) so that when he came back he could pick up his reading where he left off. I can be that way too. My husband’s family learned this on my first visit to their home. They live out in the boonies of Mexico too. We had gone to the city and I had bought a couple of magazines to pass the time. When we got back to the house, my husband’s younger brothers and sisters helped us unload our packages from the car. I went to our bedroom and looked for the magazines so I could relax before dinner. Not a one to be found, they had all taken them for themselves. Let’s say I wasn’t a happy camper.

I’m not sure of his age but he had to have been between 80-90 years old. He did not suffer and knew exactly when it was his time to go – he had been feeling poorly, not uncommon for his age. Tío had his wife call his children together, asked for a shot of tequila, said goodbye to everyone and then quietly passed away.

It was a no-nonsense ending for a no-nonsense man. Descanse en paz Tío.

*Tio is the Spanish word for uncle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Girl Scouts & cookie booth sales!

It’s Girl Scout cookie time! As I no longer have any Girl Scouts in my family, I have to rely on co-workers or booth sales to get my fix of thin mints, trefoils, samoas, etc. Girl Scout cookies now even come in flavors like Dulce de Leche.
 I was a Girl Scout back in the day and I cherish the memories from those years – Father/Daughter Banquets, Camping (in large army-type, tents, small cabins, large communal cabins, etc.), bicycle field trips and other activities that without this organization I would never, NEVER have experienced. As strict as my parents were I’m surprised they even let me join a troop, but they did and I am forever grateful.

My two daughters were girl scouts and they stayed with it through high school. Much longer than I ever did (I was a sixth grade dropout as far as GS). Through GS they went to sleep away camp where they got to stay in a tree-house cabin (yes just as it sounds a cabin in a TREE!) and learned to ride horses, play with a college soccer team and rope a lamb or a goat or something (can’t remember, but I do remember how excited my daughter was when she told me she did it). They also traveled to World Girl Scout Centers and participated in community service activities with Girl Scouts from and in other countries. The oldest went to Mexico and the youngest went to England and camped out in the ‘backyard’ of a castle! The friends they made and the memories are ones they'll cherish forever -

It was sad not see more diversity in the Girl Scout troops, at least in our neighborhood, especially the lack of Latinas. So many of the parents think like mine did and are distrusting of people and because of their lack of understanding what the group does, fearful to let their girls join. They don’t understand how much their daughters can learn and how it can even change their lives.

This past weekend while grocery shopping, the girl scouts were in full force selling cookies at their booth. We bought a few boxes to help support the cause. My girls have a soft spot as they remember their days of having to sit all day trying to sell a box while getting the many excuses – I have no money, I’m trying to watch my weight, I’m diabetic, I’m allergic, etc. etc.

Please support the Girls Scouts and buy a box and if you can’t or don’t want to eat them – give them away or take them to the office and share. 

Click here  to find where to buy cookies. Or here for more locations and recipes. Support your local Girl Scout Troops!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's Lent Season, It's Friday, that means......

It's gonna be a fish meal in there somewhere. Because i'm catholic, every Friday during lent season we do not eat meat. I read somewhere that this is not a die hard rule anymore (shows you how much i know about my faith, sad) but its what we've always done so we keep on doing it. Funny how when you are "prohibited" something, you just want/crave it that much more. I mean even when its not Lent there are days that we do not eat meat and its no big deal. I've tried to cut back on beef mostly because its not that good for you and of course as cost savings. So we usually have mostly chicken and fish. There are days we have neither, say when we do a pasta dish at the end of the week and we are out of most things to cook something.
Anyway so yesterday was Friday (sorry should have posted this yesterday but time got away) and instead of cooking we went to one of our favorite little hole in the walls nearby - The Seafood Shack! I had gotten off work a little early and it was just the Husband and i - the younger two were working and the oldest had gone to the mall with her boyfriend. We hadn't gone out solo in quite a long, long time.
I had my favorite - Coctel de Camaron. This is a mexican shrimp cocktail, very different and flavorful than your average shrimp cocktail that you might get a Red Lobster or something. This is large (or somtimes small) shrimp served in a large glass, with a spicy tomatoey sauce, bits of garlic, onion, jalapeño and chunks of avocado. Yum, Yummy.
I also had a margarita. Hubby had agua de horchata. A rice water type drink, no alcohol and refreshing. We also had fried mushrooms and calamari. It tasted delicious. The calamari was perfect.
It was a nice ending to a stressful week.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Of Dancing and Stars

For those that follow the Dancing with the Stars show, you've probably already heard of the latest lineup of "Stars". Seems to be slim pickin's out there. Are all the real stars just too busy with the Oscars, making movies, etc. to have a bit of fun? this season's picks are disappointing. Perhaps its time to shake up the show a bit if they are having trouble finding top stars to participate. Here's some of my picks for "themes" for upcoming Dancing with the Stars shows:
  • Reunion of the good and the bad from the Survivor's series
  • Former child stars - The Beav, Bobby, Cindy (Brady Bunch), Eddie Munster, Danny Bonaduce (Partridge Family), Mickey Mouse Club, etc.
  • Game Show hosts - Pat Sajak, Vanna, Drew, Bob Barker, Alex Trebec, etc.
  • Idol turndowns - Those that didn't make the final cut, perhaps they can dance better than they can sing
  • Former Bachelors and Bachelorettes
  • Food Network Stars
  • Saturday Night Live casts - Bob Murray, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtain, Dan Akroyd, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, STeve Martin, Amy Pholer, Kristin Wiig, Laraine Newman
Of course the "Stars" would be the professional dancers as they've become stars in their own right now. Well deserved after 10 seasons. Who would you like to see? As for me until something better comes along, i'm sittin' this season out.