Smarter Than A Preschooler, part 2
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Daja is our winner with 6 points, plus a bonus point! You win the accolades of your peers!

Here are the answers, because Enquiring Minds Want To Know...right?

1. Lettuce

2. Broccoli (They sell canned pumpkin- a squash - and believe it or not, I've seen canned zucchini. In the same store that also sold canned grapes. It was Cold War Bunker bonanza!)

3. Capers, olives

4. There are lots of these! Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, soy sauce, yogurt, even sourdough would technically count! I've made sourdough, kimchi, and yogurt. Yogurt is such a no brainer to make, BTW, and super cheap because you can use milk powder. Try it and see!

5. There are many answers to this one... when we were dating, my husband made dinner for me once. Hot dog and rice casserole. Seasoned with rosemary. I married him anyway! My children would argue that the worst combo I've ever cooked are blacCorn varietiesk beans and rice - and I just keep making it, too! :} Also, I eat my peas with Miracle Whip- my mom says that's a Czech/Polish thing - but I love it, it's everyone else that thinks it's gross!

6.Devil's Food Cake is red(dish) because it is leavened with baking soda, and made with buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda, and makes the cocoa powder turn reddish. But Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines, being all modern and convenient, do use red food coloring now. (When Red Velvet Cake was first developed, it was colored with beet juice!)

7. Corn. If corn is not shucked, with the tough husk removed, it will not grow.

8. Everyone got this right! It's the secret to good gravy.

9. Water/wet method is right! Braising is cook slowly in water (like pot roast). Blanching is done usually to keep vegetables bright and pretty - a quick dip in boiling water, then an ice bath. Poaching is cooking over boiling water - like a poached egg.

10. I love Alton Brown's Good Eats. I absolutely despise Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/31/2007 09:51:00 AM | Permalink | |
Smarter than A Preschooler!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
How smart are you? - Are you dumb?


Let's round out this uppity post with some cooking trivia - answer in the comments and show how smart you are! (Navigating away from this page, to say... Wikipedia or is C H E A T I N G!)

1. What vegetable is only sold fresh, never frozen or canned?

2. What vegetable is only sold fresh or frozen, never canned?

3. What vegetable is only sold prepared, never fresh or frozen?

(vegetable means, edible part of a plant. Don't get all weirdly technical, like saying a tomato is a fruit or yams are tubers...)

4. Almost all cultures eat fermented food of some sort. Name a non-alcoholic fermented food product from Asia, Europe, and Russia. Bonus points if you've actually made any of these!

5. Free form answer: On Bravo's series Top Chef, a contestant was highly criticized for making a tart containing artichokes and pears... flavors that, the judge noted, "did not marry well". What have you made with flavors that did not marry well? (Sidenote: What the heck? Did the chef just randomly reach into the pantry and decide to make a pastry with the first two things she grabbed? If I did that, mine would be ketchup and carrot pie. MMmm.... not.)

6. Why is Devil's Food Cake red?

7. Name a food that humans depend on for survival, but is not self-seeding and depends on humans to plant it.

8. What's roux and what's it good for?

9. What do these cooking methods have in common - poaching, braising, blanching?

10. What's your favorite cooking show?

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/26/2007 01:51:00 PM | Permalink | |
Road Trip!
I'm going to Charlotte, NC tomorrow to pick up my sister at the airport. Anyone know a good place to eat between there and Columbia? I'll have two boys with me too, so it has to be kid- and budget friendly.

Why Charlotte? It was the only non-stop option from Denver.My youngest sister is only 14 - she was born when I was in high school. I'm the second, and she's the ninth of nine children.

According to Yahoo! Maps, it should take three hours or so. However, based on past road trips I need to multiply that by 5 (to account for children and nurslings)- and then divide by three (since I'll only have a third of the children.) Ever optimistic husband dear estimates 4 hours... then again, he's the one who always has delusions of us leaving on long road trips at 4 am to beat the traffic.

She'll be the first extended family to meet Baby X!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/26/2007 01:21:00 PM | Permalink | |
YPOR - Why, Why, Why?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
We've been getting calls at our new number. Three, four, sometimes five times a day YPOR calls us from a Milwaukee area code. (Wanna know where people are calling from? Go here!)

First, some seemingly irrelevant background, but don't worry, I'll tie it all together:

I'm having a little battle with the Charleston paper. All I want are the Sunday coupons ($1.75 each week, on the stand). The newspaper does not have a Sunday only subscription - I had to sign up for Sundays and Wednesdays, for $9.80 a month. Not too bad, I'll get all the ads and the convenience of the Sunday paper at my door. Then they 'upgraded' me to a weekend subscription - Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the same low price. Then, another upgrade (they're not trying to inflate their circulation numbers or anything). I'll get the paper every day!

Great. Most days, the paper went from the driveway directly to the trash. I didn't even take it out of the plastic bag. Also, looking up the grocery specials online is much more convenient for me.

Upon further reflection, I decided that instead of transferring our subscription to the new house, I'd just cancel and buy it off the rack. I'm out and about most Sundays for church, so it's not an extra trip.

Well. I called Monday (July 23). The customer service rep told me they do have a Sunday only subscription, but she's not allowed to sell it. And, our account was cancelled on July 21, because we'd moved. Who are these people, Big Brother? How did they know I moved? They don't send me a bill, I didn't call them. Anyway, I'm going to have to call them again tomorrow because our card was charged for a month's delivery on July 20 - and they stopped delivering on July 21, and I didn't notice until I balanced the checkbook today.

Since July 21, we've been getting the YPOR calls. The phone rings, I answer, there is a hangup. Later, the phone rings... another hangup. And so it goes.

The rumor on the Net is that YPOR (Yellow Pages Opinion Research) dials numbers to find out which ones have people who will answer the phone. I'm sure they get a premium for these qualified numbers. If you call the number back, they instruct you to enter your phone number or else the hangup calls will continue. Yeah, I'm going to give them a working phone number - and perhaps even a claim for 'prior business relationship'! Apparently the Do Not Call list is not a deterrant.

What does that have to do with the paper? Well, several internet tin foil hat conspiracy theorists have noticed that the calls started when they complained about their newspaper carrier, or cancelled a subscription. I just checked my caller ID - I've had 8 calls since July 23.


FYI - the two numbers that seem to be used are YPOR 414-208-1035 and 440-331-6633.
If they call you, don't answer!


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/25/2007 07:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
My, this post is up late, isn't it?

Sorry about that. We had an unfortunate incident involving Ovaltine, a Crayola marker, and Baby C.

Long story short, I am the proud owner of a new keyboard. Our last keyboard was not very old - but apparently it's an Edsel compared to the new one. It came with a USB connection and no purple adaptor clutter thingie! It's advertised as spill proof - we'll just see about that! When I plugged it in, Windows informed me it had detected a USB Human Interface Device.

Oh yes, it's way more than a keyboard, apparently. And for less than $20! What a deal.

My new keyboard is already improving my life. There is a long, detailed warning about musculoskeletal disorders on the back. It's very important not to ignore possible MSD's, Microsoft so helpfully reminds us. After all, a successful carpal tunnel syndrome lawsuit could affect their stock prices, and end civilization as we know it. Bill Gates is so thoughtful, including instructions about eating right, managing stress, and getting exercise; even though you can't eat a salad and type, Windows causes rage-induced heart attacks, and you can't surf the web while lifting weights. It's the thought that counts, I suppose.

Why is it that nothing causes more frustration than a bocky computer?

The totally fab feature I love the most? It's got a calculator key - zips you straight to the adding machine, no Start menu required. I just shaved .3 seconds off my checkbook balancing. It's all about efficiency, you know.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/24/2007 09:48:00 PM | Permalink | |
The Last Mimzy, part II
Monday, July 23, 2007
Remember when I posted about The Last Mimzy? Remember how I warned that it was explicitly designed to expose kids to Eastern Mysticism (according to the scriptwriter)?

Well, husband dear does not read this blog. Often, he also does not hear the words that are coming out of my mouth either. So he bought it for the kids (Yeah. We need to own another movie).

I agreed that before we returned the movie, I would preview it to see if it was okay. We get unlimited rentals from Blockbuster online, so it wouldn't cost us anything.

You know what? By the end, even he thought we should return the movie.

The film has a strange tone, almost like a horror movie. Add warbly, unintelligible talking (by the toys) and a little girl who constantly reaches out to touch a three-dimensional static pattern, and Poltergeist comes to mind. And, no offense to Jo, the movie mom, but anyone who has a child who levitates, claims her imaginary friend taught her how to do it... well, I wouldn't be taking her to a neurologist. I've seen The Amityville Horror. I know about evil imaginary friends. Do people learn nothing from Hollywood?

The plot is straightforward. A toy box appears on the beach. It contains rocks, a squid like thing (anyone who has Bionicles might recognize it), a stuffed bunny, and a flat green crystal. The toys are from the future. The kids, Noah and Emma, get smarter. They have to save the world - the future world at least, where the part of their genes that makes them human got broken. A single tear will suffice to save the day.

And then they added the Science Teacher (Rainn Wilson, you'll recognize him from The Office). And the Science Teacher's Girlfriend, Naomi. They live together. They are seen sharing a bedroom. He's shown heading to the bathroom in underwear (not boxers, either), then burying his face in her cleavage, interrupting her goddess and incense meditation.

He has prophetic dreams - of lotto numbers, and mandalas. Later, Noah starts drawing the mandalas as absent minded doodling. This leads to the science teacher showing up at Noah's house, with his girlfriend who reads palms. She sees that Emma is very special, a tulku in the tradition of Buddhism. Supposedly, mandalas are maps to the universe and the future, and little Noah just happens to draw with astonishing precision the most rare ones. Yes, palm reading, dreams and visions (of mundane things, not real prophecies), mandalas... they are all real and legitimate.

The father is absent for the vacation, then later, is clueless in the tradition of these films. The mother is... a bad mom, IMO! She lets them run down to the beach while she unpacks (a 10 and 6 year old in the ocean with boogie boards and no adult present?) Later, when they find the toybox, they are frolicking on the shore while Mom checks out with a book and her iPod. Thank goodness no one drowned. As a parent in a children's movie, she can't help but be dumber than her children. (You might recognize her as Anita in 101 Dalmations.)

The script has holes, the adult characters, especially the Homeland security team, are unbelievable. It's almost like watching a slapstick Disney film where no adult has a clue and none of it would happen in real life.

Yeah. I'll be in the return line of WalMart tonight. And renting Flight of the Navigator, instead, for a more entertaining kid's action adventure.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/23/2007 08:25:00 AM | Permalink | |
Friday Fun: French M
Thursday, July 19, 2007

A YouTube video...

H/T to the Carolina Cannonball, who got it from Steve, who got it from Andrew... hmmm... YouTube, the new communicable disease.


posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/19/2007 11:06:00 PM | Permalink | |
The Bill Engvall Show
A review of a show I haven't even seen.

I don't know who Bill Engvall is. Cursory research indicates he stars in shows and albums that I don't listen to, because the fart joke ratio leans too heavily to the scatalogical side. He's made himsef famous following in the footsteps of Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable guy. Unlike Foxworthy's self deprecating Redneck humor, Engvall is like the slighlty drunk buddy who takes things just a tad too far past funny.

He does have a new show, which premiered Tuesday on TBS. In the tradition of so-not-real-life TV couples, slobby uncouth Bill is married to Nancy Travis. I've seen approximately 400,00 previews this week (sometimes twice each commercial break) while I'm trying to watch Little House on the Prairie (love me some Ingalls fun. Yeah. I'm a nerd - I spend the show folding laundry and reminding the kids how lucky they are they don't have eat Mama's open fire cooking, or hike three miles across a field to take Pa a cold drink of water.)

I'm not sure why TBS is spending so much time advertising to Prairie's loyal fans. The first show involves the children walking in on a naked Bill and Susan doing what married people do. Later, the parents are relieved to find out that their adolescent son is not doing drugs, he's just stashing Playboys. They advertise the show as "a comedy for the whole family".

Way to legitimize porn, TBS. Guess what we won't be watching this week? Why can't comedians go back to making shows that were family friendly and funny, that you could watch with your kids or parents and not be embarrassed (Hello, Cosby Show and Home Improvement!)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/19/2007 12:59:00 PM | Permalink | |
Mrs. Tam
A friend of our family died suddenly. Please keep her, and her family, in your prayers. She leaves behind several school-age children, and her husband was recently laid off.

Mrs. Tam was a fixture at the school my boys went to in Colorado, although I don't think she was paid. She was always there, answering the phone, talking to parents, helping wherever she could. She dreamed up fundraisers for the teens to take trips, including homemade Easter Baskets. She was one of those women that is the embodiment of a lady, always a kind word.

And, kiss your loved ones. You never know which moment may be your last.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may Your light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/19/2007 09:12:00 AM | Permalink | |
WFMW: Cheap Fruit Snacks
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Works for Me Wednesday
My kids are fruit eaters. Can't keep an apple, or a banana, or a plum in the house, especially on these hot summer days.

Unfortunately, even though it's summer, fruit prices aren't always so budget friendly.

For those times when apples are not the loss leader of the week, I keep a stock of fruit in my freezer.

Sam's Club stocks a 6 lb. bag of Dole fruit, already cut and prepped - pineapple, honeydew, grapes, strawberries and peaches - for $7.00 or thereabouts... that's $1.17 a pound! And no wasted - rinds, seeds, or pits!
eat more fruit poster
I dump a bunch in a bowl, not even thawed and we snack on fruitsicles. Refreshing, healthy, and good for backend and bottom line. Works for me!

Head over to Shannon's for more Works for Me Wednesday fun!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/18/2007 06:30:00 AM | Permalink | |
A Little Help, Please?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
So we've decided to homeschool (except Mr R. He's doing wonderfully in his classroom and I think it's just the right thing for him right now).

Now, when last I homeschooled, it was for kindergarten. We did a lot of hands on, Mama-made unit studies (LOVE that LearningPage!)

Now, I'll have a 4K, K, 1, and 2nd grader. I did Montessori at home with the two littlies, and will more or less continue that. But for the older ones? I just don't have it in me to create and implement the Montessori math materials for them, even though Montessori Math is really, really cool.

So, I'm in the market for a math program. I've narrowed it down to three choices... Math-U-See, Miquon Math, or Shiller Math. I'm kind of leaning towards Shiller - it is Montessorian in its approach, and the first module covers grades 1-3. However, I don't know anyone who has ever used it (a lady at my church has Math-U-See, so I can go check it out in person. Several ladies on a email loop do Miquon as well, that's how I heard about it).

Price is a consideration... Shiller is $300 (everything you need, including manipulatives, for 4-8 year olds. Reusable. Well, you can buy flash cards separately - and these flash cards are different from regular ones.

Math-U-See is $55 for teacher and student kits for each level, plus an addtional $30-65 for manipulatives. I'd buy at least two levels (maybe three) = $200-250 for three grades. Plus, it's highly resaleable, in the event homeschooling stops working for us.

Miquon Math uses Cuisinaire rods, easy to find. It is supposed to develop a mathematical brain, a way of seeing patterns and how numbers connect to each other. The complete set of 6 books (they go by color, not by grade) is $39.00, and a set of manipulatives (74 Cuisenaire rods) is $9.50. A couple of highly recommended extras would run around $15, total. I have heard I'd need to supplement drills and repetition of skills, but that's easy enough with an Internet connection!

We tried Saxon Math K and it was a disaster. They hated it, I hated it.

I was totally leaning towards Miquon... until Shiller came on the scene.

What do you use, if you homeschool? Any thoughts? Just so you know, I like math. I think it's cool. I'm not afraid of the Pythagoras and have, more than once, used proofs to justify the quadratic equation. For some reason, first grade math curricula has me stumped!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/17/2007 09:54:00 AM | Permalink | |
Deal of the Day
Monday, July 16, 2007
Rite-Aid pharmacy has bought Eckerd's drugstore.

I haven't seen it with my own eyes, but I heard through the grapevine that Eckerd Brand stuff is 75% off! (They're getting rid of it to make room for RiteAid store brand.)

Lots of meds last a long time - stock up on ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc., not to mention eye droppers, band-aids, and other pharmacy dry goods!

Tell me about your best deal - I'm gonna try to hit the Eckerd's tonight after husband dear gets home. I'll let you know how it goes!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/16/2007 02:02:00 PM | Permalink | |
Ecumenical Implosion
Warning: This post is unabashedly pro-Catholic.

Thanks to BellSouth's spectacular customer service failures, (and that is failures, plural) I was offline when the motu proprio hit the fan, as well as when the clarification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was published.

I also did not have T.V., and our working radio, being in the only running car, went with my husband to work. So I do not know, exactly, what the backlash was, CNN anti-Catholic diatribes notwithstanding. (Outrageous as it was, I'm glad to see it. Freedom of religion and to say what we think, while not always wise, is our right!)

I am glad to see that the more thoughtful reactions seem to be coming out now. I don't know why everyone was so shocked to learn that the Pope was Catholic. Obviously, most practicing Catholics actually believe that Evangelical Protestant churches - er, ecclesial communities - are deficient, otherwise we wouldn't be Catholic. It's not like people choose Catholicism because it is so easy-peasy, just the most comfortable of the different Christian denominations. No, Catholicism is full of requirements, not mere suggestions. It is hard. You are called constantly to conversion, to prayer, to repentance, to penance. Of course, the benefits are quite good too! Where else does Christ nourish the faithful with His own body? (Read more Scriptural support here. John 6 made a Catholic out of me!)

Do you really think I wouldn't be all over the Baptist potlucks unless I actually believed the Catholic church had the fullness of truth? My husband's a Baptist... I know all about the ambrosia salad.

Albert Mohler seems to get it. H/T to Vox Nova.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/16/2007 12:27:00 PM | Permalink | |
A Note to My Children
Friday, July 13, 2007
Dearest Children,

We need to talk. Remember when you were wee little ones, and I gently and carefully toilet trained you until my head exploded until you were ready to face the world, plumbing issues firmly controlled? If you recall, we cheerfully waved bye-bye to #2 while we flushed the toilet. Yes, that little handle on the back of the toilet is not only a useful staging point for army men, it also will whisk away your personal yukkies.

Darling boys, I appreciate how much you enjoy standing when your sister has to sit. I must ask, why, if you can snap a suction cupped arrow directly onto Sean Hannity's nose from 15 feet during the newshour, you insist on... shall we say... painting the wall?

You may have noticed the strange device on the wall next to the door. I know how much fun you have moving the switch up and down while Mama is trying to take a bath (note to self: fix lock on bathroom door). You may have observed that when in the down position, the light is off. Off is good when the room is empty. Turning the light off will save Mama lots of money so I can buy chocolate to purchase new arrows.

You weren't born in a barn. I know. I was there.

Photo: Bathroom Landing Strip, item #1500848 on AllPosters.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/13/2007 10:00:00 AM | Permalink | |
We Resume This Blog...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
With a moral dilemma.

Our move went... all right.

We are having problems with our old landlords. If you recall, our moving out was rather sudden.

Without going into a lot of detail, the nitty-gritty of the situation is this:

We put down a deposit when we moved in.

Our landlady had some sort of episode after we had moved out, which involved a lot of yelling and cursing, in the driveway before she had even seen the inside of the house. The 'episode' was intense enough that our neighbors came over to tell us about it the next day, when we went to the old house to mop, vacuum, etc. I'm pretty sure she never intended to give our deposit back.

Later, her husband called us to report that the kitchen wasn't swept, there was trash in the yard, and the garage also needed to be swept out. We were also told that the city trash department had spilled some when they picked up the garbage, and we needed to come and pick it up, as well. (Interesting note here: not only were the garbage cans full when we moved in, we were told that trash pickup was included. Turns out that the account was in collections and we had to arrange for our own account to get the garbage picked up).

The garage has never been swept, even before we moved in, because it has been full of her furniture and an old TV. Supposedly they were going to come get their stuff, but they never did. We also left a few items of furniture in the house, that came with the house and were there when we moved in. Also upon move-in, there were two large trash piles in the yard. One we burned off at the beginning of spring, so we wouldn't get rodents and such. The other we left in the backyard, where it has always been. I did salvage some bricks from the junk pile to make a flower bed.

Now, the carpets in the house are dirty. They've been well used by 16 feet coming and going everyday. In our lease, there is a clause stating we would arrange to have the rugs professionally cleaned upon move out. (Didn't expect move out to be nine months after move in, but that's another story.)

I'm of two minds - tell them to arrange for the carpet cleaning themselves, and take it out of the deposit, which they won't be giving back anyway. (Mind you, they have not officially told us they won't refund the deposit. It's just a feeling I get... when a woman calls you up to tell you to come back and resweep the kitchen, since they need to show the house...)

Or, arrange for the professional carpet cleaning, fulfilling our obligation - no matter what their particular wrongs are for us.

I consider their keeping the full deposit to be theft. I want to just wash my hands of the whole thing. Telling them to clean their own carpets is, in my mind, one way to ameliorate the theft our deposit. On the other hand, we said we would clean the carpets when we signed the lease.

You know, one reason I like this blog is that it helps me clarify my thoughts. I think I'll tell them to get the carpets cleaned and take it out of the deposit. After all, it is our money that they are holding, so we will be paying for it. I'm done with that house.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/12/2007 12:01:00 PM | Permalink | |
AT&T is...
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
already making me mad.

We're moving and won't have an internet connection until mid-next week.

See ya then!
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 7/03/2007 06:23:00 PM | Permalink | |