Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Vacation

Just wanted to let you all know that we'll be on vacation for the next 2 weeks and will not be posting to the blog. We'll be on a 12 night Scandinavia & Russia Cruise. Hopefully we'll have lots to blog about upon our return.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Every Woman Needs: A "Sport" Washer

After nearly 2 years of living abroad, I still get the weekly Costco deals emailed to me (and so does Ben). We actually read them...they don't go to the virtual recycle bin unread. As many of you know, we actually love Costco that much. These email circulars provide quite a bit of conversation fodder in the Gale household. Ben and I will often talk about the awesome deals on cool stuff that we are missing out on (Waterford crystal, wooden play kitchen for Carter, computers, cameras, and other random stuff that we don't need).

The latest e-circular arrived and I'm really stumped by one of the offerings: a Whirlpool "Sport" Washer & Dryer. What exactly is a "sport" washer and dryer? It doesn't look especially sporty to me.

Is it faster than a traditional laundry system? Or do I get a workout from it while doing laundry? In reading the specs, it is apparently equipped with an "innovative suspension system." Who knew this was important for laundry. I'm still not convinced that's what is sporty about it, though. It certainly can't be to encourage men to do would need an ESPN ticker and video game like graphics to entice Ben into the laundry room.

Your thoughts? What makes a washer and dryer "sporty?"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If It Wasn't So Gross, It Would Be Funny

What does a slug do after a long night of eating poison? Take a nap on my lawn chair, of course.

I'm at a loss for words.

PS - Ben said if they come in the house, we're moving. I support that.

Sunday Supper #2

This week's dinner suggestion is a favorite at our house. I don't make it very often but when I do it's always a hit. This is a recipe from Cooking Light: Super Fast Suppers. I wouldn't exactly call it "light" especially if you are generous with the cheese and sour cream. And I wouldn't call it "super fast." If you are like me and use fresh peppers instead of frozen, it's a little more time consuming to do all the chopping. But, it's certainly an easy dinner. And more importantly, super delicious.

I have included the orginal recipe below and then beneath that I have included some of the things that I have done to "tweak" the original to our liking.

Chicken-Pepper Tostadas

Yield - 4 servings (serving size: 1 tostada)

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
12 ounces frozen pepper stir-fry
12 ounces chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons salt-free Mexican seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar or part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler.

Place tortillas on a baking sheet; lightly coat each tortilla with cooking spray. Broil 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp, turning once; set aside. Place pepper stir-fry in a colander. Rinse in cold running water 30 seconds or until peppers thaw; drain well, and pat dry. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add pepper stir-fry; sauté 4 minutes. Add chicken, seasoning, salt, and red pepper. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is done. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup chicken mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts.

A couple of changes that I do from the original recipe:

  • I use flour tortillas as we don't like corn tortillas very much. When broiling the flour tortillas, you have to be very careful not to burn's more like 1 minute a side, not the 4 you would need with the corn tortillas.
  • I use fresh bell peppers and onion in lieu of the frozen pepper stir-fry. 3 bell peppers plus 1 medium onion is probably more than the recipe would call for but we like the extra veggies.
  • I always have sour cream and salsa on hand for topping.
  • And, finally, the recipe says it yields 4 way, not unless you are serving something else. Ben and I each eat two.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Die Slugs, Die!

First thing this morning, while the grass was still damp, I went out to the yard with a wooden skewer and some Windex in a bowl. I'm sure I stabbed at least 35 slugs and dropped them into the Windex. The ammonia makes them ooze. It's super gross but effective. I thought of taking a picture but decided that was a little too disgusting to post. Even Carter was out there helping me hunt them down in the grass.

I also made it over to the garden store and bought some slug poison. The reason I've never been able to find it there before: it's locked up behind the counter. The rat poison and wasp killers are out in plain sight on a regular shelf, but the slug bait is behind the counter? Go figure.

Back when we lived in Northville, our hostas were essentially eaten to the ground and it didn't really bother me. The difference: the deer were eating the hostas. Bambi is so much more acceptable in my book than hundreds of slimey slugs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

OK, Now I'm Really Mad

Apparently the slugs heard my threat of war yesterday because we woke this morning to find this on our front door:

So absolutely disgusting! I have just looked up how to say "slug poison" in German. I'm going to the garden center tomorrow and I'm going to ask for some.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slug Infestation

We have a slug problem in our garden. A really, really big one. I have read on the internet all the various ways to eliminate slugs. The best solutions seem to involve some sort of product that I would need to buy at a store (Sluggo, Slug Magic, etc). The problem is I don't think that stuff exists here in Germany. So I decided to go with the solution that I knew I could find here: Beer.

I have set out the beer traps and catch so many of them but the slug problem doesn't seem to be getting any better. In fact, I think it's actually worse. I think all of the slugs in the neighborhood can smell the beer and come over for a party every night.

They are absolutely destroying my hostas. Yes, yes, I realize that putting hostas in a yard that is known for having slugs is like putting chocolate in front of Carter and expecting him not to eat it. Hostas are candy to slugs. But I love hostas and they do well in shady areas and I will not let the slugs determine what I plant.

I had a huge basil plant that was totally thriving until the slugs moved in. They have eaten up nearly every leaf. I would post a picture but you wouldn't even recognize the poor plant. I have some dahlias that are in a big clay pot. I thought for sure they would be safe in the pot. Nope!
Slugs beware! This is war.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day and a Small Victory

Yesterday was a wonderful Mother's Day. I spent a lot of time thinking about how different life would be without Carter. I have decided that all of the stress, frustration, anxiety, and sacrifices that come with motherhood (and fatherhood) can all be erased -- even if temporarily -- with a really good belly laugh from a 3 year old. Nothing makes me feel better than hearing him laugh. Though "Mommy, you look really pretty" and "I love you Mommy" come pretty darn close.

When I'm feeling guilty about working full time and having Carter spend so much time at daycare/school, all I have to do is think about how great it is when I pick him up from school and he runs across the playground to leap into my arms. If I stayed at home with him all day, that's something I would never get to experience.

I love being a mom.

PS - when Carter is a teenager, someone needs to remind me I once said this!


I figured out how to get the blogger format back to having the Post Date come before the Post Title. Ugh! I'm embarassed at how much time I spent doing that and am so happy to have that behind me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Supper #1

In an attempt to dust off my cook books and break out of our rotation of the same 5 dinners over and over, I am tasking myself to post a tried and true recipe each week. By no means am I a gourmet cook so these should all be relatively easy to make. I'm simply hoping that by feeling obligated to post a new recipe, I'll feel more motivated to cook a larger variety of things.

For this first week, I am going to share the recipe of the first meal I ever made for Ben. One would think that making sloppy joes is not exactly the way to win over a man's heart, but he really loved them.

Let me know if you try out the recipe.

Guten Appetite!

Turkey Vegetable Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground turkey
1 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
½ c. chopped green bell pepper
1 (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes
¼ c. tomato paste
1 t. chili powder
¾ t. ground cumin
½ t. salt
½ t. black pepper
4 kaiser rolls, split
1 c. (4 oz) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Cook turkey, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in bell pepper and next 7 ingredients (bell pepper through black pepper). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Spoon ½ cup turkey mixture onto each roll half; top each with 2 tablespoons cheese.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Blogging and Books

I am not a Blogger expert by any means and somehow the actual post layout has changed and this has infuriated me. Each post used to start with the date, then the post title, and ended with "Posted By Carla (or Ben)". I cannot for the life of me figure out why it switched to post title, then date, and no "Posted By" note at the bottom. Ugh. I have spent FAR too much time trying to fix this. You, as the readers, probably didn't even notice or care but it is driving me *insane*. It has become an obsession. I have been reading web tutorials on HTML code --- yes, I'm that desperate.

When I'm not obsessing about something totally inconsequential, I like to read. One of my favorite books right now is Richard Scarry's compilation of Busy Town books. It is 12 books in one and I read 3 of the stories each night with Carter. After 4 nights we are through the book and he's ready to start over again. I loved the Richard Scarry books as a child. I thought the detail in the drawings was just incredible. My favorite character was (and still is) Lowly Worm. Carter's favorite is Sargent Murphy. We also have "Cars and Trucks and Things that Go." This one is perfect for keeping Carter occupied...he'll spend quite a bit of time quietly flipping through the pages and looking at all the illustrations.

Using my more advanced reading skills, I just finished "3 Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It's really an amazing and inspiring story of how a single person can drive so much change. Before I started the book, I actually had my doubts about Mortenson. Why would an American invest so much time and effort (and money) into building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan when there are so many people in the US who are in need of help? By the end of the book, my attitude had changed and I was completely impressed with the power of a single person to affect change.

Now if I could just figure out this darn blogger code, I could move on and focus my efforts on peace in the Middle East and the growing pile of laundry in my basement.

PS - Yes, I realize that some nerdy 14 year old could probably fix my blog issue in a matter of seconds, but that only irritates me more.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Change is in the Air

OK, so we are coming up on almost 2 years of this blog and it's time for some change. I have been messing around with the template trying to find something that's not so boring yet not so girly or foo-foo. So please be patient while I mess around with the appearance. If you see some changes that you really like or really don't like, leave me a comment or send me an email. Ben already said to me (regarding the new background), "It looks like a scrapbook." I'm guessing in his mind that's not a good thing.

One thing I did was add a "Followers" gadget on the right hand side. I really have no idea who follows this blog and or how regularly. So if you are a regular follower, I would appreciate it if you would "register" yourself. Of course you don't have to, but it would be nice to know if someone other than my own mother is reading this on a regular basis...otherwise I could save myself a lot of time.