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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My How Things Have Changed!

We had SNOW last week. It didn't stick, and the weather is supposed to warm up in a few days, but I can't help but wonder what happened to put Mother Nature in such a foul mood. Actual snow in October is pretty darn rare around here.

Despite the cold and wet, Walker and I managed to last through an entire high school football game. His alma mater took on mine, and I'm happy to say that my boys prevailed, giving me bragging rights until at least next year, when I'm sure they will whoop butt again.

It's been years since I attended a football game of any sort, but high school? It's been decades. We work nights, what can I say? Anyway - I was totally taken off guard by how much things have changed. The school girls were wearing tutus and knee socks. Where did that come from? The baton twirler added fire batons to her routine for halftime. The marching band had electric guitars. How, exactly, does one march with an electric guitar? I guess I'm getting old.

Magic on My Morning Walk

As a novice blogger, I'm learning the hard way that every day provides opportunities that can be missed in a heartbeat. Case in point: very early this morning, long before the sunrise, I took a break from working at home to walk a lap or two around the block to clear my head. Half way through the first lap, I came across three deer in my neighbors' yard. A large doe with two fawns. Of course my camera was at home.

Deer in my neighborhood are nothing new, but I don't often come across them while I'm walking. They seem to hear me or catch my scent long before I get this close. More than once I've heard them crashing through backyards or seen them bound away down the block. I've even seen them at the birdfeeder on my own patio through my kitchen window. These deer weren't more than fifteen or twenty feet away.

The doe immediately stepped into the shadows and froze. The larger fawn, right under the streetlight, also froze. The little fawn looked right at me then continued to move around the yard, nibbling on treats in the garden. A minute later the little fawn had moved past me, putting me in between himself and his mother, putting me in harm's way as the doe began to march her front feet nervously.

Slowly, slowly, I backed away, careful not to startle the unpredictable fawns or take my eyes off the mother. After what seemed like hours I was all the way across the street. The doe tossed her head, apparently signaling the fawns it was time to go. The larger fawn took off around the side of the house. A moment later, the little fawn followed. Only after the smaller fawn was out of sight did the doe turn away from me to run after them.

My camera will be with me from now on.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

The Great Dinner Experiment hit it's first glitch tonight. After working a double shift last night, I slept in this afternoon and got up later than usual. I pulled a casserole from the freezer, stuck it in the oven, and hopped into the shower thinking how nice it was to have dinner all planned out. By the time I finished getting ready for work it would be done. Perfect!
Uh, well.....not so much. It was in the oven for over an hour. It smelled fantastic and looked perfectly toasted on top. Unfortunatly, the middle was still a frozen block of ice. We tried nuking it but that didn't have much of an impact. With time running short, we finally scooped some onto plates and nuked them that way. It was delicious, but I only had ten minutes to gulp it down before I had to leave for work.
Next time I'll make this in a shallow cake pan rather than a deep casserole, and I'll try to remember to put it in the fridge before I go to bed. Over all, though, our experiment has been a success so far.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Dinnertime Experiment

If you had visited our house on any given afternoon during the last few weeks, you probably heard a conversation like this:

Walker: What do you have planned for dinner?
Me: Nothing. What do you have planned for dinner?
Walker: I don’t know what we even have.
Me: Well, why don’t you take a look in the pantry?

At which point Walker, who (rightly, I’m sorry to say) thinks the pantry is an overstuffed mess of condiments and baking supplies, would have ordered sandwiches or zipped out for McDonalds.

From this nightly ritual was born a radical idea: Let’s say I did a massive grocery shop, stocking up on everything we needed for dinner for, oh, a month. Suppose I spent an entire weekend day prepping and tossing together casseroles and other tasty dinner delights. Then suppose I stacked all this glorious food in the freezer, neatly labeled and waiting its turn to be heated and served. Would it save us any time? Would it save us any money? And, most importantly, would it finally put an end to the “what’s for dinner” dialog that we have had every stinkin’ night?

At the moment, it appears the answer to these questions is, “Yes, yes, and yes.” It’s only been a few days, but the shopping part took less than half the time of my regular weekly shopping times four weeks, and I spent about a third less money, so far, than I normally would in four weeks. We will need fresh milk a few times, but that should be it. The cooking part took a full day, but I think we can streamline that more, too, if we continue with this. As for the nightly meals, we have a running list of what’s available on a dry erase board on the fridge. All we have to do is allow for a little extra cooking time since we’re starting from frozen. What seemed at first to be a radical idea is shaping up to be the best idea I’ve had in a while.