Candy Crush

I blew it.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

I went into Halloween without a candy plan, and we’ve been paying the price for the past eleven days.

Ordinarily we have the “one treat a day” rule in our house.  That means the kids have to ask before having a treat, and they know that if I remind them that they’ve already had one, they can’t argue.

Sure, there are sometimes “clarification issues” about whether a particular food is a treat.  Like gummy fruit.  Takis.  (It doesn’t have to be sweet to be a treat.  Fries are a treat.)  Soda is a treat, but is lemonade?

Eva goes crazy with too much candy.  I remember once picking her up from a birthday party and stopping by the grocery store on the way home.  She was running up and down the aisles and at one point she actually looked like she was hovering about eight inches above the floor as she ran.

Jane gets crabby and tends to get stomachaches if she eats too many sweets.  For the most part she knows this about herself and stops before she feels too awful, but both girls in general would eat way too much candy if I didn’t stop them.

So each year we have a plan, only this year I was caught off guard.  One day we were in the pool hanging out and the next day it was Halloween.

Halloween night, of course, was a blur of s’mores from the neighborhood “s’more house,” full size candy bars, Nerds, etc.  One out of five kids at our home that night ate the recommended nutritious dinner first (and she wasn’t my own child.)

The next few days were a patchwork of “Can I have some of my candy?” and me being unprepared asking, “How much have you had?” then deciding on the fly.  See, I need guidelines.

Instead we kept finding empty wrappers everywhere.  They were in pockets and tossed down the laundry chute.  In backpacks.  Under the seats of the car.  In bedrooms.  In the front room within reach of the dog.  (Thank god the only candy he ate this Halloween season was cherry Twizzlers.  For some reason that’s what he chose.  He gnawed it like a rawhide then abandoned it.)

After finding candy in various stages of unwrappedness in the kids’ play room, I gave them fifteen minutes and told them to find EVERY SINGLE SCRAP of candy in the house or everything was going in the garbage.  Jane stayed behind to argue a little bit but Eva ran so fast she was a blur.  She had several full size Milky Ways in her candy tub and didn’t want to risk losing them.

I knew things were out of hand when Jane got on the phone with Scott’s parents a couple of days after Halloween.  She had gone to a birthday party on November 1st and come home happy, but later that night as she tried to sleep she kept thinking about the haunted house they’d had there.  She came into our room shivering and slept with us that night.  This turns into, “Grandma, I ate so much candy I was shaking really hard and couldn’t stop.”

Some years we do the Candy Draft, where everything goes in one pile and we go in a circle choosing one piece at a time until some predetermined number is reached.  Those are the pieces everyone keeps and they can eat per the one treat a day rule until it’s gone.

By the time I thought I should do the candy draft they’d already been eating so much that it seemed sort of stupid, so I told them they could just eat as much as they wanted, and we’d set aside the one treat a day policy, through the end of the weekend.

I figured maybe they’d eat themselves sick and only want to eat nourishing, warm, home cooked meals for the rest of the holiday season.

On Saturday night the girls babysat themselves while we had date night.  We got home to find candy wrappers everywhere.  An open bottle of Pepto Bismol sat out on the counter next to a bowl of chips and salsa.  (Jane had a stomachache, felt better, and had a late night snack.  This kid decided to skip those awkward tween years and move right into the frat house.)

On Sunday night, as the candy free-for-all drew to a close, the kids each approached me privately to draw up side deals involving keeping various special candy bars.  Shouldn’t full-size bars be exempt? How can you just throw out a full size bar?

Finally, with Scott reminding me to save the Almond Joys for him, everything left (which wasn’t much) got tossed.

Now  the only thing left to argue over is whether PSLs are treats if you get them “light/skinny” with no whipped cream.

Long Time No See….Daylight Savings Edition

This (sadly rare) blog post is brought to you by “falling back” for Daylight Savings. WOOT! Up at “6:07″ but it’s really 7:07.

Every six months I get to drive Scott insane by talking for about a week about what time it “really” is. It happens when we travel to a different time zone, too. Scott does the “all in” where it magically becomes whatever time “they” say it is. I have to ease myself in by marveling at how dark/light it is when “the clock says” it’s X time but it’s “really” something else.

Anyways….long time, no write! Sorry. I haven’t been busy so much as distracted by a bunch of random stuff.

Did you all have a wonderful Halloween? Day of the Dead? Harvest celebration?

Our dog’s girlfriend went as an angel this year (I didn’t see her costume and the owners fell down on the job by not taking a single picture, but the girls assure me she was precious, with wings and a halo.) I originally wanted to dress Mo up either as a jockey or the headless horseman. Target has both in their pet costume section (an entire section! And yet I was too lazy to drive to Target to buy one for him. I am hanging my head in shame.) For both, you strap the costume on the dog’s back so he becomes the horse.

Of course once I learned Pussycat was an angel I knew I should have slapped some red devil horns on Mo. Couples spend weeks planning “couples” costumes that don’t come out nearly as perfect and cute as my imagination is telling me Pussycat and Mo would have been.

My friend whose dog suffers from anxiety tells me Halloween is the most stressful day of the year for dogs. Everyone assumes it’s July Fourth, but Halloween is worse. Think about it. There are a million kids out after dark, waving around light sabers and wands, dashing around unpredictably, and “OMIGOD SOMEONE’S AT THE DOOR!!!!” and then two minutes later, “OMIGOD SOMEONE’S AT THE DOOR!!!” Depending on where you live this could repeat 250-400 times.

Luckily for us I forgot to give Mo his epilepsy pill in the morning so I had to give him two right as the first trick or treaters began to arrive. His pills cause lethargy (or as our vet helpfully says, “weirds him out.”) The effect in Mo isn’t quite lethargy, but he didn’t go nutso insane with every toddler marching up to the door with a pillowcase, either.

Scott and I sat outside on the porch handing out candy to minimize the “OMIGOD SOMEONE’S AT THE DOOR!” thing, and at one point the girls’ friend popped her head out. “I think your dog is…crying?” He felt excluded.

I had to take the obligatory “kids in costumes” pictures to post on Facebook/Instagram, and Jane leaned too hard on the lantern lighting our front steps, so I had to repeatedly warn groups to “watch your step there!” all night. Scott said I should have dressed as an old timey usher in the uniform with all the buttons and jaunty hat and giant flashlight. Then I said he could have dressed as the rapper Usher and it would have been awesome. But instead I was in pajamas with a sweatshirt and Scott was in jeans and a t-shirt, because this is how we do festive.

kids halloween

The Candy Experiment

Results are in!

Dress Code

I was once asked to leave  the dining room of a Rancho Mirage golf club because I was wearing a tank top (collar or sleeves only, please!)

I went to high school in Santa Cruz.  I often wear shorts with Ugg boots and spaghetti strap tank tops.  I still own multiple pairs of Juicy Couture sweats including one that actually says “Juicy” on the butt.

So it’s ironic that I was asked to deliver a quick reminder to our NCL chapter about our “business casual” dress standard at our next meeting.  I am chairing the meeting in my role as president elect while our president is out of town.  In her absence I get to play fashion police.  Yikes!

I am irrationally stressed over this.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  I am still planning what, exactly, to say, and I’ll probably just keep it short and sweet.  (It is tempting to do something funny or cute like a skit or slideshow with fashion “don’ts” with pixelated faces but I’m going to err on the side of good advice to speakers everywhere, which is to resist the urge to try to be funny.)

So what I’m looking for is the happy medium somewhere between Britney barefoot in the gas station bathroom:

britney bathroomand a pillbox hat and pearls:

jackieHopefully without offending anyone in the process.  Let ya know how it goes!

Nobody Asked, But Here Are Ten Things You May Not Know About Me

I am totally capable of happily ignoring a ringing phone.

My favorite medicine in the world is ice. Seriously, is there anything an ice-filled baggie can’t fix?

I don’t like to fly because of my motion sickness, but I find the process fascinating, and if I’m on a flight with a “flight deck” channel I listen the entire time. When we went to Kauai I woke Scott up to tell him we were cleared by the tower to land. You’re welcome!

I only drink red wine because whites trigger my severe sulfite allergy and I start to wheeze. Champagne will send me to the ER.

I am an early riser no matter what time I go to bed, but I have a hard time getting out of the house in the morning. I spend a lot of time puttering.

I can barely use scissors at all. I blame being left handed so never learning correctly as a kid.

I carried a black men’s briefcase to elementary school.

I love pumpkin seeds so much I order them by the case from Eden Foods. Last time they sent me a cardboard shelf display too.

No matter what I’m doing I still get excited to check the mail at 2 pm. The best part of a trip is coming back to a huge stack. Magazines!

I have never been snowboarding but would like to learn. I have been surfing. In fact I used to own a wetsuit that I bought from consignment and the name inside was Adam Replogle, who grew up to be a really well known surfer. I could probably get some bucks for it on eBay but I accidentally left it hanging in a closet in a post-college apartment move.


What I Wore: Looking for a Uniform

Not just A uniform, but MY uniform.  Uniform dressing seems so appealing.  I wonder if there’s a way to do it that doesn’t scream “I always wear fitted black pants and a vibrantly patterned top with scarf” or “it’s jeans, cardigan and boots for me every day.”

I don’t know if this counts as a uniform or just the building blocks of an outfit, but I like a mini or shorts with a loose top.  The occasion: a weeknight evening women’s meeting in summer-into-fall weather.

This is a skirt I bought at least ten years ago at the Nordstrom anniversary sale.  It seemed fun and cute at the time but I have rarely worn it.  Usually when I do, it’s in the winter with dark tights and boots.  I think this skirt might look cute with short ankle boots.  I was searching around on Pinterest for ideas (I found a surprisingly large number of results when I searched for “houdstooth miniskirt”) and decided to pair it with the loose dark top.  (This top is Ralph Lauren, thrifted from the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Rancho Bernardo.)

The shoes are thrifted Stuart Weitzman and they have my current square heel shape (I have several pairs of thrifted Weitzmans with this type of heel.)

Necklace is from a Stella & Dot party (“trunk show.”)  I purposely forced myself to buy some brightly colored,  bold pieces to leap outside my comfort zone.


Magazine Recipe Review: Vegetarian Times Toasted Quinoa Tabbouleh

I have been reading Vegetarian Times for years and I appreciate that they are keeping up with what modern readers want to eat. This recipe for Toasted Quinoa Tabbouleh is a perfect example.

Why do I love this recipe?  On one hand, it’s a totally traditional rendering of Middle Eastern tabbouleh.  The flavors and ingredients are all there.  But on the other hand, instead of bulgur wheat, VT Executive Chef Ann Gentry reimagines this recipe using protein-packed quinoa instead.  Which makes it gluten-free.  It’s also vegan.

Finally, my family enjoyed it, and this is a recipe I would serve to omnivores without a second thought.  This would be great as a side dish year-round (but it’s especially nice on a hot day) or as part of a meal of mezes, which is how I served it this weekend.

Quinoa is one of those ingredients I always feel I should be using more but shy away from because I’m not sure exactly what to do with it.  The few times I’ve ventured into quinoa territory I’ve gotten bad textural results.  This recipe takes the brilliant step of TOASTING the quinoa first before cooking.  It’s an easy step but one that makes a big difference in achieving a bulgur-like texture.

IMG_0346I started with quinoa which I rinsed using a sieve.  The box says “no rinsing required!” but when Ann Gentry tells me to rinse, I rinse.  I used a sieve because the grains were too small for a  colander.

IMG_0347I pan toasted the quinoa for ten minutes.  It got nice and aromatic.  Toward the end a few of the grains popped and I wonder, if I’d continued, if I’d have ended up with some type of quinoa popcorn.  Another project for another day, I guess.

IMG_0349After pan toasting, you put the quinoa in boiling water.  Bring it back to a boil then simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  At 20 minutes on the nose mine was good to go.  Fluff it with a fork and let it cool.

Meanwhile, prepare a simple and traditional dressing.  I remembered to use my Temecula Olive Oil Company olive oil.  This recipe uses lots of lemons.

IMG_0351 IMG_0355It’s also a very garlicky recipe.  I might use a little less next time.

When the quinoa cools, toss it with diced tomatoes, scallions, diced Persian cucumbers (which I’ve  blogged about before when I made Israeli salad, and are definitely worth seeking out for this recipe), a lot of chopped parsley, and chopped fresh mint.

Et voila.

IMG_0357Serve room temperature or chilled. This is the type of recipe that tends to get better as it sits and the flavors meld so I’m  glad I made enough for lunchtime leftovers.