Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March's Five Fabulous Finds

I just realized that I apparently have commitment issues! You may remember that back on the 29th of February, despite having stayed home from school that day because I was really pretty sick, I proclaimed that I was going to start a “regular” post at the end of each month entitled “Five Fabulous Finds.” Well, it is now the third day of April and you may have noticed that the month of March has passed by and I failed to keep my commitment. I have no excuses other than that March marched by and I was seemingly marching to a different drummer and missed that last beat.

In an effort to address my obvious problems with following through with commitments, I am going to try to redeem myself by posting March’s fabulous finds today, Tuesday April 3rd. If I had thought about this on Sunday, which obviously I didn’t, I could have pretended that it was still March and ended the post with a cry of “April Fool!” Oh well, I didn’t do that either.

So, I move forward believing strongly in “better late than never” and promise to do better next time. (Note to self: April has only thirty days, one day less than March, which was three days less than what you needed to accomplish this task.)

March 2012 Five Fabulous Finds

Dr. Seuss

Okay, I realize that Dr. Seuss is not new. And no, I have not just discovered his wonderful works; however, I do discover something new every time I read one of his stories. The truth is that although children are mesmerized by the rhythm and rhyme of Seuss’ silly words and are entertained by the antics of his make-believe characters, the messages in these tales speak to us all. The wisdom of Horton, the Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, Sam, and the host of other Suess creations is timeless. March 2 is Theodor Geisel's (aka. Dr. Seuuss) birthday. That is why he and his works are (were) on my mind this month. If you haven’t read a story by Dr. Seuss recently, you should do so. If there’s not one on your bookshelf, well, there should be; but if there’s not you can make a trip to your local bookstore and take a few moments to, as my older daughter would say, “steal a few words.” If you buy a cup of coffee and maybe a cookie from the bookstore’s cafe they probably won’t get too upset by your stolen words.

TED Talks

TED Talks aren’t new either but they always have something new to offer.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.”

I am capable, like many of you, of wasting ridiculous amounts of time surfing the Internet. I can window shop, or is that monitor shop? I can read news stories, which often causes me to become angry. I can read food blogs, which causes me to become hungry. I can read other people’s blogs, which causes me to feel guilty because I am not working on my own blog. Or, I can watch TED Talks, which causes me to think. They kindle my own creative energy and optimism about what is truly possible. If the innovators who are found on the TED Talks received as much face time as all of those sorry politicians, this would be a much better world in which to live. Sigh . . . .


Turnips are not something that I grew up eating. I heard that people ate them, particularly their greens but I personally never had eaten either the greens or turnips themselves. Despite the fact that my dad is an incredible gardener and grew many of the vegetables that we ate at home, I was sheltered from root vegetables. Remember the beets? Anyway, a few weeks ago we got turnips in our CSA bin. I made Turnip Chips and they were really good! At least I thought so. Using a mandoline, we thinly sliced them. Then tossed them in a little olive oil and sprinkled on a bit of salt, pepper and paprika (you could also use a little cayenne pepper). To cook them, we spread them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and baked them at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes. There is a fine line between crispy and burnt! They don’t get quite as crispy as potato chips but the taste is awesome. And the cutline “nobody can eat just one” works with turnip chips as well as potato chips. Try ‘em, you’ll like ‘em.

Ms. Bento Lunch Kit

In an effort to eat more healthily and to save money, Weber and I pack and take our lunches to school each day. The biggest obstacle to this was finding the right containers. I don’t like plastic bags. Using them is wasteful and there are some things that just don’t work in a bag. Disposable plastic containers are plentiful, but they too tax our environment. Glass is environmentally a safer solution but not a safer option for me who drops or kicks over my lunch bag quite often. So, I began the search for the “perfect” lunch box. This was much like the search for the “perfect” purse, backpack, briefcase, or knit bag. Many options exist but none has everything that you are looking for. I wanted something that was environmentally friendly, would hold a reasonable lunch, and could be packed neatly and concisely. Is that really too much to ask? I looked in all of the usual suspect retailers around town and was met with nothing but disappointment despite many options, all of which proclaiming to be the perfect lunchtime solution. I then searched Amazon. There too were many less than exciting options. I eventually found this, the Ms. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar. It is the closest thing to the perfect lunch box that I have found. It has four compartments for individual food items that all then stack neatly inside the stainless steel container. And, it comes with its own “spork.” In addition to no more plastic bags thus being environmentally friendly and being a neat and concise way to pack lunch, Ms. Bento has the added bonus of forcing portion control. Only so much will fit in each container and no more. Now I don’t search the drawer of mismatched plastic containers looking for the exact size necessary to hold the amount of leftovers in the fridge, I fill my container. What fits fits and what doesn’t doesn’t. It’s a great system. And for those who need a bigger portion, there is the Mr. Bento. It’s the same idea but the containers hold a little more. Weber uses a Mr. Bento. The Bentos are a little pricy but well worth the cost.

Draw Something

The other day I received a text message from Offspring No. 1 asking if I was playing Draw Something., an online game similar to Pictionary Because I waste spend time reading online news and information, I had seen several articles about this latest online game craze but had not yet succumbed. (I am currently battling an addiction to Temple Run, but as evidence to support that I am indeed on the road to recovery, I did not include this awesome game in this month’s fabulous finds.) I have now given in and downloaded Draw Something. I must clarify that I did not do this because I am a game addict. I did it because my baby asked me to. That isn’t even peer pressure! In all seriousness, I am now playing Draw Something with Brooke because that is how I know she is OK. She is one of those kids that believes whole-heartedly that her cell phone is for her convenience and her convenience only. Therefore it may be days or weeks before she replies to text messages or calls. Unanswered texts like “How’s it going” or “Are you OK?” or “Why are you ignoring me?” are hard on a mother's psyche. However, she is much better about making her next move on Draw Something within a reasonable amount of time. I find great comfort in seeing the message pop up on my phone saying that she has played and that it is now my turn. I know that she is OK and I don’t feel ignored. But admittedly, a phone call would be nice every now and then!

Now I can move into April with a clear conscience!