Archive for March, 2009
This picture is an illustration of the kind of week it has been. Tim is post-call today and is napping; Casey is always napping; I’m trying to get something productive done today, but can’t seem to get out of my pajamas.
Today is the kind of day where you feel dirty even though you’ve actually managed to shower. Actually, it’s been a real effort to shower lately. While usually, I crawl out of my skin if I don’t manage to shower by 10 AM, lately, I’ve been disinterested in the whole process. But, I did manage to shower today, and I still feel gross! My hair feels limp and yucky. I’m too fat for all of my clothes and can’t stand wearing the one pair of jeans which actually fit me because they need to be washed. I feel frumpy and dumpy – I guess this is a call to start integrating exercise and healthy eating into my life.
As for integrating productivity into the rest of today, I’ll spend it making plans for the rest of my week – see, I have the luxury of a spring break since I’m a teacher, but somehow it’s Tuesday already, and I’ve done almost nothing I’d hoped to do. I’d like to blame it on the weather and the flat tire I got last week, but I’m sure it’s really just laziness. (I haven’t even managed to post the recipe for the beet salad I wrote about last week, and all I really need to do is post a link to the New York Times page which it’s on.)
At the moment, I’m taking a break from washing dishes (while those in the tiny dish drainer are drying), watching Disney’s The Rescuers, and trying to interest myself in making lists. I’ve never been a good list-maker – just like I’ve never been a good diary-writer – but I think the reason I never get anything done is because I do nothing for a long time (days, weeks), and then want to do everything I’m not doing all at once. Like now: I simultaneously want to learn to cook, clean my house, finish my lesson plans early, exercise, eat more healthfully, and lose weight. Plus, my husband and I want to start a container garden this year. So, what I end up doing is picking up fifty books from the library on all of these subjects and then perusing them until I’ve lost all motivation to do any of these things (since you may not believe me about the quantity of books, I’ll try to post an actual picture of all the books I have out from the library tomorrow – if I can get off my butt).
Alrighty then! I shall spend the rest of the evening making lists and dividing goals into doable steps. We’ll see how it goes!
(P.S. My husband is not very happy that I posted these pics. But my snoozing lads are soooo cute!)
Today is shaping up to be a very good day despite the fact that we had a spring snow storm yesterday, and the day before I got another flat tire!
Digression: This is the third flat tire in about two months! It started the week after my crazy neighbor yelled at me early one morning for parking in front of his house. The entire street is mostly empty; this is not one of those neighborhoods in which you have to search for parking everyday. But he “didn’t understand why we would be so inconsiderate as to park in front of his house and trample on his lawn.” (You know that strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb? We are so inconsiderate!) That particular morning, although there had been snow on the ground for several days, it being winter still, his gardener was about to arrive and would have no where to park his truck. What!? Apparently, this was some special gardening/watering service. Yet, what were they going to water in the winter!? “And besides,” he continued to yell, “when his friends come to visit, they don’t know where to park (because apparently they can’t figure out that the opposite side of the street is completely empty).”
So, as I wrote previously, after that incident, I had a flat tire on my way to work which was so bad that I had to buy new tires. Then my husband got a flat tire, but was able to add air and the tire was okay. Then I got another one! and am crossing my fingers that I don’t need to buy new tires. Argh! Either our psycho neighbor is harassing us, or there are neighborhood hooligans vandalizing us, or, as my other neighbor suggested, “maybe it’s just a string of unfortunate circumstances.” Translation: The universe is out to get us.
Back to today: It has been a good day! Tim got to come home between clinics to work-out and eat lunch, and I made a gorgeous and tasty salad in continuation of my Mark Bittman inspired cooking streak.
Here is a preview of the salad (I’ll post the recipe and all that tomorrow):
My husband and I don’t exactly need incentives to eat kale (one of the world’s healthiest foods). We eat it at least once a week, often more. But I do need incentives to cook, and as you know, my husband has gotten me interested in The New York Times Dining & Wine and Fitness & Nutrition recipes. So yesterday, when he texted that he had to work late, but still hoped to work-out, and hinted that we should eat “pasta & kale,” I knew he was referring to the Times recipe that he had pointed out to me last week.
I wanted my photo to look more like the above newspaper photo, but my husband commandeered the spoon and stirred it up (thus melting all the little cheese cubes) before I could grab my camera. But anyway, here is our version of the Buckwheat Pasta With Kale from The New York Times Recipes for Health. It is simple – whole wheat pasta with kale, leeks, fresh sage, and gruyere – and it was really, really good.
The actual Italian buckwheat pasta is really hard to find, so I chose this imported, organic, wheat pasta:
The recipe suggested substituting soba noodles or whole wheat fettuccine noodles, but I decided that this Italian whole wheat linguine would be less mushy and wheaty. Ooh, it was a good choice. I found them at our favorite grocery, Sunflower Farmer’s Market.
Finally, here is the recipe from The New York Times:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or omit butter and use 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and cleaned
4 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin slivers
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
3/4 pound kale, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut crosswise in strips
Freshly ground pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
2 ounces fontina or Gruyère cheese, cut in 1/4 inch dice
3/4 pound buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri or soba) or whole wheat fettuccine
1. Begin heating a large pot of water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sage, and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.
2. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the kale. Boil for four minutes, until tender but still bright. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the pan with the leeks and stir together. Keep warm over low heat.
3. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente (soba will cook quickly, usually in under five minutes, while pizzoccheri and whole wheat fettuccine will take longer). When the pasta is al dente, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan with the kale and leeks, then drain the pasta and toss in the pan or in a warm pasta bowl with the leeks, kale and the cheeses. Serve at once.
Yield: Serves four to six
Advance preparation: You can make the dish through step 2 several hours ahead. Remove from the heat, then reheat when you cook the pasta.
Still not sure what kale is all about? Our favorite variety of Kale is Lacinato, or Dinosaur, Kale. You can read more about it at these sites:
My biggest Internet discovery this week is the website Polyvore, a “free, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching images from anywhere on the web.” People create sets, or collages, made from images on the web and share them with other Polyvores. They also create groups and befriend other members with similar aesthetic interests.
Enjoy! And, go ahead, make your own!
“I just don’t believe you can work full time, run a household, raise great kids, and keep your marriage strong without losing your mind along the way. I think something will suffer, either your marriage, your kids, or your sanity….
“Really, what is the point of working so hard toward a career that isn’t conducive to raising a family?”
~Darla Shine, Happy Housewives
First, I really do agree with Shine’s basic motivations behind writing the book. I also believe a woman is fooling herself if she thinks she can have a demanding career and be an excellent mother to young children at the same time. And I also share the view that it would be awesome if we could remove the stigma attached to staying at home – which has been the legacy of the feminist movement. I just don’t love the manner in which she presents these ideas, and the way that she attacks everyone in the process. I don’t think there is ever one right way to live life, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to tell others that the way they live their lives is wrong. I believe in being honest about one’s opinions, but I think there is a difference between the way one speaks in the privacy of her own home and in a public forum. At home, one’s close friends and loved ones will understand the difference between venting and making broad generalizations about people who are different from oneself. But, when you are speaking in a public forum you need to be more conscious of how you present your opinions. You can be honest and funny without attacking others.
Now, let me show you what I agree with, and how even then, I think Shine misses valuable points about women in forming the agenda of her book. I agree with the idea that the choice to stay home for our generation of women is difficult and we may not be prepared for how it will make us feel or how we will be treated by others – that’s partly the whole point of this blog – coming to terms with what I want out of life as a woman and what I’ve been raised to believe I want. So, here are the words that come from the most honest and likable side of Darla Shine, in Happy Housewives (emphasis mine):
I left my career to be with my children because I thought I had no other choice, and I was full of resentment. I refused to let myself feel like a housewife. I rejected the idea of motherhood. I told myself it was all temporary, like a criminal sentence – and I was doing my time.
I began to get disconnected from my home and my kids. p. 6
(I relate to this oddity of rejecting traditionally female parts of myself.)
“I feel sorry for all the women out there who are still trying to hold on to this image of being a supermom. It’s just impossible. I know that I can’t have it all. Something has to give. I’ve finally let go of my ego, and since then I finally have freedom. I’ve let go of all the demands and the expectations society put on me to be this perfect woman. I cannot be her, and I choose not to be her. I don’t want to work ten hours a day. I don’t want to get on the commuter train at 5:00 A.M. in a blizzard. I don’t want to break the glass ceiling. I now know exactly what I want. I am desperate no more. I am proud to say I’m a happy housewife.” p. 9-10
…. I was full of baloney. I chose to leave work. I wanted to be at home with my son…. I was finally able to admit to myself that I had no intentions of going back to work and that it was time for me to give up that identity. I was a housewife. Why, though, did I feel so ashamed for so long?” p. 21
“I know the answer now. It’s because our society has looked down on motherhood as an option for a career. As if it isn’t good enough for you to be a mom, to be a housewife. My entire generation of women were raised to be more than housewives. It was engraved into our brains at an early age that we could finally be something. Our sisters before us – oh, and I’m going to talk about them in a bit – opened so many doors for us, and now we were expected to step up. We had to take our places in the workforce. We were expected to be something. Aspiring to be a mom, to get married, was not something we said out loud.
The luxury that our mothers had as girls was that they knew that even though they would go to college, most likely their main goal was to meet a man who could take care of them so they could stay home. I think our mothers were far more fortunate than us. They weren’t plagued with this unrealistic burden to be superwomen juggling career, marriage, and family. They knew being home raising a family was the most important job, and they took pride in that.
It’s such a shame that society has put this terrible pressure on women – this ridiculous notion that we can work full time, raise a famliy, keep a happy home, and not lose our sanity in the process. p.22
“But my mother never raised me to believe that I could only be a housewife. My parents gave me the confidence to believe that I could be anything I wanted. My father said, ‘Go to college, have your career.’ My mother said, ‘But then go home and raise your babies. You can always go back to work when they get bigger.’
I don’t think either of them knew how conflicted I would be. It was easy for my mother to say, ‘Hey, go become something and then give it all up to be a mom.’ Our mothers have no idea how they have burdened us with liberation and equality (ooh, she gets a lot of flack for that line). It’s an enormous responsibility to live up to. It’s exhausting. It’s a shame that so many of us are still trying to juggle everything, and it’s no wonder so many of us are getting desperate int he process.
I’m angry that I wasted so many days of my new baby’s life on that emotional roller coaster, struggling with the knowledge that I chose motherhood over my career, conflicted over the fact that I was no longer of value in this society because I wasn’t a big career girl. I felt less valuable being ‘just a mom.’ I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to break back into the industry when he got older. Instead of embracing new motherhood, I was worried that I was turning into my mother and that I would never be more than a mother and wife.” p. 24
Okay, so it’s the common struggle of women today to feel undervalued for being at home with their kids and not working. And kudos to Shine for suggesting that we find creative ways to work part-time from home when our children are older; I believe in broadening our ideas of what a valuable work is. But, I don’t think the way to lift up stay-at-home moms is to bash working moms. I was annoyed by her moralistic admonitions about the one true, correct way to do things.
I don’t think that all women want to be home bonding with their kitchens. I don’t think that all women like making crafts, baking, and cooking. And not all women can afford to stay home full time. In an ideal world, I don’t think anyone would deny that children would fair better with their mothers being around much more. But it isn’t productive to put down women who have decided that they will not be sane people if they don’t work part time. Many good family men admit that, although going to work every day is sometimes grueling and that they wish they could be home with their children more of the time, the truth is, they need their careers for their sanity and their identity. They admit that they would go insane not having a job to go to. But, working full time as a bread winner is a dilemma for men as well as women. I know that my husband will have rough times when he wishes he were home with his wife and children, living life with them and creating memories together, instead of working long hours with strangers. Some women, like men, would go insane if stuck in the home and unable to use their brains, skills, and education. We should not punish women for having the same desires as many men. We should support families with two working parents so that husband and wife together can balance that outside fulfillment with that of raising a family.
At the same time, I agree that we shouldn’t assume that women who choose to be at home, do not feel ambiguous about this decision, or are not intelligent women with educations that they hope to use later on in life, when the children are grown. They deserve respect for sacrificing the kind of fulfillment that a career can bring. Maybe some of them have never wanted or dreamed of doing anything except raising a family, but there are many who have to fight the daily feeling that they are missing something vital by being at home. But in supporting the at-home-mothers, let us not put down the working ones. Let us build that system which supports all women and mothers.
Tim brilliantly reminded me about the pea greens that we had left over from our last Chinese take-out and this was my lunch today. Delicious! Oh, for those of you who are curious, but don’t want to watch the video, to make this comfort food (I like it best as a late-night snack), add sesame oil, soy sauce, and sliced green onions to cooked wheat berries. It’s brilliant!
My husband recently turned me on to a particular food writer at the New York Times, Mark Bittman, who has a collumn called The Minimalist. In it he creates simple dishes in a few minutes accompanied by four minute videos to prove it. He also has a blog called Bitten. You, my devoted readers, know I’m having a hard time feeling motivated to cook, and his foods are delicious and easy, with just a few ingredients. Score!
Below is the link to the recent article and video about potatoes with dandelion greens, which stayed on my husbands mind for days.
The photos are of dinner a couple of nights ago, just in time for St. Patty’s Day. Tim made the potatoes with dandelion greens, which have a mild, almost sweet flavor – it’s hard to believe there was actually a green out there we had never tried before! I ate them with veggie sausage patties (which Tim slightly overcooked, but what’re’ya gonna do – at least he cooks when I clearly don’t want to!) and Tim ate them with some kind of German sausage.