Giving It Up For Lent
Feb 13th, 2013 by Sonja

So … I’m giving up sugar for Lent.

To be absolutely clear … I’m giving up any food which has sugar (or one of it’s counterparts: honey, syrup in all it’s variety, molasses, etc.) as one of the first 5 ingredients listed. There is one exception, dark chocolate. I can have dark (70% coca or greater) chocolate in sparing amounts … 1 oz. per day. But I can’t save that up. If I don’t eat an ounce today, that doesn’t mean I can eat 2 oz. tomorrow. If I have it I can eat it.

Other than that exception, no more sugar for 40 days. I feel as though I am casually wandering into a food desert. No more sugar. Gack!

No Jif peanut butter, no jelly … thus no pb&j sandwiches, which I love. No ice cream. No cake (including LightBoy’s birthday). No pies. No cookies. No brownies. No store bought bread. No Frosted Mini-wheats. No store bought granola.

I am quickly discovering how much of our processed food contains sugar (or one of it’s variants). It’s really quite remarkable … and not in a good way.

On the other hand, I am also looking forward to the adventure of it all. What will I discover as I wander down this road? How will I manage cravings? And (most importantly) will I see any health benefits from this? Will those benefits encourage to me or discourage me?

I have no idea what I will find down this road, but I’m hoping to find my way back to certain places in my heart. That cutting out sugar will force me to face some things and let them go, rather than eating my pain, anger and frustration. That I will learn new and more healthy habits … not just with eating, but with life.

Who knows … I might even find myself darkening the door of a church again.

Don’t hold your breath.

The End of Time
Apr 17th, 2008 by Sonja

LightHusband recently went out of town on a business trip to Cincinnati.  He traveled with his boss and a couple of co-workers.  BossMan and SalesGuy are more conservative than we are.  That’s the best way I can say this.  We are friends with BossMan and his family, but when it comes to matters of theology and politics, we generally agree to disagree about a lot.  We respect each others’ perspectives, but …

LightHusband returned from his trip yesterday and the rest of us were glad to see him again.  He used to travel quite often and we all have bad memories of that (me especially).  Like the time he went to London for a month when LightGirl was 6 months old.  He was housed in a stadium with no phone access.  It was fairly unnerving.  But he did get introduced to the Queen.  In any case, he and I went grocery shopping for dinner together yesterday afternoon on his return.  That may sound funny, but it’s something we enjoy, especially if we can leave the LightChildren home.

While at the store we ran into an old friend from our CLB1.  Now this lady also happened to be a founding member of that church.  She was (and is) a dear.  I spent a good deal of time with her oldest son when I worked in youth ministry (he was also helping out).  We had a nice conversation catching up with one another.  Then talk turned to our old church and goings on there.  She caught us up on some of the main big news.  Somehow we got on the subject of some books that she is reading and is very excited about.  It’s a series by an author named Joel Rosenburg.  Apparently, he’s written quite a series based on Ezekiel 38 and 39.  It seems to be very popular according to the sales figures on the website.  She spoke very highly of the books and recommended them to us.

In fact, she got pretty wound up about the whole idea of the so-called Second Coming and the Rapture and the End Times.  She got a big grin on her face and a light in her eyes and she stood on her toes.  The air around her was electric.  She spoke with certainty about the days to come and the fulfillment of prophecy.

Maybe I’m cynical.  Maybe I’m … I dunno.  But all I could think as I was listening to her was one word … zealot.  Well, other words came to mind too.  I wondered exactly what makes Christians with this perspective any different from Muslims who are engaging in war-like behavior to bring about their prophecies.  Then, as I was sewing today I was musing about it and I realized the root of my disturbance with the whole thing.

Everyone who subscribes to this theory of the end of time assumes that they will be among those who are raptured (caught up as it were).  They are all absolutely sure that they are among the ones who will disappear in a twinkling and everyone else (all the rest of the rabble) will be left to the horrors of the millenium.  Just as every Christian I know “knows” they will be going to heaven.  But … um … I got news.  Not everyone who thinks they’re going is.  OR … everyone (and I do mean everyone) is going.  What I mean by this is that if this whole metaphor were to actually be truth (and that is a big IF), there are a lot of people who might be in for a nasty surprise.

I have to wonder why it is that we always think that our own fruit (of the spirit) is sweet to God and therefore we’ll be raptured … but that other guy down the pew row, well … he’s not goin’ anywhere.  He may have prayed the prayer, but I don’t see any fruit in his life.

I’m just not so sure I want to be praying and acting like the Rapture is a good thing.  Because that prayer is not in scripture anywhere and does not assure me of anything other than checking a box on a human list.  It seems to me that living in a proper fear of God might just include an understanding that we are not in control … at all.

Wurst Case?
Mar 7th, 2008 by Sonja

The next time you fear and/or expostulate that your government just may be spending your tax dollars in a less than useful manner, you might consider Switzerland.

There’s a crisis in Switzerland … of epic proportions. But the sturdy Swiss are taking steps to manage it. In January a multidisciplinary task force was created. People from the field, from industry, from banking … all were asked to report. Now in March the Economy Minister reports that steps are being taken, but a plan B must be implemented.

What’s the crisis, you ask? Why there is only enough bovine intestine for the national sausage until the end of 2008.

Great heavenly day! What will the world come to without ample supplies of cervelat on hand?

Of course … it strikes me that just perhaps there was a time in Swiss history that they produced cervelat (the national sausage … so maybe it’s been around for a while) without Brazilian bovine intestine. Where did they get it then? Maybe that’s a place to look …

Food Ennui
Feb 5th, 2008 by Sonja

I just came home from the grocery store after having the following internal conversation with myself:

Self 1: I’m at the grocery store at lunch time. You know, the stuff at home isn’t all that appealing. Why don’t you find something here that you’d like better.

Self 2: (after searching several aisles) eh … I can’t find anything.

Self 1: What?! You’re in a GROCERY store for God’s sake. Whaddya mean? You can’t find anything? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? Living in the richest country in the world and you don’t want to eat.

Self 2: How about a bagel and tuna … that sounds good.

As I may have mentioned a time or two before on this blog, I hate lunch. It’s an interruption. It takes too much time and energy. When it comes to lunch, I eat to live. So finding something that wouldn’t take any time at all and yet taste good, and be, like, no fat, is kinda hard.

Great Pancake TurtleIt was also hitting me that the Great Pancake Turtle is not going to visit our house this year. I was very certain that s/he would come, our plans were made and everything. We had a party scheduled to celebrate. But now LightGirl is sick and LightBoy is recuperating. So, we’re just going to have a garden variety Mardi Gras meal (red beans & rice) with kings cake for dessert. No party. No turtle.  sigh.

Food ennui … it really is just for rich folks.  No one else has time for it.  If I weren’t so ashamed I’d feel lucky.

Finally … the Intangibles
Dec 27th, 2007 by Sonja

I wrote at some length about my best Christmas gift the other day.  But here are some other gifts I received on Christmas.

We have a new tradition now … spaghetti for dinner.  I spent a couple of hours making a (new) recipe for dinner.  Chicken Cassoulet with Acorn Squash.  It smelled delightful and yummy.  Just the thing for a winter dinner.  The thing about cassoulets is that they are soupy stews that you bake.  So I did as directed.  For the last half hour you should remove the dutch oven lid.  When the time came, I was feeling lazy and LightBoy loves to help in the kitchen.  So I directed him to remove the lid from the pot.  It seemed simple enough, but just pushing his envelope of responsibility so that he would feel necessary.  No.  It was too much.  He had not traversed the foibles of a heavy pan in the oven with the rack and the heat and everything before.  No one is really clear on what happened, but the cassoulet ended up on the floor, along with LightBoy’s self-esteem.  I hugged him and reassured him and mentally kicked myself in the a$$ for not getting up off the couch.  Then I promptly forgot everything I ever knew about the properties of heat transfer and suggested that he pick up the blazing pan lid that was sitting on the floor without an oven mitt.

LightHusband and LightMom made spaghetti for dinner after that.  I just could not recover.

And discovered that after years and years of thinking that Christmas dinner had to be special … it’s really the people, not the food.  We usually have roast beef because I love it.  Spaghetti was really wonderful.  They dressed it up pretty nicely with red wine and leeks and cut up steak and chicken sausage and whatever else they could find in the frig.  But it was wonderful.  I think it was one of the best Christmas dinners ever.  Yummilicious.  And there were no hours spent preparing it.  Half an hour.  And we all love it.  New tradition!

I heard two new family stories that will remain with me for a long time.  I’m working through them to find the nuggets to incorporate them into my life.  But they were gifts to me this Christmas.  One was a back story that filled in the gaps and holes of a story I’ve known for a long time.  The other was new.   They were both about my paternal grandparents.

When my dad was little, his paternal grandmother lived with them.  His mother was my grandfather’s second wife after my grandfather was widowed with three children.  So my grandmother raised 3 stepchildren and 2 of her own children in a house the size of a small apartment AND she had her mother-in-law living with her.  By all accounts, my great-grandmother was not the easiest person to live with either.  All accounts meaning my grandfather told me this one day.  I also happen to know that she was a person of fairly deep faith (because my father still pretty bitterly resents having to sit and read her Bible to her when she couldn’t see anymore … hehehe … he used to try to skip verses in the Psalms and she’d know right away 😉 ).  Just so you have some context.  So one day my grandmother was in the kitchen making dinner or something and fuming about something my grandfather had done or was doing or something and said to my great-grandmother (her mother-in-law), “When will men stop being so stubborn?”  and the story goes that my great-grandmother replied, “When women stop being so willful.”  Now, don’t reply to that … just let it sit with you for a while.  It’s pretty deep.

The other story is about my grandfather.  I’ve known this much for a long time … that one Christmas when my dad was young, my grandfather got grumpy about something, collected all his gifts and refused to open them until April.  Everytime my father got a little grinchy about Christmas or a birthday or any celebration, that story was hauled to explain it.  So I asked my father about that this week.  Why did his dad put all his gifts away that year?  My dad got a funny grin on his face and said, “Oh, I think he (my grandfather) was mad because he told everyone not to spend so much money on him. And he was making a point.”  We were all sitting around the table when that was said … LightHusband, LightGirl and LightBoy all turned and looked at me … AHA, that’s where you get it from!  My dad went on, “My father … from the first time he began earning money … always, scrupulously put 10% of his earnings into savings.  So he always had money set aside to help his family.  He didn’t think people should spend so much on him, but it should be spent on other things.”

My intangible gifts … I’ll be pondering them as I continue on my journey.  You’ll probably be reading more about these thoughts as we enter the new year, but I’ve been appreciating them in the Christmas afterglow.

Christmas Shopping
Nov 7th, 2007 by Sonja

(gulp) … there … I’ve said it. I feel as though I’ve cursed in my title.

But if you want to do some justice oriented Christmas shopping on-line, I have a website to recommend. Okay, so you won’t get a tax deduction for shopping here. You won’t feel great. But they carry high quality products that are made by artists all over the world, most of whom are in developing countries. They also happen to carry one product that is very near and dear to my heart.

Jam. Sidehill Farm Preserves

Yes, jam. Well, these are called preserves. But … it’s made by my brother, LightUncle1, at his jam kitchen in Brattleboro, Vermont. It used to be made by my dad, the GrandPea. My dad perfected the recipes and now my brother makes it and many other recipes. LightHusband and he are building a website, so that all of his products can eventually be purchased on-line. But for right now, you can buy these two at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Green Mountain also carries an extensive line of Fair Trade coffee and tea.  They carry artwork by local Vermont artists and artists in all of the countries from which they purchase coffee.  They deal with the artists directly, so that they are supporting those people and not a middle man (or ten).  They were among the first large coffee companies to get serious about Fair Trade and they have maintained a significant and growing commitment to it.

So … even if you don’t purchase any jam, please visit the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters website and consider making a Christmas purchase through them.  Their commitment to small Vermont and Third World businesses is impressive and long term.  Your dollars will continue that support.

Adventures In Cooking
Jul 10th, 2007 by Sonja

On the menu this evening:

Hmmm … well … I dunno. Let’s see what’s in the frig. So I looked in the frig. I found the makings of a grand chicken and wild rice salad with dried cranberries and almonds and some other things that I found (frozen peas, green onions, etc.). It really, really needed a curried salad dressing though. I said as much to LightHusband. But I despaired. There would never be curry powder in this kitchen. My mom hates curry. It just doesn’t sit right with her. She’s well mannered about it and still tries it every now and again. But she simply doesn’t care for it. So there would be no reason to find curry powder in the camp kitchen.

Top Shelf

This kitchen is very old. It never does to make assumptions about what one might find or not find in the cupboards of this kitchen. I looked in the regular cabinets. The ones we use all the time with the fresh herbs and spices. I came up with some of the ingredients in curry powder, but not all. I was working the “yankee ingenuity” angle. If I couldn’t have curry, I was going to make a facsimile of curry that still tasted good. LightHusband, on the other hand, was not so easily swayed. He went straight for the jugular.


Yanked open the door, let in some light, clanked a few bottles together and moments later yelled, “Eureka!” Okay. He didn’t yell, “Eureka.” But … He dove into the pantry, searched the antique spice bottles which see only the barest glimmer of light in the far back corner of the cupboard and he found … curry powder. What he said was, “Well I found some … but it’s got to be at least 50 years old! I don’t think it’s ever been opened.” I said, “Do you think I should open it?” It felt like a treasure or something.

Curry Powder

But there it was … curry powder that is potentially older than I. So I opened it, expecting it to smell like a sneeze. Instead all the treasures of India met my nose. We were both amazed. I supposed I should know better, I once made pudding older than I when I was a teenager here in this kitchen.  But that was then.  Older than I, was much younger then.  And spices seem to have greater limitations than pudding.   So I used the curry powder in my chicken and wild rice salad.  It needed a little vinegar and a dash of salt, but that curry powder has more kick than any curry powder I’ve purchased recently.  It was some of the best salad I’ve made in a long time.  Too bad I’ll never be able to replicate it … you can’t get 50+ year old curry powder just anywhere!

Cause It’s All About Me!
Jun 14th, 2007 by Sonja

Really … it’s what Kievas said …

He said (and I quote):

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3.At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So … that’s what I’m doing. It’s meme time again!

1. I love coffee (love, love, love it). And I love chocolate (the darker the better). BUT … I do not like to mix them. I don’t even like to have coffee with chocolate dessert. Those two tastes cancel each other out somehow.

2. I used to drink Diet Coke by the bucket. But I don’t anymore. Now I’m trying to kick a vicious rootbeer habit.

3. The annoying thing about all this hockey in the LightFamily now, is that I hated it when I was growing up because my brother always got to watch Hockey Night in Canada which came on right in the middle of the Waltons.

4. The only kind of music I won’t listen to is country … but I’ll even listen to country if it’s got some kickass bluegrass in it.

5. I don’t like pasta with marinara sauce. I think we ate it too much for several years there and now, I just don’t care for it.

6. One of my goals in life is to learn to play the bagpipes.

7. I’m excited that I get to teach the LightChildren a unit on anatomy and physiology next year. That was one of my favorite subjects in highschool.

8. I find it very amusing that some of LightGirl’s favorite songs now, were some of my favorite songs … way back when. She is always shocked and then dismayed by this. Which I also find even more amusing.

I cannot possibly tag EIGHT whole people … it would make my head blow up. So I’m going to double tag four people: Makeesha, Jamie, John and Scott. Har …

May 11th, 2007 by Sonja

I’ve been sleeping and resting. LightHusband and I are in Colorado for a short respite from our regular duties. It’s quiet here and beautiful. We’re staying in Estes Park at the gateway to the Rocky Mountains in a bed & breakfast. Our arrival was uneventful on Wednesday; they simply left the door open for us. Thursday morning’s breakfast was anything but uneventful. It was one of the best breakfasts ever. Beginning with fresh strawberries in frothy cream topped by granola, followed by a breakfast burrito hiding hash browns and accompanied by a light piece of blue corn bread. It was scrumptious.

Then we set out on our adventure. We are ostensibly here to scout out Keystone for a conference to be attended by LightHusband and his colleagues next week. So we drove down the Peak to Peak highway through the mountains to Lake Dillon … yes, we drove over Loveland Pass. All with the top down on our silly Mustang Convertible. Here are some photos I took on the drive. Well … one … I’ll post more later when I get LightHusband to sit down and give me some more.
Rearview Mirror

In Lake Dillon we dropped off his dry cleaning for the conference next week and found a place to eat, called The Sunshine Cafe. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich of my life. It was called Jewelry Mine. It deserved the title. Whole wheat breat, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomatoes, and sprouts … accompanied by homemade potato chips. Oh. Mi. Gosh. It was divine. They served us our Fair Trade coffee in travel cups and we were on our way to Sapphire Point Overlook for more photos (to be posted … the mountains are spectacular and the ground squirrels friendly).
We chose to drive “under” Loveland Pass coming back to Estes. It was equally foreboding. We are accustomed to driving under Baltimore Harbor and under the Chesapeake Bay, but driving under the Rocky Mountains felt … well … HEAVY.

Dinner was at the Grubsteak in Estes. LightHusband had the venison ravioli (a signature dish the maitre d’ assured us) and I had the Pacific Rim salad (teriyaki grilled chicken with grilled pineapple and coconut shavings topped with mango vinagrette) quite delicious. Then back to our delightful cottage and a great night’s sleep with no interruptions by cats who want to go out, or sirens or garbage trucks or children or anything really.

Comestible Consumption Competition – Day 16
Feb 2nd, 2007 by Sonja

…. in which I believe we finally see the end of the line.

Breakfast – waffles.  In an attempt to appease the natives (LightChildren) I made waffles for breakfast.  This, however, put me into a post-breakfast coma despite the addition of 2 soft boiled eggs.  I can only eat waffles/pancakes on very limited occasions for breakfast … a weekday is not one.

Lunch – (so picture Evita here singing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”) I’m singing “Don’t Bake For Me Frozen Crap”  I will never eat it again … I shake my fist at you frozen crap in my freezer.  I will not eat you in a boat.  I will not eat you with a goat.  I will not eat you on a lake.  I will not eat you with a rake.  No no no no no.  But … I did.  Chicken nugget creatures with some leftover curried rice salad.

Snack with coffee – I baked up some frozen mini-cinnamon rolls.  Only they had gotten freezer burned.  Or something.  YUCK.  Throw them away before they contaminate someone.

Dinner – Subway on our way to hockey practice.  Grinder was good.  Doritos …. first 3 were tasty.  next 3 not so much.  Threw away the rest of the bag.  LightChildren gagged at smell of snackfood bags open in car.  Interesting.  Sugar cookie … HORRIBLE.  Two bites that I still tasted this morning.

This morning LightHusband and I decided to wave the white flag.  We’re done.  Steve Jr. … we’re giving in gracefully.  Two days ago the LightChildren were complaining that there was no soda, now they are pining after juice.  We have one chicken (freezer date unknown???), assorted frozen appetizers, 4 bags of dried lentils, 2 containers of sour cream, 3 jars of maraschino cherries and assorted other oddities left.  Nothing to make meals out of anymore.

It is time to go to the grocery store in a very planned and cautious fashion.  With a list.  And a menu plan.   More later … it’s time to take the LightChildren rollerskating.

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