Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Miss Penelope Shayne aka Pats: Day 1
It's been almost 525,600 minutes since my youngest daughter debuted onto the big bad stage we call Earth. As we gear up for the day, I can't help but reflect upon the past year. Looking back at pictures, "Oh my God! She was so little!" and "Seems like yesterday!" And a million years ago all at the same time... But then I started REALLY thinking. Thinking about what Pats has actually accomplished this year. She went from being tube fed, well, cord fed nutrients from INSIDE me to just, ya know, hanging out at the 72nd St 1 train stop chowin' down on a Grays Papaya dog. I remember when her eyes opening was just cause for a full on celebration and now she wags her finger at me and says "no no no!" Its actually a bit intimidating when I sit down and process it. I mean, what have I done in the past year? Nothing THAT great. Nothing that life changing. I didn't learn to breathe air. Or feed myself. Or clap my hands. I mean, if a teeny tiny human being can make that much progress in just 365 days, shouldn't WE, as intelligent worldly adults, be able to do the same? Yeah yeah, there's New Year's resolutions. Whatever. How many of THEM have you actually kept? Zero? I feel like a more appropriate date to start would be your birthday. Or even better, right NOW!

On march 11, 2011 I gave myself a challenge. I wasn't gonna buy clothes for a year. A whole year. At the time I took this vow, I was buying -average- 3 things a week? From clearance rack $3 tank top to a $5 street pashmina to a new lululemon hoodie or a Betsy Johnson party dress. I had so much [material] crap in my life and I needed to make a change. No matter how good [you think] they look, there's no need for a 34 year old mom of 2 to own a pair of WHITE short shorts from Forever 21. No need for this same woman to have in her dresser drawer a sleeveless T-shirt with an ape face silkscreen in a child size 4T. Especially when her [2 year old] daughter is currently in a size 3T. And then, the straw that broke the camel's back: I was standing in yoga one morning and realized the yellow tank top that was staring back at me was the same yellow tank top I was wearing when I started my period. Not started my LAST period. Started my period, PERIOD. When I was 14. IT WAS TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE. Period. Why am i holding on to all this STUFF? And it's now been a whole year. With the exception of some emergency underwear, I've bought not ONE piece of clothing for myself. At all. That is a CRAZY accomplishment for me. Very proud. (hold for applause)

Pats: 12 months later. I is this the same person?
But back to Pats. Her development. All the things she's learned and tasted and seen and heard for the first time. How do I compare to all that? Imagine if we, as adults, allowed ourselves and made the time to experience even an ounce of what a baby learns in the first year. We could learn a language. Write a book. Build a house. Start a business. Start a REVOLUTION! Ok. Maybe I'm being dramatic. But I mean, we can do SOMETHING. And it doesn't have to cost a million dollars. And it doesn't have to eat up all our precious time and infringe upon our responsibilities. I mean, I think a lot of us would love to travel around Italy or Greece or South America and taste amazing new foods, see ancient architecture, meet people of whom we've never seen the likes of before. But very few of us have the time or money to do so. So...I don't know...start simple. Obvious. Maybe instead of loading everyone into the Odyssey and heading to... wherever you go everyday, how bout taking a WALK through your neighborhood?Check out things from a different angle. See things in a new way. What kind of trees grow on your block? What do you see? Smell? Feel? Who are the people in YOUR neighborhood? Might be interesting. Or, maybe take an online class, or spend 20 minutes a night with that Rosetta Stone you bought. Learn a new language so that when you finally get to Italy or Greece or brazil you'll be ready!

So, yes, part of it is: Think about what I could accomplish in ONE year if I put my mind to it. Another way to look at it is: If I grew (spiritually, emotionally, intellectually) EVERY year of my life as much as I did my very first year, how friggin' AMAZING would I be? Cleaning out my closet is just the beginning, folks! Mark my words! I'm on a mission. By just opening our eyes and ears and hearts and minds and absorbing all the wonderful and appetizing and disgusting things around us, as opposed to being shut off to them, I think we'd find ourselves far from wondering, "Where has this year gone???"I haven't decided yet what my goal for this year will be after The Great Shopping Drought of 2011. All I know is that it's gotta be good. Pats is getting faster, stronger, and smarter everyday. And there's NO WAY I'm gonna let that bitch be better than me.

Pats was born via scheduled c-section. So on the eve of the procedure, I wanted to have a "Last Supper." I couldn't decide what to have. Italian feast? Chinese delivery? Seafood buffet? Then I decided to have a picnic style BBQ. Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw, corn, watermelon... These are a few of my FAVORITE things! Something about this food just makes me so happy! Just makes me think of summertime family fun. Just warm and cozy and...HAPPY. It was a great decision. Here's a couple recipes for a couple condiments and a desert that are so easy and delicious and economical, you'll never by pre-made again! And, all three of these get better and better over time. Just like my Pats.

I Love Cole Slaw. The only thing I may love more is Wheel of Fortune. And I wonder why I feel 80.

2/3 c mayo (I use Hellman's low fat, use what you want but this low fat version tastes just as good and it's pretty much guilt free. So why not?)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons milk (I actually used fat free half and half cause that's all I had in the fridge)
1/2 c sugar 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 bag (16 oz) of pre-shredded cabbage (in the grocery store near all the bags of spinach and lettuce)
Whisk together first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Stir in cabbage. I mean, done. 2 seconds. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Overnight is better.

This yummy slaw paired with Root Beer Pulled Pork smothered in Boof's famous sauce. Yes, please.
Again, this is so easy and so inexpensive, it just makes sense. Plus you know EXACTLY what's going into what you're eating. I'm having label paranoia lately. This is amazing with chicken, pulled pork, or my fave: sweet potato fries!

1 c tomato sauce (one of the little cans near all the canned tomatoes. It's plain, barely seasoned, and it's under $1. Sometimes you even see them on sale 4/$1.
1/2c ketchup (I prefer one without high fructose corn syrup if we're going through the trouble of making our own. Hunt's is good, or Simply Heinz. But Hunts is cheaper.

1/2 c water
1/3 c apple cider vinegar 1/3 c brown sugar 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard (deli mustard)2 tbsp molasses 1 tbsp onion powder 1 tbsp garlic powder 1/4 tsp cayenne (it really mellows out as it sits, but if you really don't like spicy, reduce or omit.)
Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into an old ketchup bottle or sealed Tupperware in the fridge. Just gets better and better as it sits.

So easy you can memorize it! Once I figured this one out, I haven't used a box brownie mix since. And you know I love a box mix! These are almost like fudge. So rich, so good. I like to keep them in the fridge or freezer and serve in tiny bite sized squares.

2 sticks butter, softened 2 c brown sugar
2 eggs 2 tsp vanilla

1 c all purpose flour
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder 1 pinch of salt 1/2 c mini chocolate chips

The moments that make my heart sing! That face!
 Totally worth the risk of salmonella.

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugar (by hand or electric mixer for about 2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Add to butter mixture little by little until incorporated completely. Spread into a greased 9x9 pan. Sprinkle top with the mini chips. Bake about 25 minutes until the sides begin to pull away and look dry. Let cool completely, then pop in freezer before cutting. It helps the edges come out clean. Fudgy, yummy, goodness.

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