Archive for the ‘Housewyf stuff’ Category

Fish Tacos

The Fish Tacos I created when I found out that Diva had DRUNK THE ENTIRE BOTTLE OF LIME JUICE I WAS GOING TO USE FOR DINNER.

That.  Child.  Is.  Driving.  Me.  Crazy.

Fortunately, this forced a variation of fish tacos that turned out better than my last try, so here it is:


  • leftover fried fish (I had plaice, which is related to flounder.  Any mild white fish should work.)
  • lime marmalade
  • one can corn (not creamed)
  • one can black beans
  • one red onion
  • fajita seasoning
  • tortilla chips, cilantro, and sour cream for serving

1.  Pat any grease off the fried fish with a paper towel and chop small.  Mix in cans of corn and beans (both drained).  Depending on how much fish you started with, mince the red onion and add enough to taste.  Make sure you break up the onions as you add them.  Sprinkle on fajita seasoning (I use Penzey’s.).  (This could be even better with fresh corn and/or heirloom speckled beans.)

2.  Put about half a cup of lime marmalade (I had Dundee’s Key Lime Marmalade from the grocery store) in a microwavable bowl and heat until liquified (probably a minute or two).  Again, depending on how much you like the lime/sugar flavor of the marmalade and how much fish you started with (and how much you like or dislike the taste of fish!), you may want to use more.  Pour liquid marmalade over the fish mixture and toss gently.

3.  Let sit for about half an hour for flavors to meld.  Serve in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with cilantro shreds, and offer lime tortilla chips on the side, or stuff tacos with the mixture.


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Ok, the paint smells are finally clearing, and I am delivering on the promise to show what I’ve been up to.

Ok, so this was the cute handprint design that the girls deemed “too babyish.”  *sigh*  I thought it was cute…

First day of painting: green and a red garden wall.

Add trees…

That weird stripe pattern is the beginning of the railing.

The first animals appear: peacock, elephants, Victoria crowned pigeon, insects.

The red panda at the zoo is the kids’ favorite, and it likes to sit just like this on the branches over the path.

They’re not the best zebras ever, but this should give you an idea of their size (and thus lack of detail).

Trees, bushes, and the base color of the giraffe.  I was a bit worried I’d mess up the animals, so I avoided the ones I couldn’t use the art projector on.

Empress is a *little* exicted about this… she had to be asked to please not pet the animals until the paint had cured for a week or two!

The lotus pond, moon bears, two lions sleeping on the man-made mountain.

The little details help.  These are peach-faced lovebirds, a dragonfly copied from one in the backyard, and, in the upper left, a tiger and her cubs (who are unsuccessfully trying to hunt a golden pheasant).

Pandas playing and African crowned cranes courting (thanks to photos we took at the zoo).

Ta da!  The toddler bed was turned into a couch with a shelf, a dragonfly lantern, and a fake potted orchid.  They love to read over there.

The view from the desk under the bed.  The dragon-tiled ceiling and details are copied from photos I took in the Forbidden City.

I have a few details left to do on the bed, but it’s nearly done.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief foray into “what Kathy does when the obsessive instinct takes off”.  🙂

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My daughters informed me that the time was right to act on that discussion we’d had on what they might like to do if we repainted their room.  Four or more hours each day since last Friday, and I’m still not done, but they’re very impressed.  Heck, Oof is impressed, because one of the trees extends over part of the ceiling.

I’ll be back eventually with more photos.

Yes, that’s a peacock, against a traditional Chinese railing (how?  LOTS of blue painters’ tape!), under a cherry blossom tree, with a vast expanse of garden waiting to be filled between the railing and that wall in the distance.

This is how I “relax” from homeschooling, since they won’t leave me alone long enough to read if I actually sit down!

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Angela at Parisienne Farmgirl is running a series called “Eat like a Parisienne… Work out like une Americaine“.  So far, it seems to involve French cooking, wine, and cakes, and it certainly seems to work for Angela.  I’m waiting to find out what I’m missing, because I’m there on the butter in my cooking, wine, and sweets… but I don’t seem to be getting results like Angela’s.

Now, she has been very clear that she is aiming for health and trimness, not necessarily an arbitrary number.  She described herself as curvy and happy with that.  She put up a photo of Marilyn Monroe; to put it mildly, Monroe would not be considered anywhere near skinny enough to work in Hollywood today.

However, as a bit of an aside in the initial post, Angela quoted a formula that said that for every inch over 5 foot, you get five pounds over 100.

Hence, at 5’7”, this formula would say I should be 135 pounds.  Heck, according to the last standardized height-weight chart I saw, I was in the “morbidly obese” category, and that was a *few* pounds ago.

Except I’m not.  I may be a stout hourglass, but I still have hourglass measurements.  I work out, I dig in the garden for hours (I’m talking turning over dirt to a depth of 18 inches, not lazily poking around with a hand trowel), and I pulled about 60 pounds of kids behind my bike on a six mile ride this afternoon at a decent clip.  The last time I was that weight, I was a plebe (freshman) at the Naval Academy.  The last time I got back to within thirty pounds of that 135 number, friends were worried I was sick.  The last time I lost anything like that amount of weight, I had mono and couldn’t eat more than a slice of bread with a little jelly each day for a month or so, followed and preceded by months of the sight of food making me so nauseous I was hardly eating.

Doctors have told me that I need to conform to the chart, because “everyone” should be those weights.  Why are they surprised when patients throw their hands in the air and cry, “It’s not possible; why bother?”  (Accentuating the “why bother” attitude, my younger daughter just had her annual check up: 50% height, 40% weight… 60% BMI.  Huh?)

We’ve all met people who could seriously stand to lose a lot of weight who say, “Oh, I’m just big boned.”  It’s an abused excuse.  The fact that it’s abused is no reason to ignore that people really do come in different body types.

Just a thought:

Arabian: average height 15 hands, average weight 900 pounds


Photo by Aline Sagrableny from Wikipedia Commons.

File:ACD Horses in Parade.jpgAmerican Cream Draft: average height 15.1 hands, average weight 1700 pounds (Photo from Wikimedia Commons, no author listed)

Now, if you were several of my previous doctors, you’d condescendingly inform the Cream Draft that it really ought to lose 800 pounds, because at that height, horses should only weigh 900 pounds.

Except that, obviously, nobody’s going to say that.  Both the Arabian and the Cream Draft team in the pictures are considered prime specimens.  They are the same height, but they have different body types.  And so do people.  Since people don’t vary as dramatically as horse breeds, double the average would be excessive, but not everyone should be aiming for the average weight.  (It would be nice if more doctors would acknowledge that fact instead of pointing at the chart, rolling their eyes, and saying all problems would disappear if I’d only conform to the weight on the chart.)

I was in Cannes, France, for the annual Cannes Film Festival.  The city was awash in all the beautiful people who work in the film industry.  Most of the women on the street were four inches shorter than me and looked like they might weigh 90 pounds.  The locals in the Navy League (a pro-navy club) told us that the locals and people from the surrounding towns avoid Cannes during the festival.

Sure enough, the day after the festival closed, the occupants of the cafes were decidedly different, because the locals were out and about again.  Suddenly, the average age and weight went up significantly.

I have to point out that French women who aren’t adorably skinny don’t write diet books about how skinny French women are!  Nor do they usually write books called Not All French Women Are Size 2, so we forget about them a bit.  Also, French women are- bear with me a second- French.  (Have you ever see a diet book called Slovak Women Don’t Get Fat?  Let me tell you: there’s a reason for that.)  Americans are British, German, Eastern European, and every other ethnicity out there.  My sister-in-law, adopted from South Korea, has trouble staying above 100 pounds.  My mom’s side of the family (Slovak) just tries to not go past cylindrical to pear shaped.  I suppose the average of those extremes would tell you that the formula works, but common sense would disagree.

Thinner is not necessarily better.  The chart doesn’t know you, only some mythical “average” American.

Now go read Angela and find your beautiful best size.

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No, I did not suddenly forget how to spell.  And, yes, the new magazine is simply incredible.  And, yes, I can say it in French.  (Six years of French and a minor in it, so I can drop phrases and talk to myself in a foreign language… maybe not quite what the educators had in mind when they added foreign language requirements!)

I have previously mentioned the Parisienne Farmgirl’s blog.  Now, let me show you the magazine:

(Click on the cover to see the animated flipping mini-mag with the first dozen or so pages.)  Isn’t it gorgeous?!?  Yes, I have subscribed, and I have to tell you, it goes on for 122 pages, each as lovely as the last.

If you head over to Parisienne Farmgirl and subscribe to the magazine, you can also enter the crepe cake contest.  (A crepe cake, which she says is the Next Big Thing after the cupcake craze, is simply a stack of crepes (flat), with some sort of filling or spread in between the layers.)  I’d show you pictures of my efforts, but you’re going to have to wait until after the submission deadline (May 1), since I have some vague hopes of making the next issue as one of the top ten recipes, and I’d like to keep my bright (?) ideas to myself until then!

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As I’ve been getting over the fact that, no, we are NOT moving and, no, I will NOT be getting a farm or goats or even chickens anytime soon, I’ve still been cruising a number of lovely homesteading websites.  (And trying to convince myself that I enjoy sleeping past dawn and being able to go out for the day without worrying about livestock way too much to have the farm I was dreaming of.  Because, of course, I had huge, detailed plans working out on various clipboards around the house about all the different animals I wanted and how it was all going to work together.)  Anyways…

I highly recommend Homestead Revival; I found her overall philosophy about encouraging family, home, and homemaking very grounding.  Plus, her dishwasher powder recipe is wonderful (I was using just Borax and baking soda; the washing soda, borax, and citric acid combo is working so much better!).

Through her, however, I found the Parisienne Farmgirl.  She has French flair.  And cooking, gardening, and fashion.  (I don’t normally “do” fashion; I have always been hopelessly lacking in the style department.  I choose to blame more than ten years in the Navy, wearing outfits that were all khaki, all white, or all black for most of that decade.  Then again, my mom would tell you I didn’t have any style sense before that, either…)

So, trying to wrap my head and heart around the fact that I did not have to say goodbye to this house (and trying to re-discover reasons to like it instead of reasons why I could be happy to move), I decided it was time for some kitchen renovation.  We looked at floors (wouldn’t you know it, the only pattern available in the square size and exact color to go with the existing paint was one of the most expensive linoleums in the store?).  We looked at countertops (easy to pick, hard to pay for).  I picked up a $1400 stove for only $799 at a Sears outlet because it had a huge dent in the stainless surround (and we had the $70 part ordered from Amazon, delivered for free, and swapped out within a week.  Holy cow, I adore finally having two oven spaces in my stove.).

Then, I looked around and had to admit that the kitchen could use some organizing and counter-clearing before we sunk any more money into it.

You know how things just accumulate?  Someone moves or downsizes and gifts you with some dishes.  You add a stack of adorable bowls that are just what you’ve been looking for to compliment your dishes.  You come back from China with a sudden taste for the good green teas (maybe that’s just us…).  And it all gets tucked in, wedged in, squashed in… until, one day, you realize that it just isn’t working anymore.

First problem: I couldn’t reach my toaster oven without a lot of digging.  Plus, the coffee maker was just too much work to drag out of the cabinet, especially before having had any coffee.

Solution: possibly the cheapest appliance garage ever.  No, not a cabinet extension, just some fabric.  When I made the curtains, I bought everything that was left on the bolt of this toile.  I’ve used it to make cushions for the high chair, a curtain to hide the back of a bookcase that blocks the door between the kitchen and the library, and curtains to cover the storage shelves in the laundry room.

This curtain is simply a long rectangle (not quite twice as long as the length of the two sides of the hidden area), hemmed on all sides, with very small grommets pounded in along the top edge.  Under the cabinet, three screws hold up a piece of coated florist’s wire, which simply strings through the grommets, and then gets wound around a screw to secure it.  It slides very easily.

My new “garage” perfectly fits the coffee maker and the toaster oven.  Morning coffee has quickly become an appreciated luxury.  We’ve used the toaster oven more in two weeks than in the past two years.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner!

(One note: if you do this, make sure the curtain is pulled well away from hot appliances!  When the toaster oven is in use, I pull the curtain all the way back to the wall and pin it there with something.)

Of course, this freed up lots of space.  I put some saucers and coffee cups that match my main dishware in the hard-to-reach corner previously occupied by the toaster oven.  This allowed me to rearrange the dish cabinet so that I didn’t have so much stacking, and it made room for my new rice grain bowls.  (I have just fallen absolutely in love with Etsy.  I’m sure the rest of you all know all about it, but I’m only just discovering it.  I’ll have to show off some of my finds in a post soon.)  I had to get rid of a countertop spice rack I’d never liked to empty the corner for the new garage, so I wound up totally relocating my spices closer to the stove and the main prep area.  The shelf directly over the coffee pot is now entirely turned over to hot chocolate, coffee, and teas.

After all the rearranging, which took several days, the kitchen is much more enjoyable to work in.  Believe it or not, I cleaned out and reorganized so well that I have several empty shelves and some cabinet space that I don’t know what to do with!  I had already found a shelf for the phone books and turned one drawer into the “current pile” storage, instead of leaving the pile on the corner of the counter.  So, for now, the empty spaces remain empty.

My counters are suddenly almost completely bare and successfully staying that way!

What a weird sensation…

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Late Thursday night, my DH headed off to bed, questioning why I was still up.

“But Jen is in Texas.”


“Jen.  At Conversion Diary.  So the 7 Quick Takes post doesn’t go up until 1 am our time, and I have to get on it right away if I want to be near the top of the list.”

He rolled his eyes and went to bed.

Another benefit of being up late, blogging: I heard the milk truck.  🙂  Yes, I have a milk truck.  We just started getting milk delivered again.  The previous company, a local one that, sadly, went out of business, used to deliver around 2 am, and I really startled that delivery driver when I opened the door as he was filling the box a couple of times!  (Also the blog’s fault.)

Waiting for 1 am to tick over, I heard a truck stop outside.  Weird, I thought.  Then I heard clanking coming up the front walk, followed by the *swiffff* of the cooler box opening.  More clanking and the *shuff* of the cooler being closed.  Music to my ears!

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