Saturday, December 27, 2008

Childhood photos with honest captions

Inspired by Baywatch's post.

I know it's completely the wrong holiday and all, but I've always loved this particular photo for the caption on the back, written in my grandfather's distinctive scrawl:

[Bluestem] trägt die Ostereier von denen sie später krank wurde. Ostern 1972

([Bluestem] carrying the Easter eggs from which she later became sick. Easter 1972)

There's something very blunt and direct in the Germanic psyche that cannot be overlooked. Some stereotypes exist for a reason.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I realized yesterday that I haven’t ever publicly recommended one of our favorite toys. We’ve had these for years, and we still use them constantly. In fact, I have posted at least one photo with them before. So, as usual, I’m a little late for anyone looking for good Christmas gifts, but I’m sure someone’s special birthday is coming up!

They are pricey, but I always like to think of the cost of toys as purchase price divided by hours used, and the hourly rate on these is very reasonable. Plus, grandparents often need new gift ideas!

FYI: I have donated the proceeds from this blog to Heifer again this month. Thanks for remembering to link from your pal Bluestem.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yummy meatloaf

Oh, stop with your begging for this recipe. It's embarrassing.

2 eggs
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp basil
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 ½ cups bread crumbs
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup boiling water
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese
2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound ground pork or turkey
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat egg with all ingredients through bread crumbs.
  3. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and add to bowl. Mix in rest of ingredients.
  4. Press the meat mixture into two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

“Tell Santa what you want, Honey”

We went to an Easter Seals sponsored Santa event a week ago, and Nea was very disappointed that there wasn’t enough time to use her talker to tell Santa what she wanted. I programmed it to say “I want Lightning McQueen for Christmas” and “I want a racetrack for Christmas” and “I love you, Santa Claus.” (It has separate buttons for “please” and “thank you.”)

I mean, the Easter Seals event was nice enough. Irish dancers, cookies, a chorus of developmentally delayed adults that rang bells and sang. Nea pointed out that the soloist sounded just like Bert from Sesame Street. He really did. I thought that was a valid observation. But the meet-and-greet with Santa was really just a photo op. He didn’t have time to linger.

So today when Santa showed up at the preschool, and I just happened to be there, and we just happened to have the talker in her backpack, since Nea has her other school in the afternoon, and then we JUST HAPPENED to be able to tell him what we wanted. She was very happy and proud, and she navigated from the main page to the special topics page to the holidays page to the December page* and found her buttons and was all ready before it was her turn.

And I tried really hard not to cry.

*I told you that $7000 thing sucks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What’s your name?

Let me introduce my family. There’s me, the "exalted, godly abundance farmer." Seems about right, with all my veggie growing madness. Then there’s N, "victory of the valley people who lived near a new castle.” Hmm. I’m not sure about the valley victory, but he sure did rehab our castle. Perhaps all the cheering for the underdogs that he does?

And our cute girls, "lovable" and “flower.” Awww.

Want to know the full meaning of your name?

Who are you really?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Girl talk

Well, it’s product endorsement time here at Haus der Bluestem. It’s been nearly a year since I switched to a menstrual cup. Yes, that’s right. A reusable cup. And here’s why:
  1. Cheaper
  2. Better for the environment
  3. Tampons kinda gross me out. I mean, why are they bleached with chemicals? Who exactly cares?
  4. Less fuss (less leaking, 12-24 hours with no changes needed)
  5. Made in Canada
I am happy to report that my diva cup is serving me well. Very comfortable, pretty easy to figure out, etc.

There's a TON of info online here. Is the Internet not a wonder? They are $18.55 on Amazon.

If you are interested, please ask me any questions you might have.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An idea for the hard-to-shop-for

Know someone who eats? Who can sort of cook? On whom you want to spend roughly $20? I’m telling you, I can’t say enough about Cook’s Country magazine. I’ve written about them before, but we had a dinner so sublime on Sunday that I am moved to mention them again.

  • Baked sweet potato fries – we’ve been perfecting these for years. Our new top secret tip is to microwave the whole tators for a few minutes before slicing. Makes a big difference.
  • Cole slaw – made the Cook’s Country Memphis style ones. Got a little kick to them, with the chili sauce and mustard. Yum. I used red and green cabbage for a very attractive end product.
  • Cola-barbequed ribs – Cook’s Country again. Best ribs I’ve ever had. Finally just the right amount of falling off the bone. Tasty.

We could open a restaurant with just those three items, if we wanted to be completely insane in this economy.

Blagojevich: 'Nothing but sunshine hanging over me'

Yeah, another Illinois governor arrested. Yawn. How many does that make now?

"The actions by federal authorities came a day before Blagojevich's 52nd birthday." -- that's going to put a damper on the festivities. Did you know his first name is Milorad? Poor thing.

Polling completed on October 13, 2008 put Blagojevich's approval rating among
Illinois voters at 4%. Blagojevich ranks as “Least Popular Governor” in the
nation according to Rasmussen Reports By the Numbers. On October 23, 2008,
the Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich suffered the lowest ratings ever
recorded for an elected politician in nearly three decades of Chicago Tribune

source: wikipedia -- Read the whole entry if you have time. It's comedy gold. And updated with the arrest already! I'm impressed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My humor at least amuses me

So, my 10-minute public speaking engagement is over. Whew. How I loathe getting up in front of people. I was to show a few PowerPoint slides on my last project (which was a cool project, trust me. I can’t tell you anything about it, though. That would be wrong.) and stand there while my coworker showed a demo of the new web site. And then talk about what was coming up next and take any questions. That sort of thing. I know the topic better than anyone else in our company. A real expert, I am. Should have been a slam dunk. No biggie.

I had an icebreaker that I was working on all week. As I bounced it off some people, I pretty consistently got a “um, you might want to rethink that” reaction. Here it is. Ahem. *sips some water*

Uh, you know how in those public opinion polls, death always comes in as the
“second greatest fear”? Anyone know what number one is? Yes, you in the back.
That’s right, public speaking. Which is why I’ve never understood why the
suicide rate isn’t higher before these quarterly meetings.

Anyway, so I’d already abandoned the idea of using this masterpiece, but I was talking to my boss’s boss right before he was going on to talk about a related topic. I told him my ice breaker. He laughed and told me to use it. I considered his career path and the grand stalling of his upward trajectory. I didn’t use the bit.

So, it’s over now. It went fine. Not great or anything. But fine. My ice breaker still makes me laugh, though.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brain, Child

I subscribed to Brain, Child magazine for a few years and gave several subscriptions to friends, especially as a baby gift for a second child. I really like the non-commercialized, literary flavor. Such a departure from Parents magazine and all those other “buy this to make your kid happy – spend, spend, spend” philosophizing rags.

But I’m not very good at magazines. I never get rid of them, and they pile up. The magazine generally does have a few articles available online, and I stopped by their site today.

Even though this isn’t the sort of medical issue we’ve had with either of our girls, this story really hit home for me. The frustration with the medical establishment? Yeah, check. Sing it, sister, and keep on singing until someone gets it right.