name='p:domain_verify'/> The Red Accordion Diaries

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Anniversaries of weddings and albums and whinges and spastic mood shifts!

A wee break from food-meal-plan blogging to discuss two anniversaries. First, my amazing parents celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary yesterday. FORTY-THREE YEARS! (In case you are wondering, the appropriate gift for 43 is "travel.) 

Also, my most recent full-length album, West 28th Street, celebrated its SEVENTH anniversary yesterday. That means it's in the 2nd grade, is reading chapter books, and is already looking at colleges. 

I'm a little depressed by that number.

Sure, I've released a few novelty singles and some Euro-only/import-only EPs (which sounds very fancy, but is actually just a publicity trick and a reason to only print 100-200 CDs and not launch a massive PR campaign because I STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED THE ACTUAL FULL-LENGTH ALBUM BECAUSE WHAT IS THE POINT WHEN IT'S JUST A VERY EXPENSIVE BUSINESS CARD AND ...)


Deep breaths.

Seriously though, every time I attempt to make a record, something ridiculous happens. Like, my drummer decides he's giving up music all together and "taking up surfing." (That is not a joke.) Or I finally get everyone together, and then the studio gets a last-minute-call-from-a-celebrity-with-a-trump-card and has to cancel. 

SEGUE TO I'M NOW SUDDENLY IN A GOOD MOOD because someone at Heine Brothers just recognized me for my music and asked me all about playing with Elvis Costello and then someone else asked me when my next album is coming out and so now I shall stop fussing with this silly blog and book studio time and maybe even find a non-insane-drummer who also happens to understand and vibe with my completely insane music. 

Here's a photo of yet another really crazy way to spell my name.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fresh20 Vegetarian review, Meal 3.

Fresh20 Vegetarian meal planning review continued ...

Day 1 - Meal prep. Then three of us (2 adults, 1 toddler) enjoyed the Ginger Tofu, Rice and Snap peas. 
Day 2 - Dinner at a restaurant -- not a total failure though because, come on, I have a restaurant problem.
Day 3 - Invited neighbor over to eat Pesto zucchini with beans, broccoli, and roasted potatoes. We each had seconds.

Day 4 - We are only on Meal 3 here, even though it's Thursday. This was the meal I was most skeptcial about: Asian Nachos. I am a nacho fiend, and I'm fiercly loyal to Tex Mex. 
In addition to my skepticism, we ended up having a surprise visit from my pal Colleen (The Meal Plannning Queen) and her 5 and 7 year old, AND we were babysitting a 3-year-old for a friend who needed a grownup evening. Colleen was a huge help in preparing the meal, advising me on whether I should substitute egg roll wraps for wonton wraps (your options are limited when you do all your grocery shopping the day after Derby) and whether the nachos should bake a few minutes more. It's much more fun for me to cook with a friend than to cook alone. The four kiddos all entertained each other by gathering every pillow in the house and putting it on the sofabed, while Colleen and I prepared our Asian Nachos.

Asian Nachos were, to my huge surprise, a hit! They were delicious. Crumbled ginger tofu (left over from Meal 1) and various veggies that I had pre-chopped during the meal prep on Monday. It was easy to prepare, and everyone liked it -- even the toddlers, though they didn't clean their plates. 

I have an adorable photo of all of us eating our meal around a dinner table, but I don't want to share it until I have permission from the other kiddos' parents. And it's morning and they are at work right now, so just imagine it instead. It was actually really pleasant -- no meltdowns. We even made up those funny stories where each of us told a line or two of a story, then went around the table adding to the story. It was kind of magical. 

We also had just enough leftovers for a good lunch on Friday, despite having served 2 adults and 4 children.

Two meals to go: Friday night and Saturday night.

Monday, May 11, 2015

More Meal Planning review -- the Fresh20 vegetarian sample meal plantrial run. Day 2.

Continuation of The Fresh 20 review! First, a correction: the grocery bill for last week's items was only $55. We bought $10 worth of c-r-a-p for a last-minute let's-have-movie-night-and-eat-unhealthful-foods, so the total receipt was $10. This only includes 5 meals and is supposed to feed 4 people. We are only 2.5 people, however, and my husband travels a lot. I invited people over to dinner every night last week to make my testing a little more scientific.

If you remember, Monday morning I did an hour of food prep -- grating ginger, chopping vegetables, whipping up some pesto for later in the week.

One thing I love about The Fresh 20, so far, is that it's mostly about whole foods. I'm not into packaged guacamole or pesto (I can always taste that same strange chemical-flavor). I also am primary caregivier to my 2-year-old, however, plus I own my own business, so it's not like I have a lot of time. Making the pesto for the week -- arugula, basil, and cashews -- was easy and took just a few minutes. It takes me longer to open a jar these days with my arthritic hands.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I had Ginger Tofu, Snow peas, and Rice, for lunch -- left over from Monday's dinner. Tuesday evening was a fail on my part, however, as I met some friends for dinner. So much for the stay-in-and-cook goal. 

Still, Fresh20 only sends 5 meals a week, allowing for social events that happen unexpectedly, so I tried not to beat myself up about it. 

Wednesday's dinner was Pesto Zucchinni with Cannollini Beans, Broccoli and Roasted New Potatoes. I forgot to save half of the pesto for another recipe, so it was extra pesto-y (a good problem, believe me). It was completely delicious. The Wee Boy ate all of his, and both grownups had seconds. (David was out of town, but we had a friend over to recipe-taste.) So. Good. 
I think next time I will use the vegetable peeler to make zucchini noodles (or "zoodles" if you are super-annoying) instead of the rounds -- just a personal preference. 
The Wee Boy's plate. He ate it all.

I think my favorite thing about this particular meal-planning service is that it thinks ahead. I love to cook and invent recipes, and planning different meals isn't the challenge for me. The challenging thing is not wasting food, or rather, using the same ingredients in various different meals without making things boring. So when Fresh20 has me roast 2 pounds of new potatoes on Day 2, but then says "put half back in the refrigerator to save for Meal 4," my mind is blown. YES!!! That is the problem I have been looking to solve. And Meal 4 doesn't include roasted potatoes, so it's not a meal-double. (Meal 4 includes potato salad made from the extra roasted tatties. GENIUS.)

Enough for today. I'll tell you about Meal 3 tomorrow ... I'm a bit behind blogging, as usual, but I will say that I enjoyed last week's meal plan enough to attempt a different menu from the same company again. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: The Fresh20 Meal Plan. My attempt at following a plan.

I am a working mother, and dinner comes as an utter surprise to me pretty much every day. I've tried getting friends to explain meal planning to me. They seem so smug, with their "Sunday prep day" and their freezer full of portion-controlled ziploc bags of meals. I just want someone to tell me when Taco Night is.

I prefer to shop European style* -- i.e. pop down to the market every day or two -- for various reasons.
  1. I eat more fresh foods
  2. I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for a few days from now (I know, that's such an entitled attitude, but, hey, I've been self-employed my whole life)
  3. I often have evening gigs or we eat at a restaurant, thus ruining any plans I might have had.
  4. I can't stand throwing food away, so better to buy small amounts at a time.
Eating non-processed foods is not a new thing for our family, so it's not like we don't know how to cook. We've been making our own crackers and tortillas and pasta (not nearly as much since having the Wee Boy) for years now. We are also all vegetarian, so eating healthful foods is a hardly challenging. 

Still, the actual PLANNING part is somehow completely anathema to my carefree ways.

Because we spent an ungodly amount of money last month on restaurants and because the idea of paying someone to meal plan for us is no longer an only-for-the-rich-folks thing, I'm going to try out several meal planning websites and report back to you. I've avoided them in the past partly because of cost, but also because I never liked the sample vegetarian plans I had seen in the past. I'm not big on fake meat. Even tofu, though I like tofu, is a little too processed for my over-thinking brain to handle. I do like tofu, I just didn't want a meal plan based around meat substitutes.

We shall see what follows.

First up in my review will be my week of following The Fresh20.

Overview: The Fresh20 has a week-long sample plan, which I'm trying out. I chose the vegetarian option, obviously, though I do wish there were options that went along with vegetarian, i.e. vegetarian gluten-free or vegetarian dairy-free, etc. Meat-eaters get all of those choices, which is pretty annoying considering eating meat only really adds, like, 4 ingredients to a vegetarian diet (chicken, cow, pig, fish). But I digress into a rant about how vegetarianism is actually not restrictive...
Anyway, The Fresh20 weekly plan posts a menu of 5 meals, a shopping list, a prep-plan, the 5 recipes, and a nutrition guide (including serving size, calories, nutrients, etc). 

Sunday: We printed out the shopping list. Yes, there there is a SHOPPING LIST, which made our trip to the store quick and easy. 

Cost of groceries: $65. 

Monday: I decided I would prep the first two meals. I ended up prepping all five meals because the prep for meals 3-5 only involved chopping vegetables. That seemed easy enough, and I was already on a roll. 
  I spent a total of 65 minutes chopping, blanching, and trimming various vegetables, but those 65 minutes include several minutes of freaking out and running around giddy when my @KensingtonPalace notification went off that the new Princess had been named (Diana, people, they were able to sneak in a Diana!! I died a little, and then went back to blanching broccoli.)
  Ideally, in my hippie ways, I would have stored everything in glass containers, but I can't find any of the lids to my glass containers (who out there has the perfect lid-storage-system-that-doesn't-take-up-much-cabinet-room?). I went with the plastic, which means my photos don't look classy and we are storing our food in chemicals. Forgive me.  
  I wrote a number on the side of the containers to tell me which meal it's for, in case I space. I used a permanent marker and decided I didn't care. David, the genius of the relationship, suggested that in the future I use Dry Erase markers. Duh.

Monday night: We actually ate meal 1! It took about 30 minutes to cook, not including the prep. Those 30 minutes weren't actual work time though, as 25 minutes involved baking the tofu. 

Ginger Tofu, Snow Peas, Rice.
I don't love that tofu was such a big ingredient, but I did love how it tasted. The Ginger sauce (homemade with actual grated ginger root) was delicious. All three of us cleaned our plates. There was one serving left over for lunch on Tuesday. I forgot to take a picture of my plate, which David artfully arranged. But here is the Wee Boy's dinner, minus a few snow peas and some rice.

Tuesday night: I totally failed and went out to eat with a friend. Am horrible person, but will get back on track on Wednesday. 

The Fresh20 offers only 5 meals for the week because they recognize that families in our day and age go out to eat more often than we should. I guess I should accept that. 

*Yes, I know how pretentious that sounds, but what's a better word for it? My word-retrieval skills are failing since I became a parent. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Royal Baby thoughts - my NHS birthing suite and yes, Kate looks fab.

First off, let me acknowledge that I understand how absurd it is that I, a support of Scottish independence, am mildly obsessed with the Royal Family. I come to the Scottish Question as someone having lived in Edinburgh. I come to the Royal Family obsession as having grown up a girl in America who had a bizarre fascination with British history (I'm equally obsessed with Anne Boleyn as with Kate Middleton).

Anyway: Yay! A princess was born. Everyone on the internet is all upset that Kate looked beautiful so soon after the delivery. We all know she had a team of stylists come in and do her hair and makeup. The fact that her wedding ring still fit, well, some women just stay thin -- or maybe it's a larger-size mockup or she had the ring enlarged. Who knows, who cares, she's The Duchess!

People are also freaking out that she went home so soon after the birth. For a natural and simple delivery, there's nothing wrong with that. I lost a lot of blood, which was the only reason I stayed overnight. But still, the Wee Boy was born at noon, and I went home the next morning. Hospitals are icky, germy and not a place for newborns (unless medically necessary, obviously).

Also, can I just comment on how wonderful and grand it is for all of womankind that midwives attended Kate? Our bodies are amazing.

One article on ScaryMommy also claimed that "looks like she spent the day in a spa, and got a baby as a thank you gift." This made me laugh because, honestly, I don't think I've ever been in a spa that was as pleasant as the birthing suite where I had my little boy -- and my boy was born in an NHS Royal Infirmary, not a private wing of a hospital. 

Check out these photos of my birthing suite. If we were living properly in the future and had smellovision, you would be able to inhale the essential oils and understand how this room smelled like an Aveda spa. I'm not comparing birthing a baby to a day in the spa, just birthing a baby in a spa, I suppose. Look at that ginormous pool, the bean bags, the funny shaped foam pieces, the artwork, the kind doula knitting on the sofabed (yes, sofabed). Then imagine if this was my free NHS room, what does the Lindo wing look like??

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gardens, picking weeds and picking tunes.

It's Derby in Louisville! This means it's the one week of the year that the azaleas look good. I have neglected my garden for a few years. If you've followed this blog, you know that for the past ten years I've grown a lot of crazy things in my front yard -- from tomato plants to tobacco (the flowers are gorgeous!). Last year, inspired by a manicured patio in Scotland, we transformed part of our front yard into a sitting area, which left room only for mint and roses.

Our raised bed is empty and ready for plants though. Having gardened now for many years, I think I've figured out what to plant. Or rather, I've figured out that you shouldn't plant things you don't actually like to eat. Otherwise, you're going to be looking at a lot of pretty okra flowers that take up valuable tomato room.

I'm thinking it's time to build a second raised bed because I'm ready to devote an entire one to tomatoes and basil. If I can get the Creeping Jenny out of there without destroying my fingers...

Enough babbling for today. I keep thinking I need to write a brilliant blog, but really I just need to write.

In music news, I've been a guitar-playing-fool lately, so much that my fingers hurt all over again. Progress feels good, even though it's probably not the best use of my time. I'd like to be recording, but I need other people to do that (yes, even though I have Garageband on my laptop). And so I'm seeing just how fast I can pick "The Eighth of January" (204 at the moment -- check back next week #metronome).

Come watch me pick some tunes tomorrow at the Indiana Fiber Fest at 1:00. April 25 and 26, 2015   Tri-County Shrine Club 701 Potters Ln.  Clarksville, IN
Free admission - Free parking

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wee Boy's first haircut.

I have four million blog post ideas in my little notebook, but the most pressing thing to share this week is: the Wee Boy got a haircut.

We were attempting to do the whole don't-cut-his-hair-until-his-third-birthday tradition that is custom among young Jewish boys (the Wee Boy is 2.5). Mostly that was a nice cultural excuse to not cut his completely gorgeous straight, silky hair. It wasn't really a sentimental choice -- nothing like "my baby is so grown up i can't do the first haircut." (You know by now I did not enjoy the baby phase.) Mostly I just really like long hair on boys and men. David has grown his hair out, and it makes me swoon. I loved giving the Wee Boy a ponytail or a baby-man-bun.

I'm not really sure why we opted to go for the haircut. I suspect it has something to do with jumping ship and cutting it before it got so long that he was super-attached or we were super-attached. I didn't want it to be a big ordeal. My first haircut was me trimming it myself when I was 16, and I didn't want him to have the someone-cut-my-hair nightmares that I had as a kid (and still have). He did, upon first seeing a few locks of hair fall to the floor, say very sweetly, "No, put it back on me, please." This, of course, made is instantly regret the cut and want to buy him a pony to make up for it. But we carried on because we'd just had a nice lunch of Mexican food wherein the Wee Boy consistently dipped his hair in queso and subsequently licked the queso off his hair. 

Part of me wishes we'd kept it long so I could continue the gender studies course I'd been accidentally teaching the little girl across the street, who vocally and daily tells the Wee Boy how much he looks like a little girl because of his hair (and his pink shoes, but get over it, Isabella, men wear pink too). At the same time, I suppose it's not really my place to use my own child to make a point. He was eating his hair, and it was bothering him when he nursed, and he didn't like wearing barrettes all the time, and, well, we're pretty sure he was losing out on modeling jobs because his hair was crazy (joking).

Bottom line is: we jumped shipped. 

But not too much ... he kind of just got a Ringo look, but we kept the party in the back. It's not full-on mullet because it's still long in the front, but I am glad to have gotten the big wispy bits trimmed off. Plus now everyone can see his straight-to-the-depths-of-your-soul-blue eyes. 

Thanks to Tiffany at Highland Beauty & Barber for making it easy on him (and us). And for reminding me to take some of the hair home for that baby book that I have somewhere.

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