Category Archives: Sam and Russ and Ike

Music Monday: another quick lesson

Yesterevening, I posted a lovely (wow, we like ourselves, don’t we?) blog post. It contained a recipe and a quick grammar lesson. Remember? I can remember it like it was yesterday-(Quick grammar lesson: It’s “Russ and me” because “me” works without the “Russ and”.  You wouldn’t say “about I”. Got it? Good!)

Well, after rereading that, I’d like to add another quick lesson. This time, it is a life lesson: It’s “Russ and me” because “me” does not work without the “Russ and”.  Amen. The end.

Because of today’s life lesson, the Music Monday post is a love song. I’m ALL ABOUT the love today, friends.

And here is the song that he says reminds him of us (he is a rock and roller through and through, folks. While I can come up with a bazillion love songs from just about every genre of music, he has a rock and roll heart. [oooo, Eric Clapton reference. Coincidence? I think not!]):


“The wonder of it all is that you just don’t realize how much I love you”

cue guitars and bring me a tissue!





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Filed under Music, Sam and Russ and Ike

A match made in heaven

No, I’m not talking about Russ and me. (Quick grammar lesson: It’s “Russ and me” because “me” works without the “Russ and”.  You wouldn’t say “about I”. Got it? Good!) Although that would be true too. (All together now, awwwwwww!) I’m talking about black beans and sweet potatoes. Mmmm. Hmmmm!

I’ve made black bean and sweet potato chili and black bean and sweet potato enchiladas . So the jump to a southwestern calzone filled with sweet potatoes and black beans wasn’t that far.

By the way, have I mentioned that I’ve given up sugar and alcohol for Lent? It’s making me a little crazy. Just letting you know that as a warning. The Communion assistants at church keep their eyes on me now. They don’t like me taking that extra long drink from the common cup. I also spend lots of time perusing recipes for sweet baked goods. And I keep opening the pantry just to gaze at the box of Samoas sitting there on the shelf. Food porn! (I just mentioned Communion and porn in the same paragraph. I am doomed. Step back from the screen in case the lightning should travel through the interwebs!) I’ve been joking that Easter breakfast is going to be Samoas, jelly beans and bourbon. Only lately, it’s been less about joking and more about planning out how to make that actually happen…

Anywho. Sorry. Awkward.

When I took the calzone dough out of the freezer this afternoon, I wasn’t all that excited about plain old pizza calzones for dinner. Then I had a revelation! Why not make a southwestern calzone with sweet potatoes and black beans as the filling? Why not indeed!

The calzone dough is Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe. Such a great and easy recipe. I’ve made it multiple times and it turns out great every time. Sometimes I make it with the cornmeal and sometimes I make it with whole wheat flour and sometimes it’s all white flour. I really like the crunch of the cornmeal. Today’s dough was an all white flour batch. (mostly because I forgot to substitute cornmeal for part of the flour. Lack of sugar in my bloodstream makes me forgetful.)

The calzones just sitting there waiting for their turn in the oven.

And here is my calzone just sitting there waiting to get in my belly!

The recipe is not a real recipe, more just a mishmash of what I had here. Next time, I will make sure to have cilantro on hand and maybe a nice roasted poblano. I didn’t have either, so this is the bare bones recipe. But not half bad, if I say so myself!

Here ’tis:
One recipe of Bittman’s pizza dough, cut into four pieces after it has finished rising
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
half an onion
cumin, few shakes
chipotle chili powder, about 2 teaspoons
pinch of cinnamon (secret ingredient!)
salsa (I used some Frontera salsa. I love it!)
oil to saute the onions
shredded cheese (I used cheddar jack)
Preheat oven to 350.

Microwave the sweet potatoes. Let cool a bit and mash with a fork; set aside. Heat oil in a skillet, add the onion and season with a bit of salt. When the onions begin to soften, add the cumin, cinnamon and chili powder. Let them bloom in the oil. Add the black beans and let them cook in the spices for a bit. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, stir to mix. I added a touch of chicken broth here to help make the mixing easier. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings.  I had to add a bit more cumin and some salt. Set aside.

Roll out one of the balls of dough into a big oval-y shape and add the black bean/sweet potato mixture to desired fullness on one side of the dough; make sure to leave room at the edges to close the calzone. Top with salsa, if you like, and cheese. Fold dough over itself and add a bit of water to the edge of the dough. Seal the calzone by folding the edge over on itself, pinch together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with extra salsa and sour cream, plain greek yogurt or crema.

The filling made more than enough for 2 calzones. I plan to eat the rest for lunch tomorrow! It would easily fill all 4 calzones.

Hope you enjoy!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear the Samoas calling my name. I’m just going to go do some heavy petting with them. Nothing below the boxtop.


Filed under food, ravings, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

An explanation (or good lard, woman, you are OUT there!)

So, I got a tattoo yesterday. No biggie.
And bear with me as I talk about it. I promise not to keep going on and on. People with new tattoos are like people with new babies; their tattoos are the bestest tattoos that have ever graced any human body just like a new parent will assure you that his or her infant is the most perfect human ever to walk the planet. Although there are those folks who would prefer that no one know they got one. Got a tattoo that is. It’s hard to conceal a baby…
I have a picture. See? It is so purdy. My mirror needs to be wiped, but you all will not judge me for that, will you?

Yep, I love it!

So, here is why I got what I did where I did. I will tell it once, and then you won’t hear me speak of it again, mmmkay?


This is one of the West African symbols known as adinkra. In the country of Ghana they can be found on cloth and walls, in pottery and logos. This particular symbol is for Mother Earth. I picked it for so many reasons, it might be easier to make a list, in no particular order, just things this symbol means to me. Fasten your seatbelts, kids, it’s about to get all spiritual and hippie-esque up in here.

  • It is the symbol of Mother Earth-In yoga, we are reminded to ground ourselves into the Earth, to feel the Earth supporting us. Feel the steadiness and steadfastness of the Earth below. This symbol reminds me that the Earth was created, with all of its beauty, for me. It reminds me that when things get crazy, I can rest assured knowing that the Creator is there supporting me and when I ground myself in the love and energy of the Creator, I can do anything.
  • It is the symbol of a woman’s body. With all of its beautiful round curves. It reminds me to cherish this beautiful body I’ve been given (I’m not talking beautiful in the mainstream sense. But it is beautiful because I have been perfectly and wonderfully made.). The woman’s body I have with hips and thighs and other round, soft parts. Ahem. I was made this way. My body is meant to be curvy. When I start to complain about my body, I will look at my tattoo and remember that women’s bodies are meant to be softer and curvier. Women should be owning the beauty that comes from being exactly what the Creator has made us to be. Our bodies are made this way to bring new life into the world. Our bodies are beautiful because through them we experience the beauty all around us.
  • It is two hearts joined together. It is the Earth made from Love. It reminds me that the reason I’ve been put on this planet is to fill it with as much love as possible.  I am to love my neighbor as myself.
  • It is two hearts joined together (yep, I know I’ve said that already). It is, “my beloved is mine and I am my beloved’s.”  And that is most certainly true.
  • It is two hearts joined together (yep, I know I’ve said that already. <–and that too!). It is my two boys who I love with my whole heart. (They are the most wonderful children to ever walk the face of the earth. Want to see pictures?)
  • It is two hearts joined together (I’m sensing a theme here). But the fact that one is resting on the other is important to me because when life gets turned upside down, we need each other to rest upon. I want to be that for others and I can tell you that for me the heart that I rested upon (still do!) is the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. She knows who she is.
  • It is where it is, because I wanted to be able to cover it with clothes when I felt it was appropriate but I wanted to be able to see it everyday.

There you have it, my friends. I promise not to bore you any further with it. I just plan on enjoying it for many, many years to come.

If I haven’t frightened you away, please return for a recipe on the morrow.



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Filed under adinkra tattoo, ravings, Sam and Russ and Ike, Wherein I reveal my ignorance

Silent Sunday-some things are worth the work

Beginning the assembly

We made this pastry cream. We MADE it. True story.

Just look at that sponge cake, willya?

Ike begins to pour the chocolate glaze

Isn't it beautiful?

Slowly, it spreads


mmmmm, chocolate

This cake is a thing of beauty

Boston Cream Pie-yes!

Sam! Let us cut the thing first!

Plate-lickin' good!


Find the recipe here




Filed under food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

The No-pocalypse

The STORM OF THE CENTURY turned out to be the storm of the week here in the St. Louis area. We did get 3 inches of sleet, which was pretty impressive, but no blizzards or cannibalism or major citywide chaos of any kind like the weathercasters were predicting. Frankly, I was disappointed. BRANG IT, I kept saying whilst beating my chest with my fists. C’mon Mother Effin’ Nature, BRANG! IT! She, rightly so, chose not to take me on in all of my badassness.

It was enough winter weather to cancel school today, though. (Flurries are enough to close school around here, so that’s not saying much.)Which means that for the umpteenth time this year, the boys are home. What makes it different today is that Russ is home too. He decided to take a vacation day to avoid driving on the sleet-covered roads and the extreme cold that came along with the sleet.

The three of them cooked up a plan that cookies should be made. HAD to be made. In order for the survival of the family, cookies were needed.  (Actually, Ike wanted a pie. Alas, I have no butter to make pie crust [please do not speak to me about making pie crust with shortening, I will not hear of it. And yes, I know your grandma’s pie crust was the best ever and SHE used shortening, I just prefer butter. End of discussion. Also, I have nothing against shortening as you will see momentarily if I can ever find my way out of all of these parenthesis and brackets…])

So, everyone washed their hands and we all began the cookie making. The recipe I use is from the Butter Flavored Crisco container. See, I like the shortening. I like the butter flavoring. I know that some of you may scoff at Crisco. I know that some of you will freak out that it is butter *flavored*. I care not. I only know that these cookies are the softest, best chocolate chip cookies ever. I rarely tell people the truth when they get all crazy over them. I never want to admit that they are made with Crisco. But now, the secret is out and you can think of me what you will.

Ike is a championship scooper

Look at that cookie dough just layin' there like a log. Maybe I should eat it! (Cook a Doodle Doo-a fantastic kid's book. Go buy it now.)

Two thumbs up!


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
  • OR 3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)


  1. HEAT oven to 375ºF.
  2. COMBINE shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.
  4. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.
  5. TIP* If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I never put nuts in the cookies I make only because no one here wants nuts in his or her cookies. You do what rocks your socks off.  The only other advice I would give is to beat the shortening, brown sugar, milk, vanilla and egg until they are fluffy. Then only beat the flour in until blended using the lowest speed on your mixer, or do it by hand. Overmixing the dry into the wet leads to flat cookies. Oh and, chewy all the way here at this house, so 8 minutes and then they are out of the oven.

And now, I must do the work that I am supposed to be doing  but am totally procrastinating on by posting here.

Happy Groundhog Day!



P.S. Cook-a-Doodle Doo can be bought here. It seriously is a great book. Seriously. With a recipe for strawberry shortcake at the end. Can’t beat it!


Filed under food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

Souper Science Fair Project Sunday

Look, it’s Science Fair Sunday, the terriblest, horriblest, worstest, no-goodest, very baddest day of the year. Fer realz.  There isn’t much good to write about today.  There was pouting and procrastinating and quite a lot of looking at the Science Fair Manual to ensure the proper placement of things on the board and  after I finished doing all that, Ike and I got down to business and finished the cursed thing. 

And then I went to the kitchen and started some soup.  It seemed the only way to remedy this day.  And it worked.  The soup and the walk with the dogs saved the day.  There was a small incident with a new lawn ornament during the dog walking.  Santa in a hot air balloon.  And dudes, I could not tell if that Santa was real or not! He was a “life-size” blow-up replica of the real saint standing in a hot air balloon.  Or I suppose it is, I have no idea how tall Mr. Kringle is. But I can tell you that this rendition was anything but right or jolly.  It was straight up creepy!  And when we got close, Charley lost his mind and turned me completely around when he tried to run behind me and out into the street.  Way to protect me, Charles!  Thanks eversomuch!   

The good news is that I had started the soup before I left for the walk, so it was ready when we got home.  I’m giving you the recipe and then I’m going to put on my feetie pajamas and going to read before bed.  I don’t actually have feetie pajamas.  I do have some pajamas, but I can’t find them.  I have no idea where they could be and in any case, they have no feet in them. But I digress.

The recipe is from

Home-Style Chicken Soup


  2 tsp olive oil   
  2 medium leek(s), trimmed to white and light-green parts, cleaned, and thinly sliced   
  1 medium carrot(s), thinly sliced   
  1 medium onion(s), finely chopped   
  1/2 pound(s) skinless chicken thigh(s), or skinned and trimmed of all visible fat   
  3 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth   
  1 Tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped   
  1/2 tsp table salt   
  1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground   


  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrot, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Remove the chicken from the bones and chop; return the chicken to the soup. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the chicken is heated through, 2–3 minutes. Yields about 1 cup per serving.


  • We use chopped fresh parsley in this recipe, but you can also try chopped fresh thyme, dill, or a combination of the three

I doubled the recipe and doubled all the veggies too.  It could have used some garlic-but I think just about everything could use some garlic. I also used the fresh thyme. It is very tasty! 



P.S. If this makes absolutely no sense, I apologize.  Science Fair Sunday slays me.


Filed under dogs and cats living together, food, Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike

They say it’s your birthday. It’s my birthday too, yeah!

It’s my birthday today!  Did you hear?  I hope you took advantage of all the sales the stores have been running in honor of the occasion.  I completely understand if you ordered me something on Cyber Monday and it still needs to be delivered.  I’ve asked them to change that to the second Monday in November so that I wouldn’t have to wait for my gifts, but thus far, I’ve been unable to convince those in charge of the interwebs to do that.  Oh well, age brings patience. And xanax!  I’ve heard tell that it brings xanax as well.  I guess I’m not quite old enough for that yet, but it gives me something to look forward to! (or something to which to look forward? Nope.  Something to anticipate?  Better. Something that gives hope for the future? Exactly right!) 

I am blessed to have such wonderful people help me get year 46 started off on the right foot! (Or is that year 47? I think it will be my 47th year.  Sweet lard.  I wasn’t depressed until just now! What the hell. Where’s the wine?) Anywise, let’s get back to the happy, happy, joy, joy part of the day.  I am only 46 today.  Only. 

Want to see my loot?  Hmm? Do ya? Do ya?  I have to say that some folks were paying attention to the gift-giving guidelines! 

Now this is some great birthday booty!


My squid ornaments! They make me look forward to Christmas!

And two, two, TWO things from Anna Ourth Jewelry! One says love and the other has my boys' names with their birthstones.

 You can also see that I have a book mark and a pair of teeny tiny orange slice earrings and some delicious smelling chai tea soap.  And the coolest recipe journal!  I’m stoked to start using it! Not to mention two bouquets of flowers and a lunch at the London Tea Room!  Wow!  I am spoiled!  And I am very thankful for every gift!  Birthdays are pretty awesome, si?

But the birthday gift that got the biggest reaction was one that was on my “do not buy this for me!” list.  My dear, sweet, quiet and completely hysterical friend Kati (you all have one of these friends, right? You know the one that, when you met her, seemed very demure and then all of a sudden she says something in her quiet voice and you realize that she is funny as hell and that you are most definitely going to be friends with her?  That’s Kati!) She picked something off the verboten list, but I have to say, it was a hit-

Aw, dudes! You have to admit, I am ROCKING this fake hair!


You know I look goooooood!


No one was left out of the fun!

Ike looks cool!



Sam is sad because his real hair doesn't look like this...

And this is what it would look like if he were running!


If he doesn't leave me after this, he ain't leaving!


If we didn't feed him, he would totally run away!

Here’s to the last day of November! 
Your old(er) friend,

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Filed under Sam and Russ and Ike, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday

Normally, this day of the week is known as  Thankful Thursday around these parts. By these parts, I obviously mean my house.  It’s a day to think about all the good things in my life.  It’s a great way to combat all the negative things that may be going on in the world. 

But today, I thought I would make it Throwback Thursday instead. But that comes with a warning-Prepare yourselves. No, seriously. I don’t say that lightly. Strap yourselves in, lock the doors, gird your loins, dial the 9, the 1 and then sit with your finger ready to dial the last 1. If you have some kind of anti-anxiety meds, now would be a good time to take them.  It’s a throwback to an ugly time-literally. (And just as an aside, the next person who says “literally” in the wrong context is going to make me slap them-literally. “The movie was so scary that I literally died of fright.” Um, no, no you didn’t.  If you had, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you WOULD BE DEAD! Literally.) But this is ugly, for reals!

Are you ready? Helmet on? Goggles secured?

Ok. Here it is-

My "before" picture. Before what? Before I knew that my hair looked ridiculous, apparently.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my Weight Watchers “before” picture. I told you it wasn’t pretty. I could and I have (right up above there, for instance) gone on and on about how much I dislike this picture.  I could use the excuse that it was right after I had my younger son, but let’s just say that I wore maternity clothes for quite a while after I had him.

There was a time when the idea of posting this picture anywhere, let alone putting it up online, would have sent me into spasms of embarrassment so severe that I would have ended up curled into a ball in the corner, probably stuffing my face with cookies. It reminded me of how unhappy I was with myself and the way I looked.  It reminded me of how much I thought my life would be perfect if only I was thinner.

Now though, when I look at that picture, all I remember is how incredibly happy I was to have one healthy son and to be bringing home my second healthy son. Now I see that it doesn’t matter what size I am (although, really, that hair!), my life is pretty damn great. And it’s because of the wonderful folks in my life.  The people who don’t care one whit what size I am, who love me no matter what.  When I look at that picture now, I know that what I want is not necessarily to be thin (although vanity is always a factor, isn’t it?), but to be healthy because I want to be around to see what other amazing things will happen in this life I share with those I love and who love me.

I guess this has turned into Thankful Thursday after all.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that little boy sitting next to me is my oldest, Sam. He looks sad because he was afraid I would crush him. Oh, no, that’s not it!  He was feeling a little sad because he was certain he was getting a baby sister and instead, he got stuck with a brother. A fact that he has never let me forget!

Happy Thankful Throwback Thursday, everyone!



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Filed under Sam and Russ and Ike

The Sounds of Silence

For National Blog Posting Month, I was going to make Saturdays be Silent Saturdays.  I was (and still plan to) post pictures and call it a blog post-give myself a day off, as it were.

But today we all went to see Sam play in [*****WARNING! MOTHER BRAGGING ALERT***] the East Central Junior High All District Band.  It’s a pretty cool honor to be picked for this band.  So instead of just pictures, you get to see a video from the performance. 

Without further ado, I give you the ECJHADB with “Count Rockula”


Don’t forget to set your clocks back tonight!


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Filed under Music, Sam and Russ and Ike

Fall Back! Fall Back!

The day in as few words as possible (which still adds up to quite a few):

Sleep in (Thank you, Fall Back!)

Church (Not horrible)

Home-made donuts (Delicious!)

Walk with the family and dogs (4 miles)

View Sunday

041                              “This leaf is as big as my head.”


 042 “See?”

Chores (Boring and yet satisfying)

Cooking (My fun time)

  061                                  Orange lentils (so pretty)


064 Carrots and onions (building flavor)


Wine (Old Vine Zin)


074                       Dinner (Delicious, for the second time today)


Spinach Lentil Soup (Easy as can be)

Servings: 6


1 cup shredded carrots

1 large onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 cups water [I used chicken broth]

1 (16 ounce) jar salsa

1 1/4 cups dried lentils, rinsed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach, torn

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, saute carrots and onion in oil until tender. Add the water, salsa, lentils and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach; simmer 5-10 minutes longer


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Filed under Recipes, Sam and Russ and Ike