DIY tax evasion

The rebel in me loves this story: Do-It-Yourself Cigarettes? Virginia Smokers Start Growing Tobacco

“Cigarette smokers say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to die of cancer, but do we have to die of poverty as well?”‘ said Jack Basharan, who operates The Tobacco Seed Co. Ltd. in Essex, England.

Oh, I just love it when the common man finds yet another way to stick it to the tax and wastefully spend government.

Besides, home-grown tobacco is surely the organic, healthier choice.

Time

I’ve noticed that evening comes earlier now. Rocking the baby to bed at 830 pm, it seems to be pretty dark out. These steaming days of late August will carry on into September as usual, but they are but the opening notes of Summer’s grand finale.

I welcome autumn. I won’t miss the humidity, or the mosquitoes. I won’t miss the stress of taking non-swimmers to the pool. I won’t miss these “relaxing” days of summer that, frankly, this summer, were not.

Maybe I just don’t know how to relax. Maybe I just can’t relax without my husband here to take care of all the worrying and fussing and the what-ifs.

At the grocery store yesterday, Katie had a non sequitor question: “Mommy, is it almost time for Halloween?” I told her no.

“Then why is all the Halloween candy out?” And I looked up from trying to keep Mary pinned to the seat while selecting bagels and checking my list and reminding myself not to forget the half-and-half which I did later, after all, forget. Sure enough, the seasonal display had heaps of orange and black wrapped treats.

“They do it to drive mothers nuts,” said a smiling woman pushing her own child-filled cart in passing. I then lost myself in thoughts of how brilliant these marketers were to put the candy out early, so you buy it so you don’t have to think about it any more, then you eat it, or you forget that you bought it, and you buy more – genius! I almost missed her second line, which I heard with perfect Doppler Effect:

“They’ll have the Christmas candy out before you know it.”

Oh, I hope so. More than I welcome the cool days of fall and the beauty of changing leaves and the comfort of a school routine and the return to hot food to warm chilly bodies, I long for the approach of winter and the return of my husband. May the days fly by.

He left seven weeks ago today. We have 19 more to go. It’s not that long; we’ve survived worse, I keep reminding myself. Not too long ago, seven weeks seemed like an eternity. Now, it seems like nothing compared to what I have left to do. In twelve weeks, seven weeks will again, likely, seem like an eternity.

But it will come. And then I will hope once more for time to stand still.

Check it out

The best jobs are when somebody pays you to do something you do for free most of the time anyway.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit that?

P.S. That photo is my second oldest son hugging my husband when he returned home from his year long deployment in 2004. Bill’s friend came with him for our private reunion just so he could take pictures for us. It was another 10 days or more before the friend got to see his family.

More on Movie Night

Interesting timing. After my post about movies the other day, I saw this article today: The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time. The “Catholic” criteria is pretty loose, which makes the selection broad, and it’s not a list specifically for children, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t kid-friendly movies on there, it just means you’d have to check them out a bit further.

The list was compiled 10 years ago (oh, but to have an article of mine still being circulated a decade later!), and comments are encouraged for other suggestions, especially modern movies. There are a substantial number of additional movies listed. Happy viewing.

Real Food: Part I

Never, ever would I serve hot dogs for dinner to my husband. Lunch, perhaps, especially if I were turning the grill on, too. But not dinner.

But the kids like hot dogs, and I like easy meals, so we do, occasionally, have hot dogs for dinner when Bill is gone. Which is every day for those of you who aren’t paying attention.

In fact, in the interest of happy kids and simplicity, the types of food I’ve been serving for the last 6 weeks have been pretty basic. And now that tomatoes are ripe, I think BLTs for dinner once or twice (or three or four times) per week is perfectly acceptable. A thick slice of fresh tomato is on my top 100 list of proofs that God exists and loves us very much. For my own personal reference, I’m going to include this link to Jenn’s tomato recipes. I’ll be making some salsa this coming week, I think.

*****

A friend and I were trying to coordinate going to confession together. One of us could watch the under 7 crowd outside of the church while the other monitored the behavior of the others standing in line and herself too went to confession. Despite our church’s generous confession schedule of 4 times per week, we were having a difficult time coming up with one that worked for both of us. Finally we got to yesterday, and neither of us had a conflict. In fact, I discovered that her husband would be TDY, and it was her birthday.

(Wouldn’t it be lovely to be born on a Marian feast day? She said as a kid it was awful because she always had to go to church!)

So we decided to meet at the church for confession, stay for Mass and then come to my house for dinner and cake and ice cream. In Part II, I’ll talk about the cake.

For the kids, I decided to do pizza with my homemade and pre-baked crust. Pre-baking the crust and then storing it in the freezer means I can have pizza on the table in 15 minutes. Homemade pizza dough takes 90 minutes to make, and then I shape it into balls and rest it for 10 minutes, then I roll it out and let it rest for another 10 minutes, and then I add toppings and bake for 20 minutes (or just pre-bake for 10 minutes). Pizza is NOT a quickie dinner at our house, usually.

I was trying to come up with something for the grownups to eat, because having someone for whom to cook is the excuse I need to eat more sophisticated fare. I belong to a farm share program (which has been delivering me the yummy tomatoes I’ve been eating), and in this week’s box they included eggplant and this recipe:

Rigatoni with creamy eggplant and mozzarella

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium eggplant, medium dice
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup loosely packed thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 pound rigatoni or penne regate
8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, small dice

Saute onion and garlic in the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When just soft, add the eggplant, stir to coat in oil and then stir rarely until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove half the eggplant mixture and reserve.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

To the eggplant mixture, reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomatoes, cream and half the basil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes.

Add sauce to drained pasta and stir to coat. Add reserved eggplant, remaining basil and mozzarella and mix until cheese begins to soften. Serve immediately.

I had never had eggplant before, but I was willing to try this recipe. My friend told me she prepares her eggplant dishes by salting the eggplant at least 30 minutes before using and then rinsing the salt off thoroughly. She said it makes the eggplant less bitter. I left the sliced and salted eggplant in the fridge while I was at a church. Having never had eggplant before, I can not tell if this step made a difference or not.

This dish was very delicious. I wouldn’t have taken the time to type up the recipe if not, right? I don’t think my kids would care for it, but I will make it again sometime and have them try it.

My friend would have been happy had I served her the pizza. I’m glad I used her birthday as an excuse to make and share a new dish. And to eat some real food for a change.

*****

We concluded the evening by praying the rosary together. We couldn’t let that plenary indulgence opportunity go to waste! It was a lovely way to spend the Feast of the Assumption.

Movie Night: What not to pick

Katie’s birthday is Friday and we’re trying to pick out a movie to watch for a birthday movie night.

She had seen previews for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and really really really wanted to see it. So I checked it out here.

Now, when Bill was deployed back in 2003, Fritz was 5 and we watched E.T. That’s a fun movie, right? Well, there’s that bit about him dying towards the end, but he comes back and goes home and everybody lives happily ever after.

But the themes of separation, loss and going home were too much for my kids. Instead of smiles, I had sobbing.

I’ve learned to be a bit more selective in choosing themes now when my kids are having rough times.

On to The Water Horse and the USCCB website review says:

“Engaging but, by the end, surprisingly intense fantasy adventure, set during World War II, in which a forlorn Scottish boy (Alex Etel), coping with the absence of his sailor father…”

“…starts off unthreateningly, but gets steadily more ominous as it moves toward a turbulent climax that would likely frighten most young children.”

Yeah, I think we’ll skip this one for now.

Any suggestions for happy, fun, amusing rentals for mixed ages and genders but all 11 and under?