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Sunday Recipe Club: Seven-Layer Salad

April 5th, 2020

Woof and meow 💜

Recipe of the Day — Seven-Layer Salad with Creamy Salsa Vinaigrette

– For the Dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or coconut milk
1/2 cup mild or med salsa
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

– For the Salad
1 to 2 heads romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 med red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup green olives, sliced
3/4 cup corn kernels (thawed from frozen or fresh from the cob – no need to cook)
fresh mango.
1 avocado, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, dill, and/or basil, chopped

Bon appetit!ReplyForward

Getting through Pandemic 2020, one damn recipe at a time

March 28th, 2020

Do you know how long the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 (102 years ago) lasted? About three years. That’s right. From January 1918, approximately, til December 1920. That is insane. Three years.

Let’s not do that, okay? Please.

My great-grandmother, Miz Pearline, died in the epidemic, the story has been passed down to us. “I know,” my daughter told me yesterday, “She was my age. I know, I know, Gma told me. She was my age, Mom!!”) (Thanks, Ma. Now my baby is worried.) She left behind my then 3-year-old grandfather (Mom’s dad) and his 1 1/2 year old sister. They never got over the loss, understandably, and the rest of us really haven’t, either. That kind of grief cuts deep.

So let’s hope we get out in front of this soon. Do everything you can, in your power, ok? Start by calling, e-mailing or IM’ing some friends and family and telling them you love them fiercely.

I’m going to re-run a recipe a day, alright? Alright.

Let’s start with Chocolate Chip Cookies (I usually do them as a 9×12 pan of bar cookies) and some Lemon (or Orange) Snaps.

Xo and I love you.


What’s on My Nightstand, the Good Friday Edition: “The Gumamazing Gum Girl! GUM LUCK,” by Rhode Montijo; “How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves,” by Dr. Sophia Yin; “Vampirina at the Beach,” by Anne Marie Pace & LeUyen Pham

May 11th, 2017

I stashed this away and just found it :)


blog post

How’s about some books, kids? Turn off the computer. I mean it. Power that tablet down and leave it to charge. Hide your phone in the drawer and grab something to read that doesn’t require a battery, just your brain.

“The Gumamazing Gum Girl! GUM LUCK” (by Rhode Montijo, with Luke Reynolds; Disney-Hyperion Books; on sale June 13, 2017; ages 6-8; 160 pages; $14.99.) Gabby Gomez is here to take you with her on some adventures. Are you ready? We’ll start with the scratch-n-sniff cover. Yum. Now, on to the adventures… Last time with Gabby, she saved a passenger plane with her bare hands. (“The Gumazing Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny.”) This time? A school field trip is involved, and perhaps a trip to the dentist for Gum Girl. Did I mention that the dentist is her father? And he doesn’t know that his daughter is a superhero? Dun, dun, dun… The pink/black/white color scheme is great, the illustrations are pretty much perfect, and the story is lively. The villain? Hates gum. Spanish and English? No hay problema, there is no problem, we go back and forth between the two languages. I think you’ll like this one.

Next up:

“How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves” (by Sophia Yin, D.V.M.; T.F.H. Publications, Inc.; 2004; 244 pages). OK, I haven’t actually finished reading this one yet, this amazing, well-written how-to book. (I’m a few chapters in.) I have tried, valiantly, and failed, miserably, to get through it. Actually? I gave it to my friend Max, who doesn’t even need it because his dog is super well-behaved. I left it for my kids to read (before I gave up and gave the book away). They ignored it, too. We are bad dog owners at our house. It’s true. For example, I just put poor wild dingo in her crate (after taking her outside, bringing her back in… four times… feeding and brushing her, loving on her), just so I could write.

Her’s a good girl, but a little nutty.

She won’t come when we call. She slips her leash, collar and halter like she’s canine Houdini. She growls at everyone. She thinks Chase-the-Cat is the best game she’s ever invented. We watched that movie, “Marley & Me”? She makes that dog look like a damn amateur. Every night, she’s sprawled out in the middle of my bed, snoring and being adorable. She bats her eyelashes at you. She is pretty.

She looks like a deer, with those long legs. “Is she a polar bear?” the kids ask. “A dingo? A monkey? A cow? A little lamb? Or… a wolverine?”

Who knows.

I might take a nap after this, though, because having a dog in the house wears me the hell out. She’s a puppy, she just turned a year old. She’s a yellow lab/golden retriever mutt. She weighs a lot so far. Sixty-five pounds or so? Most likely due to the fact that she likes to eat, oh, how she likes to eat, just about anything. Oyster shells, an entire plate of brownies, anything from the garbage/the floor/the counters. As much Purina One as we’re willing to dole out. The entire drip line irrigation system from the back yard, her toys (especially the rope pulls. She will eat an entire one of those, no problem).

I love her. Dog, I promise to borrow the dog book back from Max, I promise to try to figure out how to behave. Let’s keep working on it.

And last, but certainly not least:

“Vampirina at the Beach,” written by Countess Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Mistress of the Night LeUyen Pham. (No, I did not make that up, it’s what they put on the cover.) (Disney-Hyperion Books, 2017, 40 pages, ages 3-5, $16.99.) (Sequel to “Vampirina Ballerina” and “Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover.”)

This one is dedicated to Kevin: “…the werewolf who taught our vampire girl not only to dance, but to fly.”

I kind of have a soft spot for book dedications, and that one is particularly nice.

Vampirina’s family looks a little like the Munsters, or the Addams Family, so that’s cool. They drive around in a hearse. They head to the beach! It’s a full moon, and they’re going to make a night of it. I’m enamored of this book, it’s pretty adorable. The colors are bright and pop off the page; the story is engaging; our heroine is a darling.

Bon appetit, babies! More reading, more, I say. Just do it.



scary music boxes

February 27th, 2011

ok did you watch that? did you traumatize your children with it? it is scary!!! here is what is even scarier: being a teenager, living at home (really scary!), then your sister’s boyfriend says, Was it that scary music box music? when you mention you slept in the basement and had nightmares all night.

me: How did you know?

he just shook his head.

seriously. I never mentioned to anyone that i nightmared about music box music. know why? because it was always this vague, slippery horror, and as soon as I woke up, it just slid away and i would be thinking, What the hell was that? But he used to stay at our house all the time, and I always wondered why he stopped crashing in the basement and insisted on sleeping on the living room floor. It was that music.

too many nightmares.


May 25th, 2010

that’s all.

— wm

Monday Morning Book Review: “Breaking Dawn,” “Drink This: Wine Made Simple” and “The Edible Woman”

December 21st, 2009

On review for today:

Speaking of blood, I’m on page 483 out of 756 pages of “Breaking Dawn” (by Stephenie Meyer, 2008, Megan Tingley Books, Little, Brown and Company, $22.99). I am facing the wrath of my 10-year-old writing this but I have to say it: This book sucks. I mean, sucks. (Edited at 4 p.m. to say — just finished the book. Am standing by this review. wm.)

The vampires, the werewolves, the sex, the drinking of blood… it outdoes “Rosemary’s Baby” and I’m not meaning that as a compliment. I frickin’ love “Rosemary’s Baby,” both the Ira Levin novel and the film version and no, I do not care to discuss Roman Polanski. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer are just brilliant in it, and I’ve seen it, I dunno. Twenty times?

“Breaking Dawn” does not give me the satisfaction of, say, Rosemary spitting in Guy’s eye when she realizes she’s been set up. I don’t know what else to say about this book, but it is not the book to read, or attempt to read, when you’re recovering from surgery. Or any other time. Who said this about “Twilight,” Neisha? That her favorite part of the book was the blank pages? No. When asked what her ten least-favorite books were, Neisha said, and I’m quoting here, “Can I just say ‘Twilight’ ten times?” Ha. Ha. Ha. I think it was Susan who said that about the blank pages. Anyway. You were so right.

OK. Enough about blood. Next topic: Wine! I am no wine snob, but I do like my pinot grigio (or gris, or what have you) and I like the fizzy stuff, prosecco — prosecco a la Brian Boitano (see? I told you I am low-brow here) with the grapefruit juice and the sugar cube. Well. This book, “Drink This: Wine Made Simple” (by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, 2009, Ballantine Books, 348 pages, $26) did not make me feel like an idiot for not knowing my wines. Also, she devotes a brief page or two to pinot grigio, which apparently is the Slut of White Wines (my words, not hers) and she also mentions the Ponzis and I love the Ponzis. They are such a nice family, those Ponzis, and they’re local.

She discusses all that you need to know about wine:
1. Type of grapes.
2. Where the grapes were grown.
3. How the grapes were turned into wine.

Also she discusses decanters, glasses, yadda yadda. I liked this book — it would make a good gift or purchase for your own self.

“The Edible Woman,” Margaret Atwood’s first book (1969) is just fantastic and you should just go buy a copy and read it right now. (Why does it fit so nicely into this round-up? You figure it out, I cannot.) You should especially read it immediately if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have read something like, say, “Breaking Dawn” or any of the other “Twilight” books. You need to get that taste out of your mouth and head. Wacky Cousin is right — it’s like you just ate a big bag of Cheetos and feel sick to your stomach once you’ve read Meyer.

The End. You vampire fans can just start throwing stuff at your screen now, I don’t even care. (More randomness: I actually liked the 2nd “Twilight” movie, we just saw it a couple weeks ago. Hmm.)



PS — I just heard that one of the best editors/writers/reporters I’ve ever known, Mr. J, is moving on to some new projects. Good for him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. In his honor, and because this post, in particular, fucking really needed an editor, I will leave you with a quote:

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” — Arthur Plotnik, editor and author (b. 1937)

peace love & understanding

November 30th, 2009

Rest in Peace, Ms. Borisshell Washington

June 4th, 2009

Peace to you, dear girl, and peace to our city.

Tuesday Recipe Club: Lemon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze & Heartbreak of the Day

May 19th, 2009

I always know what you’re thinking, Internets. Right now you’re thinking, where is that sad little Wacky Mommy with her heartbreak story of the day?

I was going to skip the Heartbreak of the Day. I’m trying to clean my house, study, drive kids hither and yon. Emptying out boxes, filling up boxes, finding space for Grandma’s things in my too-crowded home. (I inherited her cookbooks, a few knick-knacks, yarn, photos. Quilts that I’ll share with my cousin. Old Christmas cards.) Packing away the winter clothes and breaking out the summer clothes. Found a slip of paper tucked inside of her old tattered hymnal. A page-a-day calendar from April 16, 1998:

Bird Migration ETAs
Part 5
The third week in April marks the estimated time of arrival in New England of the green heron. In the fourth week, look for the barn swallow, brown thrasher, black-and-white warbler, myrtle warbler, towhee and white-throated sparrow.

I’m ready to toss it into the recycling bin when I think to flip it over. I am my grandmother’s granddaughter — the same handwriting, the same snarky temper, the same need to scribble compulsively. On the back is written, sideways, her name and my grandpa’s name, over and over:


April 16, 1998 — five and a half months after he died. They celebrated their fifty-seventh wedding anniversary on June 28, 1997. She was hoping they’d make it to sixty. He was exhausted from kidney failure, furious because he couldn’t ranch anymore, insane because my uncles took away his guns. (Because, you know. He kept threatening to shoot himself.)


I looked for a book to tuck the note into — found an old cookbook close by — “Favorite Recipes of Valiant Chapter,” circa 1959-1960. Readers? Any ideas on what a Valiant Chapter is, exactly? (This one is Chapter #168, O.E.S., Portland, Ore.) The “Worthy Matron” that year was Martha H. Taylor; the “Worthy Patron'” was G.C. “Jerry” Taylor. Recipes included: Spanish Bun Cake, Fruit Cocktail Cake and (my new favorite) Good Prune Cake. We also have Meaty Scalloped Potatoes, Salmon Loaf and Creamed Chicken.

I. Love. Old. Recipes. Even if I can’t get my family to eat them.

Took Steve out for lunch — Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao, iced Thai coffee, such sophisticated tastes. No Holiday Wreath Tuna Shortcake in sight — and showed him the note.

“That’s what I’m writing down, if you’re the first to go — Nancy, Steve, Nancy, Steve, Steve, Nancy.”

He adds, “TLF.”

Yes, TLF. It’s one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen, that love note. And it sums up, on one little tiny sheet of paper, the agonizing pain of going through someone’s personal belongings. I told my auntie, it’s junk, junk, junk, Grandma’s high school diploma, junk.

I cannot give a sigh that is huge enough to express the SIGH I’m feeling. HUGE SIGH.

Off to pick up kids — be right back.

Also found a recipe written in my Dear Granny’s writing, tucked into the Valiant Chapter Cookbook. No-name cake, so let’s call it…


Here’s exactly how it’s written:

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 pk lemon pudd (pudding) (Quote from my Dear Granny: “It is good because there is pudding in the mix.”)
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water

Beat for 5 min

Tube pan greased

45 minutes

Turn on rock (rack, make that)

Prick with foot (fork!)

1 can thomed orgina pins (Steve: “That says ‘1 can thawed orange juice.'” How can he decipher her hand writing even when I can’t?)

2 3 paw sugar (cool toger) (Okey-doke. Let’s interpret that as 3 cups powdered sugar; cook together)

me: “3 cups powdered sugar and a whole can of orange juice concentrate? Sweeeeeeeeeeet.”

Steve, going all insane: “Cooked together! You have to cook it together, the glaze!” (He gets a little goofy when we’re on the subject of our Dear Granny. I mean, goofy. You have to get it exactly right, the quote, the recipe, the scanned-in photo, the story, or he flips out.)

me: “I’m cutting that in half. Half a can of oj, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.”

Steve: “You won’t have enough glaze. You have to have enough glaze.” (realizes what he’s saying.) “Can you please stop baking all the time?”

me: “Turn on rock! 1 can thomed orgina pins! No.”

QOTD: Coleridge

May 4th, 2009

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

from the Wikipedia page:

“Coleridge claimed that the poem was inspired by an opium-induced dream (implicit in the poem’s subtitle A Vision in a Dream) but that the composition was interrupted by a person from Porlock. Some have speculated that the vivid imagery of the poem stems from a waking hallucination, most likely opium-induced. Additionally a quotation from William Bartram[1] is believed to have been a source of the poem. There is widespread speculation on the poem’s meaning, some suggesting the author is merely portraying his vision while others insist on a theme or purpose. Others believe it is a poem stressing the beauty of creation, and some read sexual allusions throughout.

Inspiration for this poem also comes from Marco Polo’s description of Shangdu and Kublai Khan from his book Il Milione, which was included in Samuel Purchas’ Pilgrimage, Vol. XI, 231.”

I had a nightmare last night that my Grandma was in Purgatory. She was sitting in a chair, alone, dressed nicely, her make-up on. We talked for a second, but she was distracted. Wouldn’t make eye contact. It’s not what I imagined Purgatory to look like — it was more like a train station. Cold. Sterile. She seemed steady, but a little nervous. Ready to be on her way. I woke up scared and ice cold. This has been harder than I thought it would be. I’m doing what I always do when I lose someone — I’m pretending she’s still here.

The neighbor’s big tree came partially down this weekend — dropped a branch in their driveway, and another branch (and most of the tree’s canopy) in our side yard. It filled up our side yard, with all the foliage. Couldn’t get to front gate or through yard because of it.

We had the strangest storm — it came on fast and dark, tons of rain and hail. All of the pink blossoms from the cherry and plum trees, swirling around like snow. Then it got darker and trees and limbs started falling. Thank God the kids weren’t outside when it happened — we had just been outside a little earlier. Also thank God it didn’t crash through the windows, smash through the roof, do more damage to the fence than it did. (Only a few boards damaged.) I heard a huge riiiiiiiiiiip, creeeeeeeeak, and then crash. It was too scary. I think it was my grandma, raging.


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