because behaving is boring

Tuna melt stuffed tomatoes

The best part about this time of year is the abundance of the fresh produce that is just begging me to EAT ALL THE VEGGIES. The BF is always bringing home tomatoes or corn or zucchini from the little roadside stands that pop up everywhere. Our little farmer’s market is full of good things, too. It’s like every day is Christmas!

Last week, The BF brought us some tomatoes that looked perfect for stuffing. I weighed a handful of options before I settled on a tuna salad filling, mostly because I had everything I needed and I didn’t want to go to the store.

These make a great summer dinner because you only have to turn the broiler on for about 5 minutes, so you don’t really have to heat up the kitchen. Serve them with a big green salad and some cottage cheese and you barely have to make an effort at all. I was lucky enough to have leftover cucumbers and onions and roasted eggplant from the night before. Hooray!

Tuna melt stuffed tomatoes

*This recipe makes 2 stuffed tomatoes with some tuna salad leftover*

2 medium tomatoes

2 envelopes tuna packed in water (single serving size)

Mayonnaise (you could use Miracle Whip if you prefer)

Sweet pickle relish

About 1/4 of a smallish onion, diced

2 hard boiled eggs**, roughly chopped

About a teaspoon of celery seed (or a rib of celery chopped)

Salt and pepper

About 3/4 to one cup shredded cheddar cheese

Start by slicing the tops of the tomatoes off. Scoop out the insides (I used an ice cream scoop) so you have a nice, hollow cavity. Set the tomatoes, cut side down, on a paper towel lined plate.

Stir tuna and mayo (start with a little mayo and add until you have the consistency you want). Mix in egg, onion, celery seed (or celery), and add relish and salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff tomatoes with the tuna salad. I like to broil them in a muffin tin because it keeps them from falling over, so place each tomato into a hole in the muffin tin, top with cheese, and broil on low until cheese is brown and bubbly.
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If you use cherry tomatoes, these make a nifty little appetizer for a cookout or summer party. Just be careful, because you may find that they disappear rather quickly.

ETA:
When you broil the tomatoes, the filling will NOT be heated through. If you prefer a hot filling (I’m not sure hot tuna salad would be super yummy but whatever floats your boat), you should bake the ‘maters.

** Ok, don’t bother with actually boiling the eggs. Seriously. Just put some cupcake liners in your muffin tin, put the eggs in there, and bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, dunk them in ice water for ten minutes or so, then peel ‘em. SO MUCH EASIER.

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams

I saw the first story pop up on my Facebook newsfeed after I finished cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.

Robin Williams Dead at 63

I immediately did a Google search, because I was sure this was yet another internet hoax. I’ve never understood the point of those…what does one accomplish by joking about someone’s death?

At any rate, I was so sure it was false until I saw that CNN, FOX, and the Today Show were all reporting it…And it got worse. His cause of death? Apparent suicide.

My heart broke. I’d heard of his struggles with addiction and depression, but I suppose I thought he was making it through. After all, this was a man that had access to the very best medical care money could buy. He was adored by so very many people. He seemed to have a wonderful family and many friends that loved him.

Yet it wasn’t enough. That’s the scary thing about depression…it sees everything you have to be happy about and carefully shoves it all to the side. It might tell you that none of those people really care about you. It might whisper in your ear that your accomplishments are meaningless. It will tell you that everything is hopeless.

As Jenny Lawson (one of my absolute favorite authors) says, it lies.

Depression is something that is impossible to understand if you haven’t felt it. I’ve seen people describe it in so many ways, yet there’s always someone that says, “Well can’t you just, you know, decide to get over it and be happy?”

No. I cannot put this any more simply.

Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half describes the numbness that depression can cause… Others feel a very deep and sometimes physically painful sadness. The one thing that I’ve found to be almost universal about depression is that some of the brightest, funniest, most talented people I’ve ever met struggle with it.

I have struggled with depression. It still visits me on occasion,  though it is rare these days. I thank God for that. 

I have friends that have struggled, and some that are struggling right now. I can’t say that I’ve been there for them as much as I should have. Depression can also make you a very selfish person in some ways. It can be hard to see beyond yourself.

If you know someone that is having a hard time dealing with things, watch over them. Make yourself available as much as you possibly can. Don’t give up on them and for God’s sake, don’t ask them to just “suck it up and be happy.”

If you are struggling to get a grip on life…If normal everyday duties seem overwhelming, if you can’t muster the desire to get out of bed…If you have had even the tiniest whisper of a thought of suicide…Please go get help. Talk to someone, anyone, until you find a person that will listen. I promise, you are not a burden. Your friends and family love you and they want you to be well.

You are important.  You are loved. You matter.

My heart is broken over the passing of a wonderful,  if very troubled, man. I hope he found the peace he was so desperately seeking.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Weekend highlights

Thursday evening, I made two pies… I had planned to only make one, a coconut cream pie for The BF’s grandpa (his birthday was Saturday), but the BF wandered in and asked if he got a pie. I had everything to make a chocolate pie, so I went ahead and made it because I’m such a pushover giver.

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Top: Coconut cream pie Bottom: Chocolate mousse pie

The BF was super pleased with his pie. Friday evening we took the coconut pie to Grandpa, and he said he had no plans to share it with anyone. He did offer a slice to The BF.

“No thanks, I don’t really care for coconut.”

“I know!” was Grandpa’s reply, and then he cracked up.

I was super relieved that he liked it so much, because I’d never made that kind of pie before…And I did it completely from scratch, from making the graham cracker crust, to separating five eggs for the custard, to the whipped cream, to even toasting the coconut. Also, who knew real, homemade whipped cream was so amazing? I may be addicted.

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Saturday morning, MIL and I took O to the local farmer’s market. We found tons of awesome fresh produce and lots of people to chat with. I ended up with an eggplant, some cute yellow pattypan squash, Concord grape jelly, and creamed honey. MIL stopped to buy a green pepper and the nicest guy handed O a cute little pumpkin. He promptly threw it to the ground, of course, but luckily the man just laughed.

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I didn't get a pic of the pattypan because it didn't last very long.

We stopped for lunch at my favorite Chinese place. I ordered cashew chicken and MIL had General’s chicken…we both got the hot and sour soup because it’s the best you’ll ever have. O was happy to eat everything we shared with him, and he wasn’t phased at all by the spice in the soup or the General’s chicken…He’s going to like it spicy like his mama, I think, and I couldn’t be more proud.

O took a nice, long nap once we got home, and when he woke up we headed to the State Fair. O had his first ever ear of Indiana State Fair roasted corn on the cob, and he loved it so much that he didn’t want to give up the empty cob. He also split a blue raspberry shaved ice with his daddy, and he loved the pieces of breaded tenderloin I shared with him.

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After we filled our bellies, we wandered around checking things out. I rode an elephant ( her name was Libby), and we bought a jar of maple cream at the pioneer village.

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We made sure to check out some animals, and the boy found a new friend in a nice little goat. The BF and I also found coffee mugs that I really should have bought.

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He had to give the goat kisses when we left.

Once it got dark, we headed to the midway. O rode a couple of rides with Daddy (mama would barf). I think O loved the excitement, because there was a lot of pointing and clapping and waving and, “See? SEE?!”

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We all had a blast and slept extremely well when we got home.

Sunday, I did some cleaning and The BF worked in his office while O ran around in an outfit he picked himself.

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That afternoon,  my SIL came over with my sweet niece and the kids chased each other through the house. There was a lot of squealing and giggling and THUMPTHUMPTHUMPing. The boy had so much fun that he slept until almost 9:30 this morning.

It was my favorite kind of weekend, full of family time, good food, and a lot of laughter.

Published

Yesterday, in the middle of running a couple of errands with my mom, I got a notification from WordPress. It was the one all bloggers love to see: Your stats are booming! I couldn’t figure out why my blog was getting so much attention until it hit me…

The piece I wrote for XOJane must have been published. Could it be?

I quickly checked the site, and there it was: IHTM: MY 8-POUND BABY AND A 3-POUND TUMOR SHARED MY UTERUS

Yes, another article about Fred.

Anyway, I have had a huge smile on my face ever since I saw it. I loved Jane magazine and was a faithful subscriber until the print edition folded (saddest day ever). After an insanely long and empty time without a monthly dose of Jane, I was beyond thrilled to see that a new online edition was here. The day I got an email saying they were interested in my story, I just about died right there.

I checked the site again today, and there it was:

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So it wasn’t just a dream. I’m even cool enough to have my very own author bio!

Check it out, and make sure to read the comments. They’re all pretty supportive and some are downright hilarious.

I just can’t express how cool this all feels… It’s like a little slice of happy pie, topped with validation whipped cream and a paycheck cherry.

And right this second I don’t even care that none of that made sense because I got published in a super cool magazine. Hooray!

Four cheese lasagna florentine

That sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well don’t be intimidated,  because it really isn’t… But it is a handy way to sneak some spinach into the diets of your unsuspecting family.

I know I’ve already posted a lasagna recipe, but the one I’m about to share probably doesn’t fit the heart healthy bill… This one has full-fat cream cheese in it and I used 80/20 ground chuck. Don’t anyone tell my mom.

You’ll also notice that I’ve made the switch to oven ready noodles… Honestly, I used to be very pro boiling but then one day I realized that it sucks. A lot. They stick together and to everything, I always burn myself, and it takes a lot longer.  Forget it. Know how long it took me to assemble this lasagna?  Ten minutes…And that’s only because this happened:

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Minus destructo-toddler, it would've only taken five minutes

Four cheese lasagna florentine

Tomato sauce:
1 pound ground beef

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 can tomatoes

1 can spaghetti sauce (any variety you like)

1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed (give it a good squeeze so you don’t end up with runny sauce)

Salt and pepper

Cheese mixture:
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 15 ounce tub ricotta cheese

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Italian spice blend

1 1/2 package shredded mozzarella cheese

1 box oven ready lasagna noodles

Start by browning the hamburger, onion, and green pepper (season with salt and pepper), then drain the mixture. Wipe away any grease left in the skillet, then return the beef to the pan along with the sauce, tomatoes, and spinach. Let that simmer on medium-low while you prepare the cheese mixture.

Add cream cheese and ricotta to the bowl of your mixer, then mix until blended. Add Parmesan and Italian blend (as much as you like…I used about a palm full), then mix again until it looks creamy and delicious. Preheat your oven to 375° and get ready to put everything together.

To assemble the lasagna,  first spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Place three noodles on top, being careful not to overlap or let them touch the sides of the dish. The noodles will expand to fill the gaps, trust me… I learned that one the hard way. Drop spoonfuls of the cheese mixture over the noodles (it’s almost too thick to spread), then sprinkle on some mozzarella and add three more noodles. Ladle on a layer of tomato sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture and mozzarella…Keep going until you run out of noodles or room in the dish. Make sure the final layer is tomato sauce, top with cheese, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. When your timer goes off, remove the foil and top with more cheese (only if you want to be excessive like me) and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

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Serve with a salad and breadsticks.

If you have leftovers,  this should freeze well…Or you could just keep eating it until it’s gone, which is exactly what we’ve done. I will be sad when we finish it tonight.

Are good samaritans ruining it for everyone?

I’ve noticed a new trend popping up all over my Facebook newsfeed lately…No, it isn’t some new nail art or a cute Pinterest craft. It’s something that, as a parent, actually kind of terrifies me.

It’s the good Samaritan.

Yes, I’m one hundred percent serious. In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen no less than three stories involving someone calling the police to report a parent. Now generally, these headlines of Parent Goes to Jail for blah blah blah are the kind that make you shake your head and feel better about your parenting tactics. I mean, you wouldn’t think of letting your kid run around in a days-old diaper while you go on a heroin binge (bender? What is the correct term?), so you can pat yourself on the back for being a better parent than that asshole.

But today, I was scrolling through Facebook during my brief moment of peace (also known as mommy quiet bathroom time) after having put O down for his nap, when I saw this:

Florida Mom Facing Felony Child Neglect After Letting 7-Year-Old Walk to the Park Alone

Um, what?

I thought, “Well, the park must be miles away… or maybe the kid had walked there and then told someone about living in deplorable conditions…” Upon reading the story, though, I realized that I was wrong. This poor mother simply allowed her child to walk to a park (about half a mile from their home) to play. According to the story, a stranger noticed the boy walking along and started asking questions. The boy got spooked (uh, as he should have been) and took off for the park. The stranger called to report the “neglect”. Next thing you know, a police officer picked the boy up at the park, then took him home and arrested his mother.

Arrested his mother.

Sweet baby Jesus, for letting her kid go to the park. And this isn’t the first time a “Good Samaritan” has nosed into someone else’s business and gotten them arrested. Recently, a Texas mom was arrested for letting her kids play outside. Another mom was arrested (and then fired from her job) when she allowed her child to play at a nearby park while she worked. 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!

Guys, out of every little thing that scares me about parenting, this is the thing that frightens me the most. I mean, yes…I’m raising a child that knows no fear, only moves in one speed (fast), and unfortunately seems to have inherited his father’s grace. O seems to think that catching himself with his face is the best strategy when he falls, and trust me, he falls a lot. Still, all of the emergency room trips we may end up making in the future are small potatoes when I think about the horrible impact one “well-meaning” jerkwad stranger could have on my family.

Ridiculous isn’t even the word.

Last week, my mom and I took O to lunch after having my phone looked at. He was playing with the crayons when he decided to start throwing them on the floor. While I picked them up, my mom patted him on the hand (mostly to get his attention) and told him not to throw the crayons. An older woman sitting near us apparently gave my mom the stink eye because clearly my child was being abused. Or maybe we just don’t believe in letting kids get away with being little turds in public? I don’t know.

Anyway, when I read stories like the ones above, I can’t help but shiver a little over that indecent. What if Ms. Incapable of Minding Her Own Business had gone outside and called the police? What if I was the one getting cuffed in front of my kid because she saw something she didn’t approve of? No thank you.

What with Facebook and reality tv, I can see why some people might think that the lives of others is everyone else’s business…But NO. Not even close. I vote we all start minding our own business unless someone is without a doubt in some kind of distress. For clarification: Kid playing on the swings at the playground? He’s probably ok. Kid yelling for help while running down the road? Well maybe you should get involved.

How do you feel about this recent trend? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Graze

It’s no secret that I love snacky foods… Some nights, I find myself eating a really tiny dinner so I can eat some Naan with hummus, or popcorn, or some sort of snack after O is in bed. I try to stick to the healthiest stuff I can (let’s not talk about the blueberry pie and ice cream I ate after dinner last night…Or the cupcake I ate before bed), so when I had an opportunity to try Graze I jumped all over it.

I got a certificate for a free Graze box when I ordered our Journey tickets and I signed up on my phone right away. On the website, you can browse the list of snacks that are available and let them know if you have an allergy, or mark foods you won’t like. You can also mark snacks that sound good, increasing the likelihood that you’ll end up with those items.

I don’t have an allergy, and I didn’t see anything that seemed super gross, so I left mine up to chance. This is what my box looked like:

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The portions are pretty small, so you might want to order two boxes if you’re sharing. I got two salty snacks and two sweet ones…I’m not sure if this is generally how it’s done. Here are some close-ups of my snacks, in the order I tried them:

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Garden of England: Apples, blackcurrants, and mini strawberries

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Tomato and Basil Pizza: Basil crunchini, cheese cashews, mini tomato breadsticks

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Key Lime Pie: Lime raisins, mini merengues, sponge pieces, green raisins

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Lightly toasted pistachios

My favorite part of this box was Garden of England. Those mini strawberries were amazing. I wish I had saved it for the end, and I was super sad when it was gone. Key Lime Pie was a little disappointing since they had to go and stick raisins in there. Yuck. Still, it was pretty good, even with the rabbit turds raisins.

The Tomato Basil Pizza was yummy, and I was actually glad for the small portion… If I had a whole bag it would’ve been gone in one sitting. I also loved the pistachios because, duh. Pistachios are awesome.

I really love this idea… I think you’re supposed to eat just a little at a time, and not the whole box at once (like, ahem, I did). They will deliver your boxes to your place of work, so if you’re chained to an office desk five days a week this might be a little ray of sunshine.

Here’s another happy little ray of sunshine:

I have a discount code for you! Just pop this handy little code in at checkout and you get your first and fifth boxes for free. Hooray!

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Go to http://www.graze.com and use 3Y3VDWM3B when it asks for a friendcode.*** If you order a box, let me know what you think!

***The lovely people at Graze don’t know me, and this is not a paid review. I DO get a discount on future Graze boxes for every friend that signs up. Mostly I just thought it was a super neat and tasty idea and I wanted to share it with y’all!


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