Our Latest Food Experiment & an Unexpected Result

Trying to deal with Mr. Picky is really a full time job. He doesn’t like a lot of foods and he doesn’t like foods that touch. If it was up to him he would eat white food and that’s it, but it is a process. We keep trying and we keep seeing what we can accomplish. Enter Weelicious, I bought the first cookbook awhile ago, but no interest was generated. Then the lunches book came out and, suddenly, we had interest. A lot of interest. We have been experimenting with recipes for both breakfast and lunch and we’ve been having fun.

This week, we tried Cinnamon Roll Sushi. The recipe is only available in the cookbook Weelicious Lunches, but it is so worth it. Anyway, one of the ingredients is cream cheese. Mr. Picky was suspicious at first and didn’t think he would like it, but he’s apparently now a fan. He loves this and has eaten at least four times this week. It’s been awesome.

The unexpected side effect of having the whipped cream cheese in the house happened yesterday. Sam is on a VERY tight pill schedule. She has to have them at precise times or we see her go into serious pain. It was time for her meds and I discovered that we had used the last of her peanut butter that morning. I was tossing ideas around in my head (which didn’t involve the car and loading kids into it), when I thought about the cream cheese. She’s never had it (I know 15 1/2 years old and never had cream cheese; yes, I’m a terrible person), and with Sam it could either be a good thing or a bad thing. So, I loaded her pills into a wad of cream cheese, rolled it up to look like a meatball, and took it to her.

Sam is a naturally suspicious dog. She believes that every person approaching her with food is doing so with the intent to poison her. She checks out everything before she eats it. So, the head came down to look at this weird ball of stuff in Mom’s hand. After determining that it wasn’t an explosive, she sniffed it. I got the fish eye. This usually means she’s going to reject whatever it is, but today, she decided to give it the lick test. The tongue came out for a small taste.

And then it happened. Her eyes lit up, and she scooped up the cream cheese ball and wolfed it down. And then licked my hands completely clean. That NEVER happens.

So not only is Weelicious introducing my son to food that he might never otherwise eat, it is helping me keep my elderly dog properly medicated. Have to love that :).

Long Time, No Post

When I put the blog on hiatus back in April, I honestly thought I would be back in a matter of a month of two. My dog was dying, my son had a scary diagnosis to deal with, and I was struggling in a lot of areas. Well, it turns out that the dog is still dying, my son is still trying to navigate his diagnosis (not life-threatening, just life-altering), and I’ve adjusted my balances and realized that balance may just not be achievable. I never had the intent to make this blog about any one thing. I have no illusions that I’m going to suddenly be a guru that people turn to or amazing like a lot of the bloggers I admire. But I miss my little piece of the world and want to get back to being me. 

Part of being me is writing about what is going on around me and what we’re doing as a homeschool family and about my girls (the dogs, for those not familiar or meeting me for the first time). One of the things that we’ve been working on is eating more healthy snacks and foods that are less processed (within reason given my on-going gluten-free status). Anyway, I’m not promising regular posts or a regular schedule, but I miss blogging and I miss being part of a community so back I come to try this again from a somewhat different, somewhat less confident place.

Let’s see how this goes, shall we?

Girl Talk Thursday: Collections

Hi, my name is Beth and I collect a lot of stuff. I’m deathly afraid that someday I’m going to be a candidate for Hoarders because I can’t seem to get rid of my stuff and I can’t seem to give up my collections. And now, I have a daughter, so I don’t see the reason to get rid of some of them because she is a girl and she might want these someday. Yeah, I know justification when I see it. So, what do I collect?


I’ve been collecting dolls since I was about 7 years old. My grandmother gave me my very first Madame Alexander doll that year (Austria) and then gave me at least two a year until I was 13 (maybe 12, I’m kind of fuzzy about precisely when the family blow up happened). I have a lot of country ones (Brazil, Spain, France, China, and so forth). I have a Bride. I have a few from Little Women (an original/old school Beth in a fluffy pink dress). But I also have age dolls (figurines with ages). I have Ginny dolls and clothes and accessories. I now have two American girl dolls with some clothes and accessories.


My husband would say there’s no rhyme, reason, or logic to my book collections, but I think there is. There are certain authors whose books I automatically buy when they come out, in hardcover. Jasper FForde, for example (though truth to tell, my best bud bought the last two at signings he was doing near her home, no I’m not jealous . . . much). I collect cookbooks. When I travel, I try to find a cookbook from the place that I’m in. I have some really interesting cookbooks as a result. My favorite is likely City Tavern Cookbook: Two Hundred Years Of Classic Recipes From America’s First Gourmet Restaurant. I went there with a group of academic friends, had a wonderful time, and bought the book specifically for the recipe for Thomas Jefferson’s Sweet Potato Biscuits. I have some great collections of children’s books and writing books. Also, knitting, quilting, and general craft/art for kids books. My office is nearly over-run with books. Seriously.

craft projects

I don’t collect supplies; I collect projects. For example, I found patterns for quilts for my kids that I want to make. I found some of the fabric. Then I pursued the rest of the fabric. When am I making the quilts? Likely not for a couple of years. Ben is heavy into character bedding and I figure Katie will go through the same thing before she’s willing to sleep under a quilt made by mama. I have cross-stitch kits that I put together — the pattern, the floss, the yarn — ready to stitch. Enough so that I could never buy another one and be stitching into my 70s, I suspect. I have yarn and needles for projects I want to make set aside for the projects. Yup. They’re collections. Seriously.


Many of my friends will not be surprised to discover this as they’ve been commandeered to send me postcards when they travel. I don’t like them pristine. I want them to have been mailed with a note about why this postcard. It’s lots of fun and I have some great cards from great friends. If you’re going somewhere cool and want to send me a postcard, I won’t say no :).


My master closet looks like a toy store exploded in it. I find things I think my kids will like, I buy them and put them in the closet. Then, I wait. I always have something to bring out if the kids are anxious or having a tough day or if I desperately need them to be engaged, I have things I can pull out. I do need to do some toy rotation so that they’re not overwhelmed by stuff.

So, yeah, I collect a heck of a lot of stuff. If you want to see what others are collecting, head over to Girl Talk Thursday and find out!

A Confluence of Events

When I posted the pictures of myself about two weeks ago, I was asked what I’m doing to lose weight. But I had a bad spell with my blood pressure and medicine and haven’t had the wits about me to post, let alone think about how to put this together. And then, the absolutely fabulous CecilyK aka The Uppercase Woman wrote a post about the show based in part on Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals that was thought-provoking and interesting given how much general praise the show has been getting. Finally, Jillian Michaels opened her mouth and planted her foot quite firmly in it. And it seemed like a perfect storm to finally answer the question of what I’m doing (or not doing) to effect this change that I’m going through.

I commented on Cecily’s post about the fact that I think Oliver’s ideas are much like Pollan’s ideas in In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and Kingsolver’s ideas in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.). I also think that his ideas play well with the school/community gardens being touted by the likes of Alice Waters and Rick Bayless. And I think they’re all good idea. Ideas that I endorse and believe we should be working to implement and they’re the originators of the ideas that influence heavily how I approach food.

I honestly use Pollan’s book as a guide to how I eat. I try to follow his suggestions and really think about what I’m eating. But, to be totally honest, there are other factors driving it, too. I have weird food issues and they dictate a great deal of what I eat. For example, I cannot eat mayonnaise. It makes me so ill that I will honestly wish that I hadn’t been born rather than have to suffer another stomach cramp. I recently suffered two bouts with serious stomach issues that I convinced myself were the result of chocolate. And I would have lived with that and just stopped eating chocolate, except that my husband noted that both times I ate a chocolate/peanut butter combination. So, I tried chocolate by itself. No reaction. Peanuts by themselves. Huge reaction. Great. It’s not really an allergy, more of an intolerance, which sucks enough as it is. But that means that I’m now reading labels and avoiding peanuts to avoid getting sick. And when you add to that I’m allergic to *all* sugar substitutes the reality of the way I eat sets in. So, for eating a few basic rules:

1. I eat breakfast. Usually, hot or cold cereal and coffee with a spoon of sugar and some milk. On days I’m working out, hot cereal and a glass of milk.

2. I drink water. Lots of water. I have these fabulous Tervis Tumblers that hold 16 oz of water. I try to remember to refill a minimum of four times during the day.

3. I eat my idea of lunch. Usually burrito mix on a tortilla (dad’s recipe, about as unMexican as you can get; Rick Bayless would shudder to see how this gets made) or leftovers from dinners.

4. Fruit for snacks and a piece of string cheese in the afternoons to tide me over to dinner.

5. Dinner from a Relish! menu (if I haven’t raved about Relish! lately consider this my rave. Usually, there is a dessert after dinner. This week that dessert is Buttermilk pie. I eat small pieces and enjoy it.

6. I track everything I eat at Sparkpeople. I’m adjunctmom there too if you’re there and want to friend me or if you’re not there and want to join.

7. After the kitchen closes (dinner dishes are finished and the table is wiped off), the only thing that can be obtained from it is water. That goes for everyone but Katie. If she needs more milk, she can have that ;).

My focus is on fresh, healthy foods that are minimally processed and that taste good. I’m working hard to instill that value in both of my kids. My son says his favorite vegetable is broccoli. We buy quick frozen and have to buy in bulk because the boy requests it with every dinner it can possibly make sense to eat it with. My daughter appears, at the moment, to prefer green beans.

And here’s the thing, and how this all ties back to Cecily K’s post and issues with that post. I fully realize that I am in an incredibly privileged spot to be able to choose what we eat and how much and where it comes from. I have not always been that fortunate and I think that’s why the advice of all the wonderful people I listed above tends to fall short. The reality is that it is not easy to eat a whole food diet if you’re on a super-tight food budget. I should know; I’ve been there. I have lived for weeks at a time on grilled cheese and ramen noodles. Where the cheese had to serve as my protein because I couldn’t afford meat or tofu. If I was super lucky, apples would be on sale and I could buy a 3 lb. bag of pesticide laden fruit. So, I totally get people listening to these wealthy folks telling them should plant gardens, eat real food, and scoff at their idiocy, BUT just because I couldn’t do it doesn’t mean I didn’t aspire to do it, even back then. And I think the aspiration and the discussions that come from that aspiration are as important as the action. Because if kids don’t know what a potato looks like, then shame on us. But if a kid can’t keep chickens because the kid doesn’t have a yard, then hey, I feel their pain, deed restrictions (and a general understanding that fowl and my dogs will not get along well) keep me from doing it.

So, that in a very large nutshell is how I’m eating and why. What else am I doing?

Well, I work out. Not so religiously at the moment, but I do something active just about every day. We got a gym membership, which has truly been the best thing ever for us as a family. Ben takes swimming lessons. I’m going to take swimming lessons. I work out in the gym — admittedly, not recently because allergies are ruining my ability to sleep and function, but I have hope that pollen season is almost over. I have a Wii and a group of active games that I use. I also have fitness DVDs and a subscription to Sparkpeople’s You Tube channel. Plus, I have my own personal cheering section. Anytime I work out and Ben can see me, I get the “Go, Mom; Go, Mom; Go, Mom” chant. And then he tries to work out with me.

Where does Jillian fit into all of this? Well, honestly, I own some of her DVDs. Her statements really didn’t bother me because, prior to getting pregnant with Ben, I used to say the same things about pregnancy. Why? Because I was told it was statistically improbable that I could get pregnant, and I had several years of trying at my back to prove the statistics were right. Because of the timing, I didn’t realize I was pregnant with Ben until I was a bit farther along than most people, and because of the, um, inhospitability of my uterus, I was desperately afraid to tell people outside of my family that I was pregnant. As in, some didn’t find out until I was almost 28 weeks. So, from that perspective I totally get where she comes from when she says what she says about pregnancy. If you convince yourself that it’s something you don’t want, it doesn’t hurt as badly that you can’t have it. I have no idea what to make of her adoption comments. Have to wonder about the context given her passion for dogs and wonder if two different subjects were conflated in some way.

So yeah, I think that covers what I’m doing, to a greater or lesser extent, and it also gives you an idea of what my brain is like on an average day. Very convoluted :).

We Lost A Good One

Dom DeLuise passed last night at 6p PST. Everyone is talking about the movies he made and the comedy he did, and you know, that’s great. He was a fantastic comedian. He always made people laugh and I’m glad that’s such a huge part of his legacy, but you know what? I really never watched his movies. I really didn’t enjoy the comedy so much. But I loved that man and I have referred to him as “Uncle Dom” for years because he taught me the most important secrets of my life:

The secret to truly stupendous meat sauce; the secret to soul satisfying Chicken Marsala; and, how to survive when you literally have no money to live on. He taught me how to make gnocchi that taste good and a pasta with broccoli that made me the envy of everyone in the building when I would bring it to work. I have eaten what I consider to be the only edible carbonara based on his recipe.

When I was pregnant, P would make me a sausage bread that nearly made me cry — thanks to Uncle Dom.

He was a culinary savant. You wouldn’t expect him to be able to do what he did with food, and yet, he did. He used his Mamma’s recipes, and his sisters’ and his friends. He borrowed/stole recipes from everyone and presented them in three cookbooks.

Eat This … It’ll Make You Feel Better. This is the original and the classic. It’s also out of print, which is a horrible shame. Here you’ll find literally dozens of recipes that are his family’s favorites and that will quickly become yours. I feel like I’ve lost a family member. The wonderful thing is that his children and his wife are fully aware of how much they’re loved because it’s in every page of this book. There are stains throughout this book from the many years I’ve been cooking from it. I bought this book when I was eighteen years old and I still cook from it today.

Eat This, Too. In all honesty, I don’t use this one as much. I like it, but it doesn’t quite do it for me the way the first one did. I found it so comforting to have even if I don’t use it.

Eat This, Again! I don’t own this one and, in fact, didn’t know it existed. It’s apparently a re-release of the first book based on the amazon reviews. As far as I’m concerned, that’s good news. It makes the book that I adore a bit more accessible for those who weren’t fortunate enough to find it the first time around.

All in all, we’ve lost an amazing talent in so many realms. Here’s hoping, for Dom’s sake, that there’s pasta and wine and good sausage in heaven and that Dom’s mother met him with a big old plate of his favorite dishes.

Picky Eaters

I am almost embarrassed to admit that we’re raising one. Of course, my cousins who are likely reading this right now (hey y’all) are likely laughing themselves sick and asking, “What the heck did you expect?”

In the best of all worlds, I would call myself a discerning eater. In other words, I’m picky as all get out. In some ways I’m easy because I go on food jags. For example, at one point in my life the only thing I would eat for lunch was bread and butter sandwiches. Every day. For months on end. To the point that I honestly believe my mother should have been nominated for sainthood. And then, one day, I didn’t want bread and butter anymore, and I wouldn’t eat it for the longest time AT ALL.

And now, my discerning tastebuds have come home to roost because Ben is, um, discerning. And he food jags, too. For almost two weeks, all he wanted was popcorn chicken from our local grocery store. The fact that it was a protein and he was willing to eat it was just about all I needed. We bought them whenever we found them and woe befall us if we ran out and Publix didn’t have any. P actually went to three different stores in search of the magical chickens at the end, only to have Ben refuse to eat them anymore. Poor P.

Constants in his diet are Cheerios, Goldfish, and Cheddar Cheese Chex Mix. I am pretending to myself that these are healthy foods, but I do understand that they are not. Other foods that are met with varied success: peas, bananas, apples, grapes, blueberries, yogurt (but only if the fruit pieces are fished out first), pasta with no sauce on it (well, it can have had sauce on it, but there should be no evidence of the sauce to Ben), pizza (so long as he can pick the toppings he “no likes” off of it), oatmeal (I’ve managed to persuade him to eat the high fiber version, but must be flavored), waffles, pancakes, muffins, and homemade bread. He will sometimes eat a grilled cheese sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich. He drinks milk, 1 glass of juice a day, and as much water as he can hold.

I consider that water my personal triumph as I was not much of a water drinker as a kid, but he loves it because it’s what he sees us with most of the time (my current grading insanity not included).

We’ve been suggesting to him that when he turns 4 and is a “bigger boy” he will have to start eating what MomMom and Daddy eat for dinner. So far, he’s accepting this new very calmly. I suspect this is due, in large part, to the fact that he has no idea that he’s turning 4 in August and I’m not sure he believes that he’s going to have to eat what we eat.

We’re heading to a crossroad here, and I’m not sure I’m looking forward to it. We have been trying some new menu planning ideas that are working really well for us (P and me). I’m hoping that taking the actual stress of menu planning out of our marriage (which for us was HUGE STRESS by the way) is going to make the whole “get Ben to eat what we eat plan” a little easier, but I’m not holding my breath.

I just remember what meals were like in my house when something we didn’t like was served, it was pretty unpleasant. More so for my sister than for me, I think. She tended to be more picky than I was and more unwilling to bend on her dislikes (e.g., I don’t think a bite of fish has passed her lips intentionally since she was 6; she’s in her mid-thirties now). I don’t want to have to resort to timers and revisited meals (a la Joan Crawford) because, really, I don’t think I have it in me to force someone to eat something they don’t want to try.

Heck, Ben wouldn’t eat bananas six months ago. He watched me eat one and asked if he could try it. Since then, banana eating fool. I’m convinced the way around Ben is exposure and letting it go. He asks for things and he can try them. If he won’t eat it, I insist he let it sit on his plate until the meal is over. The fact that these days he’ll let anything sit on his plate, even if he doesn’t want it, is a miracle as far as I’m concerned. At one point, he was happier flinging than not.

So, what are your “tricks of the trade” to get a picky eater to eat or to at least approximate a healthy diet.