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I love my mother-in-law.

That’s not a lead-in. It’s really true. But this week, I love her for giving me this recipe. Apparently it’s one of my husband’s all-time favorites, a fact of which I was unaware until just a few weeks ago. Anyway, tonight I had everything on hand to fix it, and while it works its magic in the oven, I have a few free minutes to share it with you. It’s yummy, and best of all, it’s not an exact science.

So, here’s the recipe for Chicken Divan. I’m not sure how it got its name, though my theory is that you’ll need a divan handy when you faint after tasting it. And if you’re thinking, oh, woe betide me, I hate broccoli, feel free to substitute spinach. Just make sure that whatever you use, it’s as free of moisture as possible before you add it to the pan. Oh, yeah, it’s easy, too. 😉

You’ll need:

6 oz. shredded longhorn, Colby, or Cheddar cheese
6 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 bunch of broccoli or 1 small bag frozen broccoli, cooked, drained, and patted dry
1 tsp. curry powder (I use a very generous teaspooon)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup mayo
2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Layer chicken and broccoli in a casserole dish or 9 x 13 pan. Whisk together mayo, curry powder, soup, and lemon juice. Pour over broccoli and chicken and mix it all up a bit. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. Serve over rice. Enjoy. Bask in the glowing praise you receive. And give me, and my mother-in-law, our props.

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This has seriously become a monkey on my back. Or else it’s a cry for attention. Meh. Whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the latest development is that my boy likes to bite his toenails.

Yes. You read it right. He bites his toenails. He also bites his fingernails, but anyone can do that. Apparently biting one’s toenails takes some talent, especially when you’re missing some front teeth.

I have no idea why he’s taken up this habit, but I find him on the couch pretty frequently, transfixed by SpongeBob or Avatar or Tom and Jerry, crunching away on his toenails. So the upside is that he’s flexible and has nice strong teeth. The downside is that he bites his toenails!

I just picture this being a relationship deal-breaker somewhere down the road. Girlfriend comes over, uses her key, sees him biting his toenails, and calls the whole thing off. Crushed and embittered, he moves into my basement and codependence begins. Noooo!

Anyway, I’m trying to be smart about it. I don’t want to make a big deal of it. Every now and again, I casually mention that I’ll be happy to cut his toenails if he feels they need it. No. He’s fine. Do I let it go with the hope that it will stop on its own? Time will tell….

I have a new minor obsession: adding captions to photos at www.punditkitchen.com. Of course, it’s a very productive way to spend time, no?

Anyway, these were my favorite creations from yesterday. Perhaps they’ll even show up on their homepage. I’ve spent a long time honing the smart-ass section of my brain, so I might as well use it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the unthinkable happens, I’ll be dragged off to some GOP gulag, won’t I? Gulp.

You know, there are some things people just shouldn’t do themselves. A few weeks ago, I rented a carpet steamer and cleaned my own carpets. Good God, that was a mistake. Not the cleaning, obviously, but having to witness what my family of three managed to put into our carpet over the course of a year. No one should have to see that. Just. No one.

Of course, I’ll do it again in a few months. It’s cheaper than calling Sears.

But it got me to thinking about how completely “unprivileged” I am. I have several friends and family members who really *are* privileged. And by that I mean they can throw money at just about everything that I can’t. Furniture? Just walk into the store, pick what you want, and have it delivered. Party? Have it catered. Kid grinds Play-Doh into the carpet? That’s a problem for the cleaning lady. I love them all, in their own very special ways, but they don’t really understand that, yeah, you want new furniture, but it’s not worth charging it this year when you have a lot of other things that need your financial attention. Or else they do understand it and remind you of it, somehow, but that’s a story for another day. And, for the record, we’re doing just fine.

But I started thinking about what it means to be privileged. Now, really, I’m not proletariat. If you wanted to transplant me into a house about three times the size of this one and give me enough money to furnish it however I wanted and to hire someone to clean it and, you know, add a nice Volvo wagon to sweeten the pot, I wouldn’t turn you down (unless you were the GOP courting my soul for a vote). I know what I like, and sometimes my tastes run a little expensive, but buying stuff isn’t my loftiest aspiration.

But I do feel privileged because I know non-money-flinging ways to solve problems. Why on earth would I pay someone $60 to change a brake light bulb when I can buy the part for $4 and spend 10 minutes doing it myself? Give me a budget of $100 and I can throw a fantastic party with delicious food and plenty of fun. The house isn’t spotless or even organized, but it’s passable and mostly clean. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but about a month ago I removed my driver’s door panel, used a diagram to locate the faulty door sensor, and removed it so my dash would stop dinging and telling me the door was ajar. I haven’t hooked up the new sensor yet, because you can’t see the part but have to do it by touch…but give me time. I would rather spend that $200 on something else.

I guess I’m just feeling capable today, glad that I can do these things for myself, glad that I’m reasonably self-reliant and am able to function without someone else to clean my toilets. I have a great kid, a husband who gets me and isn’t controlling and thinks I’m a good reason to come home every day, a job that lets me work mostly on my own terms, a reasonable degree of talent. Isn’t that privilege? And isn’t knowing how to spell “privilege” a privilege all its own? 😉

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to let someone else do my laundry and mop my floors while I got a pedicure and bought a disgustingly expensive handbag…but anyone can do that. Show me a woman who can replace her own wiper blades, fix a toilet’s innards, or wrestle with a non-compliant turkey neck, and I’ll show you a rare bird indeed.

Peace out.

Every now and then, my brain just spews out a phrase that I like. Here are this week’s brain-children.

slovenly man-living
As in “Now that he’s engaged, he will be saved from the slovenly man-living that has plagued him for the past few years.”

evangelical tie
As in “So, this guy was driving around my neighborhood in a Taurus, carrying a bible and wearing the most evangelical tie you could possibly imagine.” Because, you know, some ties are only worn by door-to-door evangelists.

Just thought I’d share. 😉

So, this is the conversation I can’t have with so many people I know, because I just can’t afford to have that vein start throbbing behind my eye.

The other night, just for shits and giggles, I YouTubed (if that can indeed be a verb) Obama’s speech from the 2004 DNC. Just for the heck of it. I had heard it was great. Fifteen minutes later I was amazed. I had goosebumps. I felt inspired. And that has never happened to me politically. Ever.

The first time I was eligible to vote was the year Bill Clinton was first elected. Going through college, amidst the bliss of not needing to think too hard about the future, I just wasn’t that interested in politics, even though, inexplicably, I minored in political science. And then the Bush thing happened, and like most people I became completely disenfranchised regarding my government.

But now…call it motherhood, call it maturity, call it whatever you want…I care. I care so fucking much about this election that it’s keeping me up at night. As a woman, as a mother, as a good and intelligent person, as an adult who is capable of making my own choice, thankyouverymuch, it just doesn’t compute for me how people think this McCain-Palin ticket is a good idea. You’re entitled to your opinion. I won’t judge you for being Republican. But my mind boggles.

For the first time in so long, I have hope. It sounds cheesy, but I do. I have optimism. I feel as though it’s time for complete change, to hand the reins over to someone young, someone with energy, someone who has good ideas. Someone who can communicate. Someone who also has hope.

Sarah Palin’s politics completely offend me as a woman. I’ve never touted myself as a feminist, but Jesus Christmas. She’s a walking contradiction. Here’s a woman potentially poised to be second-in-command, responsible for the safety and liberty of millions of other women, and her politics will push women backward instead of advancing us. It just irks me that Republicans claim to want less government…except when it involves all those horrible sinful things like, say, choosing to govern your own reproductive processes or wanting to marry the person you love. Separation between church and state doesn’t exist with these people. And that’s fine in your personal life, but not when you want your beliefs to govern me. And the very thought that Hillary Clinton supporters would gravitate to her just because she’s a woman…come on. How insulting.

Plus, she speaks with that horrible backwoods patois and is so completely irritating I would rather rip off my ears than listen to her for more than six seconds. Oy.

And McCain…McCain, McCain, McCain. I give the guy all the credit he’s due as a war prisoner. But he doesn’t make sense. He’s relying on this maverick stuff when by his own admission he voted for Bush’s policies way more often than not. And, frankly, I have to question the judgment of someone who would pick Sarah Palin as a running mate. I know she was picked to energize the party and to appeal to those people who are so right-wing that McCain seems liberal. Shudder. But there are so many other, talented, intelligent, capable, and distinguished women that would have been better candidates.

From this couch, the McCain campaign is dividing people. The Obama camp is trying to unite them. The McCain camp is trying to convince us that a half-black man with an exotic name and background is frightening. Fuck them. I would rather have as my president someone who graduated with honor from the country’s top universities, who has a proven track record of motivating and negotiating, who has chosen as his running mate a man with scads of experience in foreign policy, than a guy who graduated fifth from the bottom of his Naval Academy class who has chosen as his second-in-command a woman who believes the Constitution should be rewritten to ban gay marriage.

So, there you have it. There are twelve days to go. Please vote. Vote for hope. Vote for optimism. Vote for a chance. Please.

So.

A few months ago my husband revealed to me that he doesn’t like taco seasoning, and why. Apparently some years ago, after spending a day with a friend of a friend who apparently doesn’t shower often enough, I remarked that this person smelled like taco seasoning. And he did. He was very fragrant and, umm, cumin-y.

Okay, fine. I don’t need taco seasoning. I can mix up my own little spice blend, without so much salt, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Heaven knows we don’t want to subject anyone to unwashed-hippie tacos.

But today, he broke the news that, in fact, he doesn’t really like tacos at all.

What. The. Hell? Who doesn’t like tacos? How in the world can a person look at a taco and say, hey, I don’t find that at all appealing?

It’s crunchy, it has meat, there’s cheese, there’s refreshing sour cream. There’s hot sauce. What in the world is wrong with him? The boy and I love tacos. I could easily eat them once every couple of weeks. Plus, as anyone who is the sole cook in her house knows, tacos are an easy trick to have in your bag of dinners.

So we now can add tacos to the lengthy list of things he finds unpalatable. These include onions, peppers of any kind, tomatoes, cucumbers, too much corn in any recipe containing corn, lima beans, tomato soup, green beans that aren’t canned, enchiladas (including a casserole recipe that I have tweaked until it is adored by everyone who tries it…except him), romaine lettuce, asparagus (unless covered in hollandaise sauce), and a slew of other things I probably don’t know about. And now, tacos.

Asshat.

Dear Makers of Doritos:

Just stop it. Stop it now. You’re the only thing that’s on sale for my husband’s lunch, and I can’t get enough of you. Don’t you know that I can’t resist those tantalizing triangles? And what’s up with the new flavors? How dare you mix ranch and pizza flavors in one bag? Blue cheese and hot Buffalo wing? And spicy sweet chili? Don’t you know? Don’t you get it? This ass isn’t going to shrink itself.

Please. Just. Stop. Stop with the deliciousness. Stop with the crack or meth or whatever it is you’re sprinkling on those chips. I can’t take it much longer.

Respectfully yours,

JTL

Actually, I’m doing a pretty good job of it. But…

You might recall that my lovely boy had hives a few weeks ago, and the doctor cultured his throat just to be on the safe side. He always takes these things well, but they called the following day to say that the lab couldn’t process the test because it was expired. Sigh. Back to the doctor yet again for a new culture. Anyway, that test revealed yucky things. I found out today that in addition to strep, he had strep pneumonia AND staph in there. And not just any staph, either. You know how you hear about people getting staph infections in hospitals and dying? Yeah. It’s that kind. The doctor cautioned me not to look it up online, lest it scare the living shit out of me. So I haven’t. Yet.

Of course, you would never have known to look at him that these insidious little bugs were living in his throat, other than the hives, which they think were related to the infection. He did a course of antibiotics and seems well and has more energy than ever. And the doctor said that a lot of people have this staph on their skin and nothing can be done about it. But jeez. How many bacteria can one little kid incubate? We went back in today for another culture, our doctor consulted an ENT specialist, and everyone decided that N needs antibiotic cream applied in his nose for a week. Which he just adores, by the way. Gah. And if the culture comes back normal, then we’re out of the woods. But if he happens to sprout a rash or has a cut that doesn’t heal, he needs to be seen immediately.

What’s next? Honestly, I expect flesh-eating bacteria to ring the doorbell any minute. Well, if we had a doorbell…