Monthly Archives: December 2011


It’s hard. I have a habit of trying to do too many things at once, and ending with bits and pieces of projects scattered everywhere. Stuff winds up under other unrelated stuff. Things get carefully put away in a place that makes sense at that moment – but by the time I need to retrieve them, I’ve moved on to another train of thought and have no idea where they were stowed. Of course, given all that, I waste a lot of time searching for Important Things. (Right now, for example, I really should be hunting for the jury duty summons I’ll need next Tuesday when I show up at our local courthouse.)

In just 100 minutes, we’ll start a new year (at least, here on the eastern coast of North America). I guess I ought to make a resolution or six. And getting organized may be the second most traditional resolution, right after losing weight. It’s unAmerican not to see yourself as a fat scatterbrain.

Of course, like everybody else, I’ve made this same resolution before, many times before. Is there any hope this time will be different?

I don’t know yet. But one thing I have noticed is that I am perfectly able to keep a few things organized, as long as the principle is simple enough and I find the results enjoyable. Take my clothes closet. It ought to be just as random as most of the rest of the house, and yet it isn’t, because I find hanging everything in spectrum order, like a rainbow, beautiful. Well, pleasing, at least. And I can find what I want to wear. Amazing.

Now I just need to find a simple, satisfying algorithm to organize the books and pieces of stray paper and skeins of yarn and food in the cupboards and….


Thrift, food, and turkeys

Long ago – back in September, before things fell apart – I was planning to blog about cutting our food budget.

Buying a bunch of fresh produce and then spending a week out of state is not very thrifty. (Might as well just drop the cash directly into the garbage.) Neither is coming home so exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically, that you can’t face anything but a restaurant meal. I don’t really know right now what I spent on groceries in October – I did keep the receipts, but haven’t added them up – but I’m pretty sure it was well over my target of $300.

Well, my life seems to have stabilized, temporarily. Not that I plan to try for a three hundred dollar December – come Christmas, all bets are off with budgeting. But I do intend to start inflicting some recipes and some thoughts about finances on you, whoever you are out there.

Besides, I had some blog posts plans over the past week or so that didn’t get uploaded on schedule. And I had a Thanksgiving Sunday turkey¬†to use up – the one I served my father in law, after the one I cooked on Thanksgiving Day for my mother.

So here you are, a guaranteed non-authentic whitegirl South Jersey Turkey Lo Mein. With pictures.

Turkey Lo Mein

(Or chicken. Or beef. Or pork. Whatever kind of leftover meat you need to use up.¬† Or tofu, if you’re vegetarian, I suppose.)

This is a what-you-have, use-stuff-up recipe – so measurements are VERY approximate! It takes about fifteen minutes to cut things up and maybe ten minutes to cook.

1/4 c. sliced onion
1 1/2 c. fresh broccoli (or 2-3 c. fresh spinach) (or peas or green beans or chopped peppers, I suppose – some sort of veggies)
1 c. cooked turkey
6 oz. fine egg noodles (half of a 12 oz. bag, the usual size they sell around here)
2-3 T. oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 T. soy sauce

Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.

Peel broccoli stems (because the outside is tough and unpleasant to eat, unless you cook the broccoli so long that everything else is disgustingly mushy) and cut the broccoli into small pieces. Cut the turkey into smallish pieces.

When the sides of the pot of water are covered with small bubbles that keep detatching themselves and rising to the surface, turn the heat on as high as you can under a large frying pan. Let it heat for about half a minute, add 1 T. oil, and stir-fry the broccoli until it’s bright green.

When large bubbles start rising to the surface of the pot of water, dump in the noodles. Stir for thirty seconds or so to make sure the noodles don’t glue themselves together as they cook. Check the time – you need to drain the noodles 3 to 4 minutes from right now.

Back to the frying pan. Add the onion and stir-fry until it becomes translucent instead of opaque white. Add some more oil and the turkey. Continue stirring everything together till it’s time to drain the noodles. Dump the drained noodles into the pan. Add some more oil (this is not a low-fat dish, I’m afraid) and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir well. Add the soy sauce and stir for another minute. Serve to two or three people, depending on how hungry they are, or one teenage boy.

Getting off track

Not where we got lost, but this is in Maine(Not where we got lost. But this is in Maine.)

I haven’t posted for weeks and weeks. I’ve barely written anything for weeks. I still don’t know how much of my life is going to be consumed by trying to give my mother the best life still available to her, or when I’ll have to drop all the balls that I juggle to race off and tend to her again. But for the moment, I’m trying to start my intended life going again by writing something. Anything.

It’s hard, after such a long break.

Go back to the fantasy-in-progress? Pick up the regency that I barely started during NaNo? Get moving on the alternate history mystery? All good ideas. All too much to cope with tonight. I could easily start racing off in various directions and get nowhere at all. Instead, I think I’ll tell you a story. About getting lost.

Several years ago, we went to Maine for a vacation. The efficient way to get to Maine from New Jersey is to get on Interstate 95 and keep driving north, fast.

The boring way to get anywhere is to get on the Interstate and keep driving, fast. Besides, my husband had a nice shiny new GPS to play with. So we got off 95 and started exploring. Eventually, the GPS gave up on giving us directions to take us back to I-95, and started to send us on more adventurous routes. Soon we were following a nameless road with no route number through a field and into the woods.

Not long after that, three things happened. First, the pavement disappeared. The GPS still wanted us to keep going; maybe it knew a shortcut? So we drove on. Next, as the trees got thicker and taller, the GPS lost contact with its satellites. (This GPS, we later learned, lost the satellites when you went under a tree, when you went under a cloud, and sometimes for no reason at all.) We drove on. The road got rockier, and then it forked. The GPS was still lost. We looked at the two choices of dirt road and picked the one that looked a little more heavily traveled. (Yep. Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one more traveled by. And it didn’t make a bit of difference.)

We drove past a swampy lake, and the GPS almost woke up. We drove back into the woods, and the GPS gave up again. We drove into somebody’s driveway. Um. Yes, that was the end of this piece of road. We quietly turned around and drove back to the fork, took the road less traveled by, drove through more woods, and wound up in somebody else’s driveway.

So we turned around yet again, crept away through the woods, back to the paved nameless road, back to the slightly wider road that had an actual state highway number. The GPS was still sleeping. We applied a little dead reckoning (as in, “That way feels like north, doesn’t it?”) and drove on. The GPS finally came back to life on the outskirts of Bar Harbor.

I suppose it’s traditional to wrap up fables like this with a nice little moral. “Even experts may not know what they’re talking about”? “Better bored than confused”? (Nah.) “Use your best judgment and you’ll wind up someplace, even if it’s not where you meant to go”?

Pick your favorite. Or make up your own.