Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Garbage Man

The Gum Zombie has become our house's garbage man. This wouldn't be a bad thing except that he's rather indiscriminate about what he chooses to toss.

The twenty plastic kiddie cups I'd carefully hoarded from our few trips out to eat because I'm too damned cheap to buy a set? All gone except for four, and those would have disappeared as well if he hadn't been caught.

Two of the four juice-sized glasses I actually purchased? Gone.

My good stainless steel silverware? Also partially gone, specifically the salad forks. I guess small forks, being closer in size to plastic forks, don't deserve drawer space.

I have two left of the original eight.

I have no idea what else he's thrown away, but I'm afraid the candles I was looking for yesterday have met their maker, as well as countless other "disappearances" I've erroneously blamed on the reshuffling of household goods with Choreboy's move-in.

Most folks beg their kids not to hoard or clutter. I myself remember being given a large black garbage bag and pointed toward my room with orders to de-muck or suffer the consequences. The six-year-old, however, is now under orders to throw nothing away without permission, unless it's a used paper plate.

And even then, I'm having my doubts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

It was not that they lived happily ever after...

... but that they lived.

And yes, those are ham-and-cheese croissant sandwiches in the foreground. This was my wedding, thankyouverymuch -- not Martha Stewart's.

Here's me wiping some lipstick off of poor Choreboy, with my Diet Coke conveniently clutched in my left hand.

And before I get back to being productive...

Here's one last one, after my sister made me put down the Diet Coke. For some reason she didn't think it was appropriate.

It even matched my theme. Sheesh.

Oh, and if you squint really tightly and look just to the left of Choreboy's face, you can see the Gum Zombie peering in, sneaking into the picture. Typical, and perfect.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What IS That???

The above was the response today when I showed the folks at the office this picture:

That, my four dear readers, was dinner last night. Remember that link of the dinner I was considering for Saturday night? Well, yeah. I caved. Hard.

2 pounds of ground beef.
Most of a pack of bacon.
8 oz. block of cheddar.

I was worried the picture wouldn't do full justice to the lake of grease surrounding the thing, but clearly my concerns were unjustified. The irony of the steel cut oats, Newman's Own Sweet Enough Strawberry cereal with No High Fructose Corn Syrup, and fresh nectarine pictured in the background of this salute to atherosclerosis is not lost on me.

And for the record, Dad's Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf packs a 589-calorie-per-serving hit.

The result from my taste-testers, though, was a nearly 180 degree turnaround from the grits. There was no gagging, slight or dramatic. There was, instead, massive plate cleaning and requests for more, both at dinner last night and for me to make this again in the future.

"Mommy can't eat this too often, boys. In fact, I can feel my arteries clogging as I sit here."

"Well then, what about once every 3-4 months?"

"We might be able to do that."

Choreboy, needless to say, was in heaven.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I would blog about the wedding, but I'm still lacking pictures because they didn't manage to load into Choreboy's flash drive (the thing has an attitude problem), then my mother tried to zip them into a file but the file was too big and... bleah. I give. They'll come in time, and you'll see 'em when you see 'em.

In other news, I actually made grits yesterday.

I realize that to most people, making grits just isn't a landmark event. Even down here in the New North, aka Florida, grits are a staple. You can't walk past a breakfast buffet without finding a ginormous tureen of the corny stuff staring back at you.

But I've managed to avoid grits most of my life until this point. Neither of my parents grew up in the actual South, and my mother shockingly served Cream of Wheat to her young, impressionable children. So imagine my confusion when I entered grade school and saw this lump of white-ish stuff in a compartment of my green cafeteria tray:

"Uhm, excuse me, but what's that?"

"What's what?"

"That. The white stuff. It looks a little like Cream of Wheat."

Blink. "Cream of what? Those are grits."

"Oh. What are grits?"

And this was the point where my little classmate did the first-grader version of a headdesk.

I tried the grits, due in large part to their slight resemblance to my beloved Cream of Wheat, and EEWWWWW!!! Oh they were awful. First off, I always had sweetened Cream of Wheat (to the point where I'd grab the sugar behind my mother's back after she'd cut me off and dump more in), so the fact that the grits were not at all sweet was a huge turnoff. And then there was the texture. It wasn't just awful, it was Heart of Darkness awful. I remain convinced to this day that the library paste was in large part made of the grits the cafeteria ladies scraped off when we loaded our trays into the dishwashing window.

My impression of grits didn't improve over the course of my school career. In junior high (yes I know I'm dating myself) the school foolishly chose to serve our grits to us in styrofoam bowls that fit right into the round compartments of the cafeteria trays. Since school grits are almost universally unpalatable, we would all drink our little cartons of milk at the beginning of the meal and use four of them to support one upended bowl of grits. Over the entire year of seventh grade, those grits never even budged from the bottom of the bowl.

Not once.

I had friends try to convince me that grits were actually good, that school grits were nothing to judge by, but I was having none of it. By high school I was a self-described grit-hater. My friend Eric used to get really irritated with that term, "Grits are always plural! They are never singular! You cannot go into a restaurant and order a single grit!!"

And then he'd commence with the headdesking. I seemed to have that effect on some people.

Flash forward to this past week. Choreboy and I were at Epcot and had lunch at the Coral Reef restaurant the first day. One of the offerings was fried catfish on a bed of -- you guessed it -- grits. Pepperjack cheese grits, but grits nonetheless.

All I could do was wonder what in the world the catfish ever did to deserve that fate.

At any rate, we finally made it past the mandatory 90-minute waiting period for seating, and of course Choreboy ordered the Grits Special... erm, I mean the fried catfish. With the grits. But when it arrived at our table it looked... inoffensive. And even, dare I say it, potentially tasty. I sucked up nearly four decades of disgust and tried a little forkful; after that, the man was lucky he got to eat any of his meal.

So yesterday we were at a loss for what to do for dinner. We'd gone with frozen pizza on Friday night and a repeat just wasn't in the cards. There had been a healthy-eating overload which made us consider making this (entitled Dad's Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Meat Loaf, for those who don't feel like clicking -- clearly not health food), but I had only one pound of ground beef, and an iffy pound at that.

Fortunately for us, Chopped was on TV. For the sake of reference, Chopped features four chefs who compete by creating three different meal courses with a box of mystery ingredients they are given at the beginning of each round. At the end of each course/ round, one chef is "chopped" from the competition, resulting in the final two chefs battling it out over dessert (which last night involved celery -- I kid you not). Anyway, one of the surprise ingredients for the main course on this episode was quick grits. And that got my little mind churning.

"Honey, do you have any grits?"

"Yes, baby. But don't worry -- they're out of sight so you won't be damaged by their presence."

"Want to cook some grits?"


After I peeled Choreboy off the floor, we headed into the kitchen and located the box of quick grits in the far upper reaches of the pantry. Since the pepperjack was excellent at Epcot, and we had almost two whole bricks of it, we sacrificed the almost-whole block of cheese to the shredder. We also had about half a pound of pre-cubed ham, which went into a small pan for heating/frying.

Tossed in some butter, a dash of milk, salt, coarsely-ground pepper, and a dash of garlic powder, mixed it all up, and wow.

Choreboy was in heaven, and said at least five times that he couldn't believe I actually made grits. He knocked back two large bowls of the stuff, and I had two small ones.

There was not total joy in Mudville, though. The boys were disgusted by even the sight of grits. To be fair, the Elder tried a taste, bravely swallowed, and politely declined further servings.

The Gum Zombie just gagged dramatically and flailed about on the floor in a feigned fit.

Clearly they are my spawn.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I'm alive, y'all. Just on vacation/ my honeymoon/ clean-the-house week.

Pictures will be posted once someone moves them from the flash drives onto a mutually accessible drive.



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oh Time, Time, Time...

I know I'm not alone in thinking that Time Magazine totally dropped the ball with its "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" article. A response by Shari Roan in the LA Times opens with "Fitness and health experts say Time magazine got it wrong this week with its cover story, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin,"" and's Dean Anderson really nails it, in The Daily Spark: "Unfortunately, this article is riddled with headlines and statements that seem more designed to attract attention and readers than to provide useful information—a common problem in this age of declining readership. But if you can get past the sensational headlines and faulty logic (a connection between two things doesn't mean one causes the other), the actual information in the article is nothing new or surprising."

Because, well... it's not.

Gee, burning 300 calories on the treadmill won't take care of the 740-calorie Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese I ate for lunch? Who knew?

And that's the kind of brilliant "non-conventional" information Time's John Cloud offers in his treatise regarding how exercise not only won't make you lose weight, but could even result in you gaining weight as you compensate for your virtuous exercise with a ginormous blueberry muffin from Starbucks! Oh the shock and horror.

See, the key to losing weight is very simple: expend calories in excess of those which you take in. Now the follow-through on that isn't necessary easy, as thousands of dieters in this country can attest (including me), but the basic formula just isn't that difficult to comprehend.

John Cloud cites that a pound of fat will burn 2 calories while at rest, while a pound of muscle will burn 6 calories at rest; ergo, a person who puts forth the tremendous effort to convert 10 pounds of fat to muscle can only eat 40 more calories per day. This limited gain, in Mr. Cloud's eyes, apparently utterly negates the extra calories the individual burned while converting those ten pounds, and also discounts the calories that will also continue to be burned as our hypothetical athlete maintains this change.

It's a given that exercise alone won't make a person lose weight. However, it's also a given that the proper combination of food intake and caloric expenditure will result in weight loss, and that adding to that caloric expenditure will increase that loss.

For example, at 155 pounds I need approximately 1700 calories per day to maintain my current weight at a minimal activity level. I consume a weekly average of 1300 calories per day, resulting in a daily caloric deficit of 400. It takes a 3,500 calorie expenditure to lose a pound, so at 400 calories per day I can expect to lose a pound about every nine days.

However, I also exercise 5-6 days per week and conservatively expend 300 calories a day in that activity. If I did that 7 days per week, just to pretty up the figures a bit: 300 calories from exercise + 400 calories from food intake = daily caloric deficit of 700, and a loss of a pound about every 5 days.

That's nearly HALF the time it would take if I weren't exercising. Believe me, I know. I struggled for almost three months at the beginning of this year to drop 13 pounds, only to gain it all back and then some since I quit smoking/ started putting more food in my mouth rather than cigarettes. I am now down from a high of 164 pounds (there, I've admitted it) to 155 pounds in just under one month, simply by watching what I eat and adding exercise to my life.

As for that post-workout blueberry muffin, are we not capable of getting pencil and paper and calculating that a 400 calorie reduced fat blueberry muffin from Dunkin Donuts will utterly wipe out any caloric benefit from the 300 calories we burned due to exercise? We as a nation need to look at what we're feeding our bodies, wake up to the calorie nightmare some of our foods are, and just do the math.

Do we need to exercise to lose weight? Nope. Not one bit. But it sure helps.

Note: don't even get me started on chain restaurants refusing to give nutrition information for their menus -- Florida, it's time to follow New York's lead. Good grief.

Monday, August 10, 2009


My children love me. I know this because this morning I asked each one if he'd brushed his teeth. Each delightful, innocent child chriped "Yes, mama!"

And because I am an adoring mother but not a fool, I asked to sniff their breath.

Both of the little darlings clamped their lips shut.

I looked at them, "Your breath would fell a full-grown rhino, wouldn't it?"

They giggled, and ran off to the bathroom to de-offensify their teeth. Their daycare will thank me.


My brother, on the other hand, is in league with the cats to do me in. We were discussing our workouts yesterday and he recommended I added more of an interval blast into my treadmill bonding activities, so when I got home I resolved to give it a whirl.

I got on the treadmill and did my first mile in 20 minutes. The second mile is also 20 minutes, but at a 5% incline usually. Well, this time I went up to 10% incline for 2 minute intervals every five minutes on Mile 2 and let me tell you, that kicked my ass. It about killed me.

His wife is getting a text alerting her to her husband's homicidal tendencies.

Monday, August 03, 2009

DJing Again

I know, I know... the last time I mentioned DJing and me in the same entry I also said it was extremely rare. Well, usually it is, but tonight it's happening again at 8PM eastern, which means that once more the internet airwaves will be filled with the dulcet tones of Whatever Amanda Feels Like Playing Tonight. Hee.

My host this fine evening will be the always Glamtastic Mackenzie Rasmuson of Second Life, which is where this event will be taking place -- in Holmesk at the Glamshack, to be precise. For those of you who spend 100% of your days outside of a virtual reality construct, you can still listen in via remote stream:

If you have any requests, just holler. As before I can promise nothing more than to make the attempt so the sooner you get those requests in, the better! Hit me up here in comments, on Twitter (amandajustice), or on Facebook (

Or not. I just lost two more pounds so it's all good :P