Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bok Choy

We got a quick visit this week from my Mom, Step-dad, Niece and Nephew and it was wonderful to see them and enjoy having them with us even if it was only for a couple of days. We got to do a little eating, a little catching up, a little playing, a little eating out, a little shopping and even a little fighting (the kids). In anticipation of cooking for crowds and also in accordance with my New Years Resolution to cook with more greens I bought a bunch of baby bok choy at the Asian market. Unfortunately it sat in the refrigerator because at the last minute my Step-dad decided to take us all out for dinner last night and so we got to sit and have someone else do the cooking.

I had been thinking about the bok choy all day today and wondering how I would prepare it. I have a great recipe I stole from my friend The Foodinista, Heather and I love it but I wanted to try something new. So here is what I did, I washed the bok choy really well (the dirt likes to hide in those leaves) and then I chopped it fairly small. Then I put 4 cloves of minced garlic in a skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sliced up about 10 mushrooms and sauteed them together for about 4 minutes and then threw in 8 or 10 baby bok choy boys (as we like to call them), added some salt and pepper and tossed until shiny and hot. The bok choy is different than spinach and kale in that it doesn't wilt completely into a pile of goo. So there is still a good crunch and it stays juicy provided you don't overcook it.

The tricky part of this recipe is getting the kids to eat it. While I have made a commitment to serve more greens, kale and leafy vegetables this year I am not sure if my kids are going to embrace this decision. Even though I love the greens, the kids are not so easily convinced (or the husband since we are on the topic). One day they are all over something new and the next day it is the stuff of nightmares. I wish they would try more new things but I'm gonna keep on trying even if they still prefer chicken nuggets and those apple slices that are clearly dipped in sugar water.

As I'm serving up some bok choy, rice and fried tofu for dinner, I say to my husband, (who by the way is serving himself some chicken nuggets and split pea soup), "my Mom would love this meal." He says, "it isn't weird enough for her" and proceeds to tell me that this morning for breakfast she enjoyed a toasted bagel with avocado mashed on it and then a large spoonful of Ollalieberry Preserves spread on top of that. He is right, it isn't weird enough for her, but it was plenty weird for my kids who each managed to try a microscopic taste of the bok choy, which is all I ask of them.

Try something weird in 2012, Happy New Year weirdos!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Funk Take 2

I am sick this Christmas. I am taking antibiotics and I am sick. It started with the last week of school when our littlest came down with a fever and nasty head cold. I made the foolish mistake of commenting not once but several times to several different people, "My kids haven't been sick once this fall!" And of course you know what happened, one kid gets sick, passes it on to the other kid and then sometime between Space Mountain and Autopia, Mommy gets sick and I swear to God I nearly threw up/passed out getting off of not one but 4 rides. And then I was sick all the way home. And then I woke up the next day with a sinus infection and the inability to stand straight.

When I was single and childless I used to leave the country at Christmas. I found the best way to handle the holiday greediness, gluttony and commercialism was to get on a plane and find a place where the lights weren't as bright or flashy and spend the holiday there and not tell anyone where I was. It saved me the stress and irritation of dealing with family and Christmas and I usually had the best suntan when I got home. Now that I am married and have children I find that is harder to accomplish because the kids want a tree and they want stockings and they want peppermint sticks and they want wrapping paper.

I asked my husband yesterday when I was at the depth of despair induced by my sinus infection and feeling like I was swimming in syrup, if we could start our own tradition and take our kids on a trip each Christmas and make that our family tradition. But then I sat on my bed last night and looked at each stocking stuffer and turned over gifts I had bought or made and lovingly wrapped each one and put a name tag on each one and imagined how exciting it would be to watch our kids open each little package. And I was able to sit up and enjoy myself because I had already had two round of medicine and I was returning to the land of the living.

As a child I remember some of the best Christmases being the ones that were different. I remember in Jamaica we went to the beach and swam on Christmas. I remember one year going to Miami and freezing because it was in the 60's and we weren't used to the cold weather. And I don't remember whining or complaining. And I don't remember being dissatisfied with our adventure. And I don't remember wishing it was the way it always was. And I don't remember fighting with my siblings. (although trust me, I'm sure that between the 4 of us, we managed to drive my Mom and Grandma C-R-A-Z-Y).

So Happy Christmas everyone and stay healthy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Funk

This is the last 2 days of school and we have one sick kid and one Mommy that feels rotten. It was too perfect that this week go off without a hitch. If something was going to go wrong, it was going to go wrong this week. The girls had no ballet and no ice skating and no piano, we only had to get to school and home without incident when the little one got a fever. All the play dates got cancelled. All the cookie decorating gigs got cancelled. All the shopping trips for this and that got cancelled. All the baking and truffle making got postponed. I managed to sneak out last night for a ladies night out with gift exchange and sat and yawned through the whole affair. But at least I made it out!

We are trying to go away next week and we can't decide what to do with our 5th family member Sally Tomato. I originally asked my brother but I could tell he did not want to house sit and pet sit for us. Then I thought about asking friends with pets but it is the holidays and everyone has stuff planned and since I thought my brother was going to do it, I didn't line something up sooner. And then I thought we should just take Sally with us, he misses us dearly when we are gone, he sleeps in our bedroom on the floor now even though the stairs are tough to climb sometimes. We still haven't solved this problem but I'm sure we'll figure something out.

I am babysitting for friends on Friday night so they can go to their holiday party. And I am babysitting for some other friends on Sunday because they have a holiday party. And no one will be babysitting for me because my husband has not had a holiday party for 3 Christmases now. I guess I shouldn't be bummed out about this but I am. I should just be happy he has a job and that I can buy all the yarn I want, within reason but I'm not. I want to get dolled up and buy a cute outfit and strappy shoes and have a drink and dance once with my man. After all, we only really ever get to do that at weddings and until some of our friends start getting divorced and remarried, almost everyone we know is married already.

I went to the doctor this week and the nice Kaiser doctor that wowed me and rocked my world at my first visit, pissed me off by giving me attitude. She also called me "Mrs. McKeon" in her Russian accent at least 12 times even though I told her to call me "Joy". In hindsight she might have not been giving me attitude, it most likely was her accent and I just thought it was attitude. But I didn't enjoy my visit with her this week and I got the feeling like she wasn't having a good day either.

And finally my dear little Aunty Muriel died this week. She was one feisty lady. She gained fame among my circle of friends when she came to visit me in Spain for a month and we traveled Europe together. She slept with one eye open, she knew every time I snuck out after she went to sleep. (maybe it was because I went to bed fully clothed) She kept called Italians "Loh-mans". But my favorite story was when she landed at Madrid Barajas International Airport there was a janitorial strike, there was trash all over the airport and it was something of a mess. She wrote home to her girls that Spain was so dirty. "The genitals are on strike". They could not figure out what she meant for the longest time until we figured out that she was saying that the janitors were on strike. We laughed our crazy heads off when we realized what she had been trying to say. We definitely had our differences and we definitely made memories and while I won't get to say goodbye tonight at her memorial, I will say goodbye to her in my heart and that will have to do.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Cheer

The holidays are a wonderful time of shopping, buying, rushing, spending, eating, relaxing, drinking and so much more. I was at Costco when I got to experience the "so much more" of the previous sentence.

For those of you that shop regularly at Costco it is mostly hurried, busy, frantic and annoying, starting with the parking lot and ending with the long lines. If you don't get hit at least once by a shopping cart at Costco then something is wrong in the universe. For example, yesterday I got pushed forward in the line by the person pushing the cart behind me. It was pretty obvious that I was waiting in a long line just like they were and even after several directed looks to this person they continued to bump me every time they pushed the cart forward. So finally I said something like "please stop doing that" and the woman smiled at me, nodded her head and kept on doing it. So I stepped to the side of the cart and which point she started bumping my cart every time I pushed my cart forward.

Anyway - I'm getting away from my story. I only went to Costco to get shampoo, conditioner and sliced bread. This is the worst time to be at Costco by the way because what you expect to be a quick trip, in and out, turns into the same amount of time due to the many shoppers and the long lines. So I purchased my 3 items and headed down the ramp to the parking lot. This ramp is always fun too because there are people who think, "why wait to get down the ramp behind the person in front of me, I will just make 2 lanes of traffic going down the ramp and speed past them!" Of course for the nice folks coming up the ramp this is a huge hassle, because their motorized disabled chairs or their shopping carts are now blocked because someone in a huge rush has decided to pass without clearance or consideration for anyone else, namely the oncoming traffic. Again, I am getting away from my story.

I get to my section of the parking lot and notice an elderly gentleman slowly pushing his cart to his car. Not only had he selected a shopping cart that was pulling to one side, he was quite elderly and having a hard time walking so I sped up with my cart and tossed my items in my car very quickly and ran back to offer him some assistance. I asked him "would you like me to help push your cart for you?" To which he loudly replied, "NO! You are running around like a crazy person and you are going to make someone fall down with all your hopping and skipping. Leave me alone!" And he proceeded to slowly push his gimpy cart to his car and slowly start to unload his 3 items, jumbo salami, a bottle of Vodka and potato chips.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Every year my Mom's club has a big garage sale to raise money to buy toys and clothes for kids at Christmas. It is a big deal, we go through our closets, garages and storage facilities and donate as much stuff as we can. We also go around our communities and ask for donations so we can sell other people's stuff too. Every year we seem to top the previous year by selling more and more and that allows us to buy lots of clothes and toys to help families out that do not have as much as we do. I am humbled by how hard we work each year and how far our money goes.

Last night I had the opportunity to go out with my friend Whitney and buy coats, hoodies, make-up sets and watches for teenagers that for whatever reason won't be getting gifts this Christmas. It warmed my heart.

And after the buying of the gifts, Whitney and I warmed our tummies by sitting in an empty Mexican restaurant and sipping something ice cold and blended and munching on chips and salsa.

Ho Ho Ho!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


My good friend Sally who knits beautiful things and who answers us when we call the dog, (also named Sally) gave us 3 tickets to see her daughter dance in the Nutcracker this weekend. It was lovely. The music was so pretty, the dancers were so graceful, the costumes were fantastic, the seats so close to the stage. I am always amazed at how they dance all those dances and don't forget their steps, don't fall over and everyone remembers where they are supposed to stand and children don't vomit on stage from stage fright.

At one point during the ballet there was a man in very tight pants dancing with a lady in a sparkly and flashy tutu and he lifted her up as they both faced the audience and perched her somewhere on his collarbone and turned very gracefully without dropping her. It was amazing. As he was doing this, my oldest daughter leans into me (she is 7) and whispered very loudly, "He just got a face full of butt!"