Updated weekly. Usually on Tuesdays. Unless some small person eats my blog post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


For those of you who know what I'm talking about, rock on!

For those of you who don't, you seriously need to re-evaluate the time you waste on the internet. If there was ever a worthwhile time-waster, MLIA is it.

I've been addicted for several weeks now, and Dear Boy and I spend a lot of time chuckling over them. I've gotten to the point where I catch myself composing the little vignettes in my life into MLIA format out of habit. And, since I doubt I'll ever reach the level of awesomeness required to actually have a story on MLIA, I thought I would share some of those that have occurred to me over the last few days.

Today, while trying to carry on a serious conversation with a loan officer, I went to check on Ladybug, who was supposed to be sleeping. Not only was she awake, she was buck naked and cheerfully playing with her dollies. I had to explain to the banker I wasn't laughing at him, I was laughing at my future streaker. MLIA.

Today, I went to get my 6 month old up from her nap. I asked her if she was happy to see me; she pooped her pants. I'll take that as a yes. MLIA.

Today, I started to freak out and call my husband when a stranger walked out of my bathroom. Turned out, the stranger was my husband. I'd forgotten he was growing a beard. I almost ordered my husband to kill himself. MLIA.

Today, I found a piece of Ninja flair to post to my Facebook page. When I went to look at it, I couldn't find it. Well played, Ninja flair. MLIA

...I could go on, but I won't for now. I'll keep a running list and post more occasionally. In the meantime, how average is your life?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dinner for 50? Sure, why not.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: A meal for 50 women. You will be expected to provide a salad, a main dish, a side dish, and a dessert. You have 4 weeks to prepare and several kitchens to use, plus a large staff of helpful (sometimes too helpful) hands. No problem, right?

But what if your budget for food was just $100?

I heard that little choking sound. Believe it or not, though, it's totally doable. I've done it 3 times this year (it would've been four, but we opted for a fondue dessert bar one night). In fact, I think I once did it on $60--although I admittedly skipped dessert that time.

Anyway, if for some reason you'll be cooking for a large crowd on a small budget, here's some tips:

1. Pick your main dish carefully. It needs to be something inexpensive and easy to prepare, unless you really want to invest a lot of time. The first time I did this, I made chicken cordon bleu and it was great! However, I was also pregnant and supposed to stay off my feet so I had a lot of time on my hands to wrap the chicken.

For recipe ideas, check out my favorite site here, or just go take a look at my "Recipes" tab.

2. Gather all your recipes at least 2 weeks in advance and make a list of exactly how much you'll need of each item, and I do mean each. Even those things you usually have hanging around, like flour and butter, you may find you don't have enough of. Trust me, you don't want to be sending your poor significant other to Walmart at ten o'clock at night for a missing ingredient (Guilty!).

3. Find someone who belongs to a warehouse store, like Sam's Club or Costco. You'll want to shop for your meats, pastas, breads, dairy, and/or salad green necessities here. (Side note: I strongly recommend a potato dish of some kind for your side, as potatoes are inexpensive--especially in bulk--and most potato dishes are hard to ruin, always a good thing when you're cooking like crazy.)

4. Look for sales in your area. It's worth traveling to a different store than you usually use if their sour cream is at half price the week you're cooking.

5. Take a calculator with you when you shop to help keep you on track. Then you can decide if you really can afford to add those craisins to your salad.

6. Find creative solutions to pricey ingredients. It's actually fairly easy (and much cheaper) to make your own croutons. Same holds true with tortilla chips, salsa, salad dressing, and rolls.

7. At the risk of revealing how much of a control freak I am, I advise you to keep as much of the work in your own hands as possible. If you must farm out the cooking (and please do if you need to!) buy the ingredients yourself and drop them off to your helper. Do not trust anyone else with your budget! They won't be able to make decisions about which things can be dropped or substituted if necessary.

8. Prepare what you can ahead of time. Chicken cordon bleu, for example, can be frozen ahead of time, then defrosted and cooked the day of. Desserts are often fine made a day or two before. Salads, on the other hand, should be saved for last minute.

9. Always toss the dressing with the salad; don't allow your guests to serve themselves dressing. I promise if you do this you'll save yourself oodles of money and bother. One bottle of vinagrette dressing will cover 3 pounds of salad, which is plenty for 50 people. However, if 50 people get their own dressing, one bottle won't even get you halfway.

10. On that note, make plans to serve the food rather than a more buffet-style setup. Arrange an assembly line in your kitchen, with one person dishing up each food and servers to take plates to your guests. Again, people tend to take more than they need or will actually eat. I'm not suggesting lilliputian-size servings, but be judicious and you'll cut down on cost and extra waste (and waist, for that matter).

11. Be Type A about as much of planning as possible, but Type B when the time arrives. You've done all you can, and being relaxed will allow you to find creative solutions should any problems crop up.

12. Make sure to enlist help for clean up. Nothing worse than working like crazy to feed everyone, only to be left with a gigantic mess to clean up. You'll be tired (and rightfully so), so ask around to see if those to whom you denied shopping privileges will be willing dish washers.

If you have any tips to make cooking for a crowd easier, or great recipes I can post just because they're great, let me know. Life is learning, after all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making Babies: Part One

Recently, I learned that a dear friend of mine is expecting her first. Like most first-time mothers, she's about as calm as a cornered rabbit. Unfortunately, it's compounded by the fact that she's known me through my four pregnancies (two miscarriages, one at 16 weeks; one normal pregnancy; one pregnancy with complications of preterm labor, IUGR, and ogliohydraminos). I imagine that fact alone about doubles her maternal twitchiness. After spending three straight days of answering her every little question (thank goodness for unlimited texting), I though I'd post what little wisdoms I've collected that would've been handy the first time around. Just to make myself sound that much smarter, I'll be breaking this up into handy-dandy sections. Today's section shall be:


1. First things first. Please be in a stable relationship before you decide to have a baby. Those midnight feedings are lonely enough without knowing you're going to have to get up for every other feeding, too.

2. If you don't already have healthy eating habits and a regular exercise routine, get into a habit now! I had the best of intentions the first time around to eat well "when I was pregnant," but had no habits to build on. Instead, I craved a lot of soft serve ice cream. The second time, when I was eating healthier overall already, I found my sweets cravings much more controllable and my weight gain was better.

3. Get to know the rhythms of your body! Make sure you chart the beginning of each of your periods so you know how long your cycle normally is. It can also be helpful to learn how to track your basal body temperature, check and track your cervical mucus (read more about that here), and/or check your actual cervix (read more about that here). These are not things I did before my first pregnancy, but if I could contact past-me I would certainly tell her to learn them!

Learning these things can also come in handy later in pregnancy, too, when you're trying to decide if you're really in labor or not. Remember, your body belongs to YOU, and while doctors know plenty about bodies in general, only you live in your body. Doctors are wonderful, helpful, knowledgeble people, but they work on generalities. The more you know of how your own body works the better off you'll be.

4. Start taking a prenatal vitamin.

5. Do your best not to obsess. If you find yourself thinking about having a baby too often, find a new hobby and develop yourself as an individual. It probably won't distract you, but it'll be good for you anyway. ^_-

6. Be aware that once you start trying you're very likely to think you're pregnant every month. Remember how you've been charting your cycles? This is where it becomes important: Do not test until 3 days after your expected period start date. If you can, wait until 5 days after. I know this is hard. I know a lot of tests say they can tell you "Up to 5 days before your period!" Don't do it, for 2 reasons.
A. If you aren't one of the 60% of women who can actually get a positive 5 days before your period, you'll depress yourself unnecessarily as well as waste tests. You'll find yourself using 2 or 3 tests per cycle, and that can add up both emotionally and monetarily.
B. If you are going to experience what is called a "chemical pregnancy" (meaning the egg or the sperm was faulty), you'll often miscarry within a week of your normal period (please note that I only said usually. Making it that far is no guarantee, I'm afraid). Before early pregnancy tests, women just thought they were experiencing late periods. Now, with early tests, a lot of women get that faint positive and then have to deal with the emotional repercussions of knowing you had a miscarriage. Please don't do that to yourself.

7. Buy paper cups. Using those is a heck of a lot easier than trying to pee on that dumb stick!

8. Keep your sense of humor. Babies are supposed to be fun!

Okay, most of that was a rehash of everything you've heard before. However, I promise it'll get more original as we go along. Stay tuned!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.Creative Commons License
This work by Carolynn Dyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.