Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So how's that blogging 15 min per day working out for ya?

Muahahaha!  Bwahaha!  What was I thinking?!!?!?!

Ah well, the bright side of New Years Resolutions is that they don't truly go away unless you throw in the towel and can always be improved upon.

I just got off of the busy part of my week: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday when just about everyone is home.  Victoria's been doing some serious developmental leaping which has been driving me insane because its interrupting her sleeping.  It's been taking as much as two hours to get her down to sleep, naps included.  Yesterday I was at my wit's end, but fortunately hubby was home and was able to give me time to do my bi-weekly meal planning and start on the grocery list.

Today, I'm enjoying some quiet, somewhat fearful of looking at my past overdue to-do list.  I know I gotta like oil the couch and stuff like that.  I need to find some good jams to help motivate me towards getting it all done.

Anyhow, quick food review.  I did some beef dishes to ring in the New Year since beef is expensive and not often on the menu consequently.  I found some true skirt cuts at Too Good Farm at a price that was too good to pass up for making beef fajitas.  I did this Marinated Flank Steak recipe, substituting limes for lemons.  It was a win, so its a keeper.

Then on Saturday, I meant to do this Lebanese Lentil Rice Pilaf, but I avoided it.  I've been trying to find good lentil recipes to start incorporating into our everyday living because its one of those foods that reportedly lowers cholesterol, which would help hubby a great deal.  However, a few weeks ago, I followed a lentil leek recipe that turned out to be a serious disaster.  It ended up being much harder to prepare than I anticipated and then it just tasted awful.  Hubby was trying to be a good sport and was eating it but the kids and I were totally turning our noses at it.  I can't remember the last time I threw food out like that.  So I was shy of trying this recipe.

However, I was wrong to avoid it.  This Lebanese Lentil Rice Pilaf was excellent!  I didn't do the caramelized onions, but the rest stood up on its own.  Victoria was scooping it up by the fistful like she couldn't get enough.  Arthur even tried some!  And its super easy to make, so it'll be coming back frequently to our table.

And finally as always on the quest for finding stupidly easy savory crock pot recipes, this Balsamic Beef didn't disappoint.  I only had a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar left, however, so I made up the difference in barbecue sauce.  But it still worked and came out super tender!  This was served last night with the lentils as one side and steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.  And tonight's left over Balsamic Beef will be pulled and mixed with barbecue sauce and served on bams with a side of oven roasted chips.

Anyhow, yesterday my morning was nearly completely ruined when hubby shared with me the story of Spozhmai.  It affected me on so many levels, thinking about what she said was her story... I mean, crimes against humanity committed upon this little girl and she being forced to wear a suicide vest.  I seriously hope she knows that she can stand on US or British Embassy grounds and ask for asylum rather than being returned to her family.

From that story also came a bit of a revelation.  Last Thursday when I went to go volunteer at the Wigan Youth Zone, my mentor (he's Muslim) asked me to come with him to the market to pick up some banners that the youth club had stored there.  Along the way, he saw a Muslim kid and his buddy that he had recognized from the youth club before, but hadn't seen in several months.  My mentor invited the kid and his friend to the youth zone for a chat and they said that they'd come, but I thought it was an empty promise.  Sure enough though, they both showed up and my mentor got them signed up for a program that's launching this next year-- it offers employ-ability skills to young adults and helps them get connected to careers through apprenticeships.

I mean, looking at these kids... I would have never guessed that they would have cared to show up, and certainly not sign up for this program.  But they did.  And rather than running idle with their lives, or worse, getting caught up in some of the area's gang activity, they've been pointed towards something constructive that can change their lives for the positive.  And I realized that as a volunteer youth worker, I might actually be taking part of being that front line against terrorism.  Kind of a spooky thought, really.  And also proof that I need to work on putting my biases aside.

I mean, sometimes I don't think much of my mentor because he's much more a youth worker than a business person, but then he does something completely amazing like recruiting some punk kid I would have overlooked.  And then, of course, I judged the kid without really giving him a chance... which was very wrong of me to do.  I have a lot to learn and relearn.

Youth work is really difficult a lot of times.  But then something life affirming and redeeming like that happens.

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