Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Delayed Openings Suck

Some things I read online veer into homeschooling/unschooling territory. As expected, a few are religious, a few are secular and a few are people whose smugness about being such "salt of the earth hipsters" makes me want to upchuck. But it is all about live and let live right?
I have always enjoyed the road less taken. The rebellion. So my rebellious heart finds a sort of kinship with these folks who chose to buck the system and take control of how the educate their children. Would I do it? Not necessarily, but I enjoy reading about their endeavors.
A lot of folks home school because they fear the "liberal" ideas of public education. I for one, do not. I wish sex education was the norm like Europe who has a way lower teen pregnancy rate than we do, but the religious right here would never allow such a thing. I don't care that religion is not taught in school, that is a personal choice, but if it must be taught, it should be World Religions not just Christianity. Better to know about all of them before following blindly or making an informed choice if and when you want to practice religion.
Other parents live in overcrowded school districts or their kids were bored or bullied. The point is, all of these people have valid reasons for not wanting to throw the kids in the system. But two things I never see mentioned on these blogs are sort of what bugs me about schools, public and private.

First is fundraising.
The amount of fund raising is mind numbing. I am not necessarily opposed to fund raising, but I am not a Rockefeller. My son's preschool has done about four little fundraisers and just had the big auction that raised over $15K. We are a small private preschool so what has been raised really helpful, but what about the more elite private schools? The ones that cost upwards of $35,000 a year host galas too. Makes you realize just how expensive education can get. That or people can't manage funds to save their life. See: US government, etc.

Second is school closures.
Seriously. I went to Catholic school growing up and in the 70's you went to school when it snowed. This is New Jersey after all. Not anymore. Our preschool follows the public school system. We had so many delayed openings and closures I turned to my husband one night and said, "How do these kids even learn anything??"  Now I get that there would be lawsuits if a bus slid and whatnot, but come on. We don't even have virtual classrooms in place so the kids can still do their lessons when home. And what about working parents? My mother in law is in North Carolina. A state that shuts down at the sight of a small snow flake. She said that one day the buses picked the kids up, it started to flurry and the buses turned right around to bring the kids back to the bus stops. Um, what if no one was home for them or could not pick them up?
For all the hootin' and hollerin' about family values in this country, we offer NOTHING to assist families in these type of atypical situations. People probably lost jobs or were put on probation from having to leave early to pick their kids up or not going to work at all. People probably left their too young to be home alone kids doing just that because they had no other options. Maybe I sound like a socialist, too bad. No one should have to panic or worry about job loss because sleet is sending kids home early for a day. I can bitch all I want, it is my blog, I just wish I had a solution.

These two reasons make me actually consider homeschooling, but I do enjoy those few hours when he is at school. I can write, do laundry, shower, whatever. Our son has learned a lot and enjoys the interactions with the other children and the teachers. We really love that it is a play based program. Too bad that can't continue into grammar school you know?

I am not against traditional education, but I would like to see it improved and I don't mean with testing. There has to be a way to get more with less instead of spending or raising more for the same. The old institution has pretty much proven no longer feasible in this day and age. Things have shifted and education needs to shift with it. Can fundraising be done differently? Can we NOT have two superintendents in the same school district? Maybe just one principal? Can we get farms to donate foods and kids can cook their own lunch and learn a skill? Anything to help alleviate the need to send kids out into the middle of a street to raise money for a soccer team. I don't know, but while people bitch about college costs, I shudder at preschool/grammar/middle and high school. And if he does sports?? Oh man....

Off to follow up with my doctor now. We can revisit this some other time.

Cheers!
MissFifi







Monday, March 30, 2015

A Funny Story

Bloggers have been known to over share. While I try not to get too personal, this weekend an event happened that I have decided is worthy of over share fodder.

I started working out again a few weeks back, which has been great, but then I got bronchitis when the in-laws were here so I did not work out for about 10 days. This past Saturday I was all psyched to get up and attend spin class. Now, spinning can be a touch intense, but the instructors are very clear about not needing to keep up. Since I was just getting over being sick, I took it easy and did not do heavy resistance on the bike and stayed hydrated throughout. 5 minutes before class ended I felt weird. Everything got tingly and tunnel vision began. The instructor's voice became muffled and I realized what was happening. I slowed down, took my right foot off the pedal and woke up on the floor surrounded by uniforms. 
To fill in the blanks, apparently my friend Charlie, who thankfully goes to same gym, saw me just standing there, asked me if I was alright and I did not reply. He  knew something was wrong, got up and tapped my shoulder and I fell against him. They called 911, elevated my legs, made sure I was breathing and an ambulance came and carted me away. Every test they ran came back negative, but I am following up with my doctor tomorrow. No, no bun in the oven Whew!! And the two EKG's and cardiac enzyme tests were all negative, thank goodness for that.
I do think I may have pushed myself a little and was probably still recovering from bronchitis as I had just finished the antibiotics on Thursday night. Again, I do not even go full throttle in spin because you really do need to work up to that strength. I had hydrated myself, no I didn't eat, but I doubt that was the main culprit.

I have had a slight headache since then and of course am all paranoid about it happening again. I am a touch pissed because i had got back into working out to maintain a healthy heart and bones. My body seems to have forsaken me though....
 
The cops, paramedics and medical personnel were all lovely and pretty darn funny which is great for someone like me. The general consensus once they found out I had only five minutes left in class was "Well, at least you got your work out in."

My tax dollars at work. Worth every cent. :)

Cheers!
MissFifi

Friday, March 27, 2015

Recap

Things have been bustling so here is what's going on.

In-laws came up for a visit and watched out little guy while the hubster and I went out on a Saturday night. Granted it was to an auction for the preschool, but it was a Saturday night. It was awesome. I won a gift card to a spa, a restaurant and a store in Morristown. We also bid and won the basket I put together for the auction which had gift cards to local places and a membership to Liberty Science Center. AWESOME.

A few days before I had the pleasure of being diagnosed with bronchitis. I had no mucus, no fever and my cough was awful at night, but that was it. What compelled me to go to the doctor was the weird drowning feeling I kept having on the left side of my chest. I was prescribed an antibiotic and when I was still feeling gross by Monday was sent for a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and went an picked up an inhaler. Pneumonia was ruled out and I am now back to myself.

Thanks to being sick I could not got to spin class or the Les Mills BodyPump class. This makes me angry because every since I started I have felt fabulous and sore. Missing a week has allowed my hormones to rebel and bounce off the walls and my aches and pains came back. This made me realize I need to do some sort of strength training for the rest of my life. I am hoping to be an eighty year old that lifts a barbell. I only lift about 5 to 7 pounds right now so no one get excited thinking I can pump serious iron here.

On Netflix I watched the new episodes of Archer and Mad Men. Both were great. I have been trying to get into True Blood on Amazon Prime but the characters of Jason Stackhouse and Tara Thornton are making me twitch to no end. I am at episode 9 of Season 1 and I have been fast forwarding when these two come up. Not a good sign when watching a series. The favorite to many characters of Pam and Eric are now becoming more present and that may make me stick around. Not sure.

Been thinking more about what I want to plant in the gardens now that the snow has melted. Hooray!! I am looking forward to the temps going over forty so I can begin to turn the composter again, everything had frozen, and get it ready to go into the gardens. I am also going to plants wildflowers all in the back where the weeds grow strong. I don't even care of the deer get them plants. I am just doing this to make it look better than what it is and add color. I bought boxes of American Seeds wildflower mixes which are very hit or miss. But for a dollar, that is fine. I might pick up some more. I bought one for sunny areas and one for shade. Here is to hoping they bloom!

I have been writing. I think I may have 6 chapters left. (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN????) I was inspired by a friend who said "Just get it all down on paper. No matter how ugly." She was right. Instead of worrying about editing as I go, I now pour out what comes to me and will eventually go back and fix or beef up what needs to be done. The freakiest thing will be when it is actually completed. Then I need to pitch it to agents and that will give me a whole new set of neurosis, but cross each bridge separately right? I hope it gets picked up. I am also deciding what would be the next book to start. Yes, this is an ongoing process. I may never get published, or will have to self publish, but I see no reason to not keep trying.

HookedonHouses has featured a home that I would move into in a heartbeat. Check it out here.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Cheers!
MissFifi







Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Changing Tastes

Isn't it weird how your design tastes shift? I mean, I was into the whole southwest look when I was in high school. The somewhat pastel palette, adobes, the pottery, but now? I would only do that vibe if I lived in Arizona and even then that is iffy. Though Adobe homes are still stunning to me.

HGTV.com

I adore Victorian houses, but I don't aspire to their cluttered look with heavy fabrics. This living room is at the St. Benedict Bed and Breakfast in East Sussex and I would love to stay there, but I would not want my living room to look like this full time.



Craftsman homes are exquisite, but I hate the kitchens that accompany them as they feel too dark. This is well done, but still not my style.

Houzz.com- Crocus Hill Kitchen

I am someone who has not gotten on board with needing to own an Eames Chair, I would set that thing on fire, open shelving or the Mid-Century Modern look. Yes I can sort of appreciate the aesthetics, but they are not mine. But recently, I have begun to bend more toward the MCM/contemporary look than I care to admit. Suddenly I love clean lines and minimalism. Well, not full minimalism, but the perception of it is nice. What I have come to really love is the furniture. I blame IKEA and their PS 2014 line that started this.

Of course, some of the furniture that falls in to that specific design category is unappealing.
Example: Togo Sofa. What is this womb look? Seriously? Why? If someone told me it was comfortable, I don't know that I would believe you. For $3,495 it should feel like sleeping on a cloud in my opinion. If it makes you happy in your house, good for you. But I would feel like I was being devoured by larvae.


So maybe that is just too much when it comes to contemporary, yet I LOVE this Copenhague  Desk design sold at Dwell.com

A few years ago I would not want that desk in my house, but now I would.

It is weird that as I have gotten older how my design tastes are turning. Okay, maybe not so weird, but it is interesting to see the direction we are taking our house in or wanting to take it in. I do not like to be tied to any one design ideal. I am still a big lover of the
wing back chair, especially this one by Tom Dixon. I cannot afford it, but that is okay. I can still admire the design of the chair and lust after it like a dirty old woman.

So there you have it folks. I am not sure how our home will evolve, but it is evolving. Luckily the only thing we have bought furniture wise was our son's full size bed and dresser from IKEA. Plain pine. Looks nice and he can paint it one day if he likes. I have pieces of furniture that have been moved and utilized elsewhere. Black modern looking dressers we bought over a year ago and were in the little man's room are now being utilized in the living room and look perfect. Who knew?

And to close out this post, please sing joyous tunes with me as the snow continues to disappear. There is even more gone since I took this photo. Hooray!!!



Cheers!
MissFifi

Friday, March 13, 2015

Shrimp Tacos

I had tacos shells left over from Trader Joe's. Now, while I love Trader Joe's, their products do tend to spoil right on time and sometimes before. (Looking at you moldy cheddar cheese...) Their taco shells, according to the box need to be used within 4-7 days of opening. No pressure. I decided it would be nice to make shrimp tacos. The Google gods turned up many a recipe, but nothing was really biting me. Until....

Bonefish Grill makes a dish called Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos. A blogger, known as Cinnamon-Spice and Everything Nice, is obsessed with them and duplicated the recipe which you can find here.

HOLY HOT SAUCE THESE ARE AWESOME.

I did not have sweet chili sauce and it did not matter. I cut up some green cabbage to stuff into the taco, made a side of black beans with shallots and threw some rice in the rice cooker with turmeric. Hands down this is one of the best meals I have ever made and my hubby was beyond giddy. I must thank Cinnamon-Spice and Bonefish because shrimp has never tasted so damn good.

That is all I got friends. Have a great weekend.

Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cookie Time!

Windows are open throughout the house. We have played outside. It is 50 degrees baby!!!

Amazing what a little warmth and sunshine does for one's soul.

My son's school is a cooperative. This means every month I get to participate in the classroom and also bring a snack. We fell a little shortsighted on our last shopping trip and forgot to get a snack for the class. Not wanting to go spend more money, I decided to take on the task of baking chocolate chip cookies. This is a very big deal in our house. I don't like making cookies. I think they use up all my butter and for what? A dozen or so treats? No thanks. (This is as irrational a thought as one could have and I know this and I don't care.) Since I figured the kiddies would enjoy this, I set off on a quest for recipes and realized as I looked that I have no white sugar.

Bollocks.

I then googled recipes for sugar free cookies, but that only brought results for cookies made with spelenda, agave, and honey. Again, not what I want or have in the house at the moment. I finally came across just a brown sugar chocolate chip cookie on Bakingblonde's website and I proceeded forward.

I got out my not used much and held mixer and readied all the ingredients. Since I do not have vanilla extract, I used 2 teaspoons of maple syrup instead. Diana's Desserts has a great list of ingredient substitutions here. I also threw in some unsweetened cocoa powder.
I should have taken a photo because when I was done combining and mixing, the dough was very crumbly and all I kept thinking was, "I just used three cups of flour and two sticks of butter and if these taste like crap I am going to be annoyed with myself." But then I thought of how I do knitting and if you screw up, you start over and learn to let the mistakes go. Well, the best you can. So I figured if these were not great cookies, I would be okay. So instead of a scoop I ended up using my hands to squeeze the dough together and make little patties or balls. In they went and we waited 12 minutes.

THEY WERE AND ARE DELICIOUS!! BEHOLD!!


This was some of the first batch. My son declared them "Yummy!" and I have to agree. Honestly, I would so make these again. (Who is this woman and where is MissFifi??) I hope the kids like them tomorrow,but if not, more for us!!

Cheers!
MissFifi

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dress Fabulously!

Up to 8 inches today. While it is pretty, I look forward to the warmer temperatures headed our way. Sad when 40 is considered warm, but let's go with it shall we?

I believe I have mentioned the wonderful blog Advanced Style before. Ari does a wonderful job of finding elegant, sophisticated and eclectically dressed women of a certain age and featuring them.
Older people, especially women in this country are a greatly undeserved demographic. Older in the US means social security, doctors visits, nursing homes and death. One would not look at a seventy five year old woman and think, "She has sex." or "She plays tennis." or "She is working." You know, as if she or even he has an actual life.  Thankfully, there are those that buck the system and I hope to be one of them. The aforementioned website also has a documentary. An enjoyable one at that. Joyce Carpati, a stunning 80(!!!!) year old woman, says the best thing I have ever heard in regards to how women should view themselves. "I never wanted to look young, I wanted to look great."
While she made that comment in regards to herself, it made me pause. Why the hell don't more people think like this. I throw myself in there because it would be a less stressful existence for a lot of women if we stopped comparing ourselves to celebrities or friends. There is not reason to try and look like Helen Mirren or Jennifer Aniston or whatever young hot actress is out there right now. Do your own thing. With class, dignity and most of all lots of fun.


Cheers!
MissFifi

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Icy Wednesday

Winter has introduced March like a lion. Yesterday we had snow, sleet, ice and tonight, more snow.


Enough of that.

Here is what is on tonight's menu. Grandma's Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili. I will be altering it to fit with what we have and you can do the same. Our food supplies are low as we were supposed to be away, but had to cancel since the friends we were to visit became very ill. A real bummer, but they will be up our way in a few weeks which means we will get to see them.

I made a yellow mung dal soup the other night and it is delicious and not an expensive meal to make at all.

We watch a decent array of videos on The Kid Should See This. I liken it to a great aggregator of interesting and alternative video entertainment for kids. There is cooking, science, music and honestly, ones does not need to be a child to enjoy their content. On their site we recently came across The Girl and The Fox. So beautifully animated and such a lovely story.



The little man and I watched it three times and I cried. Every.Single.Time. I am a hormonal mess. Welcome to being a woman of a certain age.

I also absolutely love the song/message and illustration for Cookie Tin Banjo.

Tiny Houses are all the rage and as someone pointed out, "Live in a NYC apartment, same thing." I can't say they are wrong, but I have also been lucky to have graced some serious living quarters in NYC, one was $10K a month in rent. It was my boss's place. People also commented that if you are thinking of going to a microhome, try living in a camper first. Again, great advice. Here is an article about the tiny homes and as always, I would bet the comment section will have an abundance of useful information. ;-)

Cheers!
MissFifi





Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Tiny House

Busy weekend and of course, it is snowing.


That is how winter is making me feel. If you have never seen the campy fun movie "Clue", you must.

Was browsing Houzz, because really, when stuck indoors, isn't it nice to look at places like the one below in Southern California?



All that expensive beauty aside, allow me to share a tour of a 200 square foot house. It is very well done and thought out. While I like the concept of tiny homes and the designs, I don't think I would want one to be my permanent abode. Actually, some of the larger tiny homes work well so I guess if I wanted to live some high priced place like La Jolla, CA or Hawaii, that is how I could make that happen. Not that we are moving, but all this snow has made me wish to be somewhere that does not require boots, a heavy coat and the need to warm up the car.

Hope some of you are getting sunshine and flowers and know that I am jealous and cannot wait for spring to roar her way over here to New Jersey.

Cheers!
MissFifi