Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cleaning the Kitchen Cupboards

I have a grocery shopping problem. I plan meals and buy the ingredients but then get too lazy to actually make the meal. This leads to expired food and comments like, "Wow, I didn't know we had that!"

CPA Boy and I went through the freezer in the garage, the refrigerator and the cupboards today. We weeded out the expired items and I made a list of everything else. For now I can plan meals with what ingredients I have and only buy milk and other fresh items as needed.

Yes, some things had expired in 2010. (And 2011. And 2012. And 2013.) Since we moved to this house in 2009 there was nothing earlier than that, thank goodness. But still, there were some pretty hideous things to toss. The chicken broth was the color of beef broth, ugh. The lemon and lime juices were vile in color and smell.

CPA Boy just kept laughing (to keep from crying I think) when he picked something up and read off the date.

I keep the cupboards relatively neat but since they are quite deep I have stuff in the front and stuff in the back. Things get lost in the shuffle.

I had NO IDEA that I had both a box AND a bag and a half of large elbow macaroni!

I had NO IDEA that I had manicotti shells!

I had NO IDEA that I had fettuccine noodles!

I had NO IDEA that I had rigatoni!

[Are you sensing a theme here? Yep, pasta is kept in the back section. (We also have spaghetti and orzo but I was aware of those!)]

I had NO IDEA we had a jar of bread and butter pickles. Yum!

I had NO IDEA how much popcorn I had! This will be my go-to snack for the next few months.

I had NO IDEA that I already had 2 large jars of Grey Poupon mustard when I bought 2 MORE jars at Costco a couple of months ago! Lots of Chicken Diane in the next months, maybe??

I had NO IDEA that I had two bags of frozen salmon filets! These have gotten very expensive, even at Costco, so I'm actually thrilled about this! We LOVE salmon.

Anyway, it's all part of my overall simplification plan. In general we are buying less stuff. Now that I know what foodstuffs we have I can plan some meals and shop less for a while. THEN I will try to get into the habit of making a weekly meal plan and then buying what I need for that week.

I can document that process when I get to it but for now we plan around the items on the list!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Catching Up with Books

These are the books I read over the last couple of months:

Non-Fiction
  • VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave by Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter
    • This is an oral history of MTV which began airing in 1981. I didn't watch MTV from the beginning as we didn't have access to cable TV at UC Santa Cruz (where I lived from 1980 to 1983). Any television we watched was on a 13-inch black-and-white set with a LOT of snow. We were too far from San Francisco as well as blocked by the Santa Cruz Mountains for good reception. When a bunch of us gathered to watch the series finale of M*A*S*H we could hear the dialogue but didn't see much of the picture!
    • Anyway, I only really got to watch MTV when I would stay at my parents' house during Winter breaks so I remember some of those early years and the original VJs.
  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
    • This was about the digestive process. Interesting.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
    • I thought this book was fascinating but then books about disease fascinate me. It is amazing to see how far things have come in cancer research and treatment in the last century. Excellent book. 
  • Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos
    • The story of how she and her husband Ian Gomez suffered through infertility and how they ended up becoming parents via adoption. Good memoir.
  • London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd
    • I realize it's a publishing decision but I feel books like this should have tons more pictures! 
  • MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic by Art Spiegelman
    • An oral history of how Spiegelman came to write and illustrate his graphic novel Maus, which is based on his parents' experiences of internment at Auschwitz during World War II.
Fiction
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
    • This book has a plot that is difficult to explain in a sentence! A baby is born and immediately dies. Then she is born again and lives. Until she dies again at some later date. She is basically reincarnated over and over again but is always born on the same day in 1910. Excellent book.
  • Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
    • This is a young adult novel by the author of the Lemony Snicket books. A girl named Min writes a letter to Ed to go with the box of mementos she is returning to him explaining (duh) why they broke up. I loved this book. A little quirky but sweet. 
  • The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
    • In 1914 a woman is part of a shipwreck and ends up in one of the lifeboats. Most of the story takes place in the lifeboat with some flashbacks. I wasn't thrilled by the ending but I liked the book overall.
  • Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym
    • A sweet book, first published in 1950, that reminds me of the works of Elizabeth Gaskell (like Cranford) or Flora Thompson (Lark Rise to Candleford). There isn't much of a plot but you come to know the various people who live in the village where it takes place.
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
    • I have also read A Thousand Splendid Suns by this author (most famous for The Kite Runner, which I haven't read) which I liked. In this one an Afghan father basically sells his 3-year-old daughter to a rich family to adopt. She forgets her real family while her older brother is heartbroken at the loss of his sister. Excellent.
  • Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
    • A new book series for kids by the writer of the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine". Timmy Failure is the main character who runs a detective agency. Timmy thinks everyone is an idiot except himself and of course it's Timmy who's the real idiot. Since he's the narrator of the story it's very funny. Definitely an unreliable narrator!
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
    • A woman falls and hits her head thereby forgetting the last 10 years of her life. She wakes up thinking she is 29 and pregnant with her first child. She's actually 39, has 3 children and is in the midst of divorce proceedings. And then the story begins. Interesting premise. I liked it.