Stuffsoup – a little blog with a lot of "stuff"

“Cleans for company”

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on November 13, 2011

A friend once told me that one of the categories on for “how clean do you keep your house” is “cleans for company”; along with something like “always tidy” and “what’s clean anyway”. I’ve never been able to get that phrase out of my head, I guess, because it was my category. And, when I used to have company more often, my house stayed cleaner. I do like having people over and it is good for me in more than just one way.

When I have no laundry, I feel kind of the same as when I have no new email… nothing is pending and I’m not sure what my next move should be. Maybe I was more of a born firefighter or EMT. It’s kind of weird since there really are so many moves that could be or should be made. I’m just not inspired to pick one… there’s no fire.

I have an idea though. To make it more fun, I think I’ll make slips of paper with some of the bigger projects in the house and put them in a jar or a bucket then pick a “winner” to work on for 15 minutes. If it gets completed, the paper gets tossed. If it doesn’t get done, the paper goes back into the bucket.

How about you? Do you have any projects for your “bucket”?


Hair today, gone tomorrow

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on March 31, 2011

Well, here are the before and after pictures from the Locks of Love event…

Thank you, thank you to Spalon Montage for sponsoring this and a big shout out to Angie Kruse, the stylist that did my cut. It was so fun to do and the gals were so great!

Ah, inertia…

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on December 5, 2010

Physics. It’s great. Except when it’s not. One of Newton’s laws of physics has been true law around here for awhile. You know the one, “an object at rest tends to remain at rest, and an object in motion tends to remain in motion”. The thing is, I’m not sure if I’ve been more at rest or in motion (just not in my direction). It feels more “at rest”, but I know I’ve also been going through the motions of the everyday things that need to be done.

I want to write. I need to write. I love to run into a friend who misses my writing. It lets me know that someone is listening. Though that scares me a bit too to be honest. I want to learn more. I want to do more. I want to be more. And, I shall start by writing more. Let’s get in motion and set a course. Is there anything you want to do more of?

1st, 2nd, 3rd

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on March 1, 2010

The olympic games are over and I find this fascinating… “Research by three U.S. academics… shows that bronze-medal winners, on average, are happier with their finishes than silver medalists. Take silver, and you tend to fixate on the near miss. Score bronze, and you are thankful you were not shut out altogether.” (USA Today) Psychologists have a name for this, it is called counterfactual thinking – thoughts about what might have been (almost won versus almost didn’t get a medal).

So goes life. Sometimes we have to choose to focus on the “thankful” or even the “could be worse” part of things. With job loss, you can mourn the lost wages or enjoy the extra time. With eating healthier, you can mourn what you can’t eat or enjoy the things you can. Even with Down syndrome, you can mourn the child that isn’t or enjoy the new journey with the child that is. Chandos (CJ) Field has embraced that journey and she has sent an afghan of her creation around the world to enjoy that journey too. Today is her anniversary on that project and she asked to have the word spread. I am happy to do that as I admire her for what she is doing and the legacy she has made. Her website is and I hope you’ll visit.

Day 11 – small shift

Breakfast – gs apple with peanut-butter dip

Snack – snack bag of carrots

Lunch – tortilla chips with corn and black-bean bundle recipe and hummus

Snack – scant handful of dried fruit

Dinner – chili ala TJ

The good. This chili turned out quite similar to the chili I would normally make with hamburger. It was almost eerie. Just 3 ingredients and it was good.

Chili ala TJ

28-oz can Trader Joe’s Organic Tomatoes diced in tomato juice, 15.5-oz can Trader Joe’s Cuban-Style black beans, and 25-oz can rinsed and drained Westbrae Natural Organic pinto beans put in pot to warm.

The better. I made peanut-butter dip for my kids before, using just milk and peanut butter. For me, I mixed 2 T peanut butter with enough chocolate almond milk to make it more of a dip and basically so I wouldn’t eat so much peanut butter! It’s so good. It is hard to mix, but it turns out.

The best. Anything in life that you choose to be thankful for.

1st, 2nd, or 3rd, it is just good to be in the game. Congratulations to all the olympic athletes regardless of their final standing and congratulations to all who choose to make a difference.

For Whom the Kettlebell Tolls

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 28, 2010

Today, the gym had a kettlebell demo and I’d always been a bit curious about them (particularly because they are locked up and you are not allowed to touch them without supervision – oooo). I always loved the medicine ball, but the fun stuff is more for partners, so this seemed kind of like medicine ball for one.

Matt cut right to it. We were each assigned a kettlebell (mine was 20 pounds!) and Matt showed us how to do “lifts” by swinging it up to shoulder height and then squatting and swinging it down between our legs. Then we were off… do 30 lifts and then drop and do 10 pushups (“if you can do them on your toes, more power to ya,” he said). Repeat 5 times! It was less of a demo and more of a do, which I love! And, guess what… I figured I’d start the pushups on my toes and then drop to my knees when I needed to, but I did them all – that’s right, 50 pushups – on my toes! I have no idea what came over me today and I’m sure I’ll pay tomorrow, but it felt so good!

Day 9 – a bit nutty

Breakfast – smoothie with mixed berries, almond milk, and “sprinkles” (hemp protein, dried beet greens, and a pinch of fiber)

After-workout snack – handful of almonds

Lunch – Spanish “egg” scramble ala Ani Phyo and a handful of grapes

Snack – slice of watermelon

Dinner – veggie burger, fries dipped in Nasoya veggie-based sandwich spread (Nayonaise), and broccoli

The good. Saying that I had a burger and fries for dinner is amusing to me. The burger was a Dr. Praeger’s tex mex veggie burger with no bun. It had some “zip” and so it got a wee bit of the Nayonaise too. The fries were homegrown, fresh potatoes cut into strips, given a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and fresh-ground pepper, and then baked.

The better. The “egg” really tasted like egg yolk to me. It was so surprising and kind of fun. Here’s the recipe.

Spanish Breakfast Scramble

1 c almonds soaked overnight and dried, 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds soaked overnight and dried, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp tumeric, and about 1/2 c water blended in a food processor. That is the “egg” part. Then, you can mix the “egg” in a bowl with 1/4 c cilantro, 1/2 c diced tomato, and 2 Tbsp scallions and serve it over spinach leaves with a dash of pepper. That is the Spanish part.

I used frozen cilantro and red onion and I put them straight in with the “egg” ingredients then served it with the diced tomato in Boston lettuce leaves.

The best. I did 50 pushups – on my toes!

Sometimes we become like the fleas of the flea circus. We get used to what we think we can do even if a barrier is removed. It is so nice to mix things up sometimes to just “check in” with what we might be capable of doing. Maybe a barrier we thought was there actually no longer is.

Quinoa – Yer Soaking It

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 27, 2010

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN wah – which I didn’t know until recently, but now love to say) is a grain that is sometimes used as a substitute for rice or couscous. I bought some awhile back, made it, hated it, and gave the rest away and I had pretty much given up on it. But then, I kept finding these dishes that I thought were tasty and when I’d ask, I’d find out it was quinoa. So, in the spirit of keeping an open mind and trying to broaden my options for the 30-day vegan cleanse (and beyond), I thought I’d give quinoa another try.

I went to dig up what I could for information and found this at… “Soak the quinoa for 15 min – 1/2 hour [which] helps quinoa to cook evenly, and loosens up the outer coating of saponin, which can give a bitter taste if not removed. If you don’t have time for a longer soaking, use hot water and soak for five minutes.” Could that have been my previous trouble? not soaking? or was it just a different brand? Well, today I didn’t want to take any chances and so I soaked it and I have to say; the quinoa, even plain, tasted pretty darned good. I now understand how you could substitute this as a side, have it as part of a main dish, or even eat it for breakfast.

Day 8 – new dinner

Breakfast – 1/2 cup oatmeal with strawberries and almond milk

Snack – 2 rice cakes with hummus and scant handful of raw sunflower seeds

Lunch – corn and black-bean lettuce bundles (recipe in previous post)

Snack – gs apple with peanut butter and a taste of the quinoa (to make sure it was edible before dinner in case I had to whip up some brown rice instead ;))

Dinner – veggie and lentil soup over quinoa and the smallest bowl of ice cream ever (Good Karma organic rice divine, it follows the rules)

The good. I was not fond of the lentil soup I made, which is a bummer because the whole family ate some. Why is that good, you ask? Well, now I have less of it to eat to finish it off. [sorry, family :/]

The better. I’m glad to have quinoa as an option and I don’t plan to give my bag away this time. Plus, I made it in my rice cooker – slick.

The best. I got all the laundry done today so I can do some more cookin’ tomorrow. Here’s a hint… nuts have been soaked and are now drying.

I guess the moral of today’s lesson is to always give something another chance. Try not to write it off permanently. Who knows, with the right preparation, you might find a new favorite.

“How Are You Feeling?”

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 26, 2010

I’ve been getting asked about how I’m feeling quite a bit. I feel bad about the short answer which is “about the same”. That doesn’t much convey my enthusiasm for continuing. I’m a week into this 30-day vegan cleanse and I can tell you there have been a few side effects, but none so dramatic or even different than things I’d feel from time to time anyway. The second day, I had a headache off and on throughout the day, but 2 ibuprofen took care of it. A day or two after that, I was, er, um, constipated. And, another day I realized I was kind of bloated. But that has pretty much been it.

The positive effects haven’t been dramatic either. Feeling better is hard to measure and I cannot specifically credit only the cleanse for that. I have lost weight this week, 1.6% of my weight which doesn’t seem very dramatic either, but it is still a good thing. I have a check in with a trainer next Friday and I am very curious to see any changes there. (I’ll have to keep you posted.)

Day 8 – in color

Breakfast – gs apple with peanut butter (less what the kids ate of it) and hot water with lemon

After-workout snack – handful of almonds and a small bag of freeze-dried asian pear from Brothers-All-Natural fruit crisps

Lunch – corn and black bean lettuce bundles (see recipe below)

Snack – carrot sticks and hummus

Dinner – leftovers of black bean chili and cornbread

The good. A quick nap whilst helping my daughter fall asleep (she doesn’t normally nap, but really needed it today and I guess I did a bit too).

The better. I felt strong at my CRT (cardio resistance training) workout class today and happy to be moving down the scale.

The best. In case you missed the recipe in the comments section from an earlier post, here is the “burrito” recipe.

Corn and Black-Bean Lettuce Bundles

19-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 T lime juice
2 t olive oil
1 t ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1 head Boston lettuce, cleaned and separated into leaves

Combine all ingredients except lettuce in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Spoon about 1/3 cup of bean mixture onto lettuce leaf and fold like a taco or burrito. Note: I think Boston lettuce is butter lettuce.

Seems I’m always modifying, but my beans were only 15 ounces, I used a bit more corn and more red pepper, I used red onion instead of scallions, I used frozen cilantro, and I used lemon juice instead of lime (perhaps you can tell that I bought a lot of lemons and no limes as this has been a repeated theme — perhaps I should have done it the other way around). Anyway, this was really yummy and very colorful – thank you, Kim!

I think it is important to remember that all change, no matter the size, in the right direction is still good change. Remember what they say about the longest journey…

Newbie in Familiar Territory

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 25, 2010

I went to yoga again today. I’ve been having a hard time making peace with the fact that I don’t know this body that I am in very well. It is different, and not necessarily in a good way (see, that’s not making peace). The changes came from babies and other things like treats and lack of sleep and exercise and they came at a time that I wasn’t paying so much attention (I had babies to look at instead).

Yoga was in a different studio than usual, one with windows – and there was SUN. I hope I didn’t throw off the chi in the room too much, but I put my mat right in the sun beam, a bit askew from everyone else (maybe aligning with the sun improved the chi). I am not as strong, nor am I as flexible as I once was. That is hard for me. Yoga was familiar territory and I was making such progress, oh those years ago. I feel like I am starting over, a total newbie, but it feels worse because I know what I “should” be able to do. I know I’ll get through this, but it is hard.

Day 7 – old and new

Breakfast – 1/2 cup of oatmeal with agave and almond milk and hot water with lemon

After-workout snack – handful of almonds

Late lunch – hummus with carrot sticks, red pepper sticks, and 2 Trader Joe’s lightly salted rice cakes (nothing but brown rice and sea salt and these were really good!)

Dinner – leftover black bean chili (see recipe from day 3) with modified cornbread (also really good, see recipe below)

The good. Those rice cakes were not the way I remembered them from the 80s. They were so good spread with hummus.

The better. The cornbread turned out really tasty. The texture was a bit different, but I guess that is partly the way cornbread is. Here’s the recipe with my modifications in parentheses and I only made a half recipe.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Cornbread

One package of 365 Everyday Value Gluten Free Cornbread & Muffin Mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill’s version because that was what the store had), 1/4 cup agave nectar, 1 and 1/3 cups almond milk, 1/2 can unsweetened pumpkin or 1/2 very ripe banana smashed (I used banana), 6 T melted lactose, gluten-free butter (I used original earth balance natural buttery spread and it was really yummy and smelled just like butter), 1/2 t apple cider vinegar (I used plain), (I also added a bit of whole kernel corn for fun)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a small pan or muffin pan. Add vinegar to the almond milk and set aside to curdle (not really noticeable). Add agave to pumpkin or banana and mix. Stir in melted butter, milk mixture, then the box of cornbread mix and stir to moisten. Pour into pan (My batter didn’t really pour and I think it is because Bob’s has enough mix for a 9 by 9 pan and 365 might be for an 8 by 8 pan). Bake until brown, 25 minutes for a square pan and 15-17 minutes for 12 muffins. Serve warm.

The best. During one of the many downward dog poses that I was having trouble holding, the yoga instructor came over and pulled back my hips. I am sure this is hard to imagine if you aren’t familiar with yoga poses. Suffice it to say, what she did relieved pressure on my wrists and arms and helped my legs get a glorious stretch.

I thanked the yoga instructor after class and asked if she would just follow me around whenever I did that pose and help out. She said that she was glad it helped and that she was glad I came. Just the right thing to say to keep me coming back. Oh, and there was one other thing I noticed about my body in yoga today… so if you’ll excuse me, I need to go remove some chipped toe-nail polish. 😉

Hooray, ooray

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 24, 2010

I recommend ECFE (early childhood family education) or its equivalent to any new parent. It is an amazingly helpful way to share experiences and learn about all things “parent”. I have met incredible people (mostly moms since that is generally who is there) with whom I have shared so much more than just an hour and a half per week; there have been births, deaths, successes, failures, gains, losses, and more.

I joke often about my theory of this closeness… that trauma brings people together. In times of crisis (such as learning how to deal with new creatures in your life no matter how cute they are or how much you love them), I think people can form tighter bonds. So, while the kids are having a great time making art projects and going to the “motor room”, the parents are experiencing their own humanity and better preparing to help their children experience theirs.

Day 6 – more whole

Breakfast – granny smith apple with peanut butter and hot water with lemon

Snack – 3 cuties and a Lara Bar in lemon

Lunch – a plum, a third of an avocado, and some black bean salsa on corn chips

Snack – snack bag of carrots

Dinner – last of the garbanzo pasta sauce over brown-rice penne noodles

The good. I was glad cutie oranges were a snack option today… it helped me resist the chocolate chip cookie that was giving me that “come hither” look.

The better. The garbanzo pasta sauce recipe passed my “must be good as leftovers” test tonight, and so here is the basic recipe. A note of caution: you must like chick peas (garbanzo beans) to enjoy this recipe.

Garbanzo Pasta Sauce

18 ounce jar of marinara sauce, 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans drained and rinsed, sliced black olives, chopped mushrooms, and half a tube of Hooray Puree ( in spinach all warmed in a pan and poured over prepared pasta of your choice.

The best. My son awoke a little cranky this morning and was less than cooperative when getting dressed. All I had to do to change his mood and his willingness to cooperate was to say the magic words, “today is your school day” to which he replied, “ooray! my school day” and he couldn’t wait to get going (and neither could I).

I know quite a lot gets said some times about it “taking a village”, but I think the “village” really can make a difference even if it is only for moral support. I know I am more of a people person than some, but I really do feel like being together makes us more human.

A Spoonful of Good Karma

Posted in Uncategorized by stuffsoup on February 23, 2010

This morning, my daughter saw a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, and the litany of support staff from both of those offices, as well as the lab. It was a long morning; a few tears were shed, a few protests were voiced, blood was given. Ultimately though, there were also hugs, stickers, and good news.

My daughter was diagnosed as hypothyroid at 6 months of age. It was only even checked because she has Down syndrome and thus it is more common. She has been on a very low dose of medication for it and after today’s checkup at endocrinology, the dose increases ever so slightly, but all is well.

The cardiologist wanted to check up on her previously diagnosed atrial septal defect or ASD (basically a little hole in her heart between the left and right atria) and her cleft mitral valve (basically a valve that doesn’t seal quite right). She had to do an echocardiogram to get a good picture, but they found that the valve problem is still very minor (no murmur or anything) AND the hole is closed! Ah, it’s good to exhale.

Day 5 – clean up

Breakfast – granny smith apple with peanut butter and hot water with lemon

Snack – Lara Bar in cherry pie, carrots, and my new favorite rice milk all on its own

Lunch – the last of the yummy pad thai and more carrots

Snack – corn chips dipped in the last of the black bean and brown rice from the tostadas mixed with more salsa

Dinner – brown rice pasta with tomato marinara, chick peas, black olives, dried spinach, frozen spinach puree (love the Hooray Puree!), and mushrooms

One last thing – a spoonful of Good Karma Organic Rice Divine in very vanilla (I just really wanted something sweet and it was!)

The good. It was so good to have a sweet spoonful tonight.

The better. Dinner was divine. I hadn’t realized how much I miss chick peas (they are not a favorite in the house) and the whole mixture was so hearty and good.

The best. This just can’t be about food today…. my daughter no longer has a hole in her heart. It’s closed!

Today I am proud of how good my daughter was with all she had to do. She made so many people smile today even as she worried what they were going to do to her next. I am proud of my son for being his patient-est while tagging along for the doctor visits. And, I am proud of me for only having a spoonful of Good Karma.

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