If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Nervous Eye

I'll be away for a while. I have an ulcer. In my eye.

This has been the most painful thing I've ever been through (including childbirth. I'm dead serious). And am I fashionable. Picture an eye patch and hair done with my eyes closed. Now I know why pirates wear head scarves.

Seriously, though, I'm in terrible pain and can't see very well. With all the eye issues I already have because of my neuro disease, this isn't a good thing.

I'm resting and watching listening to TV. Very hard to be this immobile.

Our camping trip for the weekend is off. I'm so disappointed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chocolate Emergency

We have a delightful neighbor who doesn't like chocolate. I remember the first time he told us. I had to ask him to repeat it. Yep, doesn't like it. Doesn't get the obsession. Doesn't eat it.

I must have blacked out. D said that my mouth dropped open, my eyes blankly stared, and I was unresponsive. I just. Didn't. Get it.

I come from a long line of chocoholics. I remember my mom snitching chocolate chips from the pantry when nothing else was available. I've been known to drive many miles out of my way just to hit a small bakery that makes an exquisite chocolate cookie. My grandma has an odd allergic reaction when she eats it. She sneezes like one of the Seven Dwarfs, but that doesn't stop her. She indulges just like the rest of us.

When we lived out of state I had a fellow Minnesotan drive a chocolate pie from a local bakery across 4 state lines just to bring me my fix.

Yep, I have no shame.

Now, chocolate on Weight Watchers is a challenge. This is an old favorite. My mom used to make it when I was a kid, but it wasn't my favorite. She studded it with walnuts (her favorite and one I hadn't grown into yet), so that was enough to keep me from eating it. This version is sans nuts and I think could be lightened up even more. Obviously, I now love it.

I call it my Chocolate Emergency cake. It whips together quickly and with ingredients I always have on hand. And I know that if I don't have the daily Points to cover it that I can take a fast and furious walk while it's baking and come out even. (I know, this sounds extremely desperate, but if you're chocolate obsessed like me, you totally get this.)

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Rich and delicious, this recipe doesn't seem like it could fit into a healthy lifestyle, but it does! Serves 9 at 5 WW Points per serving.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together:
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 TB cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup white sugar

Mix in:
1/2 cup skim milk
2 TB melted butter (NOT margarine)
1 tsp vanilla

Place in a greased 9x9 inch pan.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup very hot water

Pour over batter in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Pie Plant... The Sequel

Rhubarb mania is alive and well at our house.

The last muffins I made were a hit, except that Young One thought they had celery in them and he got a little weirded out by that.

Apparently, he doesn't remember last Spring's rhubarb season!

I set out to make something that he would like and I succeeded! Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce is great on ice cream, but stands alone like apple sauce too. Young One is a huge strawberry apple sauce lover and this recipe is very similar. It's a great treat for those of us on Weight Watchers, but it doesn't taste like diet food.
Rosie Rhubarb Sauce
Tart and sweet, this sauce makes for a great dessert. Top fat free frozen vanilla yogurt with it and you have dessert nirvana. Delicious served warm or cool. You may enjoy it with a little granola crumbled on top. 1/3 of a cup equals 1 WW Point.

3 cup(s) rhubarb, thinly sliced
2 lb bag of frozen strawberries (sub fresh if in season)
3/4 cup(s) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine rhubarb, strawberries and sugar in a medium-size, nonreactive sauce pan; toss until sugar melts.

Cover pan and set over medium to medium-high heat until mixture begins to boil, about 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer until fruit breaks down into a sauce, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stress Relief

I'm so tired. I've been supporting everyone this week and I've been feeling really alone.

A son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter for the rest of her life.

That old saying couldn't be more true in my case.

We're going out of town next weekend and I'm counting the hours minutes seconds. In the meantime, I'm escaping today into my flowers. Weeding and gardening helps clear my mind.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Couple of Tigers

"Golf is men, in ugly pants, walking." Rosie O'Donnell

Young One loves golf. He always has. And he's got quite a swing (putt? Um, insert golf lingo here).

I wholeheartedly support him, but while he and his friend were taking some lessons, I had to laugh. Laugh, that is, at all the men, in ugly pants, walking (or riding in carts) throughout the course.

A friend of mine is trying to get me to take a class. Oy. I'm not sure I could do it without laughing. Will I have to wear golf attire? Dress like Dinah Shore? Will a pink visor be required? Must I purchase clubs with little pom pom covers? This could be fun. Or humiliating.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Thank you Keith Olbermann.

Why, with all we have going on in the country, are we once again interrupted with this farce called news?

Bravo Mr. Olbermann. You hit it right on.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Pie Plant

Everybody I knew as a child had a rhubarb plant or two. It's actually a pretty plant, like Swiss Chard on steroids. Large ruby colored stalks capped with giant dark green leaves, it's one of the first to peek out of the ground in the Spring.

My mom and my grandma always made fabulous cakes, but my very favorite was when my mom would make rhubarb pie. You don't even want to know how much sugar went into that confection. It invariably boiled over in the oven, so mom would throw open the windows to the Spring air, the smoke would roll out of the oven, and we'd know we were in for a great treat for dessert.

Black rolling smoke and the smell of burnt sugar--now those are good memories!

Now, pie, by it's very definition is not Weight Watchers friendly. In fact, I think in the dictionary next to the word pie is a picture of a broken bathroom scale. I'm working on a WW friendly rhubarb pie recipe, but in the meantime, these muffins help get me a pie plant fix.

Rosy Rhubarb Banana Muffins

I replaced most of the fat in these muffins with mashed banana. I think the result is quite good. Sweet banana balances the tart rhubarb. 3 WW Points per muffin.

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large bananas
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
2 cup rhubarb
1/2 cup oatmeal for sprinkling over the top before baking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place first three ingredients in mixer bowl and blend well. Add the rest of the ingredients, waiting until all are well combined before adding rhubarb. Place in lined muffin tins. Sprinkle with a little oatmeal if desired. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes. Check every five minutes towards the end of baking.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Sad Day

Today was a sad day for Young One. He lost both a teacher and a classmate.

His librarian had been fighting a battle against Leukemia for about a year. She died on Sunday.

His classmate was a handicapped child who suddenly developed pneumonia and died early this morning of complications from pneumonia.

Our hearts are sad and we're trying to understand all of this. We're also remembering all of the lessons that we've learned from Nathan and Kay's lives. They were each wonderful in very different ways!

Somewhere in Heaven, we hope that Nathan is running and leaping and enjoying no more limitations. And that Kay is right along side him. We hope that they're reading together and have been welcomed by all the loved ones who left before them.

So much for such young kids to be hit with and to understand, it's hard as a parent to help navigate some of this. There have been lots of questions and some that I can only answer with that painful honesty that is necessary, but oh so hard to deliver.

My heart breaks every time I think of Nathan's parents and his family. To lose a child, well, there are no words.

Camp Driveway!

Mother's day was so much fun this year. We camped in the driveway and instead of breakfast in bed, I got breakfast in the camper. (Bruegger's Bagels and Caribou Coffee never tasted so good!)

These simple moments. They mean so much to me.

My Young One is growing up. Each Mother's Day, I thank him for making me a mom. This was the first year that I think he understood why I do that. "It's like winning the lottery, right Mom?"

Yep. It is.

Friday, May 8, 2009

In My Own Backyard

I love living where the city meets the country. We get lots of wildlife in our yard, some more welcome than others (Bambi quit eating my tulips!).
This is either a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Coopers Hawk. Apparently the defining characteristic is the shape of it's tail and this beauty wasn't going to show me it's tail feathers. And I wasn't going to approach it to look closer. I've seen the movie The Birds, I'm not dumb.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Great Tuna Fish Debacle of the 1970s

My dad had a crazy Aunt Eleanor. Doesn't everyone have one of those? I don't know much about her except that I've been told she was looney. Apparently my mom sent her over the edge when she served tuna salad to her when she visited. My mom was busy, it was hot, and she was tired, so she made something simple. She made something that she thought was pretty good. It fit within their tight relatively newly married budget. Plates were cleaned and the guests seemed to enjoy themselves.

The next day the phone rang. "Tuna fish. tuNA FISH. TUna fish!! TUNA FISH!!! You fed us TUNA FISH." That was pretty much all that was said, in rising tones of hysteria, as Aunt Eleanor worked herself into a frenzy over canned fish.

It's funny now, but I'm sure at the time it was pretty upsetting to my poor mom. Every time I see a can, I think of Aunt Eleanor. I never knew her. I guess that is a good thing.

I don't eat tuna very often. I don't know why. I do like it. My Grandma makes the best tuna sandwiches known to man and I think that perhaps my attempts at recreating her brilliance might be a let down. Grandma doesn't cook with a recipe, but by feel and so I'm always thankful to her for teaching me how to cook this way. But, I can't duplicate a lot of her recipes. I know it's years and years of perfection that I will have to earn.

So, here's my attempt at Grandma's tuna salad. She always added chopped hard boiled eggs to her tuna salad. I didn't have any, nor did I have the WW Points for them!

I've called my Grandma Norman for years after Henry Fonda's character in On Golden Pond. She used to call me Ethel, after Katherine Hepburn's character in the same movie, but that dropped off years ago. She's still Norman to me. Love her to pieces!

Almost Norman's Tuna Salad

One really generous serving at 5.5 WW Points. Divide as you need for even less Points. I like to serve on a bed of lettuce with tomatoes. You could stuff tomatoes or serve on bread or crackers.

1 can water packed tuna
2 TB light mayonnaise
2 TB finely minced onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Now, if you really want to spice it up, add your favorite herbs. Norman wouldn't. She's strictly a salt and pepper kind of cook. No, I take that back, she puts paprika on her deviled eggs!

Mix all ingredients to combine and enjoy.
In the above picture I tossed in some cucumber to the salad. I figured if it wasn't going to taste quite as good as Norman's then I might as well put my own spin on it!

When you're done, yell TUNA FISH at the top of your lungs in honor of my crazy Great Aunt Eleanor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Somewhere over the Suburbs

And the sick kid becomes well, just in time to run outside to see a rainbow so big we couldn't fit the whole thing in one shot! It was a double before I got the camera!

What a wonderful miracle.

I've been so cooped up in the house, this rainbow and the fresh air after rain make me feel like I can breath again. I love my kid. I love my job, but sick duty gets old--for both mom and kid!

It feels like a fresh start. Tomorrow, back to school for Young One and I get to do coffee with the girls!

The rain is over.

You Know They're Sick When

When they actually sleep...
Strep City at our house. Hope you're more than well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Midnight Fire

Our work as Moms is never done. Cross everything off the list for today. Reschedule!

Young One woke with a 101 fever at about midnight last night. Ugh. I'm so tired and I feel so bad for him.

He's been exposed to Strep, so that's probably it, but in the meantime, he's exposed so many other kids! Yesterday, he was just fine, so he went on a field trip and to Golf lessons.

I'll have to send out the email of doom to all the other parents. He doesn't routinely go about licking other children to spread disease, but I like to at least let them know. Better to hear it from the source than through the Mommy Grapevine.

I couldn't sleep last night thinking that it was Swine Flu. Sorry, H1N1 or whatever the heck we're supposed to call it.

While the media attention has died down somewhat, we've had our first cases and school closings here in Minnesota. I'd hate to have the kid who is "Ground Zero" here in our little community!

Off to the doctor. And then it's comic books and Lord of the Rings movies (and hopefully naps for both of us this afternoon.)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let's Get Stoned

The Stone Arch Bridge. A Minneapolis icon. I love this pedestrian only bridge. It crosses the Mighty Mississippi and provides great 360 degree views.
(I also love annoying the runners that use this as part of their metro route. There are separate lanes marked out on the bridge for walkers, runners, and bikes, but I must stand where the best picture can be taken. No one will ever interrupt my art.)
Both sides have competing flour mills. The white stuff was milled using the power of the Saint Anthony Falls.

You can learn more about the flour industry at the Mill City Museum. We're saving that trip for a rainy summer day!
Saint Anthony Falls. It always amazes me how the spray flies! And how many people are fishing not too far from this turbulent water. Supposedly fish aren't safe to eat from the Mississippi. Sadly, it's polluted before it even leaves my home state.

"Oh, that's great," I thought, "He's taking an educational interest in the old buildings and the skyline.

Not so fast, Mom.

"I'm looking at the people perched out on the overhang of the Guthrie theater. A guy just picked his nose and a woman's dress blew up."

(You gotta love it!)

The Guthrie's an awesome theater. I'm a musical girl myself, so I don't often go there, since they primarily feature theater. Their relatively new digs feature some pretty awesome architecture.

A close up of the bridge in an attempt to be arty. Minneapolis brings that out in me. I'd share some pretty horrible attempts at catching the sun's rays through the skyline, but I'll spare myself the embarrassment.

A fun day, especially since all the walking made for one pleasantly tired kid!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Beauty in a Beer Sign

I'm a Saint Paul girl. Funny how we Twin Cities residents think that way. We're divided by an invisible line. I think it's because my dad was born and raised in Saint Paul that the capital city feels like home to me. I do cross that invisible border between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I love both my hometowns.
The pictures, above, are a trip from Minneapolis to Saint Paul via my favorite bridge, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge. I've always loved this old beer sign.

I'm playing tourist in my home state this summer and I hope you can come along.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!