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, July 23, 2009

An Update

D is home, resting as much as he can.

He had a 90% blockage in two separate areas of an artery in his heart. They placed two stents and have started him on several new medications. Cholesterol has become even more of an enemy in our house (too bad you can't fight genetics!).

We've been dealing with all sorts of emotions: fear, anger, sadness.

His grandfather died very young of a heart attack, so more than anything, we should be thankful that medical care for this condition has changed and that discovering it early is a gift.

We'll be away for a while, heading out for some much needed time away. D has been ordered to rest and I know the only way to achieve that is to get away. We'll be camping in our favorite place, resting, and enjoying some family time.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Five

It's been a long time since I've discussed what my five senses have been up to. I've been reading a ton because I've been willing to give up precious sleep time to do so. I love being the only one up at night. I just know I can't be interrupted! I've been swamped with tons of great books from my library request system. I love that the books have been on my list so long and that I've waited so long that I'd forgotten that I'd requested them. These are just a sampling. Sadly, my mom mind can only hold so much, I've forgotten many of the books that I read. But, they were good and maybe someday I'll remember them enough to review here.


Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

This book puzzled me. Just when I thought I knew where the author was going with it, he didn't, but then he did. Ugh. I don't want to tell too much of the story because I don't want to give it away.

Fran and Ed are happily married with two daughters. This is the story of what happens when one of their daughters disappears. This book kept me up late reading. I took it with me on carpool duty (not to read while driving, but for those 10 minute waits here and there). I read every word and went back to reread parts just to hear the language. What a gifted author and once again, I am struggling with how I let this guy's books slip under my radar.

I was so struck by how the family and all its members handled the situation. Not only did O'Nan provide insight into their thoughts, but he really made me empathize with people who did not react as I would. This story, a mother's worst nightmare, has become so commonplace in our society that we sometimes just briefly pause when we hear it, yet again. This book did more for me than make me pause. It made me think about just what I would do if the same happened to me. As a mother, I've only thought about the initial crumbling that would happen to my soul. The broken, instant, terrifying fear that would begin and never end. I never really thought about all the rest of it.

A must read, for sure.

Infected by Scott Sigler

This is a book I wouldn't normally pick up, but I was reading about the author on the Internet and decided to give it a try. Part Stephen King part John Grisham, it's a thriller with a Sci Fi spin. I thought it was a good summer read, a bit too gross in parts, and a little predictable. But, enjoyable and an easy read. Would I recommend? Only if you're into that sort of thing.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

I loved this book and I don't usually gravitate towards war stories. Set during the siege of Leningrad, this book is the story of two unlikely friends sent on a nearly impossible mission. I figured out how it would end long before the finish, but I still enjoyed every bit. The glimpses into this part of history were fascinating.

As a child, we used to visit a Russian couple who's land we had to drive through to get to some family hunting land. I don't know their history except that they came from Russia in pursuit of a better life. One of us kids complained about being, "Starving!" and I remember Fedor saying, "Ah, but have you ever eaten grass?" I'll never forget that. I've never known hunger. This book paints a picture of true hunger that will remain with me a long time.


Thriller by who else? Michael Jackson

This was the first CD that Young One downloaded onto his iPod and I've been listening to it humming down the stairway for the last couple of weeks. (And on every channel in their endless reselling of this man's soul) OK, I'll admit, I listened to it on MY iPod just once right after Michael died. Cried a little and no, I didn't do the Moonwalk. I'm still struck by what a sad, lonely, tragic life he had. And how we're all just a little bit responsible for his imprisonment. My hope is that so much about the stalking of celebrities and the abuse of children entertainers changes because of his life story. And that his children are given the gift of a relatively normal life.


Roses. The deer have left my roses alone this year and I've been thrilled with the results. Imagine, full blooming roses and not stumpy, thorny stems!


Sugar and Spice Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup skim milk

5 TB brown sugar
2 TB white sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix batter ingredients and spread into prepared pan. Mix topping until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of batter. Using a knife, swirl topping into batter. Bake for 25 minutes. Cake is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Food. I'm sorting through our pantry and making a run to the food shelf. I have many things that we cannot use and so many families are struggling right now, I just can't keep them here at home and feel good.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm Hiding

I can't be the only mom that hides.

I just know it.

But, right now, I'm sitting in our dark family room, hiding.

Hiding from the nightly shower negotiation and the go back and brush them again. Hiding from the yes you can read for just 5 more minutes and the, "OK, you had your five minutes, now sure, go ahead and finish the chapter" and the "I know what that's like to want to finish the book, just not too too late. Wow, that must be a great book. Oh, it's only ten more pages. You can do ten more pages..." (It's summer and he's reading, that's enough of an excuse for me.)

I'm avoiding a little responsibility and taking just a minute to exhale.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You're Givin' Me a Heart Attack

I seriously am resigning from being a grown up. Consider my notice immediate and final.

D's having an angiogram with possible stent placement on Monday. We'll learn then the extent of his problem.

Getting a prescription for Nitroglycerin was not fun at 41. And no, I didn't intend that to rhyme.

My head is so full of stress right now and I have so much to do and so much going on, I'm a complete frazzle head. Thank God for girlfriends.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He's All Mine Ladies

Try to control yourselves.

Cardiologist appointment tomorrow. For better or worse.

I'm Floored

Monday, July 13, 2009

His Achy Breaky Heart

I've decided that I no longer want to be grown up. Enough already.

D confessed to me three weeks ago that he has been having chest tightening/pain while riding his bike. Now, I know him and he pushes hard at everything. 30 mile rides are routine. I didn't think it was anything to be concerned about. He's young, it's probably muscular, right?


His internist rightly ordered a stress test and it showed some narrowing in his arteries. We know nothing more than that. Not anything extremely emergent as that was almost three weeks ago. Anything very serious would have been addressed immediately, but this is still very scary to me. D's grandfather died at the age of 48 because of a heart attack. This isn't something to mess around with.

So, this week, he's seeing a cardiologist and I'm going along. Four ears are better than two and all that.

My hope is that this is just a wake up call to really live a healthier life and that we've caught something early enough to treat. I'm not going to discuss my fears. Honestly, I don't have any yet. One step at a time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Please Don't Pronounce this Like Something Dirty

Ever have a grocery checkout person comment on everything that you buy? Seriously lady, can't you just keep your comments to yourself? Aren't the maxi pads, nine pounds of chocolate, and four cans of Pringles telling you that you should just tiptoe around this PMS-ing customer?

I had Debbie the Death Clerk the other day. She's slow. She comments on all the "weird" produce that I buy (like artichokes are from another planet). And she seems to take great pleasure in trying to figure out what our weekly menu is. Chicken breasts, onions, tortillas, and stoplight peppers. Fajitas? Yep, we have a winner.

I think it's the incessant beep of the scanner that lulls some clerks into losing it. Maybe it's the fact that they touch our personals that makes them think they have the right to judge, comment, or whatever. Personally, I like a cheery clerk that pays no attention the fact that we cleared the bakery shelves of frosted donuts and that the only thing resembling a vegetable in our cart is corn flakes. This clerk will make pleasant Minnesotan chat about the weather (the universally safe Scandinavian topic of conversation).

But, we got Debbie the other day. And Debbie makes lots of loud comments and seems to enjoy guessing what we're going to make at home. As she did so, I watched the guy behind me with hemorrhoid cream, a case of beer, and a Star magazine head for another lane. I'm sure he anticipated the question, "Up for a big evening?" and he just couldn't take it.

Debbie had a butterfly sticker on her nametag and a banana clip in her hair (haven't seen one of those since the early 90s.) I was so fixated on the banana clip, I almost missed her mispronounciation of fajitas. Not fah-hee-tahs, but more like a part of the female anatomy.

You know those moments when the world slows down and you feel like you're in a white hot spotlight and everyone's looking. Well, it wasn't my moment, it was Debbie's. And she had no idea that she was the star.

Yes, Debbie we're having Fah-heee-TAHS for dinner. And you, my dear, are not.

This is the best fajita marinade. We love it on chicken, but I'm sure flank steak would be delightful too. I always make several batches and freeze them. Then add the meat and marinate in the fridge. Yum.

Fajita Marinade
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix all in a zip bag, use assembly line method* to make more than one at a time. Freeze until ready to use. Add chicken breasts or lean beef. Marinate at least 8 hours.
* Place zip bags upright and open in glasses or jars. Add one ingredient to each bag, moving down the assembly line. Remove from glasses and seal, removing as much air as possible. Freeze until ready to use. Then applaud yourself for being a perfect example of prime mommy time management and look around to see if Martha Stewart is envious.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sadly, Pokemon Master is not in my Future

An unsupervised trip to Home Depot can result in a detour to several fireworks tents. He's a bargain hunter like me, so the bag o 'works in this picture was quite a deal. Who knew they deeply discounted last year's duds and this year's dented boxes!!??!!

As a mother of an only child, I wear a lot of hats: mom, friend, sibling. The last one is the hardest. You see when you only have one, it's up to you to fill in the gaps.

I have a techy kid. You know, Bill Gates in a smaller package. Which can mean many things. He may invent some computer chip required multiple times by every household in the world some day, so I'll live in a really great nursing home. Or, he'll always live in my basement. Gasp, did I really say that out loud? Young One, this is one more thing that you're just going to have to forgive me for. And hopefully, by the time you read this, you'll be old enough to understand (or at least be rolling on that big pile of green that your computer chip invention has led you to.)

(OK, now honey, money ain't everything and I hope that along with the smarts, cute glasses, and that dimple that gets me every time, that you've at least learned that from me. Go for happy kid and the rest will follow!)

I'm wandering here...

Anyway, video games, strategy games, technical discussions on the merits of one gadget over another, well, they permeate our discussions. And I hate to admit that I don't follow very many of them that well. In fact, I've decided from now on that every time D or Young One starts mentioning this techy jargon that I'm going to launch into a speech about the renal system or how to make a roux.

I just don't get much of it.

And I think I'm a better person for it!

I curse the creators of much of this garbage gaming, craziness card collecting and trading, and more pieces of plastic crap that I can step on barefoot on midnight trips to the bathroom collectible action figures. I've had to try to learn the fine points of Warcraft, Halo, and hear endless conversations about the evolution of Nintendo.

And I love it all. Yes, sometimes I pull from the depths of my soul levels of patience that I had no idea existed. Yes, sometimes, I may say the wrong thing (like the time I misprounounced a character's name IN FRONT OF the gang of friends). I love the fact that my son is normal, healthy, smart, and quirky. I love that he wants to talk to me about all this stuff (despite my learning disability). I love that he's found something that he loves.

And that's really what it's all about.

So, I'm off to take a crash course by Googling Warcraft (his current obsession). I've been informed that Pokemon is for kids (um, and you aren't?) and so the title of this post isn't even valid. Oh well, I've finally become my mother. I'm almost, but not quite, obsolete.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Garlic What?

I'm a pretty devout foodie. There are not many flavors or ingredients that I'm not familiar with. Not that I've tasted everything, mind you, but I read a lot and try to keep myself on top of food trends and different World cuisines.

When I opened my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box that contained garlic scapes. I was clueless. Not only had I never heard of them, but I wasn't quite sure what they were at first glance. I had to read my box note just to see what they were.

Now, I'm wondering how I let these seasonal treats escape me. I'm a garlic fiend. I love all things garlic and to not know about scapes, the tender green shoots that appear before the bulbs do, well, that's just unforgivable.

Now the Internet is a great thing. It makes finding out about anything as simple as point and click. Over and over and over again, I stumbled upon garlic scape pesto recipes. So, I knew I just had to try this. But, could I achieve pesto nirvana without adding all the nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese that traditional pestos require?

In a word, yes. Here you go. If you find garlic scapes at your grocer or local farmer's market. Snatch them up. Grab them all, then gleefully race home ignoring all the people wondering what the heck you're doing with curling, green onion looking thingies. Make this quick recipe and freeze it in ice cube trays. I've been doing that with my homemade basil pesto for years. Then when you're crunched for time, boil up some of your favorite pasta and toss with pesto. Two tablespoons flavors 1/2 pound pasta. Instant dinner.

The Great Scape Pesto

You can use this to top pasta, top toasted ciabatta bread, on grilled sandwiches, or stir into some plain hummus or blended white cannellini beans for a fantastic dip. Bring it to a potluck and be prepared to lecture on the beauty of the scape.

1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into ¼-inch slices

1/3 cup walnuts, or pine nuts, or almonds

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil--I bet you could cut this down even more, but don't sub, only extra virgin

enough fat free chicken broth to make it a good consistency--forgive me for the vagueness, I'm not good at following recipes

¼-1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese--not the unforgivable stuff in the shaker can

½ teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

Place scapes and nuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. Scrape sides of bowl and add a small amount of chicken broth. The consistency should be pesto-like (duh!) or like natural peanut butter if you've never had pesto before. Scoop pesto out of processor and into a mixing bowl. Add Parmesan to taste; add salt and pepper. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Or freeze in ice cube trays, pop out and store in a freezer bag. Take out whenever you need a quick fix.

(Now, if you're not a recipe person like me, this is how I'd do it. Buy as many scapes as you can. Clean as described above. Chop and place as many as you can in the food processor. Pulse a few times and add the nuts, a tablespoon at a time. Shocker: I always measure oil and nuts and other high calorie foods. I never used to, but I do now. Amazingly, a little goes a long way and in order to live healthily, I've decided I have to make this concession. Oh, yeah, back to the freestyle method. Pulse the nuts until chopped, add oil (measure to use the least amount possible), add chicken broth until texture is right. Remove from food processor and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Knowing me, I'd probably have to do this several times because if I could find these beauties again, I'd make as much as I could.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

This is my Great Uncle Bud's birthday. Everybody has an Uncle Bud. That great guy with a country farm to roam on, a river to fish and play in, who always had plenty of firecrackers and smoke bombs, and taught us the greatness of a homemade potato cannon (in case you need to launch produce great distances). I have so many childhood memories of Fourth of July picnics at my uncle's house. HIs wife used to make homemade fried chicken and there would be watermelon and cake, plenty of lemonade and conversation. We looked forward to it every year.

I hope your day is filled with fun and memory making--and lots and lots of fireworks.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My Favorite Day
In My Backyard--Science Museum of Minnesota

Yep, this is actually a picture I took, while in a submarine somewhere in the North Atlantic. I go to great lengths to entertain my son and get good pics.
We just went to the Titanic exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. If the exhibit comes to your part of the world, you just must go. We began by watching an IMAX film about the explorers quest to find the wreck and what it's like to go down there and explore. Absolutely fascinating. Then, on to the exhibit.
When you arrive at the exhibit, you're given a boarding pass. This pass details an actual passenger on the ship. It was easy to begin to feel like you actually were on the ship. As you progress through the exhibit, the story is told with real artifacts and glimpses into personal lives. The highlight for Young One was the real ice wall shaped like the fated iceberg. The rooms that detailed the sinking were noticeably colder which added to the experience. Imagine how cold they were as the ship sunk. We watched with fascination a video of the sinking. I was amazed at how quickly it happened and also how many warnings they ignored.
The unsinkable ship. The audacity. We talked over and over again about how nature always wins.
The recovered items were haunting. Dishes, shoes, eyeglasses, clothing, and many other personal items. All almost one hundred years old. All preserved in the icy shipwreck tomb.
At the end of the exhibit, there is a passenger list. You can find out whether your passenger survived. Mine did, and she was one of four wives on the "Widow Ship" the Carpathia (the rescue ship) who was reunited with her husband. It was eery to stand there and look at the sheer number of names that did not survive.
Should people be visiting the Titanic wreck site? I'm not sure. It is a grave site. I believe it shouldn't be plundered, but I'm fascinated, like so many others by it's mystery. The story, the history, it's all mesmerizing.
We had such a good time, but the only thing that was missing was my camera. I know I couldn't have taken pictures inside the exhibit, but I would have liked to capture my mom and son as we wandered that day. If you're ever in town, do not miss this museum. It's fantastic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

An Icon

There have been many versions of this sign over the years. An older version is in the Science Museum of Minnesota, which we visited this week. Young One did a double take as we walked past the museum piece. Then went back and said, "Hey, I've been there!" And he just happened to be wearing the t-shirt we purchased that said, "I walked across the Mississippi" with a picture of the sign above.

We waited a short time to get a picture taken with the sign. As we waited, we listened to all sorts of accents: Minnesotan, German, Japanese, and Harley Riding Biker Dudes. The last we're having a blast and it was smile inducing indeed to watch them frolic like kids as they crossed the Mighty Miss.

I've been without my camera this week, but we've been busy. Our kitchen floor is being tiled so the house is a complete mess. D fell into a patch of Poison Ivy at Itasca on his bike trip and got Cellulitis from it, so he was really sick (very scary) and ended up on a handful of meds. He was much better in 12 hours. We haven't been staying at home because we're without a kitchen, so we've been at a local campground. Other than a late night skunk visit to our campsite (without sharing it's scent, thank the Lord), the camping was fun. Got to have my mom and brother over for some campfire time and a great grilled dinner--nothing special, just hot dogs. Isn't it great how delicious things are when consumed around a campfire?

We're back home now, tile is almost done, but we're trapped on the second floor of the house. Should make for an interesting day. Young One is busy with computer games and I'm planning to do a little cleaning and sorting and maybe some more writing if I get time.

Looking forward to a relaxing Fourth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Fun--Water Balloons

Simple pleasures.

I think the "Economic Downturn", those two words that have been shoved down our throats, has forced many to rethink their summer fun. For us, it's always been about the simple pleasures, so we haven't had to make too many changes.

If anything good is to come out of this Recession, then perhaps it will be that more people will be pursuing simpler pleasures. My brother is director at a metro nature center and he's reported that park usage is way up from last year. That's evidence enough to me that people are starting to get back to happier times and they're doing so without spending a lot of money.

Your children do not need fancy toys, video games, or expensive past times. They need love, joy, creativity, and attention. With those simple things, they will thrive. Add sunshine and warm weather and watch them grown into creative adults. (Water with a lawn sprinkler or popsicles!)

Five hundred water balloons come in a small canister for a few dollars. So far, this summer, they've provided endless fun. Friends come over and they're instantly drawn to the hose, the balloons, and creating targets. There's nothing like the sound of eleven year old boys as they whoop and scream and fire away at each other and various targets.

Happy Days are Here Again. You just have to look for them.

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