Do you guys remember this skit on Sesame Street? I seriously remember this one. You don’t want to end up like Luis, do you? Crawling across a barren soundstage in search of water?  Of course you don’t. In case you didn’t already know this, water is THE most important item in your food storage.  You can survive for quite a while without food (I’m not saying you’ll be in a good mood, but you won’t be dead), but you can only make it about three days before you keel over from dehydration.

It’s so easy to be complacent about water. We just turn on a faucet and voilà, there it is all clean and sparkly.  But only a dummy thinks things will always be thus. Water supplies can get contaminated and cut off  incredibly easily. It doesn’t even need to be the zombie apocalypse! Water shortages and improper filtration are problems that happen in America all the time. Texas is always in a drought. Maybe this summer will get bad enough to ration our drinking water, who knows?

All I’m saying is that water is so very important.

So get at least a dozen water bottles per person in your family. If you can swing it, storage-wise, get a flat of 36 water bottles per person. You will not regret it!

The good news is that water is cheap and you definitely won’t be breaking the bank this week.

Our food storage item this week is the bean.

No, not that kind (although I do love that kind. He’s hugely popular chez moi.)     This kind:

In case you are thinking “what the heck do I want a bunch of beans for? I never eat them!” then I have just the thing for you. I got this great book on amazon. All you ever wanted to know about beans, featuring some yummy recipes. All for about $20. It’s no good having a bunch of stuff that you don’t know how to cook in your food storage.

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You ought to get a mixture of dried and canned beans. Get a variety or just stick with the kinds you always eat.  This is a great excuse to try some varieties that you’ve never used before. For today let’s consider lentils to be beans too, even though they’re technically legumes. Maybe get some chickpeas to try your hand at homemade hummus (ridiculously easy! But you need a can of tahini for that as well.)

Get one bag of dried beans or three cans per person (or a combination of the two) in your family

My youngest four kids have all outgrown their bathing suits so I had to do some suimsuit shopping before we left for Spring Break. Being in Texas I take swimwear very seriously; in the Summertime the kids practically live in it. If the kids want to play outside when the heat gets oppressive (round about May-September), the only way it’s going to work is if there’s water involved.

You probably disagree with me but I find little girls in bikinis completely appalling (hey, pedophiles, check out my sexy 5-year-old!). A naked jaybird frolicking in the waves somehow seems less sexual than a child wearing a bikini. Don’t ask me why I feel this way, I just do. Especially for the older girls. I like a nice one-piece for my daughters (or a modest tankini) and lucky me I get to dress them however I like.

I’m seriously in the minority when it comes to preferring one-pieces so that means I have to get most of the girls’ swimwear online (one-pieces are like the red-headed stepchild of the swimsuit world). Unlike the rest of the year when I wait for deals, when it comes to swimwear I just bite the bullet and pay full price. Especially this year since we needed them at the beginning of March. Swimsuits sell out fast and with all the wear and tear they get, I feel like we get our money’s worth.

In the past we’ve been let down by the quality of swimsuits from the Gap. They have never made it a whole season without losing their stretch so I avoid them if possible.  Target bathing suits aren’t the best in quality but they’re cheap and pretty much available year-round so we always end up with at least one. They also do quite a lot of one-pieces. Arabella settled on a stripey Target bathing suit and a flowery one from Land’s End. Land’s End really makes the best quality suits. They’ll easily give you two years of wear, although it’s rare to have kids that will stay the same size that long. This year they dropped the ball and of all the suits Arabella liked, none were available at the beginning of March. She really had her heart set this flowery one so we ordered it just recently.

We did pretty well at Mini Boden this year. They always have plenty of one-pieces. Ada loves red and she fell in love with this suit:


Ada also went gaga over this suit from Children’s Place. It has a cute matching rash guard too. I love rash guards because kids with sunburns are the biggest babies of all time. If it’s between 11-3:00 my kids have got to have a rashguard on. Of course they’re slathered with sunscreen too, but rashguards keep sun exposure from getting out of hand.


And then there are the swimsuits for teenage girls. Good grief. India is pretty cool about wearing a modest bathing suit. She is not they type who: 1) cares about wearing the same exact thing as everyone else, and 2)doesn’t have that insecure teen-girl need to wear as little clothing as possible (I swear they’re thinking, “If I dress like a hooker maybe boys will like me more!”) The good news is that every year it seems like there are more and more tankinis in the Juniors department. I’m hoping this means that not every teenage girl wants to look like a skeeze. We wound up with a couple of cute tankinis from Kohl’s. Easy Peasy.

(Obviously modesty and good posture do not go hand in hand.)

As for me, I’ve been sporting the same bathing suits for the last four years. The thought of swimsuit shopping is enough to send me reaching for the Valium. I can barely handle trying on pants these days. My weight loss isn’t coming along as well as I’d hoped; I’m thinking of moving on to more drastic measures. Which do you think would work better: a tapeworm or tuberculosis?

Happy almost-swimsuit season!



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We finally made it to Arizona. I love this place. Even though the weather is similar to Texas (they are the same temperature at this exact moment), Arizona–especially where my in-laws are–looks so different. People here take great pains to make it look all lush and gorgeous: palm trees and flowers everywhere and grass that is so obnoxiously green. In Texas we treat winter like it’s winter. Nobody overseeds their lawns because that would mean watering and mowing all winter long. Flowers are relegated to the spring when wildflower season starts (in a week or two. It’s so gorgeous!)

The drive was actually pretty great. Even though I had seven kids with me there was pretty much no fighting. When I was young my parents would give us five or ten dollars at the start of every drive. Each time we fought or sassed my parents we’d get 25¢ taken away. We sure tried to stay in line, although I’d usually lose half of my money. I told my kids we’d be doing this and they moaned and groaned. But I only ended up taking a quarter from three of them. So now I have to pay $70 for nothing. York told me yesterday that I didn’t need to pay him anything because he already has enough money. What a sweetheart!  (In case you didn’t know, raising kids when money is tight and letting them know that money is tight is actually very beneficial. They are so grateful for anything they are given and are completely missing that spoiled sense of entitlement that many of their friends have.)

In case you’re wondering there are about five gas stations in all of west Texas. It took me a while to learn the law of the frontier: if you see a gas station, fill up! I’m glad I brought lots of snacks because restaurants were even fewer and far betweener. We stopped at a Taco Bell at one point that was closed on a Saturday night because they ran out of food. Yikes! Especially because you know what that means: McDonalds. Now that the kids aren’t in extra-curricular activities we rarely eat on the go. I can’t say that I have missed eating there.

But we didn’t starve to death or run out of gas. We made it OK, despite a two hour traffic jam in El Paso. I spent most of the day yesterday shopping and settling in. So today is my first genuinely lazy day. Here it is 9:30 am and I’ve only gotten out of bed once (and that was just to turn on the pool heater and get a yogurt).  And, gloriously enough, there is cable TV. I’ve watched about a jillion episodes of Pawn Stars and Duck Dynasty. It’s been pretty fantastic.

I don’t know why I wasn’t born as a 18th century aristocrat. This kind of do-nothing life really suits me.


Our Spring Break is officially underway! York is at track practice and India’s taking the SAT but soon all the kids will be FREE! For the first time ever we will actually be going somewhere over Spring Break. Just to Grandma and Grandpa’s vacation house in Arizona, so it’s not terribly fancy. The grandparents won’t be there so it’s just us. Well, Mister can’t get away from work so by “us” I mean “the kids and I”. And India’s friend, Summer. She only has one sibling so her head might just explode after spending the week amidst our noisy chaos. (Mister’s brother and his wife will be showing up at some point too, with a bunch of their friends.)

Oh yeah, I should also mention that we will be driving. We never drive anywhere. We do little day trips all the time but as for driving more than three hours in a row? Hasn’t happened since we moved to Texas, lo these many years ago. I’m a little nervous but I think we have enough ipads and electronic gadgets to make sure that there is as little interpersonal involvement as possible.

The temperatures look great next week so my days will consist of sleeping in, lying by the pool (in the shade! Don’t want to lose that vampirish pallor), taking naps and watching lots of TV (There is cable! Such a luxury for us!). I might cook some food. Or we might just eat quite a lot of cereal.

Right now I’m hollering at the kids to keep cleaning out the car. One is Windexing the inside of the windows, one is vaccuming, and one is on petrified-chicken-nugget patrol. I suppose I should think about packing. What am I talking about? I’ve got two new pairs of yoga pants and my bathing suit. I’m totally set!

Snacks for the drive are already parceled out. Yes, I do this myself rather than buying prepackaged snack-sized stuff; What do you think I am, made of money? Pretty much everything is totally sugar-y. I’m quite a mastermind and have decided to pump the kids full of sugar while keeping them confined to an incredibly small space in close proximity to the people they fight with the most in the entire world. Brilliant plan, no? Wish us all well!


I know you’re expecting me to tell you about that mascara or lipstick that you simply must have. Here’s the absolute most important thing you need:


Yep. Every single day. Winter, summer, even if you live in Oregon and the sun hasn’t come out in days. If you can see without a flashlight, your skin is getting bombarded with UV rays. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this truck driver who spent decades with only one side of his face exposed to the sun. And this is through a window! It’s not even full-on sun exposure!

If you’re under 30 you may think, “meh, I’ll worry about my skin when I’m older.” No, no, no, no, no. If you worry about your skin now, you’ll thank yourself each and every day.

You’re never too old to start wearing sunscreen. Take it from someone who is 41 and has no wrinkles. I wear sunscreen (both in my lotion–28 SPF–and in my foundation–15 SPF) and moisturize ever single day.

If you’re one of those people who insists they look so much better tan, yes. Yes, I’m sure you do. We all look better tan. But when you get tan you’re choosing wrinkles. It’s as simple as that. So if you’re OK with that then tan away.

You’ll never meet a 50 year old who wished she laid out a lot more as a teenager. But you’ll meet a ton of 50-year-olds who wished they took better care of their skin. I’m just telling you what you already know, right? So do it. Buy some skincare products with sunscreen. You can thank me in ten years.

I’m over at Segullah today talking about trials and experiences we’ve had. Would you go back and have a do-over if you could? Would you change what’s happened to you? Come on over and chime in!

What an amazing week! First Pie Day, now Peanut Butter Day! Guess what I’ll be making tomorrow? Peanut Butter Pie. Perhaps I shall do a tutorial. In the meantime let’s take a peanut butter-flavored stroll down memory lane.

I can’t believe National Pie Day only happens once a year. But this is the day, January 23rd. I’m working on a pie crust tutorial for you but just in case it isn’t done in time, here are some recommendations for a few pie-influenced things:

Waitress is hands-down the best pie-related movie out there. It’s also on my top ten movies of all time. You can rent it on Amazon Instant for $2.99. It’s quirky and funny and features lots of gratuitous baking. And the ever-so-dishy Nathan Fillion is in it (and it’s PG-13 although there are some muffled sexy things. And there are affairs going on. No swears. No nudity. No violence.)

If you’re going to make pie, you need to listen to the right kind of music. I’m not saying you pie won’t taste right if you listen to any old song, but some music is a better backdrop for making pies than others. My favorite pie-making music is by Georgia Gibbs. She sang mostly in the 1950s and it’s the most gloriously corny music. You know I love that old-fashioned stuff. Because making a pie is definitely in the old-fashioned category as well, it’s a perfect match. Here’s Georgia singing a medley of a few of her songs (one day I’m going to make a pie wearing a skirt like hers. Baking in jeans just isn’t the same):

When I had an old-fashioned Franklin Planner I made a section for my recipes. I listed all the ingredients to the dishes I made regularly so that if I were at the store I’d be able to pick up the supplies for anything. For example, if I  remembered that I’d need to make an appetizer for a party the next day, I’d be able to get all the ingredients while I was still at the store.

I got an iPhone a couple of years ago and looked for an app that did something similar. I needed an app that would let me add my recipes and have them organized into different sections. I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill.

I’ve looked for a good recipe organizing app a few times since then but finding the right recipe app is like finding a needle in a haystack. If I found one that sounded promising it would have terrible reviews. Or no reviews at all. If an app costs $5 I’m not going to buy it unless someone has used it and liked it.

Does anyone know of a recipe app that will let me put in my own recipes ( I don’t want anyone else’s. Just mine.)?

The recipes need to be organized into different sections. I don’t want a big long list. If someone tells me I need to bring a dessert to a party, I want to be able to scroll through the dessert category and see my options.

Any ideas? I tried to get one of my friends who is an app developer to make something like this and he just rolled his eyes at me. Help a girl out here! I’d love some app suggestions.