Forty before Forty Item #30: Back in the land of the smartphone

Late last year I lost my smartphone. It literally disappeared from the face of the earth. We looked everywhere, but couldn't find it anywhere. The best theory we could come up with is that I threw it into the recycling bin one day when I was cleaning out the van. It was dark, my hands were full, I must have been holding the phone in one hand., and I guess I let go of everything in one fell swoop, and didn't realize that the phone had gone along with all the papers and pieces of cardboard and plastic. It's probably rotting in the local landfill right now, and will probably stay there for the next 99 years.

Join the Lunch Wars

Yesterday I blogged about what school lunches used to look like when I went to school, and compared them to the school lunches being served in my kids' elementary school today. As far as I can tell, these school lunches aren't making the grade, in my kids' school and in schools across the country. Fortunately, parents and people in many communities are banding together to do something about it. We've all heard of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the tv series chronicling Naked Chef Jamie Oliver's efforts to introduce healthier food into the school lunch system. Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyard program have made the Berkeley school district a model for healthy school lunches nationwide. There's even a documentary called Two Angry Moms, chronicling two mothers' year-long crusade to improve school lunches in Texas.

School lunches of my childhood

Whenever I read books or watch tv shows or movies where schoolkids insult the cafeteria food, I can never relate. When I was a schoolgirl, the cafeteria food was always wonderful. It was always cooked on-site, from scratch, and piping hot, featuring basic but delicious Filipino or American favorites. Here are some dishes I remember from my schooldays:

Seven Days of Dinner, Sept. 25-Oct. 1

This is actually Brie, not Camembert.

When I get started with an idea, I really like to flesh it out. Take this Seven Days of Dinner thing, for instance. I'm happy with it. It's working for me. It's working so well, I've already listed down about 3 weeks' worth of dishes that I want to try. But in typical Type-A personality style, I've decided to set some criteria for the dishes I pick:

Boo to Republican audience for booing gay soldier Stephen Hill

I knew there was a Republican debate last night, and deliberately did not tune in to watch it. I dislike presidential debates in general; the candidates seem to treat it as a campaign platform, never answering the questions, always sidestepping and going off on some other tangent, either to highlight their own successes or insult their opponents. Also, the previous Republican debate really disturbed me. It wasn't so much the candidates that bothered me so much as the audience. I didn't like the way they cheered like a bloodthirsty mob when Rick Perry spoke out in favor of the death penalty, nor the way they booed Ron Paul when he said that the US's high-handed foreign policy leads to unrest in the Middle East and was party responsible for the actions that the terrorists took on 9/11 (they like to think that the US was attacked "because they envy our freedom").

Seven Days of Dinner

Here's some of the bounty from our local farmer's market that I plan to use to cook our dinners this week. Needless to say, the flowers are for decoration only.

Several years ago, drawing inspiration from two of my favorite foodie blogs, CityMama and This Week for Dinner, I did a month-long, weekly series of posts about what I was planning to cook for the week. I stopped writing the meal-planning posts, but I haven't stopped cooking. In fact, I've been cooking more than ever.

This year, I've made three food-related goals that I want to accomplish this year: to eat less processed foods, to get my kids to like Indian food, and to get my kids to like eggplant. Since all three goals involve a lot more cooking, and since I have less time than ever to cook (thanks to the kids' late afternoon schedules), I've had to spend more time planning our meals in advance. Last week I planned dinner for all 7 days:

Cream of Almond and Wild Mushroom Soup

I love Cream of Mushroom soup. It's my childhood comfort food. Forget macaroni and cheese or chicken pot pie -- to this day, nothing brings back memories of childhood like cream of mushroom soup, rice and Spam (hey, I grew up in the Philippines).

Mommy Brain goes Back to School

One of the easiest ways to tell whether I'm feeling stressed and overworked is my level of absentmindedness. It has caused me to do a lot of stupid brainless funny things in the past. But it has been a good summer. I've been very relaxed. I haven't had any incidents since the time I thought aliens had vaporized my father-in-law from the back of my van. It has been nine months since I threw my smartphone into the trash, and since I thought I had finally left those absentminded days behind, it might actually be safe to buy a new phone.

No-Sew Halter Top

I've wanted to make my own halter-top tshirt ever since I saw Leila from Don't Speak Whinese rock her awesome handmade outfit at last month's Clever Girls' Party. But alas, it involves a teensy bit of machine sewing, and even though I have a perfectly good Singer sewing machine in the garage, the thought of winding bobbins and threading needles in order to make something I'm going to wear in public is so unappealing, it makes me want to do laundry.

Forty before Forty Item #13: Bonggamom bares it all (well, almost)

We've just come home from an amazing Labor Day weekend trip to Reno and Tahoe. For four glorious days, we basked in the sun and had a great time. We swam in the gorgeous, Tuscan-inspired pools of the Peppermill Resort in Reno as well as the pool and hot tub at the Hampton Inn in Truckee. We rafted down the Truckee river. We splashed on the shores of Lake Tahoe, and paddled a kayak in the lake.

And I finally wore a bikini. On the last official weekend of summer!

Candy Cigarettes -- Playing with Fire

Do you remember those bubble gum cigarettes that you chewed as a kid? No, I'm not talking about the sticks of gum that came in a pack made to look like a pack of cigarettes. I'm talking about the bubble gum that actually looked like a cigarette. It was shaped into a slim, cylindrical tube and wrapped in white paper with a slim tan band at one end. I remember how much my siblings and I loved those bubble gum cigarettes. Getting a pack in a party goody bag or being given one by an aunt or grandparent was an extremely rare treat, to be savored and enjoyed.