Monthly Archives: February 2012

What To Eat Or Not To Eat…That Is The Lenten Question

This post was written a year ago , on Ash Wednesday. I’m re-posting it today because, 1. it’s Ash Wednesday again (yayy!) and, 2. I’m kinda lazy. I did, however, add a few more thoughts at the end. So, read on…

As we begin the Lenten season, I’m faced once again with the dilemma of what to serve for dinner (oh, and that other thing, what to give up, and don’t just say, “Oh I’ll be nicer to people” – that’s a cop-out, though, admittedly, a nice idea).

Today is Ash Wednesday, which, along with Good Friday, are the  two WORST days of Lent.  I know, I know.  It should be viewed as an opportunity to take a step back from the world by sacrificing in some way, and in doing so, bring us closer to God. Complaining about this Holy Season, it’s really hard to not sound like an irreverent and cynical person – exactly the type that needs Lent.  I know.  But, seriously, not only is today the official kick-off for this fun season of denial and deprivation, we Catholics also must abstain from meat on Fridays.   Every Friday.  And, for some reason, that almost always translates into frozen cheese pizza dinners in my house.

And the worst part of Ash Wednesday is that we have to fast, besides.  In all fairness, fasting does not mean starvation, but rather, keeping our food intake to a maximum of two small meals (which together, would equal one meal) and one regular meal.  So, it’s not really that difficult to abide by.  I mean, it’s ONE DAY, for goodness sake (well, actually, counting Good Friday,  it’s  technically TWO DAYS).  It’s just that, when you’re told you cannot have something, you just want it SO badly.  Those of you who have ever dieted know what I’m talking about.  Suddenly, Corn Flakes smell insanely good.  It’s crazy.  I’m willing to bet that even the most dedicated vegan, if told he, absolutely, under no circumstances, could not eat meat on Fridays, would find himself obsessing about McRib sandwiches.

But, I do struggle a little with the whole dinner thing.  Breakfast is easy – cereal, eggs, toast.  Lunch isn’t too hard – cereal, eggs, toast.  But, dinner can be a little tricky.  For one thing, I think I’d be lynched if I even suggested the breakfast/lunch options.  For families like ours, though, which are unapologetically carnivorous (mainly because I don’t know how to make a substantial meal without meat), we’re in a real quandary.  My usual meals are:  the aforementioned cheese pizza, quiche (cleverly disguised eggs), and…that’s about it.  Oh, I guess there’s always meatless spaghetti or frozen vegetable lasagna (Stouffer’s has a great one).  So, that’s four meals.  Help!!  If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.   Oh, and we don’t really do fish, so…yeeaaahhhh… no fish, please.

***My additional thoughts, promised in the opening of this post: I love the Gospel reading on Ash Wednesday.  It reminds us to keep our sacrifices private. We don’t have to ann0unce to the world how devout we are. We shouldn’t make a show of our “holiness.” We are told to, when giving alms, do not blow a horn on the street.  Wash your face, keep your appearance clean. We don’t have to show off about it – God knows our hearts. So, with that, Happy Lent and good luck with the whole food thing.***


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The following  is an excerpt from our book, LIVING THE DREAM ON A BOX WINE BUDGET.  I was inspired to print it after hearing an interview on the radio this morning with an outraged mother of a student enrolled in a Chicago college prep charter school.  She was angry with the school’s disciplinary policies.  Her son had racked up dozens of detentions for what she called “benign infractions” (sleeping in class, talking in class, etc) and had to repeat his freshman year.  She claimed it is the school’s way of trying to get rid of poorly performing students in an effort to keep its test scores high.  Wow, seriously?   Read on…





            My BWB partner and I both sent our sons to a Catholic and Benedictine, all-boy, military academy.  Once, when my son, Brian, described his school in that way, the response was “Wow, that’s a lot of discipline.”  Precisely.  For my family, it was something we’d planned even before the boys were born.  My husband graduated from the same school, as did his older brothers and his father.  Sending sons to this school is a tradition in many families.

In fact, when we were expecting our first baby, we did what all expectant parents do – we thought about names.  Only in our house, I was told that, for boys names, initials had to be considered.  Perplexed, it was explained to me that if we had a boy, once he reached high school, he would be required to wear a name tag with his first and middle initial and that some initials invited merciless teasing.  So, in my attempt to name our son something he could proudly display on his name tag, which would not result in lifetime of therapy, I had to keep initials in mind.  We finally gave up and concluded that boys can be quite creative in the art of nicknames and decided to go with “Michael Patrick” (initials: MP – which, actually, may have helped a little in a military environment).

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I Know What You Did Last Sunday

Last weekend found my BWB partner and me attending the Mystery Writers of America Convention at the Intercontinental Hotel in Rosemont.  It was an impulsive and rather bold move on our part.  As budding authors (currently collaborating on a murder mystery with a unique angle), we aspire to hobnob with established authors.  My husband was actually the one who saw the newspaper article about the convention, and before we knew it, we were sitting in on some pretty cool lectures.  I won’t go into the details of our admission into the convention because it may get us into a  bit of trouble with the MWA honchos.  But, we got in and that’s really all that matters.  Subject closed, so let it go already.  Continue reading

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