The Most Awesome Thing My Mom Did for Me

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

My kid, age 12, is starting to like Nancy Drew graphic novels – which is so excellent as I loved Nancy Drew when I was his age. So I thought I’d reblog a favorite story in honor of reading.

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

When I was growing up I read quite a bit. I could spend literally 8 hours straight reading. Not to say I didn’t do other things- but when I was interested in a book – it engulfed me.

My favorite thing about a book was that it I would be immersed in that world. The longer the story the better. I would become slightly depressed when the book ended (ok-sometimes I mooned around for days). I was that kind of reader.

Anyway – my favorite thing to do in the winter or right before it rained in cold weather was be outside reading. It might seem counter-intuitive to be outside in the rain reading but that’s where mom came in.

My favorite way to spend an afternoon was all wrapped up in a chaise lounge in my own cocoon world. I would get a poncho (it was a Sear’s poncho…

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Am I barmy – hee hee…

Hi All,

I’ve been off  the blog-train for a bit, but see that now there’s a new interface for the editor… however, I cannot figure out how to post YouTube content. I switched to “Classic Mode” (and promptly lost my post – boo hoo)…and I used that to put in the URL for my video in yesterday’s post, but alas, on some browsers it just shows up as a link instead of a video.  Does anyone know what’s going on? Is that feature no longer available on the free version of WordPress?

Any insight would be fabbo or just ducky!


Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

What are you on about? And other Excellent Phrases and Words I wish I could use

The following is a small list of English words & phrases that I wish would/could catch on in the States:

(most are probably a mixture of dialect and colloquialisms…which someone of a more linguistic bent could probably distinguish the difference)


  • Rubbish….as in “That is…” or “That is complete…”   – I like the addition of ‘complete’ for emphasis.  I’m all about the emphasis
  • What are you on about? This one reminds me of Monty Python. Whenever I come across it in a book, I hear it in my head as Michael Palin’s voice.
  • I quite like, as in “I quite like the addition of that is at the end of sentence when used to emphasize the subject matter as in ‘that’s a right nice piece of spotted dick, that is’ (and now it’s the Americans sniggling at the use of ‘spotted dick’).”  I think ‘I quite like‘ is doable, however, ‘…that is‘ might be crossing the line towards silly on our part. We’ll just enjoy it from afar. It would be like Brits adopting Gomer Pyle-esque speech patterns.
    (  – in case it’s not working)
  • Have a go. Just a more interesting way to say ‘give it try/take a turn’.  I’m bored with our way of saying it.
  • Bollocks - it’s obvious why this is a winner.
  • Tosser, Prat, Wanker, Sod  – pretty much all of the insult-words are pretty fabbo.
  • Spot on – that’s an addendum – I had forgotten how much I LOVE that expression.

And thank you to those that pointed out that my spelling of “Bollocks” was rubbish – the U is gone… and the O is here!

 So that’s the list to start – let’s see if we can get the ball rolling.  However, please feel free to keep most of the English foods in England. I’m completely baffled by a Yorkshire pudding. It’s not pudding nor  does it seem to even be a dessert.  Same goes for black pudding.  I’ll take the lemon curd, however. Yummmmm

Posted in Humor, Language, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized, Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Labeling the Crazy Part II

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

Obviously I’m lacking for content right now – so here’s a blast from the past …2012 to be exact. Enjoy my word-aversion-crazy.

Originally posted on The Mercenary Researcher:

Aversion:  a feeling of repugnance toward something with a desire to avoid or turn from it

I’m convinced that once you’ve divulged to the world – or at least the 50 people that read my last post -that you have a phobia to buttons, it’s not too much of a leap to talk about another aversion. Possibly even more obscure.

Word Aversion – yes, word aversion.  Well, it’s more like a combination of letters together that make me cringe.  Such words are rarely used in my lexicon.  Most people that know me, know I abhor certain kinds of words. Like koumpounophobia, it’s very amusing and makes for fun times around the table.

I hate words that have double ‘OO’s – especially with an “L” near it…or with an “L” and a “Y” ending.  ‘Smelly’,’ Belly’, ‘Jelly’… I feel unsettled even TYPING THEM.  Any Residents fans out there will…

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Memories of Mujadara

Some moments in time are perfect.

When everything around you was just so; understanding, even then, that you are most likely going remember the time for eternity.  It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or even noteworthy, it’s just a time when everything was ‘right’ – and you felt like you were where you should be.  I don’t know how else to describe it and I don’t even know if it will translate to paper, but I guess I won’t know until I try, eh?

Mujadara brings it back to me, every time.  This simple dish of lentils, rice, and caramelized onion spiced with salt pepper and cumin, is, for me, laced with memories of an ideal moment during my life (and delicious to boot – in a way that I never expected with just lentils & rice but it’s the caramelized onion that does it).

It’s Sunday morning at the restaurant. Winter is just starting to nudge you a bit and let you know of its coming. The back room, bakery, where we bake and prep is warmed from the huge double hearth ovens, yet the bakery still has an invigorating chill from the big open windows.

The bakery is typically populated with two bakers, one prep cook, and the bakery prep cook (to this day I don’t know where this title came from – that person made soups, quiche, lasagna, salsa & cut fruit – which in no way benefited us bakers). Sundays were a little magical.  Sundays were the days when a couple of the line cooks came back to our area to make cheese sauce and fry tortillas.  The best Sundays featured a visit from Kamil and Osama.  Both men hailed form the Gaza strip in Palestine and we benefited not only from their wisdom but their mad cooking skills.

Kamil was a very gentle, soft spoken man; slender in build, dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair (what was left of it anyway) and the sweetest smile going.  His heavy, but beautiful accent and soft voice required an extra attentive ear.  Osama was an altogether different package, sturdily built, light caramel skin and sea green eyes.  Yes, sea green eyes.  He had more of an Egyptian look to him, but he was fiercely Palestinian and missed his family in Gaza.  His name means “Lion” and t’was apt for him.  He was a man of extreme emotions at times. Ninety-nine percent of the time he was mellow, with a smile and laugh, but on the rare occasions when he was angry, he was fierce. Not violent, just passionate.

On this particular Sunday, Kamil decided to make us all some STRONG Turkish coffee (as if there’s another intensity for Turkish coffee). He set about with his small metal cezve 

The magic happens in this small metal container

The magic happens in this small metal container

making us each our own coffee served in beautiful demitasse cups he’d brought with him from his homeland.  And after we each had one cup, he made us another and possibly another.  It was so delicious and we were so hopped up on coffee.  We buzzed around like little bees – all of us laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  While Kamil made cheese sauce and coffee, Osama had put on two pots of water to boil, getting ready to make some Mujadara for our lunch.

It was the first time he’d made us this particular dish. He told us, that day, he was homesick for his mother and that Mujadara was one of the typical day-to-day dishes she’d prepare for his family. He told us that it was not an entrée you’d see on a menu in a typical Middle Eastern restaurant as it was a very ‘peasant-y’ dish – not much to look at.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much – I’m not a fan of rice and lentils have to be highly spiced for me to enjoy them. SURPRISE – it was fabulous.  Those three main ingredients had a lot to offer.

When the Mujadara was prepared, Osama plated up a portion for each of us, warmed up some flat bread and we all ate together.  It was a perfect Sunday. I felt like I was in the right place at the right time – surrounded by people that I cared for very deeply all sharing in a meal made with love and warm memories.

After we gorged ourselves and the caffeine wore off, I think we were all ready for a nap.  We crashed hard.

And that, my friends, was a perfect moment in my life.

And this, my friends, is the recipe for Mujadara, prepared in the manner of my friend Osama’s mother.



  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup uncooked rice – I prefer basmati – choose your favorite kind
    • 1 cup uncooked lentils – green variety is the best, red will dissipate
    • Enough water to make both rice and lentils
    • 2 large Onions – red or vidalia are best – sliced in half moons and somewhat wide (in other words not thinly sliced)
    • Olive Oil
    • Cumin
    • Salt
    • Pepper

To Prepare:

    • Cook both the rice and lentils according to the package directions (I actually will cook them both together because I’m lazy)


    • Whilst the rice/lentils are cooking heat up the olive oil in a large heavy cast iron pan or a deep sauce pot (you need enough room to add the rice/lentils later on) – Medium heat


    • To caramelize onions: add the sliced onions and begin to sauté them on low heat for 20-25 minutes, until the onions have turned a deep brown.  Stir the onions around during the process


    • For the last 10 minutes of the caramelizing, add the cumin, salt & pepper (I have no measurements to offer – you want them highly spiced but not too salty). I also like to add a little water to the onions and cook it down – this helps to soften them and it will also deglaze the pan adding to the rich flavor of the caramelized onions.


    • Once the lentils and rice are cooked, add them to the onions. Mix well on low heat.  taste and re-season as necessary.


  • Serve warm. A little plain Greek Yogurt is delightful.   Some people like a squeeze of lemon as well.

    Looks blandiola, tastes like heaven.

    Looks blandiola, tastes like heaven.


And that is all there is to it.  Mujadara tastes even better the 2nd day, after all the spices have infused in the rice and lentils.

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Eating, Family, Food, Humor, love, Recipes, Relationships, Vegetarian, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Blogging Tour (Blogging From the Heart)

Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher:

I am running on mush-for-brains, I wanted to reblog this the day my fabbo friend posted it…but alas, it happened not. MEA CULPA! MEA CULPA! PLEASE FORGIVE MY TRANSGRESSIONS, KAREN!

Ok now that that’s over with – please read about the magic that goes on in Karen’s head. You’ll be glad you did.
My favorite Karen story, and there are many, was when she was 14 she bought and WORE these plastic-y ‘allikator (that’s alligator with a “K”) type man shoes at a some kind of weird place, I want to say a gas station/store in a small hellish town in Southern Arizona…maybe Gila Bend? But I remember thinking “I have never met a female that would buy shoes like that – I like this person”. That about sums it up.  And I have really long sentences, with too much extra information jammed in, and I wonder why it’s confusing…

So what are you still doing reading this? Get to it, people!

Originally posted on Mended Musings:

blogging tour collage

A couple of week ago, Katia at IAMTHEMILK asked me if I’d participate in a blogging tour that’s making its way across the blogosphere. It’s not an award of any sort but a way for bloggers to share a little bit about their writing process. Below I answer four questions and then tag some other bloggers to do the same.

I love Katia and the way she finds just the right mix of humor and seriousness in many of her stories. Katia’s post about her writing process is On Trees and Writing but please read The Unbearable Lightness of Being Away where she shares her feelings about the Israeli and Palestinian struggle and how it feels for her to be so far away from her home.

What am I working on?

Well, I’m not writing a book. I might be the only blogger in the blogosphere who doesn’t aspire to be…

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I often wondered if I began talking in the womb…

Greetings People,

I’m honored to have been tagged in a blog-tour that is happening right now.  Honored and surprised as I’ve not really been an active blogger nor reader for a little bit of time – and I’ll explain why in just a bit. But first I want to say “Thank You” to Karen, from Mended Musings, for all her support and including me with all these really talented people.   In turn, I shall be tagging 3 exceptional writers to participate.

I often wondered if I began talking in the womb… I wouldn’t entirely rule that out as a possibility. Some of my earliest memories consist of hearing people ask my parents ‘does she talk like that all the time?’ and being paid quarters (serious 7 year old cash in the ‘70s) to remain quiet during a car trip.  I’ve ever been a talker- and then by extension a Linguaphile. My forte is in storytelling – typically of the factual kind.  I also love to write letters and notes. I’m completely confident I have written what would be the equivalent of a tome, during high school years to my various schoolmates.

Ironically, I’ve never really considered myself a ‘writer’ – storyteller, maybe – but ‘writer’? No.  Most of the people I know who are serious writers have, in fact, written at least one book or a series of short stories. They have multiple ideas for other books and are constantly scribbling out ideas for future novels.  Me? Not so much. I’ve heard plenty of people say “you should write a book” – and then I ruminate over that and my mind goes completely blank.  I had not one iota of an idea about a book to write.  Nada.  Because, like I stated above, I didn’t fancy myself as a ‘writer’. I have a lot of stories but nothing book worthy.

For years I contented myself with the joys of being an email-whore.  It filled the desire to write, relate stories and use language.  It also allowed me to communicate with people who also appreciated and wrote a good multi-paragraphed email.  Then a couple, three years ago, my friend at Mended Musings confided in me that she was writing a blog – at the time it was anonymous – and might I be interested in reading some of her posts?  Well of course I was – she was one of the people that I wrote with in high school.  And so I did – and with some encouragement – started my own blog.

It was a wonderful venue for my style of writing- I got to relate my stories, voice opinions and read a whole lotta great blogs on WordPress. I threw myself into it full force.  I have definitely grown as a storyteller and, dare I say, a writer. However, I have to admit, I’ve been writing less and less since November 2013.  On some level, my stories have been told, on another, I have a bad habit of having about 3 month’s enthusiasm for most anything I have developed an interest in (and I was a steady blogger for almost 3 years!).   I worried I was drying up – that my brain was unable to really write anything ‘post worthy’ and fresh. So many talented people out there writing essentially what I was thinking of writing – and articulating it better. I didn’t want to waste space for the sake of just writing something.  But then I realized that something a little different was happening – my dried up brain was actually getting IDEAS.

Along with those ideas, I was getting a tremendous amount of encouragement from my friends Sharon Kay Penman and Ted Schredd to WRITE A BOOK.   Just the thought made my stomach ache.  That is a lot of pressure – TO WRITE A BOOK.  It’s a long term project that takes discipline, talent, patience, A STORY, and planning.  All those things I wasn’t sure I had enough of.  But I take some of that back…I did have a little story germinating in my brain.  Sharon suggested that I pick I topic I love and write about it. Ted advised that I just spend a little bit everyday working on something.  I have put those two things together and I’ve arrived at where I am today.

So, after 708 introductory words, I shall begin the ANSWERING OF THE QUESTIONS…

1)      What am I working on?

A BOOK! Yes, I’m working on a book – and this is the FIRST time I’ve publically put that out there. I started in May and have faithfully been dedicating a little bit of everyday towards the research, plot, and character development.   I’m deep enough into this process to feel like I can actually say that I’m going to write a book.   The only hint I will give away about it, at this point, is that it’s going to be a historical fiction novel – 14th century England.  Just the research, alone, for the time period, is daunting to me. I’m better acquainted with life in the 12th-13th centuries, but I wanted to write a little bit outside of my comfort zone and learn some new things along the way.   At this point, I’ve got a plot and my major characters are well on their way to being developed. I cannot wait to meet them on paper and see how they grow.

2)      How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Um… this is a stumper…  I don’t know if I have an answer to that. I am going into this as a storyteller in hopes that my style of writing, which people tell me is very ‘conversational’, shines through and enhances the story.  Whether this differs from others of its genre remains to be seen – at this point I just want to succeed in writing a book. One step at a time.

3)      Why do I write/create what I do?

For my blog, I found it a great venue for telling the various stories I’ve told to people for my entire life.  I also love the conversations these stories generate and the ability to use them as a way to meet new and interesting people.

Why I’m writing a book? I think because I finally have a story to tell and hopefully more. I also want to experience the process and maybe, just maybe, I will find something within myself that I never knew I had.  I also hope to get to England – and that is my goal if, a year down the road, this project has taken off and looks to be a life changer, I will go to England so I can experience the places that I’m writing about.


4)      How does my writing/creating process work?

Many years ago, at age 13, I was learning how to ski. I found myself on my first blue square trail, utterly terrified and overwhelmed at the sheer drop over the edge to start the run that seemed to go on forever. I stood there, frozen.  My friend’s father skied up beside me and asked if I was OK. I told him, because I’m a brutally honest person, that I was terrified. The run looked too steep and too long.  He gave me the best advice of my entire life – he told me to stop looking at the entire mountain, and just concentrate on 5 feet in front of me.  That did it. I went over the edge and skied that run.  Over the years, I’ve found that advice to work for most anything that overwhelms me. This book project is no different.  I’ve decided that every day, I will devote to doing a little something.  I made a list (I love lists) of the things I needed to do and just try to do them.  I have given myself a year – I knew that the first few months would be solely about research – not only am I writing a book (which is its own process) but I’m having to learn about a completely different culture.  As I started reading up on 14th century England, my brain started coming up with ideas for fleshing out the plot and the characters. I’m trying to just give myself a manageable schedule without any sort of deadline (except a year) – and am waiting to see how things develop.

The most interesting aspect of this process is for every plot or character trait idea, I have to actually research to see if it was something credible for that time period.  And the more I learn about that time period, the more I ideas I have about the plot.

I want to kiss the entire internet every day – because I could not do half of what I’m doing without it. I also am very grateful to the public library and Inter Library Loan – it’s a godsend.  And, most of all, I’m grateful for my family and friends who are supporting me with tons of encouragement.  My husband is willing to listen and give feedback on any number of plot lines I talk about. And, for some bewildering reason, people are taking this venture seriously. Which makes it so much more real to me.

So, in essence, for me – my creative process works because I am able to take small, realistic steps, and talk everything out.  Talking has always been my way of working through any number of problems and it still works here.


Phew – that was long winded, eh?   And now I want to invite three amazing writers to participate –  Three is such a small amount – I have a whole huge LIST of people I admire – but three is the number of which I was told to choose…so three it must be.

I’m not picking out any particular post of these three because you can find ANY post they have written and be ‘wowed’  – they have that much talent.  And  that’s a lot of talent.   These are three bloggers that I have connected with on some level. And for me, that’s the most important thing.  So go there and read them. You’ll thank me immediately.


    • List of X from, uh, List of X!  He is such an engaging & funny Russian List of X. And that should be enough to recommend him highly. But seriously, he’s really clever and anyone that makes me laugh is much admired in my eyes.
    •  Mike Calahan from B.L.O.G.  – Mike is just straight up FUNNY – a talented and engaging writer who loves to tell a good story from his youth. He’s my kinda guy.  He makes me want to use the word “adorbs” when describing him. He’s thoroughly adorbs.
    • No list is complete without Emily from The Waiting.  I’m pretty sure Emily has probably been invited to this ride before. She’s a big deal in the WordPress world o’wonder – but I’m listing her anyway!  I hope she has time to join us if she’s not done so already.  She’s been a busy, busy, busy woman making her mark in the world at her new gig.
Posted in Blogging, Childhood, connections, Humor, Language, love, News, Philosophy, Random Thoughts, Relationships, Sharon K Penmen, Story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments