Author Archives: Mom

Dish to Pass Season

Tis the season!! Thanksgiving is later this month and then various holiday activities will fill up our calendar for the rest of the year.


In our families, my sister is the hostess for most gatherings on my side of the family. Peter’s parents host gatherings for his side. We also gather there for football every Sunday. In attempt to not feel completely useless, we do try to contribute to the food being offered. But, let’s face it, I am lazy… so I try to volunteer easy dishes. Here are some winners we’ve done in the past:

Appetizers:

This super easy pizza dip was a big hit at last year’s small Christmas gathering. And I do love anything that can be made in a crock pot!

I have not made these 3 ingredient meatballs in a long time. But they are literally the easiest dish anyone can bring. They used to be what I brought to every single gathering, in recent years I’ve branched out only to show I’m capable of cooking something besides meatballs. Now that I’ve proven myself, I may go back to this for this year’s festivities because they were so yummy and I miss them!

Sides:

This Nacho Grande Soup was my contribution to last year’s extended family Christmas. It didn’t last long. If I make again I will be making a double batch. Super yummy!

I’ve made this as a side dish for my own family but it’s certainly easy enough to make multiple batches and bring to share with a big crowd. Asparagus Crescent Rolls would be a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving table in my book!

Desserts:

Halloween this year proved particularly challenging as children at our gathering had allergies to peanut butter, chocolate and cheese. So I said I’d bring apple crisp, and when I went to make it realized I had no oats… I found this oat free recipe and turns out, Peter and I prefer our apple crisp without oats!

Had I not had such rigorous restrictions on my Halloween dish to pass this year I probably would have made last year’s Thanksgiving contribution, peanut butter cheesecake truffles. They’re a little messy, but very worth it.

A drink:

Just for good measure, in case you want to bring ingredients to play bartender, here’s my husband’s creation he calls Cuban Missile Crisis.

Do you have a signature dish to pas or like to experiment with new stuff every time?




Name of the Day: Magnus

Meaning “great” in Latin, it is rumored that it became a Scandinavian name under rushed, uninformed circumstances: King Olaf Hardaldsson’s illegitimate son was born while he was away. Born prematurely and not breathing, they made a poet his godfather and did a hasty baptism, as they did not expect the child to live long. He named him after the king’s role model, Karlas Magnus, not realizing that Magnus meant “The Great” and wasn’t part of his name. The boy went on to not only survive, but become very strong, and the King of both Norway and Denmark. Whether his name was a misunderstanding or not, he was a real person, best known as “Magnus the Good.”

Magnus the Good was the first of 7 King Magnus’ to rule Norway. 4 Kings of Swede, 1 in Livonia and 4 Dukes were also named Magnus. Also a Roman usurper, Roman consul a prince, and a bishop. Certainly a powerful and regal history!

Saints include Magnus of Anagni, a hepard who donated all his earnings to the poor. Magnus of Avigon is the patrol saint of those selling fish.

And of course more down to earth notables have the name as well including many musicians, scientists and athletes.

Besides being so handsome as a formal name, it has the most adorable nicknames. Maggie and Gus.




Happy Birthday Lennon Wallace

I’m going to be honest, this post is a week late. And it’s going to be brief. Because I can’t take my eyes off you long enough to write a long, gushy love letter like I’d like to!

If you told me that there was a child in this world with more energy than my Lennon, I would not believe you! If you told me there was a child in the world who is more demanding of his mother’s attention than my Lennon, I would not believe you! But if you told me there was a child who is funnier, with a sweeter heart, desire for adventure or excitement to learn something new, I would also not believe you!

Lennon, you are so much more than I ever dreamed you could be. Your larger than life personality puts a smile on my face every day! I’m so lucky that of all the Momma’s Boys in the world, you are mine! I can’t believe how much you’ve grown in these past 2 years. Part of me still can’t believe you’re here! Thank you for all the laughs and smooches!




Name of the Day: Roscoe

Derived from a place name, Roscoe is used as both a first and last name and means “doe wood”. I believe there are 15 Roscoe towns and villages in the US.  It was only given to 63 boys last year, which I find incredible! It’s so handsome, why are people not using it?

With the name Otis I just linked to a bunch of youtube videos of artists with the name… it seemed to resonate with my husband, so let’s try that approach again!

Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbucke, a silent film star who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Bob Hope. Other actors include: Roscoe Karns who comically starred in 150 films, Roscoe Orman (Gordon on Sesame Street), Roscoe Born, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alan Roscoe.

Outside the arts, there have been many influential politicians and accomplished athletes bearing Roscoe as a first or last name.  Several professor and scientist Roscoes have contributed research advancing the scientific world. It’s also the name of several war heroes and the first ever direcor of the CIA. Roscoe Pound is one of history’s most influential legal scholars. Roscoe Nicholson is one of the earliest advocates for conservation of forest life in the US.  Will Roscoe is an author and activist who’s works largely involve rights of the LGBT community.




Name of the Day: Florence

I adore the name Flora!! For years I’ve been pushing it on Peter, constantly insisting it’s perfect because it’s my great grandmother’s name (Florence) and his great grandmother’s name (Cora) combined. I’ve had no luck. But this week I found out, he does like Florence! And that’s even better in my book. Because Flora is still a nickname option, as is Flo. But it ads other great options Ren and Flossy! And Florence is beautiful, sophisticated, historical and exotic. And (like Flora) I love it’s nature inspired definition, flowering/blooming. (As a side note, I also like Florentia, the original version of the name.)

If you didn’t know my great grandmother, you likely associate the name with Florence Nightingale. She’s well enough know that I don’t think I need to write about her accomplishments. The founder of modern nursing, she was selfless, strong and would make the perfect namesake for any child!

In the arts: Florence Ballard was a founding member of Motown and the Supremes! Florence Lawrence is often referred to as the “First Movie Star”. She appeared in over 300 films.  Florence La Badie and Florence Turner were silent film actresses. Florence Mills “The Queen of Happiness” was a cabaret singer, dancer and comedian! Florence Price is the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Florence Welch is the front-woman in Indie rock band Florence and the Machine. And of course Florence Henderson was the Mom on the Brady Bunch.

In other areas: Florence Kelley is a political reformer who worked for childen’s and worker’s right. Florence Newton is the most known “witch” of the Irish witch trials. Other Florences include A first lady, a Vietnam war protester who set herself on fire, several writes, athletes and some politicians.




Name of the Day: Miriam

The meaning of Miriam is quite disputed. In our culture most consider it a Hebrew name that is the first variation of Mary. Mary and Miriam have several theories regarding their origins. The most published definition is “bitter” but I believe it’s actually “beloved”. If Miriam were originally a Hebrew name bitterness would apply as “mr” in Hebrew is bitter. “yam” is sea. So in Hebrew the name means sea of bitterness. However, there is evidence (inscriptions in the pyramids) that the Egyptians had used the names before the Hebrews. It was adopted by the Hebrews to fit into the Egyptian culture. (Similar to if if someone immigrated to America today and named their child Sofia to fit in with our culture.) Many Egyptian names back then included “mr” as it means loved. Another possible Egyptian translation is “Mirror of God”.

Though I don’t consider Miriam to be Hebrew in origin, it’s history in the Bible and Torah is significant. As Moses’ sister she led the women out of Egypt and taught them the Torah, just Moses did for the men. From the time she was a very young girl she also assisted in delivering babies and sparing the lives of the boys that the Pharaoh decreed were supposed to be killed. When her father and other men began divorcing their wives for fear of having male sons, Miriam convinced them to remarry. She also told her parents that they’d give birth to Moses, who would save them all and she’s the one who saved him by putting him in a basket and then helped the Pharaoh’s daughter care for him when he was found. Though I was brought up Catholic, I am no longer part of organized religion. However, I do still find certain stories and characters in holy texts inspirational. Miriam is definitely one of my favorites! In recent decades Miriam has been seen as a symbol of feminism within Jewish communities.

Miriam Makeba was a singer, activist and, well… pretty much everything. Known by some as Mama Africa her life is extremely fascinating and inspiring. She wasn’t expected to survive birth, spent the first 6 months of her life living in a jail, her father died when she was young and she was married at 17 to a man who beat her. None of this stopped her from achieving international fame, but fame got her exiled from her home in South Africa, where her family still resided. It was at this point she began speaking out about the white minority government in Africa. There’s no way I can do justice to her in this blog post. She was talented, brave, confident and she also provided the world with amazing music. She stayed true to herself and her culture instead of trying to fit into the mold of the successful artists of the time. By exposing the world to her African style, she opened their minds to discuss moral and political issues as well. She spoke to the United Nations twice and was involved in many political movements and performances. She says she didn’t sing about politics, she sang about the truth and of her own life.

Miriam Leslie was an author, publisher, aristocrat and woman’s suffrage supporter. She was born to a noble family but was never given much in terms of “love and merriment” as she said herself. In the late 1860s the editor of Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine became ill. She volunteered to take over the job while forfeiting the salary to the sick editor. When he died, she took over permanently and this of how she came to marry Frank Leslie. When Frank died she took over the magazine, immediately making it more successful. When she died she left her money to Carrie Chapman Catt for the woman’s suffrage movement.

Speaking of publishing, Miriam Goldberg also took over her husbands publication, Intermountain Jewish News. Under her leadership the paper began to take controversial stands. Miriam believed in presenting all sides of the issues that they covered, something I feel very strongly should always be done.

Miriam Rivera is a transgender TV personality that has starred in several reality shows and has been a pioneer for the transgender community. Her courage to be herself has helped normalize lives of transgender people to those who have no similar experiences within their own lives. She has never had gender the reassignment surgery because she loves and accepts her body as is. (I’m not at all against gender reassignment surgery, I think each individual should have the body they ate most comfortable in. But I do think her acceptance of herself is inspiring.)

Miriam Yalan-Shteklis was a talented children’s poet who’s works taught lessons without preaching, didn’t always dissolve adults of all blame (as most literature for children do) and showed children expressing a wide range of emotions, not just a happy ending. Similarly, Miriam Roth wrote books now considered children’s book classics and was a pioneer for preschool education in Israel. Several other Miriams have also had success writing for adults. Miriam Ben-Porat was the first female Supreme Court Judge in Isreal and the first female State Comptroller, a role in which she was extremely successful and had a very positive influence. Several other singers, Olympic athletes and actresses bear the name. So, I’d definitely there are very strong feminine role models associated with this name, a big perk for me when choosing names!

Miriam is also the name of the title character in a short story by Truman Capote. Is the story any good? I don’t know. What’s it about? I don’t know. I didn’t read anything about it because Truman Capote is one of my favorite writers so I’d like to read the story very soon.

Adorable nicknames include: Mira, Miri, Mim, Mia, Ria, Mimi… and Meerkat!




Name of the Day: Reynard

An Ancient Germanic name meaning brave advice, this name has lots of spelling variations. I really like Rainard as it has the word rain in it, which I find peaceful and cleansing, but I struggle to find as much information about it being a legitimate spelling…So I’ll go on with Reynard as it’s the most common spelling… though it was still given to less than 5 babies last year.

Reynard is the name of a sneaky Fox (Fox could be a cool nickname) in which many many forklores have been based. These tales started in the middle ages and were popular in Germany, France, England and the Netherlands. In fact these tales were so popular that renard became the new word for fox in France (it used to be goupil.) Reynard’s stories often involve him out smarting the upper class authorities.

His first documented tale is a Latin poem from 1148 called Ysengrimus. Reynard is renamed Rossel in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The character was also used by the Nazi party in an Anti Semitic children’s book (not all the history of a given name can be good!). Disney’s Robin Hood was a fox to make him similar to Reynard. These are just a few of many many examples of Reynard’s many many appearances in pop culture over the years.

I found a modern day pop singer names named Reynard Silva… maybe he’s a big deal… I really don’t keep up with what’s currently hip. Whether a household name or not though, I think he’s pretty talented.

Paul Reynard was a French born artist and art teacher. Many of his paintings exist in the United States, including a mural at Harvard. He was also a very skilled stained glass artist.

 




Name of the Day: Zinnia

The name of a flower, Zinnia has been used rarely as a girl’s name over the years. In fact, it was most popular in 2015 with 120 girls being given that name… but none of those slackers have done anything to make them significant figures yet 😉 I LOVE the name though, and I think I can make a strong case for it despite it’s lack of historical namesakes.

In general I love nature names. I believe I’ve mentioned before, however, most nature names remind me of a delicate, soft spoken child, and I don’t feel they fit a large variety of people. I don’t feel this way about Zinnia. As the name of a flower, I think it would still fit the small framed, shy girl previously mentioned. But the Z gives it extra spunk, making it fit the energetic child equally well. And I think it also has a more robust sound, making me associate it less with someone who is very frail and allowing me to picture it on all body types.

The zinnia flower was named for German botanist Johann Zinn. So, in a way, it has German roots. I pitch German names to Peter often as I’m 75% German but they almost always sound too harsh to him. In Germany the surname Zinn refers to someone who works with Tin. This makes me smile as my grandmother collected tins and started me on the same collection as a child.

Johann Zinn himself was not just a botanist but an anatomist. He was the first to provide some detailed anatomy of the human eye. He died at just 31, so nobody knows what contributions he could have made had his life been longer. Carl Linnaeus created the zinnia flower and named it after Johann. Linnaeus himself seems to have been rather interesting.

All flowers have their own meanings. Zinnia’s are an easy flowering plant and bloom longer than most other flowers, they therefore symbolize endurance. Then of course people like to assign different meanings to different colors within types of flowers. According to Pioneer thinking zinnias represent thoughts of friends. Mixed color zinnias mean thoughts of an absent friend. A yellow zinnia represents daily remembrance. White zinnias represent goodness. A scarlet zinnia is for constancy (matching what I said earlier about endurance) and a magenta Zinnia symbolizes lasting affection.

Though I can’t find any real women who have been influential with the name Zinnia, there have been characters with the name. Zinnia Wormwood is the mother in the movie Matilda. A pretty terrible character, but a great movie based off an even better book (in the book I don’t think Roald Dahl gave the mother a first name, I could be misremembering, I haven’t read it in years.) Zinnia is the name of one of the daughters in the 90s British TV series The Darling Buds of May, based off a novella by H. E. Bates. Zinnia is the main character is Chasing Redbird, a 1991 children’s novel.

This name makes me think of my husband and his love for gardening. I like the idea of naming my last child after something in nature. This world is so much more than just the people in it. The simplicity and beauty of a flower is inspiring to me.

Easy Taco Loaf

Since my last meatloaf turned out so well, I decided to try something new again. I did this recipe a couple months ago and Peter has requested it every week or two since then. And as always it’s super easy, just get:

1/2 packet taco seasoning

1 egg

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 cup baby oatmeal (if you aren’t trying to get rid of a bunch of baby oatmeal, substitute bread crumbs and you’ll be just fine.)

1/3 cup of salsa

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then shape into a loaf and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. When 10 minutes remains, pour the salsa on.




Name of the Day: Otis

Peter’s rejected Otis several times already, but I just love it!! So, I’m going to look into it’s history anyways. Peter says it’s a cat’s name… which is so stupid because it’s the dog’s name on Milo and Otis, which happens to be a phenomenal movie that I loved as a kid and my kids love now. So if I’m going to name my kid after a dog, it’d be that protective little pug!

Otis has 2 different origins, cognate of Otto (which is another name I love) it means “wealth and fortune”. Or the Greek version of Latin Nemo, it would mean “no one”.

Several musicians bear the name Otis. For the sake of (somewhat) brevity I’m just going to provide links to some of their music and let that inspire you (or, rather my husband.)

Otis Dudley Duncan is one of history’s most influential sociologists. Much of his work focused on social mobility (or the lack of it) in the United States. His works are still being expanded upon today. When he retired in 1987 he took up composing electronic music and computer graphics. I love to learn how people influential in a given field are multidimensional and see how their passion drives them to other hobbies. In 2000 (4 years before his death) he published a few more pieces as a member of the Humanist Society. These included topics such as euthanasia, atheism and creationism.