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Everyone has one….the dreaded junk drawer.  Well, I just pulled out the most vilest of things from ours.  Lip balm.

I’m not sure where this came from, but there it was, handy, and  organic (no petroleum!), and holding the promise to make my lips just a bit more kissable…. so I liberally slathered some on.

And proceeded to dance  around the kitched shouting “Ewwwwww!  Gross. Grody (really!)  Ewwwww. Ewwwww!” as I fought my way to the kleenex box.  And then it dawned on me just why this particular balm was so repulsive.   “I think it has PATCHOULI in it….it’s just GOT to have patchouli in it”.  To which Mark responded, “Oh yeah….I tried that the other night and it was nasty!”  Now, Mark and I share a reflexively negative reaction to all things patchouli and have gone to great lengths in our lives to avoid it (not easy living in Boulder).

Which begs two questions:  1.  How did this make it into our house, and 2. Why, when Mark tried it the other night and found it equally nasty, did he put it BACK IN THE DRAWER?

I may never know the answer to these great mysteries, but I CAN whole heartedly recommend that you avoid this particular nastiness in lip balm.  Unless you are, of course, a fan of patchouli, in which case I hope you’ll give fair warning before planting that hello kiss on my cheek!

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First Grade Censor

My task today as volunteer in the 1st grade was to pre-view old National Geographics and remove any potentially objectionable material before the kiddos embarked on a collage project.

Despite the overtones of censorship of such a fine magazine, I could also understand that 1) the kids don’t necessarily need to be exposed to bloody war scenes and 2) kids will be kids and boobs in a collage could be just become a big joke instead of the cultural experience of the picture while whole in the magazine.

I was struck, though, when a little girl came up to me with a “real simple” magazine and told me that she had found an “inappropriate picture” (her words).  The picture was part of an advertisement for soap, and showed a man and a woman engaging in the most innocent of smooches.  No passion here, folks, just a peck. Their eyes may not have even been closed.  I should have just shut up, but before I could take that wise approach, I asked why the picture was inappropriate.  The little girl replied that the class shouldn’t be looking at things like this because “it could teach us stuff”.  I left it at that, but couldn’t help but wonder:  what on earth ARE we teaching our kids if they see an innocent kiss between two adults as inappropriate.  It seems as if we are in danger of censoring, well, life!

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Westward Ho!

The “girls” have a sitter for the weekend, and Mark and Junior and I are on our way to Steamboat Springs.

Mark is running the Steamboat Half Marathon tomorrow, but we also plan to make the most of a nice long weekend with a trip to Strawberry Hot Springs and some geocaching. I loaded up the GPS and the iPhone with all kinds of caches. Our first find was about 1.5 hours into the drive. What a great way to stretch your legs!

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Last week’s burning culinary question: what to do when you return home from a week-long beach vacation…to a refrigerator void of anything but greens? Yes, we had LOTS of greens from two weeks’ worth of CSA pick-ups, but NO eggs, yogurt, or cheese. Given that this summer’s beach reading was Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a trip to the grocery for supplies just seemed, well, unseemly! Surely we could survive until Wednesday’s Farmers’ Market, right?

Sunday was easy: Whole wheat pasta with pesto and a side salad. The pesto was pretty easy to create: plenty of basil in the backyard garden; a beautiful CA Olive Oil purchased from the local olive oil store (yes, we have a store for olive oil here), and the rest cobbled together from what was around the house… Here’s the recipe (alas we forgot to take a picture!):

Fresh Pesto
1/2 to 2/3 c olive oil
3 c. loosely packed basil leaves, well washed
2 spring garlics (heads, before they form cloves)
1/2 c. toasted pecans (I didn’t have any pine nuts)
2/3 c. shredded cheese (I think I used Haystack Mt. Queso de Mano)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Throw it all in a food processor, or use a “magic wand” to blend, and serve over hot pasta. This recipe made enough for our dinner, plus 6 frozen “pesto cubes” for some future use. Now if only we had more than 3 basil plants!

Monday’s dinner was even easier than Tuesday’s – mostly because we relied on The Organic Dish. If it’s still on their menu, we highly recommend the “Honey-Soy Salmon with Shrimp and Wasabi”. The leftovers are going into a salad tomorrow.

Tuesday? You guessed it…more greens! Abbondanza planted a little too much escarole, if you ask me. Having never actually cooked with escarole, we made a quick side-trip to Epicurious to find a recipe with not-too-many ingredients that could be made in 10 minutes or less with mostly things we had on hand. BINGO:

Wilted Greens with Garlic and Anchovies
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed (subbed 4 sardines packed in olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (sub 2 “new garlics”)
1 head escarole or 1 head or bunch other sturdy leafy green, such as dandelions or turnip greens, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons, washed and spun dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon (OK…we had a neighbor buy one on a recent trip to the grocery)

Heat a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, anchovies, and garlic and cook just until the garlic is light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over, and serve.

We made it…Wednesday’s Farmers’ Market proved to be a bounty of milk, cheese, and vegetables that were something other than green.

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The Cleaning Fairies

Toilets? We don’t scrub no stinkin’ toilets.

If they ever created a Survivor show for real life, then “chores”, one by one, would be voted off the island leaving behind “relaxation”, “play” and “siesta” to enjoy the tropical paradise.

We’d put big money on a bet that “scrubbing toilets” would be the first to go. “Laundry” would hold out for a while out of a perceived necessity for clean underwear until loin cloths could take hold as a fashion….

We jettisoned “scrubbing toilets” along with its partners in crime: “vacuuming”, “dusting” and “straightening up”. Our very own four horsemen of the apocalypse.
That’s not to say our house is a sty, we just outsourced the work to a cleaning company. We’ll walk to work rather than go back to spending Saturdays with Windex, Comet and Mop & Glo. There are few things better than coming home Friday night to a house that is far cleaner than we left it and, frankly, far cleaner than it would ever get by our efforts.

It’s a matter of choice to spend our household funds on this. Some see it as an extravagance but we see it as a way to buy time with Junior, each other and our friends. We can have an impromptu gathering and know that we won’t also have to run around and clean up (much).

We’re surprised that more people don’t have cleaners but we are slowly wearing down our friends.

One set of friends finally caved after realizing that “they wouldn’t clean as well as we would” didn’t actually matter in the grand scheme of things if the alternative was to spend 25% of the weekend sniffing cleansers. Better to get outside and enjoy life.
A second set of friends took the plunge after realizing that it wouldn’t cost as much as they thought – granted she was sold immediately but he took a bit more convincing. They now say that we’ve changed their life. Glad to help.

Maybe it’s because most of us were raised by Depression-era parents that there is some reluctance to domestic help. Fair enough, but if you asked your folks (read: mom) if she would have liked to have the house cleaned by someone else, odds are she’ll say “yes”.

Use that as your guilt-free pass to hand over the mop and vacuum to a professional and go enjoy the weekend.

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Roaring ahead into the 20th…I mean 21st….century, we’ll begin posting our weekly menus from our Google Calendar. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page to access the calendar. Click on any menu item to get more details.

If we didn’t both work full time, why, we wouldn’t need these menus…and we’d have the time to give you step-by-step instructions and detailed recipes. This is more of a loose guide. If your culinary limits brake at “shake-and-bake”, then let us know, and we’ll consider adding more detail.

Mark and MaryBeth
(The DINKs)

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Greetings and Welcome to our blog: DINKS…with kids!


If the irony of the title is lost on you then most of what we have to say won’t be of interest either. Facebook might be more to your liking.

About us:

We are a professional couple living in the Rocky Mountain region (you know, the “other” time zone never mentioned on TV: “Tonight at 9 pm Eastern and Pacific, 8 pm Central” – no mention of the Mountain time zone.) We share our house with two dogs and one, so far, child. The dogs are at least as much work as the kid given that even after 11 years they can’t yet feed themselves and have the dietary/medical regime of any nursing home resident.

We’re a bit flinty with the dollar but aren’t hesitant to spend on a good deal. We take time researching many of the products we buy so that we can move quickly when we see a good product at a good price (we can buy a house in 15 minutes if we are up to speed on the market). You’ll be hearing lots about what and why we purchase. We prefer to make our own meals whenever we can, but the realities of professional life and parenthood sometimes make that hard. We’ve researched and found a good alternative to a homemade meal that we’ll talk about soon.

We spend quite a bit of time sourcing our personal food supply. Yes we have a garden, but that’s not enough. We prefer local, organic and minimally processed alternatives because the alternative of eating sugar-laden corn infused (they don’t call it “high fructose corn syrup” for nothing) foods where neither ingredient belongs is just not too appealing. Food processing is clearly an example of “less really is more”.

We were DINKS for a longer time than most so as older parents with a younger kid we have a perspective that is both warped by the relative freedom of the childless and constantly up for review. Spending many years as professionals before the dawn of parenthood has helped us to recognize the difference between the important and the urgent and maintain the delicate balance between them.

It has also given us the perspective to look at some current trends in parenthood and realize that if a) our parents would never have stood for that; b) we did it and didn’t die, or c) we couldn’t tie our shoes at that age let alone do what is asked of kids today;then whatever the fad/crisis of the parenting world is at the moment, it too shall pass.

We’re normal adults. We exercise less than we should. And our house is populated with a variety of kitchen gadgets that many people have had at one time or another. We just happen to use them. Sometimes even for their intended purpose. If you, like us, bought an electric juicer so that you could eat every part of every vegetable for your health only to end up longing for strong coffee and a Danish, do not despair. Think not of that juicer as New Year’s Resolution gone bad – think of it as the first step to a great Margarita. The juicer quickly devours the jumbo bag of limes from Costco. No cheap Margarita mix for you!

So, what is this blog about? Life. You’ll hear about things we’ve done, researched, experienced, bought or thought. Like we said, Life. Surely we’ll discuss life with kids.


(And… in case you weren’t born until after Ronald Reagan left office, “DINK” is short for “Dual Income No Kids”.)

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