Monthly Archives: November 2007

Product Review: Home Food Oat and Nut Granola

I know, I’ve been quiet the past few days. If you’ve been reading along, you may have guessed that I was finally doing laundry at my own house and getting those reports written – and you’d be right. (Well, okay: one report down, three to go. Let’s not exaggerate. But it’s a huge improvement. And we’re caught up on laundry.)

Although I haven’t written in a few days, I have been busy in blog-related activities! Important things, such as doing a little Internet shopping and sending Shannon a bag of the granola she was so disgusted by earlier in the week! Why, that gave me the giggles for days!

Below you will find her product review – enjoy…

OK, I admit that when I first saw an online photo of Home Food’s granola, I thought it looked less than appetizing. It’s possible that I used the phrase “nest-building material” to describe its appearance. It looked a little…shaggy? Twig-like? Chex-Mix-inspired? Not like something I’d enjoy in my breakfast bowl, I can tell you that. And what was the deal with those green pieces I could just barely make out in the photo? They looked suspiciously like wasabi peas. But…no one wants wasabi peas in their granola, do they? (Shudder.)

So when a package arrived on my doorstep the other day bearing a bag of Home Food Oat and Nut Granola, courtesy of Ms. Wonderwheel herself, longtime friend Jordan Sadler, I wondered if I should be offended. Did Jordan want me to ingest shredded nests? Did she wish upon me a morning meal of wasabi peas with my soy milk? Why, oh why?

Luckily, my three-year-old was with me when I opened the package. And, it just happened to be snack time. “Let’s have some right NOW!” she suggested excitedly. How could I say no? I tossed a handful of granola into a small bowl for each of us (mixing some Craisins into Julia’s to make homemade “trail mix”), and sat down to sample.

First, I have to tell you Wonderwheel readers that Home Food’s Oat and Nut Granola looks FAR better in person than on the Internet. Seriously. There is no real resemblance to twigs, or birds’ nests. It is chock full o’ nuts (slivered almonds, whole cashews, sunflower seeds), rounded out with oats and shredded coconut, sweetened with honey—oh, and those green things? PISTACHIOS. Ah, it’s all becoming clear to me now.

People, it was delicious! Home Foods Company, I have a message for you: do something about that photo. Is it the lighting? Was it a granola off-day, the day of the photo shoot? Was the photographer an amateur? Whatever the problem, rectify it. Your product is much tastier than your photo suggests! Chunky! Fresh-tasting! Wholesome! Not overly-sweet like that icky grocery-store granola!

In sum, I wholeheartedly recommend this product. I could happily eat it, wasabi-pea-free, every morning for breakfast,

Oh, and my preschooler loved it too.



Why am I procrastinating so? It’s not my style. When I have a report to write for work, I get it done and out the door. So why is it that I’ve let three unwritten reports collect over my head like so many dark clouds for weeks?

It’s not that they’ll be difficult; they’re not long reports. And no one’s asking me for them; I think I usually get things done a lot faster than other people, so my productivity standard is high and probably a little out of whack.

But these things aside, why? Am I getting better at chilling out and not being so frantic about completing tasks? Maybe. Perhaps the past few months (year and a half?) are finally getting the better of me and I’m too burned out to push myself right now. I am really not sure.

It’s not like I’m watching TV or reading by the fire in the evenings. There’s always so much to do that it’s incredibly easy to keep busy doing other things. Things that legitimately need doing. Anything but work.

When I talked to Matt about this last night, his comment was, “Well, it doesn’t look like the wheels are falling off the bus.”

He’s right. The wheels aren’t falling off the bus.

I just know I’ll be happier when these things are done.

And yet I’m not doing them.

On Neighbors

Remember that post in which I mentioned that our washing machine was broken and I was hauling laundry to the clinic where I work? Yes, lo those many days ago?

It’s still broken.

That’s right. No washing machine while hosting Thanksgiving – with guests in the house. And with only one set of sheets for our new bed, that’s really saying something.

We hope that on Tuesday, when a repair person is scheduled to show up (what a concept!), this will be over.

However, we have learned something in these two weeks: our neighbors are amazing. Some we knew were amazing because they are our friends first and foremost, they just happen to be our neighbors as well (lucky us!). And they have been fantastic. But others we didn’t know too well at all, at least not until we started trudging though their homes with our laundry baskets and detergent. Two couples in our condo building have been as generous as our actual friends…one couple stopped by with their key on their way out to a party: “Go ahead in and out as you please – watch cable TV while you wait for your laundry if you want – we’ll be home late tonight!” The neighbors across the hall have come and knocked on our door multiple times, “Don’t you need to do some laundry today? Come over anytime!” and even left their door unlocked when they went out so that we could get in and pick it up. Wow.

My cousin was here from San Francisco. After a couple days of these goings-on, she finally exclaimed with a dropped jaw, “Do you have any idea how incredible this is? I mean, it’s actually WEIRD, you guys! People just stop by and offer to help you. They come in for a while with their kids, like, ‘I’m just going to stop by and be really, really cool and nice for 10 minutes, hope you don’t mind!’. Then they drink some tea and hang out, and leave!” She felt like she was on another planet.

Pretending to be put out by this atypical behavior on the part of city-dwelling human beings, she was essentially echoing what I’ve been trying to say since we arrived in Chicago. I have lived in big cities and small towns on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in the Midwest, but I’ve never seen anything like the people in Chicago.


I’m stayin’.

What’s Less Sexy than Granola? My robe.

I have a winter robe. Not just any old robe, but this robe. In navy, if you must know.

I bought it last year when we moved here to this cold hinterland, into a home with big, drafty windows. It’s not hip, no, that’s for certain; but I’m not exactly a slave to fashion. (Since buying it, I have also purchased its equivalents in the slipper and winter coat departments. I might look like a major dork, but I’m warm, you hear me? Warm.)

Tonight I am wearing it around our chilly house.

I stopped to talk to Matt, who is busy typing tonight’s 1000 words for his NaNoWriMo story (he’s not officially enrolled, but is taking turns writing 1000 words per day with our friend Christopher for the month).

I thought I detected a faint smirk on his face. As I left the room, I called back to him, “What’s sexier than this robe, huh?

His immediate reply: “Granola.”


We had a plan.
(I implore you: click on this plan.)

A snowy morning.

Funny relatives in town.
Kids helping.

More food than 15 people at 3 tables could shake a stick at.
The world’s cutest kiddie table.

A Backyardigans break between dinner and dessert.

And a final report: big success!

Naked Pillow Fighting (oh, this one will set Google afire…)

Baxter (excitedly): “Mommy, did you know there’s naked pillow fighting on TV tonight?”
Me (in shock): “Bax! Where on earth did you hear that?”
Baxter: “Nowhere. I read it in that paper in your bathroom!”

Doh! Time to stop leaving The Onion lying about.

Guess the Turkey’s Here

This is what I found on the floor when I went into the kitchen last night after Matt went to the grocery store.

It’s occurring to me that perhaps we’re not the most formal family I know.

A Bookish Meme

Nearly two months ago (eek!) Kristen tagged me for a book meme. I usually jump right on board with a good meme, but two things slowed me down this time. First of all, Kristen suggested that this one required “more soul-searching than usual”. (“Soul searching”! Oh, the horror! Look: I’ve already done my time in therapy – no small amount of time, okay? – must I continue to soul search?!). Second of all, my love for reading is nearly as strong as the likelihood that I will forget what I have read within about 48 hours. Seriously.

However, the fact is that I do love to read, and I do so whenever I can. From childhood on (much like my elder son), I have walked out of the library with a huge stack of books only to ask two days later, “When can we go back to the library?” This, according to NPR’s All Things Considered, is unusual; below is an excerpt from today’s story:

“One thing is certain: Americans—of either gender—are reading fewer books today than in the past. A poll released last month by The Associated Press and Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that the typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all.

A National Endowment for the Arts report found that only 57 percent of Americans had read a book in 2002 – a four percentage-point drop in a decade. Book sales have been flat in recent years and are expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.”

This report reminded me that I am overdue on the book meme, and also left me feeling that those of us who actually are avid readers have a responsibility to promote it. So here goes:

Total Number of Books?

Whether this means total number read or total number in the house matters not. Either way, it’s too many to count. Our bookshelves – which are everywhere – are double stacked in many places (both adult and children’s literature). I am always reading something, and the pile of books that wait on my nightstand is ever-growing. I try to alternate between fiction and literature that relates to my work (e.g., “Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Aspergers” which I reviewed here), but this is not a strict rule and does not always apply. For instance, right now I am really enjoying a “for fun” novel after so many work-related books.

I have an account at Shelfari, which is really cool and quite addictive! (Let me know if you can’t view my shelf without an invitation – I’ll invite you.) My colleague and I are also creating a Shelfari account that catalogs all of the professional books we own so that we can share them with the families at the clinic – a lending library of sorts – and some of those are currently mixed in on my personal shelf. It’s a work in progress.

Last Book Read?

“Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism” by Kamran Nazeer. To be honest, I didn’t finish it. It wasn’t doing it for me. Right now, however, I am thoroughly enjoying Anne Tyler’s “Digging to America” and look forward to reading more of it by the fireplace as soon as I am done with this post!

Last Book Bought?

Well, I bought a couple of Thanksgiving books for the kids today but we won’t count those. I recently bought the Anne Tyler book I’m reading; also on my nightstand sit “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and “Eat Pray Love”, both of which are on loan from friends and unread. I have historically been a strong proponent of the public library, but I find Chicago’s online system to be quite backward after the techno-savvy library system in San Francisco, so I don’t use it as much as I’d like.

Five Meaningful Books?

I could really let this one drive me nuts. Instead, I’m going to jump in and not over-think it. For once.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Tag 5 Others

I’m not sure who has already done this, but I’ll give it a try:

Mike at Cry it Out: Adventures of a Stay-at-Home-Dad
Christopher at Blowing and Drifting
Elise at Snarky Squab
Niksmom at Maternal Instincts
Lori at Spinning Yellow

Happy Reading!


Realizing that we did not have the $12 cash required to send in to school for Baxter’s class picture today, we decided it was time to raid his piggy bank.

Walking into the kitchen with the bank, Matt announced cheerfully, “Baxter, we’re going to do a lesson in I.O.U.’s today!”

Baxter joined him at the table and said, “Well, whatever that is, it must be related to vowels!”

Two for Two

If you’ve been along for the ride here for a while, you are already aware of my penchant for half-assed low-key kids’ birthday parties.

Well, this time I wasn’t setting up card tables to cover barf stains on the rug, but I did take this fallen cake:

and claim to my child that we made it look this way on purpose to create “Pokemon Valley” (does this exist? NO! did it matter? NO!):

Yes, he fell for it. And, yes, he loved it. (Phew!)

Thankfully, Baxter asked to invite only his best friends. One couldn’t make it, which left us with four kids in addition to our boys. Four hilariously precocious and nice kids, I might add. And not only did he want to keep it small, but he was happy with simple. We walked to the local pizza joint and had ourselves some pizza pies.
The kids talked about what books they’re reading (one claimed to another: “I’m really not into the medieval stuff right now.”), played tic tac toe, told monster jokes, and mugged for Baxter’s camera (we gave him our old digital camera for his birthday – he’s already taken over 250 pictures!). Lyle was so in awe of the big kids that he sat there silently and listened to them – unbelievable. It was SO EASY. I had grabbed The Onion on my way into the restaurant and I joked with Matt that the party was such a no-brainer that I could’ve sat there and read it and no one would’ve noticed.

Of course, I didn’t. You knew that, right? Anyway, we then walked back to our house where the kids played a high energy game of tag and won us over further by making it very easy for little Lyle to play.

For the last half hour, we filled them with chocolate cake and hot cocoa, opened gifts, let them tear-ass around the play room for about 15 minutes, and then sent them on their way!So, for the second time this year we pulled off a small party that involved lots of pizza and cake, no organized games, and no parental involvement in the play room. And made one boy very, very happy.

And PS: I’m going to LOVE age seven.