“take out the trash”

Anybody recognize what show that phrase comes from? No? Okay, I’ll tell you.

I got it from an episode of West Wing in which “take out the trash” refers to the practice of releasing all the bad news in one giant Friday news dump. Since papers have limited space set aside for White House news, releasing a whole bunch of unsavory information at the end of the week means that the papers have less space to dedicate to each bad thing, therefore minimizing the damage of each news item.

My take on “take out the trash” however, has nothing to do with damage control and everything to do with: I just have a lot of odds and ends that, on their own, don’t really amount to a full post and I need a place to put them and I like the sound of “take out the trash” because that’s what it feels like I’m doing — cleaning up my idea list and putting it out there. Thus, this “take out the trash” post. 

Whew, that was complicated.

Homemade Cornflakes
It’s not as bad as homemade sprinkles, but it’s close. Bear with me.

The recipe (from this fun book) is simple: stir together boiling water with cornmeal, salt, and a little sugar to make a runny slurry that you then bake at low heat until it dries up like a cracked desert.

My first batch was too thick, and my homeground cornmeal too coarse, making the cornflakes taste like crunchy sand.

HOWEVER, my tasters made positive (and uncoerced) comments about the level of sweetness and the corn flavor. And the cornflakes are tasty, especially when combined with granola, which is how I eat them.

So, I’m planning to try this again, but this time with store-bought (and hopefully more finely ground) cornmeal that I spread more thinly. And maybe I’ll add almond slivers, a few toasted rolled oats, and some honey (Honey Bunches O Oats!) to fancy things up. Stay posted!

Cringey Cooking

Oh, the mess! I almost had to cover my eyes, it’s that bad.

Hanging Lamps
I’m on a quest for two hanging lamps to go above the new kitchen island. The current lamp is not big enough to illuminate the island’s surface; plus, I’m tired of the yellowish hue it gives.

But walking through Home Depot and Lowe’s, I’m appalled at the impracticability and outright dangerousness of many of the options, most of which showcased exposed bulbs. Exposed bulbs! I want my lights to help me see, not sizzle my retinas everytime I glance at them.

I thought my requirements were simple and reasonable — no exposed lightbulbs, a simple, serviceable shade (silver metal preferred), inexpensive — but, it turns out, “Practical” is not in fashion right now.

My mother and father have two lovely lamps hanging over their kitchen sink.

zoom in

They got them from Lowe’s for something ridiculously cheap, like 15 dollars each, but I can’t find them anywhere. Help?

How To Make A Peanut Butter Sandwich 
If you haven’t seen this video yet, you’re in for a treat.

The relationship dynamics crack me up. I see my children in the youtube children, and I totally identify with the dad’s humor.

Movies and Shows 
Chernobyl: my husband and I are watching this with our two older kids. Is a horrible story, tastefully told. So far, we’ve watched three of the five episodes. It’s hard to find a time to watch when the two younger kids are occupied, and we have to watch it early in the evening, like at 6 p.m., because it takes a couple hours to unwind before sleeping. After the first episode, we decompressed with youtube videos of racoons eating cotton candy. Highly recommend (both Chernobyl and the racoons).

Schitt’s Creek: I watch this show with my younger daughter. The further we go, the better it gets. Now we’re on Season Four and I’m dreading reaching the end.

Queer Eye: the three younger kids and I have been watching this every now and then. It’s kind and fun (if a bit contrived), perfect for a nice little pick-me-up of positivity, Yaaaaassssss, queen!

Modern Love: I flat-out binged this show, which is so different from the blare and glare of many current shows (I get so tired of being battered over the head with stimulation), each episode a different story, respectfully, simply, gently told. It wasn’t a revelation, but it was a pleasure to watch. Three cheers for authentic, multidimensional characters.

Bohemian Rhapsody: This was our most recent family night movie. My husband and I had watched it months before and thought the kids might like it. They did.

My kids are always angling for Marvel crap, and I’m always stepping in with my type of movie, which makes for much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but then they shut up, watch, and then marvel (ha! like how I did that?) over how good it was.

Other examples of my marvelousness: Real Women Have Curves, Pad Man, On the Basis of Sex, The Biggest Little Farm, The Informant.

Reusable Ziplock Bags
For quite some time, I’ve been needing to get more quart-sized ziplock bags, but I kept stalling — hello climate crisis — making do with glass jars and my stash of assorted plastic containers. Still, every now and then I found myself itching for just a good, old-fashioned quart-sized zip-lock. They’re so easy.

And then I read about reusable ziplock bags. At first I snorted. People are selling bags, advertizing them as something you can reuse? Why, I’ve been reusing my plastic bags for years! But then I dug a little deeper and realized that these bags are made out of durable material and meant to last years. After much research (they’re expensive), I bought four — two quart and two gallon — just to experiment.

Supposedly, these bags can withstand boiling, microwaving, and freezing, and they can hold liquid, though I’ve only used mine for cookies and fruit and such.

At first they were a little tricky to open…

But then we got the hang of it.

Last week we had sliced apples for our charcuterie and someone put all the leftovers in one of the reusable bags. It sat in our fridge for days, and on day six — SIX! — I finally opened the bag, fully expecting to toss the apples, but guess what! They were as fresh and crisp as they were six days before. They hadn’t even browned!

My older son doesn’t like the bags’ texture — he says the silicone make it feel like his skin is coming off the bone when he sticks his hand in the bag — but I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I like the sturdy feel.

Climate Crisis Poll
When our family was visiting over Thanksgiving, I was stunned to learn that their churches are completely silent on the matter of the climate crisis. Since our church talks about it a lot — currently there is a joint adult and youth quarter-long Sunday school class dedicated to the subject — I assumed that all churches do the same, silly me.

the quote that hangs above my father’s desk

So now I’m curious: what is your church (or local community) saying or doing about the climate crisis?

This same time, years previous: when the dress-up ballgown finally fitswelcoming the strangerthe quotidian (12.7.15)in my kitchen: 6:44 p.m.cinnamon raisin breadholding.


  • the five penguins

    When we went to replace our bathroom light, we commented that we liked a fixture, but not the brightness and yellowish light. Hark! The associate told us that different standard bulbs have a different K value. It has to do with the wave length of light. So next time look for a bulb with 5000K as well as how many watts you want if you want a daylight feel. 2700k is a very common bulb and is very yellowish. It was the bulb not the fixture that needed the change.

  • Alison

    I second the Wayfair recommendation – we're redoing our bathroom and that's where we got most of our fixtures and even our bathtub and vanity top. On another note, are those cookies homemade?? And is the recipe somewhere here? Must know! My kids would love cookies as big as their heads.

  • Margo

    We watched Big Little Farm, On the Basis of Sex, and Real Women Have Curves specifically because you recommended them! Keep the movie recs coming, please!

  • Margo

    Our church is definitely, frequently talking about climate change and doing what we can. It's stressful, but I'm grateful for my brothers and sisters who keep inspiring me.

  • Mavis

    I love your mother's home. It is so welcoming and cozy and the perfect size. Also, after the sprinkles and cornflakes you have me guessing… What in the world will she try next? 🙂 🙂 🙂 Do you need some new cookbooks?

  • Gigi

    Those exposed bulbs that are everywhere? They won't burn your retinas. In fact, those stupid Edison bulbs make it so you can't see a darn thing; ask me how I know? I've been looking to replace my pendants since we've moved in here.

  • Judy

    If you want to grind your own cornmeal to your specs, you are very welcome to borrow my Nutrimill for a month. Or come to my house for tea and grinding if you like. Hannah Wenger Johnson has begun a grain club in Keezletown area and has some heritage wheats, corn, and buckwheat that you can buy quarterly.

    Judy Lehman

    • Jennifer Jo

      I have a nutrimill, but it doesn't grind my corn as fine as I like (and then my husband suggested I twice mill it — oh). I'd love to come to your house for tea sometime! And I just placed an order with Hannah for some of that wheat!

  • Lana

    I have not looked but have you checked Wayfair for the light fixtures? They seem to have everything I could ever think of wanting.

    Good to hear about the reusable bags as I have wondered. Our church is in the inner city by choice. Quite frankly we are have prostitutes walking down the sidewalk in front of the church everyday and a large homeless population in the area besides being in one of the food deserts of our city so global warming and saving the planet would be the last thing on our minds when there are so many hurting and lost souls right on our doorstep daily. This week the concern is the homeless shelter is in dire need of women's underwear so please bring a package of them to church on Sunday. Also our inner city ministry to school children, over 400 every week, is trying to get together enough dolls and Lego sets for each child to have a gift at the Christmas party.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I'll look into Wayfair — thank you for the tip!

      Inner city churches are where it's at — lots of opportunity to turn faith into action, and lots of hard work. xo!

    • Lana

      My heart hurt yesterday when 40 pillows were donated for 40 children that they know are sleeping on a bare floor with only a blanket. Lots of work yes but think of the blessing of seeing inner city folks who walked from nearby neighborhoods sitting and interacting with doctors and lawyers and everyone else. A little glimpse of heaven! Before we moved there in July there were no churches who welcomed these people within walking distance for them. We are busting at the seems trying to pack everyone in.

    • Margo

      Lana, our church is downtown in a small city – we are urgently working to combat climate change as well as hosting a free meal weekly for the food insecure in our city. We welcome them into our service on Sunday morning, too. We also started a program to buy houses in the city and rehab them specifically for low-income people to end homelessness. We sponsored a refugee family from Syria before the immigration basically stopped and aided them in material ways as well as formed deep friendships with them. I could go on about other projects and ways, but we are Mennonites who like to DO things and it's possible to work at climate change and neighborhood poverty at the same time 🙂

    • Lana

      Margo, I love all that your church is doing. We have most of those same programs but we are not downtown but in the most crime ridden, poorest neighborhood in our city. Honestly I will not stop and get gas in this area because scary things have happened while out of the car. I surely did not mean that we do not care about the planet but that would not be a focus from leadership in our church. We are more about binding up wounds and being Jesus to a hurting area of our city.

  • Jennifer G

    I read a bit from their blog, from before they had the farm. They had investors with millions of dollars. MILLIONS. They also had to create a business plan, etc. they don’t have just 2 employees that I’m aware of. Currently, I think they have more than 50, plus volunteers. The couple, though they had little extra money and lived modestly, had pretty serious connections in LA. I loved the movie but I wanted to be inspired AND get instructions. Lol.
    I just got a BS studying climate and climate change. I don’t go to church. But Jennifer, if you ever have a question that Google handles poorly, email me.
    The cookie video was outrageously funny. You’ll probably find your lamps on amazon. Maybe try “industrial kitchen pendant lamp” and see how it goes.

  • farm buddy

    Since I value your recommendations, and I am a farmer, I spent the necessary money to watch Little Big Farm. I have to say that I was disappointed. Although I am totally amazed and awed by the transformation of the land on their farm, I could not help but keep exclaiming, WHERE IS ALL THIS MONEY COMING FROM?? Two full-time workers, plus a slew of who-knows-where-they-came-from volunteers that even if they are not paid, have to be fed and housed; hundreds of fruit and nut trees, oodles of replacement poultry (which were required as they do manage to do some very dumb things to kill their existing poultry, like putting a livestock guardian PUPPY in with a bunch of chickens), cover crop seeds, and on and on and on. I do give them great credit for some of their very impressive ideas, like attracting barn owls to combat their rodent problems and using geese to combat those unbelievably huge snails, but I just can't understand how they financed all of this. I have been working for close to twenty years on resurrecting my previously worn-out farm through careful management of the land and animals, but compared to this movie, all improvements are at a much, much slower pace due to the cost of improvements. I would love to plant dozens of fruit trees each year, but even the one or two I do get are difficult to afford. Cover crop seed is outrageously expensive. And as for help, it is just the two border collies, the livestock guardian dog (who does NOT eat chickens!) and me! Believe me, I am not complaining, as I am extremely grateful to have the privilege of owning my beautiful farm, especially when so many people do not even have a place to sleep, but I do feel that that particular movie paints an unrealistic picture of small farmers in our country.

    • Jennifer Jo

      Ha! We had the same question! In the movie, they talked about making presentations to get funding, so we assumed that they found some major sponsors…maybe?

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