MJ Monday: MJ’s Music–The McGarrigles

Back in the last millennium, I was introduced to a duo of folk singers named Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Their voices were unusual; their music–most of which they wrote–was unique. Kate was married to Loudon Wainwright III of “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” fame (whom I saw in concert  with Bob Dylan). Their son is Rufus Wainwright, who has carried on the family’s musical heritage.

They wrote songs other artists covered: Linda Ronstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” is a McGarrigle composition.

They covered other artists, too. I love their Cajun version of Bob Seger’s “You’ll Accompany Me.”

Kate passed away in 2010.

I purchased digital versions of my favorite McGarrigle albums a few years back. Now, a lot of the music sounds kind of whiny to me, but some is still fresh and delightful.

This is probably my favorite McGarrigle song.


MJ’s Musings: Another Pet Peeve


I use my own shopping bags. Have for years. I keep them in the trunk of my car so I always have them with me.

Every time I grocery shop, I tell the cashier, “Please don’t make the bags too heavy.” And every time, the cashier loads as much as s/he can into each bag.  It’s not as if I am costing the store money by using too many bags. I use my own. I’m saving them money.  I say please. I’m nice about it.

When you’re short and already can’t deal with the too-tall shopping carts, lifting a too heavy bag is painful.  We’re supposed to lift from our knees, not our backs. Not in my supermarket’s parking lot.

Even worse is when the cashier in his/her zeal to cram as much into each bag as humanly possible starts crushing my popcorn and chips to make the packages fit. I had to tell one last week, “Stop crushing my chips!”

So yes, this is a pet peeve of mine.



MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-The Big Lebowski

Several years ago, a supervisor at my Day Job mentioned a long sweater I kept in at my work cubicle. He called it my Big Lebowski sweater. I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Really? You should watch the movie. You’ll love it.”

I hate being predictable.

A few years later, a co-worker made an obscure reference to the movie, then said, “You’ve never seen it? I’m shocked. You’d love it.”

I really hate being that predictable. 

I mentioned these conversations to my husband at some later date. He said, “Oh, I have it here. I’ve been meaning to watch it. How about tonight?”

We laughed our butts off.

The Big Lebowski is a movie you either love or hate. I tried to share it with my critique group, but they got twitchy only a few minutes in.

According to the Internet Movie Database:

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

The movie is so much more. There’s a pot head, a convert to Judaism with anger issues, a bowling league,  a slutty trophy wife,  nihilists, and a couple of guys who pee on rugs.

The cast is incredible: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Sam Elliot, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John Turturro. The amazing Cohen Brothers wrote and directed it.

It’s definitely a cult classic.

The Dude abides.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-This Heart of Mine

Of all Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars books, This Heart of Mine is my favorite. She takes the sister of the heroine of It Had to be You (Molly Sommerville) and pairs her with the hero’s nemesis from Nobody’s Baby But Mine (Kevin Tucker). SEP admits she finagled their ages a bit to make the story work. She is forgiven because Molly and Kevin are a great couple.

Molly writes children’s books and is colorful and sparkly. Kevin is an immature jock who learns there’s more to life than football. There are rough moments  when the author gets into some uncomfortable topics–example: sexual harassment isn’t always male to female. There are two parts that make me cry every time I read the book.

Sometimes I dislike SEP’s secondary romance plots.  I’m undecided about the ones in this book. I do like that the older woman is sticking up for herself after years of marriage in which her desires were ignored. No one is going to push her around now. I found the young couple annoying, but they had to be in order to grow.

SEP intersperses  excerpts from the heroine’s book throughout the novel, which I found enchanting. It was as if Molly couldn’t handle her emotions herself, so had to give them to her characters in order to acknowledge them. And like the older woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around, Molly, too, grows a backbone at the end of the book.

Kevin has to face his past–both at the hated church camp he’s inherited and his roots.

Molly and Kevin are layered and nuanced; they both grow in maturity.

Over all, I give this book five stars.

MJ’s Monday–Meals: Asian Veggie Buddha Bowl

My friend Kris introduced me to the concept of Buddha Bowls. This recipe is my variation on one of hers.

I used quinoa instead of rice for my grain base.  Quinoa can be a pain to clean and cook, so when I discover this, I was ecstatic.

I also keep precooked chicken in the freezer for convenience.

Kris taught me about chopped Asian Salad, too.

Here’s how it goes.

Boil the quinoa according to package instructions.

In the meantime, open the bag of salad. Take the dressing from the kit and add it to a frying pan. Set aside the noodles and almonds. Add the rest of the salad to the frying pan and stir fry.

While the quinoa and salad cook, thaw the chicken in the microwave.

When the salad is nicely stir-fried, remove from the heat.

Drain the quinoa according to package directions.

Mix the quinoa, chicken, and stir-fried salad together in a large bowl.

Kris made a marvelous tahini-orange dressing for her version of this, but I have never been able to replicate her success with the recipe, so I use dressing from a bottle.

Mix well…

and serve. Top with the noodles and almonds from the salad kit if you’d like.

There you have it. An easy, filling meal in less than 30 minutes.