Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Break: Day 9

I've got one kid sick (the girl) and the other working on a school project.  Today is a day for grading papers and getting myself organized.

PS - Have you looked at the random ads at the top?  Today I found this one:  Pet Euthanasia at Home .  I guess that's what I get for writing about my old dog!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Break: Day 8

We are in the middle of break, in the middle of holidays.  Christmas is over, and the gifts and decorations are still floating around the house.  New Year's Eve approaches.  We've baked lots of cookies, I've made the kids favorite foods, we've shopped and played and slept in.  In short, we've made the most of the break and are probably going to be ready to return to the routines of school and work.

I did not send out Christmas cards this year, a late decision made to save my enjoyment of family and holiday.  Thank you to all who sent us cards - we love getting them and reading them.

We had a really great Christmas, spending time with my parents and enjoying being together.  The kids got a trampoline from Santa, and we spent the better part of Christmas afternoon putting the thing together.  They also got some video games and other electronics, providing hours (days? weeks? months?) of entertainment.  I am thrilled with my iphone - a gift from my husband.  It is amazing the way technology has changed in the last decade.

I'm off.  I'm almost finished with a knitted blanket and with reading a book - two things that I have less time for now that I'm working full-time, but I made a point to make time for them this week.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Break: Day 1

It's been a great day so far, and I'm so thankful for this break from school.  Being at home all day with my kids feels like such a luxury!  We did some Christmas shopping (I think we are thankfully DONE) and I have dinner in the crockpot so the whole house smells yummy.  (Mexican Chicken Soup - a new recipe - I'll let you know how it turns out.)  I've been wrapping presents and watching movies and then (brace yourselves) cleaning.  I know.  The mind reels.  But ignoring housework for three months has consequences.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

our old dog

Our dog is very old.  In January, he will be 15 years old.  That's really old in dog years.  I'm going to look up how old that is . . . . (the internet is a wealth of information, but not all of it is great.)  A 15-year old dog is equivalent to 75-105 in human years.  Our dog is acting like a 99-year old dog lately.  He can't hear very well.  I don't think he can see as well as he used to.  He has had trouble going up and down our one step in the house, and he has had some accidents in the house in the last month.  He's eating ok, but he's losing weight.  He sleeps almost all day.  Poor old dog.

I've been thinking about him a lot lately, as I've had to deal with his accidents (translate:  clean up his accidents, or make the kids clean up his mess and suffer the emotional consequences (which is worth it for the lesson they are learning, but painful nonetheless)).  I think that my response toward my old dog, who has been a faithful family pet for 14-almost-15 years, is very revealing about who I really am.  I am not a nice person.  I get so mad at this poor old dog, who can't help it that he's losing control of himself.  I even found myself taking it personally, especially last Sunday when we let him stay in the house while we went to church.  We tied him up in the room next to the kitchen - it has a vinyl-type floor that is easy to clean.  He had water and a nice soft bed to sleep in, and he should have been grateful to be inside because it was raining that day.  It was a cold, windy rain too.  When we got home, he had peed and pooped on the floor, and turned over the kitchen trash and rummaged through it.  It took Stuart and Sam and me a while to get everything cleaned up, and we were all grumpy about it the entire time.  Who wants to come home from church and clean up a mess like that?  But see, the real question is:  why were we so angry at our old dog?  He was just doing exactly what old dogs do.

So, I've been thinking about this (more than I knew) and I have decided to let the dog teach me to be a better person.  I want my response to my old, half-deaf, partially blind, incontinent dog to reveal that I am a kind and gracious person (stop laughing!).  I want to not get mad at the dog, but to be thankful that we have had him for so long, and to be thankful that he has had a good long life as our family pet.  I'm going to give him water in our blue bowls, because he loves having water inside the house in the blue bowls, even though half the time he spills it.  I'm going to let him sleep in the hall, the way he always has slept, even if that means the first thing I do in the morning is clean up dog pee.  And I'm going to hope that one day when I wake up, I will find out that our dear old dog has died in his sleep, because I don't want to have to decide that his health has gotten to the point that he needs to be put down.  I don't want to make that decision.  (This reveals that I'm a coward, I know.  I'm ok with that.)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

technology

Today I took Sally to a tennis lesson and waited in the car for her.  I took my cell phone, my ipad, and a stack of papers to grade.  And a book.  And a knitting project.
And for eighty minutes straight, I did stuff on the ipad and didn't touch the other things.

I was putting together a slideshow on Digital Footprints for my senior students.  It was super fun.  I'm going to encourage them to find themselves - and each other - on the internet, and see what potential employers will find out about them.  It should be an interesting day.

Now I'm making homemade pizzas with the kids.  The dough is ready.  Thinking of you, Uncle Jon!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

finding a new normal

I've been back at work for eight weeks now.  It has been a big adjustment for everyone here.  The first few weeks, I was just tired all the time.  I had a few nights where I'd wake up and my brain would start buzzing away with ideas and worries about being a teacher.  Then I'd sleep soundly for two or three nights, trying to catch the sleep that I had lost.  I was super tired!  But I feel like I'm adjusted to the physicalness of teaching again.  It's a different kind of activity than being a stay-at-home mom (and part-time tutor, volunteer, etc etc).

My mom asked me this week if I was glad that I went back to work.  I have had moments where I thought to myself, "What have you done?  You had it so easy being a stay-at-home mom!"  It was time for me to get back to a teaching job, though.  I realized this when I was walking out the door last week and shouted to my family, "Bye!  I love you!  I'm going to work!" and then I left.  It hit me that I get to leave and go somewhere else to work, instead of working where I live with three other people.  At that moment, I realized that I had really missed having a job seperate from my family.  It's validating in a way that motherhood is not.  But I'm so thankful for the years that I stayed home with my kids!

I'm happy to report that I am still finding time to read.  The knitting has suffered, but that will come back too, in time.  Sam is in gymnastics three days a week, and the public library is a few blocks from his gym.  Sally and I will go hang out at the library - she'll do homework, and I'll collect a stack of books to bring home.  Sometimes we go to Starbucks (pumpkin latte for me, chocolate chip frapp for her) and make use of the free wi-fi.  Sometimes we just go to Rite Aid and hang out together.

Monday is Halloween.  I know after that it will be a blur of activity until Christmas.  I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the Daylight Savings time change this year!  Getting up early, while it's still dark, is Not Fun.

That's all for now.  It's Saturday, which means I have some laundry to fold, some groceries to buy, and some family time to enjoy.  And some tests to grade.  But they can wait for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

saturday

Today, I should have written a physics test.

I should have gone to Home Depot for supplies for the next phase of the living room project.

I should have done some laundry.

At the very least, I should have emptied the dishwasher.  (Hey, at least it's clean!)


Instead, I turned this:

into this:

(I really enjoy winding yarn from a skein into a ball.  I almost never have them do it for me at the yarn store.)  And then I wrote a new pattern for a scarf.

I also did some reading and went out to dinner with friends and had a great time.  It's been a really good day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

baby hat

I made this hat a few weeks ago for my cousin's baby boy.  It's called a Helix Striped Hat and I've made four or five hats with this pattern because it's so clever.  You knit with three or four colors on every round, and the stripes spiral up the hat, but you really can't see the color change (except at the bottom when I started the blue, but really, nowhere else).  This is made with a cotton blend yarn, which I like to use for babies (soft + machine washable).  Welcome to the world, Baby A!

summer

 some of the tomatoes from the garden

oranges from the tree

Saturday, August 13, 2011

security changes coming soon

Hi everyone who still stops by the blog!  If you are friends with me in real life or on facebook, you probably know that I got a job teaching at a local high school for this school year.  I'm probably going to turn up the security on this blog in a couple of weeks, and you'll need a password to stop by and read the ramblings.  Leave me a comment if you are a regular and I'll make sure you are on the email list with password information.  Thanks for understanding!

Friday, July 29, 2011

(overdue)

This picture was taken on the 4th of July at Veteran's Park.
It's now "our thing" to go there for the fireworks show.
The sky was beautiful.
The fireworks were fantastic this year.

garden pics




before Extreme Gardening 2011:

after:

my helper with the defeated shrubs:

Next step is to pick new flowers for this area.
I'm leaning toward red or yellow roses.
The kids have other ideas . . .  . .

Thursday, July 28, 2011

something to think about

If you know me at all, you know that I love to read, and that Life of Pi is one of my all-time favorite books.  Tell me you've read it, and just try to stop me from talking to you about it, because you won't be able to stop me.  It's one of those books that just stays with me.  For this reason, I put off reading Yann Martel's next book.  I was afraid that it wouldn't measure up, and that I'd be disappointed.  A few months ago, I finally sat down and read it.  It did not become one of my favorites, but I talked about it with my friend, and realized that I didn't hate it.  It's strange and understated and totally brilliant.

After I finished the book, I wandered around the internet reading interviews with Martel.  I came across this one from The Guardian and I love this part:


For the last three years Martel has been sending fortnightly letters and books to the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper – an attempt to educate him in the ways of great literature. Martel was prompted to act as a literary godfather when Harper cited The Guinness Book of Records as his favourite book, and by his failure to recognise the importance of the arts generally. "I'm doing it to point out that literature's not just entertainment," he explains. "It is an essential tool to look at the human condition. I don't care if fellow citizens read or not; it's not up to me to say how people should live their lives. But I believe people who lead should read."



He says that, in Harper, he sensed "a man who was a narrow ideologue, in part because he hasn't read. He lacks empathy because he hasn't read literature. If literature does one thing, it makes you more empathetic by making you live other lives and feel the pain of others. Ideologues don't feel the pain of others because they haven't imaginatively got under their skins."


This idea of literature as a tool to shape a person has stayed with me.  Not just literature, but all of the arts.  I've been thinking about this for the past few weeks, especially since I heard that Borders is closing all of it's stores.  It seems to me like another symptom of this unknown disease that is creeping up on us:  the bankruptcy of a major bookstore,  the use of texting abbreviations in conversations,  the constant stream of apps that are designed to make life easier but seem to just eat up time, the increasing divide between "online" and "in real life" - or maybe it's the diminishing divide between the two.  I'm not sure where I'm going with this, and I'll have to come back to it because I'm out of time now.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

My Scones


I like to make scones for my kids on a morning where we don't have a lot going on.  I have two recipes for scones, but neither one was working for me.  I like to make my scones in a glass pie plate and serve them cut into triangle wedges.  I like a wetter dough.  I like butter, but not too much.  I like adding in dried fruit, but my kids like adding in chocolate chips.  I made this recipe to be quick, to fit into a glass pie plate, and to be flexible to be plain or have add-ins.  Enjoy!


My Scones
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a mommy.blogspot.com

2 cups flour
1/4  to  1/3 cup sugar  (I put less in the mix, and sprinkle sugar on the top)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4  tsp salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
1 egg
1/2  cup milk
add-ins, optional (dried cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix egg and milk in a small bowl and set aside.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in cold butter and mix with a fork or fingers until crumbly.  Add egg/milk all at once and mix.  Add add-ins.  Put into greased glass pie plate and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges start to turn brown.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

knitting

A few weeks ago, I made this baby blanket for my friend, M, who welcomed a baby boy to the world.  It's made with Cotton-Ease yarn and I'm happy to say that the middle square is 42 stitches wide.  42.  Maybe this baby boy will grow up and know why that is funny.  (If you don't, you haven't read enough.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

almost summer

It's almost summer.  We are in the last week of
school and Sally's last week of elementary
school.  I'm ready.  And I'm not.


These pictures are from when we went on
the tour of the Winchester Mystery House
a few weekends ago.


 You can't take any pictures inside,
so the front gardens will have to do.


It's a beautiful place.
And not at all creepy like I thought it would be.

We did lots of fun things that weekend,
like go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium
and walk around Monterey
and have dinner on the wharf
and go to the movies
and have sushi together
and go to our cousin's wedding.

Of course, I forgot to take my camera
to all of those fun places.

Now it's time for garden pictures!
I bought tomato plants on sale on Earth Day
at Lowe's and what a deal!
Check it out:

That's two tomato plants.  Two!
On the right is a roma plant, and on
the left is a Better Boy.  He's a big guy.
Check out some of the lovelies growing:


And Sam planted corn.
He's very excited about it.



It shows promise.

That's all for now.  I have a final exam
to grade, an awards assembly to attend,
and dinner to make.  And then two more
days of school.  And then summer! 


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Concerts in the Park

Get out the picnic basket and beach blanket!
Here's the info on Orange County Concerts in the Park for summer, 2011!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I put up the countdown to summer vacation because I am so ready for summer vacation.  Of all the jobs that I do as a mom, Homework Enforcer is getting really tiresome.

Monday, March 28, 2011

update time

It's been crazy around here because of all this rain.  We have a busy schedule due to soccer - both kids are playing this season - and we've had a series of cancellations over the last two weeks.  You'd think that this frees up time, and it sorta does.  I'm team mom, though, so that means I get to make sure everyone knows that things are cancelled.  Thankfully, technology makes it easier than it used to be, so I send out a text and an email and wait to make sure everyone replies.  Then I make a few phone calls.  By then, it's usually too late to plan a new activity, so we end up staying home.  I love staying home.  I'm turning into a hermit.  The kids and Stuart get a little stir-crazy.  They are ready for clear skies and activities.

I've been knitting alot.  I made my mom a hat, but I didn't take any pictures of it before I gave it to her.  I am making progress on the sweater that I am knitting out of lace yarn.  Everytime I work on it, I think that I am insane for making it.  It better fit me, because if it doesn't, I'm going to be really mad.  I'll have to give it to someone and tell them not to mention it to me ever again!  I decided to make a blanket just to take the edge off of the lace yarn thing.  Then, in a starting-new-projects binge, I dug through the frilly fun-fur and ribbon yarn and put together three pink/red yarns and three purple/lavender yarns to make scarves for the gift stash.  I just can't face taking this lace yarn thing out of the house, and I certainly can't knit it at the soccer field because it's just too fiddly.

Sally and I went shopping yesterday.  We are in the phase where "we went shopping" means that Sally shops for clothes and I pay for them.  I walk past the sections with clothes for me, and if I find something fast, I might have time to grab it on the way to the fittting room, but usually I'm not that fast.  Usually I just sit there and tell Sally she looks great.  A small part of me is sad that I don't get more time shopping for me, but a bigger part of me is grateful that she still wants me to go with her.  (And yes, there is a part that realizes that I was the same way with my mother, and this is shopping karma.)

Nine days after my family left my uncle in New Mexico, he died.  It seems surreal to think that he had only nine days left in his life here.  He was a kind and generous man who knew how to laugh at life and I have lots of fond memories of him.  My mom has pictures of me and him coloring Easter eggs together, and I just know that when I sit down to color eggs with my kids in a few weeks, it will really hit me that my uncle is gone and I'm sure I'll have a big cry.  We mourn, but we do not mourn without hope* - I'm sure I'll see my uncle again when it's my turn to go to heaven.

That's the news.  I'm off to check the weather, because it's overcast and we are supposed to have soccer practice tonight.  I'm also going to go shopping because there is a big yarn sale this week, and the kids are at school.

* "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."  I Thessalonians 4:13-14

Monday, March 21, 2011

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Last week my sister and I took the train to Albuquerque.  We decided quickly to go visit our uncle, who was recently diagnosed with late-stage cancer.  We hadn't seen him in years - five years, I think, at my cousin's wedding - and both of us felt so strongly that it was the right thing to do.  We went and had a nice visit with him and our aunt and two of our cousins (and spouses and a baby!).  My parents went with us too.  It will probably be the last time we see our uncle, so our visit was bittersweet, but it was sweet.  We laughed and remembered old times and told him how much he meant to us and what things will always make us think of him.  He was in pain much of the time, but I hope we lifted his spirits by being there.

The train ride to Albuquerque was super fun.  Joy and I got a sleeper car so we could be rested and ready to go, and we both recommend it!  Here's what the bottom bunk looks like:

(We took alot more pictures, but I'm not allowed to post them!)  I woke up early on Friday morning (on the way there) and watched the New Mexico landscape fly by and it was so peaceful and relaxing.

On the way back, we met a nice college couple who were on their way to LA for spring break.  We had dinner and breakfast with them, and it was fun to meet someone so young and bright and shiny and full of promise.  (Hope you two had fun at Disneyland!)  Even though our train was really late on the way home, I am still glad that we took the train, and glad that we went to see our uncle.  Also, I finally learned how to spell Albuquerque.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

another cute baby hat

One of Stuart's co-workers welcomed
a baby boy into the world this week.
"Honey, could you knit them a baby hat?" 
Um, YES!!!
I thought you'd never ask!
This one is called a Munchkin Hat.
I changed the stripe pattern because I like the uneven stripes,
and then I put a tassle on the end.  I think it works,
which is good because I'm totally crappy at pom-poms.
I knit it up with blue and green cotton-ease yarn
that I had left from some blankets that I made
last year.  (It is handy to have a yarn stash.)
Welcome to the world, baby boy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I finally got a picture of Sam in his new glasses.
Now we look alike, right? :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

beyond cute

A beautiful baby girl was born last week, and I searched
for warm soft purple yarn to knit this for her:

it's a berry hat!
it's so cute!

I carried it around the house and made everyone look at it

seriously.
cute.

For the knitters:
Pattern:  Berry Baby Hat by Michele Sabatier
Yarn:  Crystal Palace Bunny Hop yarn in "royal lilac" and "misty green"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

blog confessions

I had a stack of pens and pencils in my room that I have been meaning to put away for a few weeks.  I went to put them away in the pencil/pen cup, and there was a 4.5mm bamboo double-pointed knitting needle mixed in with the pens and pencils.

This crosses some kind of line, and I'm pretty sure there is no going back.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Random

Sam lost a tooth last week.
It's the first one he's lost on the top.
I feel obligated to report that I could not handle
the part where the tooth was still attached, but
turned all the way around and bleeding.

Sally had to help him.

I helped Sally make a chicken for her friend. 
I knit the white part, and she knit and sewed
on the rest.  It's way cute.
Sally is cute too. 
Of course, three more of her friends want one.

Sam and I made a big cookie cake. 
Yummy.

At this point, Sally took my camera and went
on a little self-portrait craze.  They are great
pictures, but she knows how to use the computer
now and she'll be upset if I post them here.

(Wasn't the blog more fun when they couldn't read?)

Sally and I filled the bird feeder and hung it in the tree by the front door.
(I'll say no more about filling the bird feeder, except to tell
you that I hate the design of bird feeders, and when they are
a little rusty, it's near impossible to get that thing
back together.  It was Not Pretty.)
The birds love us.
They have been hanging out all day.
If you look closely, on the right is the blue birdhouse.
I'm hoping that the increased bird traffic will increase our chances
of a little bird family making a nest in there this spring. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

morning



"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Psalm 19:1



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

and now, lots of knitting

I haven't posted much knitting content lately because I've been knitting gifts.
I tried to give things  to people that I've never knit for before.

I gave a fun fuzzy scarf to Sam's teacher:

I gave hats to Sally's teachers:
(They are at science camp this week, in the mountains,
with snow on the ground.  With lots of
sixth graders.  I thought a new hat would be fun.)

I made hats for my in-laws:
Same color, different pattern.
They have a ranch and have to feed the horses twice a day.
And it gets really cold there.


Finally, I knit a hat for my nephews and my brother-in-law:
These were fun.  It's the same yarn (& color) that I
used to make my sister a birthday sweater last year.
The picture doesn't really show it, but I knit
my nephew's initials into their hats.
Geeky knitting, to be sure, but I got a kick out of it.

My mom and I knit up a bunch of hats for
My hats:

Her hats:
They're so cute!


I finally finished a wool tea cozy:
This took me over a year because I kept NOT knitting it.
The yarns got tangled easily and it was hard on my hands.
But I love how it looks.
Sally and I have been having tea in the afternoons.
She read that green tea was really "healhty" and
she's all into it now.  (I love that.)

I also knocked out a fuzzy scarf/shrug for Sally last week,
but didn't get a chance to take a picture before she
took it to camp this week.  It's fuzzy and purple.
She picked out the yarn and asked me to make it for her.


Now I'm working on some gloves (a gift), a few
scarves (one gift, the others test knits to see if
I like the yarn - I'm itching to make a cabled cardigan),
and a light sweater that is taking forever to knit.
Thin yarn + small needles = not my favorite project

But I love this picture of it in the morning sun:
I'll be so glad when it's finished.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inspiration





The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket




This was one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year.  It is such a beautiful book and it inspires me to try new things.  Today, Sam and I are making homemade marshmallows.  I found the recipe here, but I'm making half.  That was some research and math, converting grams to cups and so on.  Hopefully they turn out ok.  (We did not do the beetroot, but Sam chose blue food coloring.  Fun.)

P.S. - They turned out great!


Thursday, January 06, 2011

My Vegetarian Year

2010 was a good year for me.  This was the year that I decided to drastically change my diet and become a vegetarian.  (I was even vegan for a few weeks, but couldn't commit to it because I really like cheese.)  Back when I started thinking about making the change, it was mostly because of my eyes.  When my corneas started peeling off in 2007, I freaked out a little bit.  OK, a lot.  My corneas peeled off!  Can you blame me?  It's taken me this long to realize that the corneal erosions really messed with my head.  Part of that was the pain, but most of it was the helpless feeling of having no control of the randomness of the erosions.  I think vegetarianism appealed to me because it was something I could control.  I read about the effects diet could have on dry eyes, and I wanted to do something positive and proactive.

The other reason I gave up meat?  I was tired of feeling like crap all the time.  My body responded differently to food ever since my gall bladder was removed several years ago.  I was having lots of digestive issues, and stomach pains, and I was having trouble sleeping.  I would have bad dreams.  I know that I can't blame all that on eating meat, but I thought that maybe changing my diet would help.  I even went so far to think that if I thought it would help, maybe it actually would help.  That's a little new-age-y psycho-babble-nonsense for me, but I actually did think that.  True confession time.

Now, a year later, I can say I am so glad that I made the change.  I am sleeping better.  I am not having digestive problems.  My eyes feel great, and my doctor says my corneas are healthy.  Giving up eating meat was really not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I think I was really ready to do it.  Linking "eating meat" to "feeling terrible" helped me not miss it so much.  Eating out was the trickiest part, but planning really helped.  Also, I read a great book called Living Among Meat Eaters that was great about putting me in the right mindset.

I did have some chicken and turkey the week of Thanksgiving, but I only ate a little bit to taste a new recipe that Stu had made for the family.  It was good, and I did not notice any negative changes in my body.  I've been thinking about adding chicken back into my diet for a few weeks, because frankly it's just really hard to avoid it.  Even the "healhty" choices at several restaurants are salads with chicken on top, and they don't give you a discount if you order it without the meat.  It was starting to get to me.  So, I've decided that this year, I'm mostly a vegetarian.  I'll sometimes eat fish, and sometimes eat poultry.  No pork.  No beef.  (someone said "nothing with four legs" - yep, that's it!)  I still prefer a vegetarian meal, though.

Advice time - if you are thinking about trying on the vegetarian life, my advice is to go for it.  It's easier if you decide to do it for a limited time - a month to start, or Monday-Friday.  Like any diet change, it's hardest at first, and it's hardest when you are hungry.  If I know we are going to be traveling or out of the house for the day, I bring food with me that I can eat.  Pre-planning for restaurants is key - look at the menu before you go and decide what you will order.  Fast food is the worst, but of all the choices, Taco Bell is my new favorite.  You can order anything with "no meat" or substitute beans for the meat, and their beans are always vegetarian.  (Del Taco's claim to be, but my body tells me that they sometimes use lard.)  Salads or soups are good, but lots of soups are made with beef stock or chicken stock, so be careful.  Panera and Chipotle are great (vegetarian choices clearly marked).  Bring food to share if you are eating with other people, and if you are having company for dinner, please don't make scary vegan food.  Spaghetti or a taco bar is "normal", and everyone likes pizza.  My other piece of advice is to go to the library and get a handful of vegetarian cookbooks and put them around the house.  You'll be inspired to try some new stuff.  The last thing I would encourage you to do is to be prepaired for the questions and the teasing from the die-hard steak lovers.  They will think you have lost your mind and will worry that you (a) don't eat enough protein and (b) will get cancer from eating too much soy.  Just remember that they care about you and email me if you need a pep talk.

Books about vegetarianism I recommend:

Living among Meat Eaters : The Vegetarians' Survival Handbook by Carol J. Adams

Eat to Live : The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman


Blogs & Websites:
 
FatFreeVeganKitchen - great recipes
VeganDad - guy food
PostPunkKitchen - the authors of Veganomicon
Skwigg - "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."  She's fun too.
CheapHealthyGood - great ideas and regularly updated
VeganYumYum - fun pictures
VeganLunchBox - again, like the pictures
Vegetarian Times - great resource