Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving, Veg Style

Our first vegetarian Thanksgiving turned out rather well, if I do say so myself. We attended a great vegan potluck at the beach for lunch. Well, it was supposed to be vegan but I managed to mess that part up! I took some prepared food from Whole Foods that I assumed was vegan, but I'm not a great label reader and it turns out it had Parmesan cheese in it. Someone realized and put an index card next to it with "NOT VEGAN" written on it. I was glad someone caught my error but I was also mortified since they so nicely asked that we bring only vegan food!! At least the two batches of cranberry sauce I had The Eldest make were vegan, down to the vegan sugar. Other than that it was fun, though. The kids had a ball running around near the water and the weather was picture perfect.

I didn't plan anything for our Thanksgiving dinner. I figured the potluck was enough, plus I've been having a tough time with a fibro flare up for the past week so planning has been beyond me. That means I didn't do any menu planning or special shopping for the day. I still got hungry and wanted a Thanksgiving meal a few hours after we got home from the beach, though! I mentally went over what we had in the house and managed to come up with a meal we could all work on together. I went to the kitchen and called all hands on deck, then told them the plan. The kids really came through and figured out some additional things we could have, even The Wild Child, and we managed, with some great team work, to pull together a feast!

I am still so proud of my kids for the team effort and I'm looking forward to many more holiday meals where we work together to create a feast for us all to enjoy. I like cooking with my kids. The only sour note was DH. He HATES to have people in the kitchen with him when he cooks and he got super cranky about it, but he's going to have to learn to suck it up. The lessons the kids learn from working together are too valuable to let the opportunity go to waste. (He does get kudos for all the clean up he did after the fact. The kitchen was a disaster and he worked on it off and on all day Friday to get it back under control. He's forgiven his grumpiness for that.)

I wanted to take pictures when we had the table all set but we couldn't find the camera. Here's what we had and who helped make it:

Potato prep: DH and The Eldest (luckily we had a bag of mini purple potatoes, a bag of baby sized honey gold potatoes, and one baking potato on hand)

Potato Salad: I finished this up

Mashed Potatoes: The Wild Child, Martha Stewart Jr., and I finished this up

Vegetarian Gravy: The Eldest requested this and I made it

Roasted Purple Potatoes: DH

Baked Mac and Cheese: The Eldest (she decided she wanted this, found the recipe, and made it all by herself; it was delicious and a great main dish for the meal)

Deviled Eggs: Martha Jr. came up with the idea and made them all by herself

Green Salad: DH

Corn Bread Sticks: The Wild Child requested these and helped me make them (although we didn't get them done in time for the meal; I ate them with my leftovers on Friday)

Iced Tea with Simple Syrup on the side: The Wild Child, Martha Jr., and I

Table Setting: The Wild Child and Martha Jr.

As a special treat for The Wild Child I also made four chicken leg/thigh quarters, the one thing I purchased specifically for Thanksgiving. That's the first time I've cooked meat in 2010. He ate two of them; the girls ate the others while DH and I abstained. The Wild Child was so happy! He's a carnivore, through and through. He's also a growing boy and needs meat occasionally since he won't eat beans or other vegetarian proteins. He's so darn picky; drives me crazy.

Since Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, I will finish up by stating that I am thankful for my family. We pulled together to accomplish something that turned out to be really wonderful. I think this will go down as my favorite Thanksgiving ever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Need Worms!

We made attempts to compost recently but I wouldn't exactly say we were successful. After the fancy compost bin arrived (via mail order) and I was doing my research about how to use it, I got the funny feeling that what we needed was not in fact a compost bin, but rather a worm bin. My suspicions were confirmed today when I was stumbling around the internet and found this little gem about how to make a worm bin and what you put in it.

The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, watched the video with me just now. He's very excited about our newest gardening project, and I finally figured it out. If you have a lot of yard waste, which we don't, you compost. If you have a lot of kitchen waste, which we do, you use a worm bin. So simple; I wish I had realized sooner!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I've written a couple of political-ish posts lately, and here's another one. DH has been going back and forth with a high school friend, once again on Facebook, who is rather conservative. They were pretty civil to each other previously but DH lost it today and went negative, which bothers me. I want all of us to be able to hash out our differences in a civil manner, but when people feel things so passionately I don't know if that's possible. We're all running scared. Conservatives are scared of liberals, liberals are scared of conservatives, Tea Partiers are scared of big government, immigrants, and gays who want to marry, and everyone is scared of the economy, and it's all crashing together in one big sea of emotion.

What's scaring me is the rhetoric that no one is doing anything about. I know we have free speech and all, but isn't there a time when free speech turns into threats and inciting riots? There's this conservative radio talk show host, Joyce Kaufman, here in Florida who stated "if ballots don't work, bullets will" in a speech to a crowd outside of a strip mall. Then, and here's the really frightening part, everyone CHEERED for her. What's wrong with this picture? They cheered when she said to use BULLETS. As in bullets that kill people. What did she mean by that? I'm certainly worried about what she meant by that. If I don't vote the way she wants me to I should be shot? The liberals in our government should be shot? Or should the bullets merely be put out on display somewhere? (Snort.) What? To me that was an open, terrorist threat and this woman should be charged. She was CLEARLY inciting violence and I don't know about you, but I don't think that should be covered as free speech. I'm no lawyer but that just seems so incredibly wrong. The same example, you're not allowed to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, seems to me to apply here. She's yelling "fire", as in "fire your guns if you don't like the way things are going", and that's scary.

Oh, and here's the kicker. She was slated to be the chief of staff for a newly elected tea party congressman. She turned the job down, thank goodness, but the fact that she was even up for consideration is absolutely insane!

See, there I go getting wound up myself, when my intent was to write a nice little post about civil discourse. There's so much more to be said; I don't think this will be my last political-ish post. Now that I've gone there, I think there's no turning back!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Re-organizing the Blog Again

In addition to using my blog as a creative writing outlet, I use it to corral all of the internet links I want to be able to access easily. I have my lists down the right hand side, and now they are all organized and neat and tidy. I've sorted them into several lists instead of just blogs and links. The blogs are the same but the links are separated into various categories for your viewing pleasure. It's easier to find stuff this way! I got tired of having to search through the links for my favorite daily games so that's what got me started. Once I pulled those out by themselves (titled "My Brain Exercises") I realized I had to sort everything, so there you have it. Now you and I both can easily find vegetarian food sites like Global Vegan Kitchen, informative sites like the Huffington Post, and even the ever so popular Rim Shot.

Someone asked me about organizing a list of links/blogs not too long ago. Setting up a blog or homepage of your own is a great way to do it. Even if you don't blog, having the list of links is great. You can sort it however you'd like and you never have to write a word if you don't want to; it can be a blog for your own personal use. I do use the bookmarks feature on my browser as well but I find it to be more cumbersome, so my blog is a handy dandy tool that is a lot more useful than my bookmarks, especially since it's accessible from any computer with an internet connection. Plus the blog links on my blog update with the time of the most recent post, which is really great when you are following blogs like Hyperbole and a Half that only update occasionally. Those posts are hilarious, though, and I don't want to miss it when she puts something new up!

I also have a private homepage on Google which is convenient since you can put all sorts of gadgets on there. I have a box for my Gmail account, several news sources I follow, (NPR, CNN, Top Stories), local weather, a calendar, and so forth. I have a Google Reader box which lists the most recent posts from several of the blogs I follow. I've set up a similar Google homepage for The Middle Child, aka Martha Stewart Jr., with boxes for her Gmail, a virtual pet, and a few other age appropriate items. The gadgets you can add are endless! I can waste a lot of time looking through the various gadget offerings.

But now I need to go get organized in my real house and stop playing with the virtual one!!

PS: I was thinking about changing my background and clicked over to The Cutest Blog on the Block, and guess what I found!! They will turn your blog into a book so you can have a hard copy of all your posts. That is so cool!!! (But I'm not going to change my background just yet; I really like the one I'm using now.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Show Some Courtesy for Pete's Sake!

There have been a few times lately when Facebook friends have made snarky comments or jokes about politicians I happen to admire. I've called them on it, as respectfully as possible, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it's hurtful. It really bothers me to know that people I care about would publicly post things that are so thoughtless with no consideration for opposing points of view. (Like mine; ahem.)

Secondly, it’s just plain rude. It used to be that the rules of polite society included "don't discuss religion or politics". That was a rule for a reason! You don't want to upset someone you care about or are in contact with socially, or have them think you're some kind of jerk if you get fired up. (And I can get fired up about politics, so I am talking about myself here.) Up until my last post I've tried to keep politics out of my blog, but it is something I'm passionate about so it's going to creep in from time to time. With the exception of the previous post, I am careful to keep my political views to myself when I am in mixed company. By mixed I mean politically mixed, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. If I don't know where you stand politically, then I'm not going to bring the subject up. I do have friends who share my beliefs; I will discuss politics with them until the cows come home. I am also quite comfortable debating with anyone of any political stripe if I know that we both can disagree respectfully, but it's difficult to figure that out about a person unless you know them really, really well.

That's the whole key- respect. I may not agree with you, but I still respect you. I will not sneer at you or demean you or make tasteless jokes about the politicians you admire. I may try to point out what I dislike about said politicians, but I won't pray for their death or say that they are un-American and should leave the country. I won't say YOU should leave the country if I disagree with you and I expect the same treatment in return.

But we certainly aren't shown any examples of respect for opposing viewpoints in our media these days, unless you count the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Why are we as a society so accepting of this behavior in our newscasters? Why does it take a couple of comics to bring this disgraceful behavior to the national spotlight? There are examples of rudeness and disrespect on just about every cable news program. It's become "cool" to sneer at and belittle the other side, to call them un-American and un-patriotic, and I'm tired of it. Now that behavior is trickling into society so that people don't see any problem with posting demeaning jokes on a public forum. (And by public forum I mean any forum where a lot of people with many differing views participate, such as Facebook.)

But it is a problem. This kind of behavior dehumanizes all of us. It makes it easy to have an “us versus them” mentality, when it really isn’t “us verses them” at all. We’re all in this together, and if we keep electing these radicals (on both sides) to our government who refuse to work together, egged on by an increasingly radicalized media who are egged on by their ratings, then we’re all in trouble. If we follow the example of this increasing radicalization and find it acceptable to sneer at the other side and start fighting amongst ourselves then where can that lead? Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, quoted the Bible when he said “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. (Mark 3:25) Words of wisdom indeed. In that dark time in our nation’s history we were literally divided in the worst possible way. I don’t think we’re in danger of another civil war but I do think the dangers we face if our government doesn’t work are very real. Threats like a crumbling infrastructure, corporate excesses, terrorism, and the economic dominance of countries like China.

We have to work together. We have to stand up and say “NO MORE” to empty, angry, radical rhetoric. Debate the issues intelligently so we can come up with solutions and get things done. Stop snarking at each other because it is not productive. Stop thinking it is OK to post nasty jokes about the other side in a public forum. It’s not OK. It’s not funny. It’s rude and it rips us all apart.

I was told I have a chip on my shoulder the first time I called someone on a rude Facebook comment. I said yep, I sure do. I’ll own it and I wish more people would do the same. Be nice to each other, and if you aren’t, I’m going to call you on it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm So Sorry...

About my state. It seems the land of Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles has gone Republican of late, so I hang my head in despair. I didn't get fired up for Alex Sink or Kendrick Meek. I didn't make any phone calls. (I got so sick of GETTING them I couldn't imagine making any.) I didn't knock on any doors or stuff any envelopes. I didn't feel any enthusiasm, that contagious stuff that might have encouraged others to think more carefully about who they were voting for. I didn't blog about the candidates I liked. I didn't have it in me this time, and look what's happening. Marco Rubio. Rick Scott.

At least Debbie Wasserman Schultz was re-elected. (Yeah, Debbie, who happens to be a Girl Scout leader!! The Eldest attended an event for teen girls where she was the key note speaker and I've met her a couple of times. We all think she's great!) DH says John Waltz from Kentucky lost; he called us for support a few times and I never got around to sending him any money. I meant to, I just didn't. Ron Klein lost. Dan Gelber lost. It's a blood bath.

But why, why?? Do people really have such short memories? The Republicans are the ones who got us into the economic mess we're in, and now that gee, TWO YEARS have passed they're all mad at the Democrats for not fixing things in the blink of an eye? What? Are people really so angry that they have health care now when they didn't before? Are people really so angry that they have jobs thanks to the stimulus money that they wouldn't have had without it? (The article about the stimulus jobs was in the local paper today. A lot of jobs in education and road construction.) How did the "big government is bad" thing get started? Well, big government and mindless bureaucracy can have bad parts, but you don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Big government also does things like prevent companies from killing us all in the name of profits. Oh, what, you need examples? OK, how about lead in children's toys? How about food poisonings left and right? How about cars that accelerate all of a sudden? How about oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico and ruining fishing as an industry for a whole lot of people? Still think we don't need regulations for anything? OH, the market will take care of it! Like how BP is going bankrupt after the oil spill, right? And everyone stopped buying Toyotas the world over, so that company is a thing of the past. And we all stopped eating after the food recalls. Uh huh.

I just don't understand the Tea Party and Libertarian points of view at all. It's so... pie in the sky. It's all about get government out of the way so Big Business can run over all of us. Government is our protection from the bullies of the world, whether the bullies are terrorists or the serial killer roaming the streets or Nazi Germany or King George or BP. I mean, why have we as a species developed governments in the first place? It's to protect our society from things that would harm us so that we can live together in peace and security. Go back to the fundamentals, the very basics even before there was a United States and Founding Fathers and a Constitution. Why do we have government? Why are we not living like gorillas or baboons or dolphins? I mean, think about it. Think about what you want government to do, what you want your government to protect you from and to provide you with.

In addition to protection from bullies we need our government for infrastructure. Governments need to provide infrastructure so that we all can prosper. Infrastructure like safe roads and bridges and an efficient transportation system that we can all use freely. Infrastructure in the form of our electrical grid. Infrastructure like schools to develop the potential in every child so that they can each take a place in a productive society. Infrastructure like a safety net for those who can't work through no fault of their own, like those with chronic illness or disability. (OK, technically a couple of these things aren't infrastructure, but yeah.)

Where's the heart? Where's the care and concern for our fellow man these days? I don't see that in the Republican party, which is why I'm a Democrat. All I see in the Republican party is front men for Big Business, like Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Justice who has worked for Monsanto, or Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin, in the pockets of Big Oil. What are Thomas' ties to that company today? Did he recuse himself from the Supreme Court decision that allowed companies free speech just like people?

I want to do some research here and give some links to Supreme Court decisions but The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, needs my attention. See? That's how it goes. I have sh*t to do, to quote Jon Stewart, so I'll rant again another day. Sigh...