June 25, 2015
Thoughts On the Confederate Flag
The confederate flag is demonstrably the symbol of a nation whose values included making other human beings property. I'm glad to see the trend of its removal from federal buildings. I'm giddy when I hear the staunch refutation of those who use anecdotal evidence in an attempt to legitimize any aspect of slavery.
It's wrong that the removal of a flag is the response America has to another violent racial tragedy. It's blaming the butcher for an underdone steak. The flag is a scape goat for the patchwork of players who egged on the alleged assailant.
Who should we blame, then?
Let us blame the Council of Conservative Citizens, a political group with roots in the White Citizens' Councils that fought public school integration following Brown v. Board of Education. The Council purports to "stick up for white rights" by crafting a distorted narrative of how the caucasian race is marginalized and tortured. The alleged assailant's manifesto mentioned their website by name, citing their "statistics" on black-on-white crime.
Legally, we can't blame the Council. In order for their speech to be considered incendiary, it must be "inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action". The Council of Conservative Citizens doesn't have the guts to make their true motives that public.
It seems that America's knee-jerk reaction to any mass shooting is to blame the gun. As a supporter of the second amendment (but not necessarily the NRA), I decry the laying of blame at the foot of firearms. We live in a society where the freedom to own a firearm comes with the responsibility to use it lawfully, but there's no objective way to measure an individual's capacity for that responsibility. The moment that a grieving parent or a politician suggests that we try, it's denounced by the NRA and ardent second amendment rights supporters as an attempt to revoke our constitutional rights.
Several of the assailant's friends have gone on the record to describe how he talked about shooting up a school, telling them "[the students at the school] ... got seven days" just a week before the shooting. An AP report states that the friends knew the assailant had a handgun and were concerned enough to remove the firearm from the assailant's car. Not surprisingly, the Council of Conservative Citizens points their finger at the inaction of the assailant's friends. If the friends felt strongly enough to remove a weapon from the assailant's car, why didn't they report that to the authorities?
In the end, it's people we have to blame. The assailant who pulled the trigger. The thinly-veiled white supremacist political organization churning out fodder for false incitement. The assailant's friends who were aware that he had serious, violent racial hatred and didn't intervene.
But we got the confederate flag gone, so thats good ...
June 25, 2013
Merry Berry Tuesday
I have lots of great memories of picking our own food as child. One in particular was a summer day when my mom drove us out to go strawberry picking. That evening she made fresh biscuits and we had strawberry shortcake for supper! Once in awhile when local strawberries are ripe I repeat this dinner for Bryan and I.
If you've never tried a local strawberry you must! They will turn you off Driscolls forever. It's worth waiting for this wonderful little time of the year. They are truly a special treat.
I got too excited about the strawberries and didn't get a before picture. Here they are mashed up.
The biscuits I adapted from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. In a large bowl stir together dry ingredients.
2. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until you have small pebbles.
3. Make a well in the center of the mixture, add the milk and cream, use a fork to stir until moistened.
4. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet.
5. Bake approx. 10 minutes.
I made the whip cream as well, delicious!
June 9, 2013
We had a great weekend visiting some of our favorite Michigan folks this weekend. Saturday we spent the day with Shane and Lindsey and their amazing daughter Zoe (and doggy Kasha too). It was a great visit that reminded us how much we miss them!
Sunday we spent the day with my parents celebrating Father's Day a week early. Mom and I did some morning shopping, can't seem to spend a weekend together not getting some of that in. Dad grilled steaks and mom made a strawberry rhubarb pie. Sitting on the deck was beautiful. It was a great day and hard to leave.
On the way home I tried to think about what we had in the fridge and what I could come up with for dinner. My mind kept coming back to the beautiful bunch of carrots we recieved in our CSA this week. I've made delicious carrot soup before but it's getting into summer now and soup doesn't sound all that great. Once I got home and searched the internet a bit I decided on carrot risotto. I was bound and determined not to have to go to the store so I adapted some recipes to fit what I had in the fridge. I was hoping to use ginger but I was plum out so I opted for dill. It was a fun alternative.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup Arborio rice
1 - 2 teaspoons dried dill
1 quart vegetable stock
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup pilsner beer
1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Additional shredded parmesan, as garnish, if desired
Heat olive oil in deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped carrots and stir continuously until they brown slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for one additional minute, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Add the rice and stir to coat with the carrot mixture. Add the dill and mix in.
Ladle about 1 cup stock over the rice, stirring often over medium heat, until the rice absorbs most of the stock. Repeat process, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and stirring often until each addition is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente - about 20-25 minutes. With the last cup of stock add in the green onions.
Stir in the beer, then the butter, and grated parmesan cheese. Continuing stirring until butter has melted and the cheese is well incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh dill leaves or additional shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.
April 10, 2013
Babies and Brownies
On Saturday, Sawyer Rose entered the world. On Sunday we joined her and the rest of her family for dinner. I made lasagna, salad, and dark chocolate thin mint brownies. YUM! Thought I'd share my brownie recipe.
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 sleeve thin mints, crushed (today I also threw in a couple of tablespoons of chocolate chips I had in the pantry)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) melted and cooled
2 eggs slightly beaten
Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
Combine dry ingredients in bowl.
Add butter and eggs, stir until combined.
Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.
Last Christmas I made them with Andes mints instead of thin mints. Really put in whatever yummies you want, I'm just partial to mint.
I gave Amelie a Dr. Seuss book as a big sister gift but the wrapping paper seemed to be a more exciting toy! Especially since she was allowed to color on that and not the new book..
March 9, 2013
Soooo.... back to work for a week and no blogging! It was a rough work week, lots to get caught up on and several special commitments. Hopefully next week will be smoother.
Now to show you last weekend's project.
Having time off allowed me to drive up to Wheeling to pick up this old sewing table for a steal.
It was in pretty rough shape but I had big plans...
A good deal of internet research led me to skipping the sanding or stripping and going right for bonding primer.
We tried to find a color that brought out the color in our rug or one of our posters. I thought this would be darker and instead I added a second turquoise piece to our living room. The rebellious teenager in me hates choosing such a popular color but enough of me loves it that I am VERY happy with the results!
A trip to IKEA for a new bookshelf and a trip to target for some storage cubes and my new crafting corner was complete!
Also, Bryan was quick to hang my window. It looks great!
March 1, 2013
How Does Your Garden Grow?
My babies are growing! Just as I was getting frustrated that my seeds weren't growing when I went to water yesterday I saw that some of them were starting!
It's the first day of March... the end of winter is in sight!
February 28, 2013
Put a Bird on It
Last summer I was working in my kitchen when I heard a loud crash behind me. I went to the back door and realized the window had fallen out of our OLD wooden back door. I was expecting a big clean up job but quickly found that window was completely intact. At this point I was very happy not because I didn't have a mess to clean up but for two other reasons. First, I would finally be forced to get a new screen door for the back door, something I've wanted since the day we moved in. Second, for years I have wanted to do something with an old window for my home and now I finally had a window to do it with.
Ever since I watched High Fidelity in college and saw the wall of old windows in Lisa Bonet's character's apartment I have wanted to play with windows as art. Finally my chance!
But it was summer and I had gardening to do. As well as sun bathing and vacationing and barbecuing and all of those things you'd rather be doing outside rather than working on projects. So the window was set against the wall near the backdoor and basically forgotten about. A month or so ago Bryan asked me about it and I realized it was probably bothering him a lot more than it was bothering me. (He likes everything in it's place while I'm a bit of a "piler".) The truth is while I was excited to have my window I had no idea what to do with it. I knew it would be hung on the wall but t needed some upgrading first. There happened to be an art installation using old windows in one of our local restaurants at the time. The window panes had been painted which I had been considering but now that I saw it "in the flesh" it wasn't doing it for me. So of course I turned to pintrest. Again I didn't find much that did it for me. I considered making it a photo frame or putting interesting fabric behind it....
The other questions was painting. I liked the gray color and I liked the rustic feel of the peeling paint. But it was probably a little too rustic and seriously if I'm not careful I will make my whole life gray, I just always reach for it. I was leaning toward turquoise which is awfully popular right now but I already had some turquoise and I love it so I went with it.
I cleaned the window, taking off a lot of the old chipping paint just by washing it with a soft cloth and used a razor blade to clean old paint off the glass. I took a damp cloth and rubbed on the new paint. I didn't worry about getting all of the nooks and crannies. I wanted to keep the distressed look and maybe some of the gray but add a little color.
A few weeks ago I was wandering the aisles of JoAnn's wondering if there was a fabric interesting enough to transform my window. Instead of fabric I found these bird wall decorations. I know birds are out and owls are in. My friend, a home designer says snakes are next, but these seemed like the right fit for my window. I asked Bryan if he felt evoking Portlandia and putting a bird on it was too cheesy but he was open to it. I had a direction for my window!
I love it! I wish I could show it to you up on my wall but I haven't gotten that far yet, I still need to get to the hardware store to put a hanging thingy on it. I'll post again once I get it on the wall.
Last weekend Bryan hung it for me. I love it!
February 27, 2013
Long Time A Comin
This necklace and earrings took their time, or rather I did creating them.
It started last July on our summer vacation. On the one rainy day we had during our beach vacation, Mom and I spent the day on our fabulous screened in porch making beads. I have to admit in the dim light I thought I had picked out a tan base so I was disappointed when I realized it was orange. But the orange has grown on me and I have a summer dress that matches perfectly.
That day I made the earring but I still had so many more beads!
This fall on a visit to Mom and Dad's house we got out the jewelry making supplies again. I finally got some inspiration to put those beads to work. To make this necklace you use all eye pins. You get a lot of chance to practice your loops.
But I missed out on a lot of our time to work because I had a conference call for work that day.
I worked on it a few times at home when I felt inspired to pull out the project. Finally completing it the week after my foot surgery when I had plenty of time to sit and make loops. All while keeping my foot elevated of course!
Last week I added a coat of clear nail polish to give the beads a finished look.
February 26, 2013
Armed and Dangerous
Before my foot surgery I had a varied workout routine including running, yoga, and a Jillian Michaels DVD. Right now I can't do any of those and have limited ability to use my legs. I have been alternating arms and core each day. Generally I think it is much more effective to do more dynamic exercises that workout multiple muscle groups at one time but this is what I can do right now.
Here I've combined my favorites, trying to make sure I hit chest, shoulders, and back as well as biceps/ triceps. My reps are kind of high because I've been doing these several weeks with just the dumbbells I have at home (5lbs and 10lbs). The general rule for weight lifting is you shouldn't be able to lift the weight one more time more than your last rep. Usually 8- 15 repetitions with 2 - 3 sets. However I just read that you can have the same effects with higher reps 20 - 25 with lower weights. For me, my exercise has to be challenging but not so much that I'm miserable and don't want to come back to it next time. So this is what works for me.
Always be sure to protect your back by pulling your belly button toward your spine and keep your shoulder blades low. I try to envision putting them in my back pocket.
February 25, 2013
Very excited that tonight is our clothing swap. It's something every group of girls should do.
I'm very fortunate to have a sister in law and best friend who have always LOVED to give me their old clothes. Once at a book club meeting my friend suggested we bring some of our clothes to share with each other. It was a really fun night and I was glad to find a good home for some clothes I loved but just weren't fitting me right. The book club never repeated the clothing swap but I couldn't get over the idea.
Our first official swap was 3 people but we had a blast! Each of us thought our clothes weren't good enough for anyone else to want but we all left with great stuff we were excited to have. We were so excited to share this idea. 6 months later when it was time to clean out the closet again we sent some emails and tried to get more people involved. Our first few were small, many people don't think their clothes are nice enough. Let me tell you I don't shop anywhere fancy and am always surprised when so many of my clothes go to good new homes. Slowly the word got out and people gave it a try. Once they tried it most of our friends were hooked. We now have a core group that always makes a point to be there and we always have some new folks. We probably have 10 people at each swap. Since we have grown we have all shapes and sizes available which is great because it opens it up to even more people.
When we first started swapping everyone was a little shy about how to show their clothes. We found the best way was to just start pulling our stuff out and putting it all together in a pile. Soon enough we would start getting comfortable and would be "selling" our pieces to each other. Now that the sway has grown so has our organization. We choose different spots in the living room for each category of clothes. Since I've had extra time on my hands this month we will even have signs for each category.
I have no shame. I tend to wear comfy clothes that go on and off easily and try on my clothes right there when I find them. Other gals will go with more of a dressing room technique and choose a number of items before trying them on in another room. Whatever works for you!
I suggest everyone give this a try. Just get one or two friends that you are comfortable with and are similar sizes. You don't have to be the same size, this is that chance to get rid of things that you love but just sit in the closet because their not right on you. Also you'll find that your friends prefer different fits, you might like your clothes loose but they like them fitted. After your first time you'll fall in love and will think of a few other gals who would appreciate it. Then it just keeps growing.