Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving... Plans, Recipes and a Memory

We're getting ready for our trip to western Massachusetts to share Thanksgiving with 25 friends and family members. It should be a wild time. Our hosts are taking care of the turkey, stuffing and gravy, and everyone else is bringing something. We are bringing our two specialties: Garlicky Cranberry Chutney and Green Beans with Roasted Onions. I'll share them with you. I wish I could have photographed them, but onions won't be beaned until the day and the flash made the chutney look like red jello.

Garlicky Cranberry Chutney

This recipe was featured on Vermont Public Radio several years ago. It is zippy and fantastic on turkey sandwiches. Can be made a few days ahead.

1 inch cube fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 C apple cider vinegar
4 T sugar
1/8 t cayenne pepper (start with half this amount and gradually add to taste; we only use about half but we have very potent spices)
1 pound can jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 t salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut ginger into paper thin slices, stack slices together and cut into very thin slivers. Combine ginger slivers, garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot. Bring to simmer. Simmer on low to med flame about 15 minutes or until 4 T of liquid remains, excluding solids. Add cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to simmer, simmer 10 minutes (will be lumpy). Cool. Put in jar and refrigerate overnight, at least. Lasts several days. Makes two cups.

Green Beans with Roasted Onions

This is elegant, so tasty, and much healthier than grandma's green bean casserole. The green beans are enhanced with buttery, slow-roasted onions that have been stirred into a sweetened vinegar sauce. We make the onions a couple of days ahead and refrigerate until needed.

Nonstick vegetables oil spray
6 medium onions (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, each cut vertically through root end into 12 to 14 wedges
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 pounds slender green beans, ends trimmed

Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray 2 heavy large baking sheets with vegetable oil spray. Arrange onions in single layer on prepared sheets.
Dot onions with 4 tablespoons butter, dividing equally. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until onions are dark brown on bottom, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil broth in heavy large skillet over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 6 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil.
Add onions to sauce; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat before continuing.)
Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Return beans to same pot. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss to coat. Mound beans in large shallow bowl. Top with onion mixture and serve.
Serves 12.

I was nearly despondent at the prospect of no turkey leftovers (I usually host Thanksgiving), so Saturday I'm cooking a dinner here for the three of us and my mom. It just won't seem like Thanksgiving if I don't eat leftovers for a minimum of three days and make a soup. Since I've been brining my turkey though, everyone has been going back for seconds on turkey and leftovers have been scarce.

Finally, a Thanksgiving memory...

During my first marriage in the early 90s, I was setting the table for Thanksgiving and dinner was nearly ready. I leaned over the table not realizing I was so close to a lit candle. I noticed I had caught the back of my sweater sleeve on fire. I thought, "If I pat it, it will go out," but what I succeeded in doing was fanning the fire across my back and to the other sleeve. Now, our house was a small log home with an open concept living, dining and kitchen area. I barely had room to drop to say nothing of rolling, but I was calmly working out a strategy. By now, my mother, who was sitting in the living room noticed something amiss and asked nonchalantly, "Are you on fire?" She's a native Vermonter... a true Yankee, and they don't get excited about much, including inflamed kinfolk. I grabbed a blanket off the back of the couch and wrapped it around me, smothering the flames. Surprisingly, the sweater wasn't damaged. It only burned the fuzz and pills off, however, I don't recommend this rather foolhardy approach to pill removal. I also don't recommend lighting your candles until the table is ready.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, everyone! I'll be back starting Monday (unless I get inspired before then) with lots of Christmas preparations, recipes and frugality. Nothing says festive like Christmas in Vermont.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for the little things.

I don't have much time to write, since I've dealing with Pipsqueak's stomach virus since 10 o'clock last night. In this week of being thankful, I thought I would at least mention that today I'm very thankful for my washer and dryer, a good spray carpet cleaner and ginger ale. Sometimes it's the little things that get us through the day.

I hope to be back tomorrow with a fantastic Thanksgiving recipe, but I'm feeling slightly queasy myself. I hoping it's psychosomatic due to the power of suggestion and sensory overload.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Of course, I'm weird...

... isn't everyone? I guess we all have our eccentricities, but not everyone embraces them like I do. I've always enjoyed being different (even in high school when it just wasn't cool to be different) and strive to be. Being a little weird gets you noticed, and as long as you're not too weird, it can draw people to you.

And now for a tag: Selena tagged me, and while I usually don't post tags, memes and awards, this one attracted me because it is about being weird. (I don't normally post them, because I fear that it will repel people rather than attract them.)

1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself. (C'mon, embrace your weirdness.)
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 weird facts about me that you might not know:

1. I obsessively apply hand lotion, maybe ten or more times a day. Every time my hands get wet, I use lotion.

2. When I left my first husband, I moved out while he was at work and left him a note. It may seem cowardly, but it was what worked for me at the time. I didn't take much, so it wasn't like he came home to an empty house. The knowledge of this fact may keep my current husband on his toes, not that he has anything to worry about.

3. I self-correct my grammar when I speak. I will sometimes say the same thing over the correct way when I make a mistake. I loved grammar in school. I can still remember a little bit about diagramming a sentence. This doesn't mean that I want you to leave me comments pointing out all my grammatical mistakes.

4. I have watched The Young and The Restless since it started in 1973 (I was 8 years old). When I was in school, I only watched during vacations but my mom watched and told me what happened. When I was working, I took my lunch hour during the show and went to my mom's house to watch it.

5. I love to alphabetize things. My CDs and LPs are in alphabetical order by artist, my DVDs by title, even my spices are in alphabetical order. My books used to be, but now I have too many so they're organized by genre and/or author.

6. I hope to observe an autopsy someday. If I was 18 again, I would definitely go into that line of work. I'd never want to be a doctor of live people though. I couldn't stand all the complaining, and I would find all that bedside manner stuff to be tiresome. I also wouldn't have to worry about my patients suing me for malpractice if I did autopsies.

7. I love the smell of cow manure. I don't think it smells bad at all... just sort of fresh and grassy.

I am tagging Kitt, Ellen, Molly, Allison, Laurie, Amy and Becky. If you don't want to do this, you will not receive bad luck, and I will keep reading your blogs and making comments. And if I didn't follow every rule, may the meme gods not strike me down.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

Have you always wanted to own your very own firetruck? Perhaps Junior has asked for a firetruck for Christmas? Here's your chance. And it's a ladder truck!! Could come in handy for cleaning those second story windows or getting that pesky cat out of the tree for the umpteenth time. You'd have no trouble getting through rush hour traffic. The handy uses for this purchase are endless. I'll bet you could get a great discount on homeowners' insurance if you owned your own firetruck. I vaguely remember growing up that someone in our neighbor drove a used hearse, but this would have that beat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Long Time, No Thrift?

It's been a long time since I done a thrifting post, but I'm out there regularly looking for good deals.

One day, I came upon lots of craft supplies. Either someone had given up crafting or had died, because there was a lot of stuff. Mostly, I grabbed jewelry making supplies which were a steal at 50 or 75 cents each. I also picked up some colored pipe cleaners, glitter glue and glow-in-the-dark fabric paint.

The same day I found this great fabric. It's really soft, but sturdy. The swirls are silver. I think there are a couple of yards. I was thinking of making a bag or a pillow from it, but there might be enough for both.
I've been looking at glassware a lot on my thrifting expeditions. I'm trying my hand at glass painting. I can't feel too badly about designs that don't come out well when I'm only spend 25 or 50 per glass. (I'll write more on this another time.) But while looking at glass, I found this antique utility pole insulator. I've been wanting one for a long time, but have only found chipped ones or boring clear glass. This one was in mint condition and in a color I adore. It was only $2, which was cheaper than I usually see the damaged ones.

Most of my thrifting time is spent looking at clothes, but my recent results have been spotty. I did find this Barbour wool hat, that looks brand new. It didn't photograph well. The flash made it look shiny, but it was too dark for natural light. It's a beautiful olive green. At $8, it was a little pricey by thrift standards, but when I looked it up on line and found out they retail for about $125, I had no buyer's remorse.

My best find recently didn't come from a thrift store, but from one of those discount surplus or overstock stores. Pipsqueak saw this coat and got all excited about it. It's a Rothschild and 100% wool. The price tag was $32, which I really didn't want to pay. I noticed a small spot on the shoulder, so I thought they might discount it a bit. Then I noticed the signs up in the clothing department. All clothing was 50% off the ticket price. At $16, I tossed it my cart, spot by damned. At the checkout, the clerk and I had the following dialogue:

Clerk: This has a spot.

Me: I know, but it's 50% off, right?

Clerk: Yes, but it has a spot.

At this point, she called the manager over who offered the "damaged" coat at $9. Of course, I said yes. It was hard not to do a happy dance right there in the store. The spot came out with a Tide-to-Go pen, and on-line research revealed that Rothschild coats retail for $125 and up.

Tomorrow, Pipsqueak has a dentist appointment right around the corner from my favorite thrift store. The prospect of a hunt will fill my dreams tonight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It occurred to me that I had a few things on which to update you. Not that you're sitting there on tenterhooks wondering what's going on with me, but you may say, "Oh yeah, I remember that."

My pickles came out a little on the salty side, but otherwise had good flavor. I would like them more crispy, too, so next year I'll do the ice water soak and cut down on the salt.

My garden was an overall success with few failures. The green peppers and the beets didn't do well. Next year, I need to use more fertilizer. The yellow thing did become a pumpkin, but it was much darker orange than the other pumpkins.

I finished my other sock. They are so comfy and cozy. Now I'm rushing to finish a pair for Sweetie and a pair for Pipsqueak for Christmas. I'm just turning the heel on the first one for Sweetie and closing the toe on the first one for Pipsqueak. The race is on!

I have reduced my use of bags, but I sometimes forget my reusables at home. My plan is to just leave some in the car, but when I use them, I have to remember to put them back in the car again.

I made the Chocolate Tart, which was delicious, but a little runny. I'm sure I can do better if I try it again. Chocolate recipes, especially, need a lot of research to get them just right. Don't you agree?

My sister-in-law is getting her second chemo treatment today. She's having chemo prior to surgery so they can monitor its effect on the the tumor. Great news! With only one treatment, her tumor has already significantly shrunk. She cut her long blond hair in a punk style and dyed it orange. She says she looks like the Heat Miser. I think she looks very hip. Since it's now coming out in clumps, she's going to take it all off soon.

I haven't had any heel pain in a couple of weeks. I'm still wearing my padding innersoles, but I think my heel has healed.

Consider yourself up-to-date. I'm sure you'll be able to sleep better tonight knowing how all these things turned out. Seriously, thank you all for reading and commenting. I love reading your blogs; you all inspire me. I hope we'll all have long and beautiful blog-lives together.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just Can't Get No Satisfaction

When I make things, I'm usually never completely satisfied. It sometimes prevents me from finishing things. When I knit, I might make a stitch that looser than the rest or maybe one got twisted. Instead of looking at the whole project, I just look at that stitch that isn't right and it ruins the whole thing for me. When I paint, maybe a color isn't quite the shade I was hoping for or a part of the picture is a little too big or small. It just didn't turn out the way I pictured it in my head. When I bead, maybe a wire twist isn't smooth enough or a loop not tight enough. Even when I cook, I critique myself on taste, texture and presentation. I wish I could step back and say to myself, "Self, you did a really good job," but I can't. Sometimes I feel like I got it right, but it's rare.

I think this is hard wired in the brain and not learned. I see Pipsqueak doing this already... criticizing her artwork. I've been very careful not to voice my dissatisfaction with myself in her presence, I accept compliments of my work graciously, and I've always been complimentary of her work. Like me, she doesn't hate the whole thing, only a part of it. For example, she drew this picture the other day, which I thought was amazing for a 6 year old, and I told her that. She told me she didn't like the flamingo's wing fluffed up the way it is.
Are we different or is everyone like this? What about the masters? Was Beethoven happy with his symphonies? Was Michelangelo satisfied with the Sistine Chapel?

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's official... I am middle aged.

I noticed it starting to happen about three years ago, but I fought it for as long as I could. Today, I picked up my new glasses with variable lenses. Those are hip, modern, no-line bifocals.

Sweetie laughed at my work-around of peering over the tops of my prior glasses while holding the unreadable print so close, my nose practically touched it. I couldn't see to make jewelry, and knitting while watching tv was almost impossible. I knew I couldn't put it off any longer.

Presbyopia (Greek word "presbys" (πρέσβυς), meaning "old person") describes the condition where the eye exhibits a progressively diminished ability to focus on near objects with age. Geez, did they have to call it THAT! What's next? Hearing aids, a walker, flowered house dresses?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thank you, Sir Alexander Fleming.

Who's he?  In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming observed that colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus could be destroyed by the mold Penicillium notatum, proving that there was an antibacterial agent there in principle.  That was the birth of antibiotics.  It would be 20 years before they would be available to the public.  Today, I am very happy that they are.

After suffering with a bad cough for 10 days, I went to the doctor yesterday.  When I say "bad cough", I mean it.  It was the kind of cough that turns you inside out and your not sure if you're going to throw up or give yourself a brain aneurysm.  I am well aware of those super bugs, and I don't want antibiotics if they aren't necessary, but if the doctor told me I had a virus and would have to ride it out, I thought I might slap him.  Luckily, he didn't;  I have bronchitis.

About 10 hours after my first dose, it was like someone flipped a switch... no more rattle in my chest and my cough was milder and less body wracking.  Today, I could actually get off the couch and do something for longer than 10 minutes.  

We are lucky to be living now... a time when there are medical weapons to fight bacteria.  (I hope we'll never live to see a time where those weapons are rendered useless.)  Medical advancements are being made all the time.  I was reminded of this when I was reading "Little House on the Prairie" to Pipsqueak.  The whole Ingalls family was in bed with fever n' ague for days.   They thought they got it from eating watermelon grown in the creek beds.  Really, it was malaria from mosquitoes.  That was a dangerous time to be alive.  I supposed we've got bigger threats now: terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, and all that. The life expectancy in the late 1800s was about age 50.  I think I like our odds. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My First Swap

Once I started blogging, I got introduced into the world of swapping. I just listened to the stories for awhile and felt unsure of how it all worked. When one of my blog friends, Apron Thrift Girl, sponsored a swap and it had a aqua and red theme, I knew my lurking days were over and I signed up. Even before I was assigned a partner, I had squirreled away a few items. Once I knew my partner was Megan, I read her entire blog to get an idea of what she's like and her interests. My box of goodies is now wrapped, packed and ready to mail tomorrow (only a day late, but I let her know it's coming).Since she likes to knit, I got her three skeins of red fun fur yarn. There are also aqua metal dot stickers, red taper candles, a Martha Stewart book on Parties and Projects for the Holidays (a thrift shop find), two pairs of handmade earrings (1 aqua, 1 red), three spools of ribbon, some Martha Stewart holiday nut ball mix, a red "green" bag (I love these; they fold up small so you can carry them in your purse until you need one), a strawberry pumice stone, an aqua felt flower frame, an aqua manicure kit and spray bottle, and a homemade aqua belt. I've got to admit to almost reconsidering the belt when I found out how talented she is with sewing (I am pretty mediocre), but the ribbon was so pretty that I decided to give it a go anyway.

I'm already signed up for another swap, the Merry Christmas Children's Book Swap. The deadline is November 14 to sign up, if you want to get in on it. A good source for swaps is Swapdex. An excellent article on swap etiquette can be found here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Have you got it coming to you?

You might. To find out, you should put your name into Missing Money.com. Put in your family members' names. Put in your friends' names.

The states have implemented active outreach programs designed to reunite unclaimed property owners with their lost or forgotten assets. To enhance the states' outreach efforts, MissingMoney.com, a national database, was established in November 1999 and is the only database endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). MissingMoney.com enables owners to perform comprehensive searches for lost assets required by law to be turned over to the states.

Common types of unclaimed property include:
Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
Uncashed checks and wages
Insurance policies, CD's, trust funds
Utility deposits, escrow accounts

The ways to keep your assets from becoming unclaimed are:
Keep a record of all bank and savings accounts.
Record all stock certificates and be sure to cash all dividends received.
Record all utility deposits, including telephone deposits.
Respond in writing to any requests for confirmation of account balances with banks, stockbrokers and utility companies.
Prepare a check list of all accounts to be notified when you change your address. Share this list with a family member or trusted advisor.
Notify your bank, broker, credit card issuers, employer, 401K administrator, insurance contacts, mortgage lenders, doctors, attorney, accountant, investment accounts, and others of your name changes due to marriage, divorce or other legal action.
Cash all checks promptly upon receipt.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dog Food (A Raw Food Diet)

I never thought I would be one of those people that made food for their pets. I secretly chuckled at a few that I knew did.

When we found our current Corgi, Monty, the breeder recommended making food, talked to us about it a lot, sent us home with plenty of literature on it, and a week supply for our new puppy. At that time, we also had a geriatric Corgi, Kirby, who suffered from shoulder pain which we hoped was arthritis, but it turned out to be bone cancer. She'd already had a bout with cancer three years prior. The breeder thought that Kirby might benefit from the food as well, since she had an arthritic German Shepard that saw some improvement on the food.

It recommended that you switch over a dog to this food without mixing, but there might be some detoxing where the dog has diarrhea and just doesn't look good for a couple of days. Since Kirby was already suffering, I decided to mix it with her hard food. Wouldn't you know, she ate all the homemade food off the dry food and spit the dry food back in the dish. I didn't notice anything off about her as a result, and she always enjoyed eating right up until the end, three months later.

Monty still eats the food, and loves it. He dances around in circles when I'm bringing the bowl over. He's lean and muscular for a Corgi, which is a commonly overweight breed.

Now, here's one of the best things about feeding this food. The dog's poops aren't as smelly and in about two days, they turn white and break up into a powder. I'm told it's because they aren't eating carbohydrates (a filler in most commercial foods) which their digestive systems aren't able to process properly. This may be why many dogs and cats develop diabetes. This food can be fed to cats, also. So, onto the food...

As far as special equipment, you'll need a couple of really big bowls, 20 or so freezer containers and a meat grinder. I have a 575 watt Maverick Meat Grinder which retails for about $100, but you may be able to pick one up on ebay cheaper.

Next you need some meaty chicken bones. You can use chicken wings (expensive), chicken bones from the butcher (cheap but troublesome since you'll have to cut them up to fit in the grinder), or chicken necks. I use the necks; they're only 59 cents a pound and they easily fit in the grinder. I buy 20 or 25 pounds at a time. That makes enough food for our 26 pound Corgi for a month.

You grind those necks up raw, bones and all. You may be thinking, "BONES?! You're not supposed to feed an animal chicken bones!" If they're cooked, you're not, because they splinter. Raw bones are fine. If a fox or coyote kills a chicken, what do you think it's eating? Some call this a raw food diet; others call it BARF (bones and raw food). There's a lot of information on the internet about this, but don't get confused by all the different way of doing this. It's like parenting; there are a lot of different ways to do it and you've got to figure out what works best for you.

Once you're done grinding the meat, you'll need to grind a little bit of vegetable (I'll talk about quantities in a minute): carrots, parsnips, celery, sweet potato, broccoli, squash, ginger, garlic or green beans. Veggies grown above ground are stool softening and below ground are stool hardening, which you may want to consider. They don't need to be beautiful vegetables. I've used overgrown green beans from the garden, limp carrots and trimmings from broccoli stalks. This is clean out the crisper time, but avoid bell peppers and onions which make some dogs ill.

Then you should add kelp granules, alfalfa powder, cod liver oil and vitamin C powder. If you have an ill, ailing, injured, pregnant or nursing dog, there are other herbs you can add. I add Sportszyme (promotes faster healing if he gets injured), and Acidophlus (aids digestion). I get all these at Thomas Veterinary Drugs. I won't bore you with item numbers, but if you want them, just ask.

Finally, add some chicken broth, mix it all up, put it in containers and freeze. If you forget to take some out of the the freezer in time, don't microwave it. You don't want the bones to start to cook. Just put the container in a pot of warm water for about 45 minutes, and you can get enough from the edges for a meal.

How much to feed can be a bit of a trick to start. The rule of thumb is 3-5% of body weight depending on activity level to maintain weight. My 26 pound dog with moderate activity level gets 1 pound per pay, or 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup at night.

If you have a very large dog, or several dogs, you might think this would be too much work. It might be. It takes me about an hour to make a month supply for my dog. I figure my cost is between 30 and 50 cents per day for food. If you don't have freezer space, but have more time, you could make it in smaller batches.

At last, quantities:
4 cups of ground meat and bone
1 cup broth
4 T vegetables
4 t kelp and alfalfa
2 t cod liver oil
1,000 mg vitamin C

I have an Excel spreadsheet with quantities going from 4 cups of meat to 24 cups of meat, which I'll share if you want it.

An excellent book on this subject is Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats by Kymythy Schultze.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Good versus Evil

Fever Boy has beaten a hasty retreat. He was no match for Ibupro-man. Mucus Man and Phlegm Girl are still a problem, but after repeated blasts of my Steam Ray and Saline Gun, their stronghold is weakening. In a short time, Metropo-Betts should again be a place where oxygen moves freely and the Happy Endorphin Fairies will live in peace and tranquility.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Under The Weather?...

What the heck does that mean? Aren't we always under the weather? The only time we can get above the weather is when we fly in a plane.

Anyway, I feel badly that I launched my political tirade and then didn't post yesterday, but I've been suffering with some sort of mutant cold virus. I've had a low fever, headache, cough from a tickle in my throat and fatigue, but no sinus symptoms which is typical of most colds. I could barely get off the couch yesterday; usually colds don't get me down like that. I'm sure it's not the flu; I don't feel THAT bad, and I got a flu shot three weeks ago.

I prefer to take a more holistic approach to cold relief. (Or is homeopathic. I'm not sure since I deny my hippy tendencies rather than embrace them.) This approach is partly necessity and partly desire. The necessity is that many cold relievers (Nyquil, Sudafed and others) give me heart palpitations and a jittery feeling. That's not conducive to a good night's sleep. In a fit of desperation, I will take a Sudafed early in the day, but only after all else fails. The desire part of the equation is that I don't like the idea of a multi-symptom cold medicine when I'm usually only bothered by a symptom or two. It's like using a daisy cutter bomb when a hand grenade would do.

So what is in my little natural medicine bag?

Peppermint tea - this works for stomach upsets, congestion and sore throats
Chicken soup - same help as peppermint tea, but more satisfying
Ginger ale - great on gas and other stomach upsets
Vicks Vaporub - my mom used to rub this on my chest when I had a cold as a kid. I like to just open the jar and breath it in. Now they've added it to tissues... great invention.
Honey and lemon juice - just a spoonful can sooth a cough and scratchy throat
Saline Spray - a non-harmful, non-habit forming sinus spray
Riccola drops - you can pronounce every ingredient in these, since it's all herbs. They really work too.
Ibuprofen - a girl's gotta use a drug or two
Steam - there's nothing like a good steamy shower to ease body aches, decongest a head and loosen up a cough. If I don't have time for a shower, I'll put hot water in a bowl, hang my head over it with a towel covering my head.

My newest cold relieving find is a Neti Pot. This could be why this cold feels so strange, without any sinus involvement. I've also found my sense of smell to be much sharper since I started using it. Last year, I developed a sinus infection a couple of weeks before Christmas. I was trying to prepare for seven house guests, and I had to lay down and rest every fifteen minutes or so because of headaches, sinus pressure and fatigue. I vowed it would never happen again, hence the Neti Pot purchase. The jury still out on whether it really works yet or not, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

If you have any cold relieving tricks, I'd love to hear about them. I especially love the ones that have been passed down through generations. Those are probably the ones that really work, too, since there was no Nyquil back then.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I'm surprised you're reading; the title alone should be enough to make you run screaming from blog-land. I think we've all had enough. I wasn't intending to write about politics at all, because I don't want to offend those that don't agree with me, but this will be a non-partisan post, I promise.

Some of us will be unhappy with the outcome tonight, but we still have to realize how lucky we are. We get to make a difference; we have a choice. There are couples living under the same roof that don't agree, but they each get to have their say and be counted.

A few weeks ago, the pending election became a regular dinner table conversation. Pipsqueak started asking questions, and immediately jumped on our candidate's bandwagon. We didn't want her to follow us blindly, so we discussed certain issues, ie. war, taxes, global warming, gay rights, health care (we skipped pro-life/pro-choice… too much frightening for a 6 year old mind). We explained both sides and asked her to choose. It turned out she was with us anyway, and now she proudly wears a button of her candidate on her jacket. (A few days later, she came to me slightly distressed, "Mom, you didn't tell me I couldn't vote!" We neglected to mention that she had to be 18 years old.)

We didn't want our daughter to make a choice because it was the popular one in our household, but I fear that's done all over the country with registered voters. How many people really take the time to find out what the candidate believes in and where they stand on the issues? This can't be done by watching political ads on television, where quotes are taken out of context, and twisted and stretched like play-dough until they become something that the other candidate can use as a weapon. You can get more reliable candidate information than that by watching Saturday Night Live, and that isn't saying much. You have to watch the debates, go to the candidates' websites and do some real research.

I believe that choices are sometimes made too lightly. You shouldn't vote for someone because they are a woman, black or white, young or old. That isn't enough. You shouldn't vote for someone because you think that's who is going to win anyway. You shouldn't even vote along party lines; there are liberal conservatives and conservative liberals. Take time to think about what is important to you in this country and what you would like to see happen, then find the candidate that you think will do that for you. That is what elected officials are supposed to do... represent us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Moroccan Chicken Stew

I loved this dish, but the rest of the family... not so much. They were not big fans of the sweet potato and parsnips. At least I got all the leftovers to myself. I love Moroccan food and African food in general. We used to have a fantastic African restaurant in our area, but it went out of business. If anyone knows of any good African recipe books, please let me know.

1 T olive oil
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cinnamon stick
7 cups of root vegetables, cut into 1/2" pieces (such a potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips or carrots, in any combination using as few or as many varieties as you like)
2 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. dried currants or raisins
1 c. drained, canned diced tomatoes
chopped cilantro

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and sauté until light golden but not cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer chicken to bowl.
Add onion to pot and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add curry powder, cumin and cinnamon stick and stir 30 seconds. Add root vegetables. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken with any accumulated juices to pot. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and flavors blend, about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Serves 6.

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