Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Witnessing the Change

I generally avoid talking politics on this blog. There are hundreds of other blogs that address matters of government. From carefully researched analysis to vehement ranting, just about every persuasion of passionate talk on all things political is out there if you want it. I don't feel the need to add to the fray. But I just can't write another thing without acknowledging how inspired I feel by the change our country witnessed today.

The very fact that every four years we have the opportunity to CHOOSE who will lead this nation for good or ill is a powerful thing. The fact that we can orchestrate major changes in leadership without violence never ceases to amaze me. There have been political coups and murders of those in power since the days of Pahoran

But we shift from one leader to another in a relatively smooth fashion time after time.

Barack Obama as president represents so much that is good. How he will actually perform is yet to be seen. But the man truly inspires me. He gives me hope. He helps me believe that we CAN address the myriad of complex problems that beset us in a meaningful and positive way.

I will pray for Barack. I will pray for this country. I am thankful for witnessing this day.

Swim / Swam / Swum

In my last post I stated that " I have swam in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Red Sea. I have swam in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. I have swam in many, many little lakes and rivers."

My grammar conscious brother pointed out that the correct way of expressing this would be "I have swum..."

Yeah, maybe. But I think swum sounds stupid, sort of like the work "squoze".
I choose not to use either one of them.

But for those of you who really care about such things, here's a nifty place that gives lessons on how to use past/present/future tense appropriately:


Post #500

For my 500th posting on this blog I thought I would print the 16 random things meme that is floating around facebook...

My brother, Wayne, tagged me in this facebook chain called "16 Randoms". It's posted with these guidelines:

I. Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random facts about yourself
II. At the end of the note, tag 16 people
III. You are supposed to tag the person who tagged you, too
IV. If I've tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

Here are my 16 things:

1. I was born on the day Sputnik took flight

2. Unlike many women who came of age in my era, I have never attended a tupperware party.

3. One of my accomplishments of which I am most proud is that age 51 I am totally, completely out of debt (not counting one thing that I am a co-signer on because although it shows up on my credit rating and I may pay some or all of it off, that loan technically belongs to someone else.) All of the debts that I took on for myself have one by one been wiped away. YES!

4. As a young teen I made a list of 15 things that I wanted to accomplish or acquire when I grew up. They all came true. I don't want some of those things any more. Maybe it's time for a new list.

5. I took scuba lessons two different times. I flunked both times.

6. When I was a kid Elvis Presley came to my small town in Arizona to film the movie "Stay Away Joe". Other "Famous" people I have observed include Jimmy Carter, Harry Chapin, Frank Zappa, and lots of rock stars at concerts. Not so famous people I have crossed paths with include Elder Ephraim, Rollo May and Chris Sizemore.

7. I have lived in Arizona, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Washington and Oregon. From the time I left my parent's home at age 16 I have moved 21 times.

8. I expect I will move again in the next year.

9. I have had many different jobs including phone solicitor, juvenile probation officer, factory worker making CB antennas, part-time college teacher, bug counter, crisis intervention specialist, secretary, training coordinator, passing out fliers, marketing director, drug dealer, executive director

10. I am currently looking for another job.

11. In 2001 I walked from Enumclaw to Seattle (approx 60 miles) in 3 days as part of the Avon 3 day marathon to raise money and awareness for the cause of stopping Breast Cancer. I fell and sprained my ankle the first hour of the first day. I walked the whole way anyway.

12. Cities/towns I have visited include: St Louis, Santa Fe, Cairo, New Orleans, Sedona, Salt Lake, Detroit, San Antonio, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Key Largo, Nassau, Jerome, Austin, Indianapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Victoria, Anaheim, San Francisco, Omaha, Astoria, Pueblo, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Washington DC, Honolulu, Anchorage, Nashville, Palmyra, Nauvoo, Kirtland, Ithaca, Boise, Atlanta, Raleigh, Orlando, Mobile, Ft Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Kona, Homer, Kanab, Baker City, Bend, and a whole lot of other points in between.

13. I have swam in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Red Sea. I have swam in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. I have swam in many, many little lakes and rivers.

14. For most of my life I was afraid of water.

15. I was a grandmother for the first time before I was 40 yrs old. I now have 8 grandchildren. If my posterity continues follows my pattern of early parenthood I could be a great grandmother at 57 and a great - great grandmother at 77 and a great-great-great grandmother at 97.

16. I eat meat. Meats I have eaten in my life include chinchilla, moose, and cobra.

I tagged a bunch of people with this over on facebook so here I'll just toss it out for anyone who wants to play. If you choose to do a list of your own let me know in the comments so I can come check yours out, ok?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gems in the Blogosphere

I checked in with my friends over at Facebook this morning and found THIS LINK placed there by Life Coach Laura Young.

I spent a little time exploring it and was VERY IMPRESSED. This lady has a great combination going on: 1) she writes very well 2)she has something substantive to say. I sometimes (though not always) have #1. I OCCASIONALLY have #2. My problem in I seldom have both #1 and #2 going on at the same time.

This is the first blog I've read in a long time that actually made me envious. It wasn't so much the green eyed monster mean spirited envy I used to feel in sixth grade. Instead, it was the longing I sometimes get in an art museum looking at a fine painting...appreciating a masterpiece so poignantly that it aches, and wishing with fury that I had the ability to produce that kind of beauty.

Mostly I babble on this blog without a lot of forethought. I dump out words about whatever I am thinking/feeling/doing at the time because I enjoy the conversation. I do it for fun, and don't worry about measuring the merit. Reading Penelope's Trunk threatened to stir my hibernating bear of ambition to one day actually take my writing seriously. Scary.

Years ago I had a couple things published in magazines that I was actually paid for. There was a time when I seriously toyed with the thought that I'd like to pursue writing professionally. But for one reason or another I took other paths, and for the most part have made my peace with that. Still, every now and then I get all dreamy about it again and wonder...what IF...

Anyway, all that aside, seeing what a fine blog this particular one is (at least in my humble estimation) made me curious. What blogs have you found out there that MOST impressed you?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


My husband is reading the book Tsar by Ted Bell. He just read a sentence to me from page 314 that totally cracked me up! Two characters are having a conversation. It is between a woman who is a singer starlet type and her male manager who are getting ready to go on the maiden voyage of a huge airship. The woman says to her manager:

"What about you, Stoke? Aren't you even a little excited?"

to which he replies:

"Honey, you know me. I only got two emotions. Hungry and horney. You see me without an erection, quick, make me a sandwich."

Oh the commentary I could give on this...but I think I'll just leave it alone.

Give & Take

My husband snores. LOUD. I frequently find my sleep interrupted by his nocturnal chain saw sounds. Sometimes I poke him to turn over and try to get myself back to sleep. Sometimes I go sleep in the other room. Sometimes I give up and just get up. Today was the latter. I got out of bed a little after 5 AM on a day when I had intended to sleep in.

As is often my practice in the wee hours of the night/early morning I went to the computer to check in with people I care about.

I began reading the discussion going on over at Laura Young's No Safe Distance. There are some very rich comments there on the topic of why people give or don't give - whether it be to particular individuals in need or big social causes.

There's some good stuff there.

When I was teaching Sociology one of the topics I lectured on was the Bystander Effect, also referred to as Pluralistic Ignorance or Diffusion of Responsibility. I talked about the social factors involved in persons choosing to look away and NOT act in the face of extreme need. The classic example of this is the murder of Kitty Genvese

For those not familiar with the case:

"At 3:15 A.M., on the night of March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was returning home from her job as manager of Ev's 11th Hour, a bar in the Hollis section of Queens. Her apartment was in the Kew Gardens section of Queens, a cheerful place with private homes, apartment houses, and neighborhood stores. Like many in the area, Genovese parked her car in a lot adjacent to the Long Island Railroad Station. Although the railroad frowned on the practice, this had been her routine since arriving from Connecticut a year earlier.

Genovese locked her car and began the 100-foot walk to her apartment building, little realizing that she had been spotted leaving the bar and followed. Soon, though, she noticed a man at the far end of the parking lot, she changed direction, heading toward a call box for the 102d police precinct. But she got only as far as a street light when the man grabbed her. "Oh my God, he stabbed me! Please help me! Please help me!" Genovese screamed. Lights went on in a nearby 10-story apartment house and somebody yelled "Let that girl alone!" The assailant walked to a car and drove off. Genovese struggled to her feet. The apartment building's lights went out.

Then the assailant came back and stabbed Genovese again. "I'm dying" Genovese shrieked. "I'm dying!" Again, lights went on. Again, the assailant went to his car and drove away. Again, Genovese struggled to her feet.

Again, the assailant returned. By then, Genovese had crawled to the back of her apartment building. (Because the building has retail stores on the first floor, the entrance to the apartments were in the rear.) The assailant saw Genovese on the floor, at the foot of the stairs. He stabbed her a third time. And Kitty Genovese died. Finally, at 3:50 A.M., the police received a phone call from a neighbor of Genovese's . In two minutes they were on the scene."
(Donway,Roger. The Atlas Society.

There has been A LOT written about this...why would all those people witness such a horrible attack and DO NOTHING?? Particularly in a case like this when it would be EASY for any one of these individuals to call the police with virtually no danger of retribution from the assailant. But they did not. WHY?

Part of it was the assumption that someone else would. "On the sixth floor of 82-40 Austin Street, Marjorie and Samuel Koshkin witnessed the attack from their window. "I saw a man hurry to a car under my window," he said later. "He left and came back five minutes later and was looking around the area." Mr. Koshkin wanted to call the police, but Mrs. Koshkin thought otherwise. "I didn't let him," she later said to the press. "I told him there must have been 30 calls already."

I live out in the middle of hundreds of acres of wheat farm. I do not have bad guys stabbing young waitresses under my window. But I DO live in a world where there are a multitude of individuals and causes with immediate pressing needs. Some of those needs are of life and death nature. And I choose every day how I will or will not respond to those needs.

With all the different issues that abound (save the environment, help hungry people, assist the defense of those who have suffered injustice, stop torture, protect this or that species, or give my brother's poor neighbor a new pair of shoes...) how will I decide to act or not act?

What makes a given cause or individual's need compelling enough for me to pull out my checkbook or to show up on their doorstep and roll up my sleeves when they need help?

Yesterday a man and his wife moved in to our town from another state. Being LDS, the man called someone in leadership in my church and stated that they needed help unloading their U-haul truck. Within an hour 9 men who were total strangers to this man were at the address given and in 45 minutes they had moved the couple in to their new home. I've seen similar events like this play out dozens of times, it's really quite typical for my congregation. Yet acts of service like that still astonish me.

But would those same men have been so willing to help a total stranger who was NOT of the same faith? I, like many others, am generally most motivated to help someone I feel CONNECTED to in some way - or in the case of someone I have no tie to, it is usually triggered by my connection to the person asking for the help.

The comments on Laura's Post bring up all sorts of related issues, such as...

the role of Tax Write Off in our choices of who/what to donate dollars to

the sense of invasion of our personal space when a street person approaches asking for money,

how we feel about those who choose not to give to causes WE feel are urgent and important

Empty Promises - the words people say "If there is anything I can do..." that turn to dust when a specific request is put forth

There's a lot to digest there.

Is there such a thing as altruism? Does the REASON someone helps or chooses not to help matter?

I currently direct a non-profit organization that provides re-entry services to people who were formerly incarcerated. It takes money to run this organization. We would have to shut our doors if people were not willing to give money, time, and other resources. So I am often in the position of asking for help.

So it is with more than just passing curiosity I ask the question what motivates people to contribute or not contribute? And in the matter of living within my own skin, every day I have to ask myself Who Is My Neighbor? What will I do?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How is this even possible?

There is an oft repeated story in my family which illustrates the ingenuity of my paternal grandfather. He had a 45 acre homestead in Oak Creek, Arizona which has since been sold and become Slide Rock State Park. It is a remarkable piece of property, a lot of which he devoted to apple orchards. but back in the day Frank Pendley had a problem with mountain lions getting into his pigs. He had a family of nine kids to support which was no easy task in those crop-dependant days before grocery stores were handy. So he tried all sorts of things to keep the cats from getting at his pigs. He strung pie plates and pieces of tin along the parameter of the enclosure. He stood guard at night. He tried various booby traps. None of them worked. Finally he put a little unweaned German Shepherd puppy that did not yet have its eyes open in with his sow right after she gave birth to a new litter. The newborn dog was just happy to have a warm spot and a meal. The pig seemed indifferent, and accepted the pup as one of her own. I've heard stories of how comical it looked to see that little puppy nursing between it's sibling pigs. But as the dog grew up (albeit with a bit of identity confusion) it would bark any time a cat got close which would warn my grandfather to come running with his shotgun to protect his animals.

Ok, so I am familiar with the idea of interspecies parenting.

But how the heck do you convince a tiger that baby pigs are not food???

Ties That Bind

A meme about families:

1. Who do you consider to be members of your “family”? What is your actual relationship to them?
FAMILY to me are those I am related to by marriage or blood AND maintain a relationship with.

By blood I have 4 siblings. I only have contact with 3 of them. The one that is lost to me I think of as a "relative", which is different in my mind that my "family".

My immediate family is my husband, kids, grandkids & sibs.

My extended family to me are my in-laws, aunts & uncles, cousins, etc. Those range somewhere between "Family" and "Relative" depending on the bond we do or don't have.

I have other people I am not related to by marriage or blood whose relationships I deeply treasure, but there is a distinct difference to me between those bonds of choice than the ones of kin. I know there are "fictive kin ties" where some people think of non-family AS IF they were family. I don't really do that so much.

2. Of these people, whom do you feel closest to? Whom to you feel most distant from?
My sibs I am closest with pretty much in birth order, with the exception of the brother that is lost to me.

I have one cousin in Renton who is almost like a sib to me and other cousins I don't know at all.

3. What are some expectations you have of your family? What do they expect from you?

These seem to be shifting, evolving, changing... and each relationship is different.

4. How has ethnicity influenced your family?
This has not been a big deal for me. One uncle and two brothers have married Hispanic women. My oldest son married a woman of mixed race. Growing up white in America in the 60's and 70's in a mostly white town I never gave it a lot of thought.

5. What experiences did you have related to your family’s socio-economic status? Were there groups you were a part of or groups you were left out from as a result?

I grew up really poor and felt the sting of exclusion and / or judgment from others as a result of that. I can recall feeling unwelcome with the popular girls with the nice clothes at my school. I can also remember feeling like a "poor relation" sometimes when my family went to visit aunts and uncles whose circumstances were considerably better off than our own. I think I internalized a lot of the shame about our family life from the feelings conveyed about it by my mom. I've let go of most of that, but back in my early years it was like a weight I carried with me where ever I went. I've talked about this not that long ago with one of my cousins I used to be so intimidated by. He was baffled that I had ever felt less valued in the family because we were poor and insists they never looked down on us for our meager means. I'm not so sure... It's hard to separate out all the different layers of things that were going on at the time.

As an adult I'm somewhere in the middle of the abundance scale in my family. Some have way WAY more than my man and I do, some have considerably less. I no longer use amount of money or shiny things as the measure stick for how well someone is doing. My values about material "success" have shifted a lot. But as a kid, it was pretty grim.

6. What trait do you admire most in yourself that was a product of your family life?
Love of learning and commitment to education. Even though we were dirt poor we always had good books in our house. One of my most vivid memories of the house I grew up in is the bookcase full of encyclopedias and a big fat dictionary that were all used constantly.

7.What is the extent of your knowledge regarding the history of your family?
I know bits and pieces, but there are plenty of gaps. In my 20's and 30's I was pretty interested in genealogy and did a fair amount of family history research. So I've got lists and charts and a smattering of pictures. There are some stories that have been passed down. But once we get past my great grand parents there is little info available.

8. What is your favorite childhood memory about your family?
All of us out someplace together on a wood cutting venture. I was pretty little. It was one of our happier times.


1. What does “friendship” mean to you?
Like the word "love", friendship occurs on so many levels. We say we are friends with folk who range from mere acquaintance to soul sister.

To me, there is a BIG difference between being "friendly" with someone and being FRIENDS. I have lots of people who are my colleagues, my cohort, my fellow congregation members, others I associate with due to the circumstances that bring us together on a more or less regular basis. I genuinely like and enjoy most of them. But FRIEND to me denotes a more deliberate choosing, not just happenstance bringing us together. FRIEND means a level of sharing that is not given indiscriminately to others. FRIEND means there is a commitment there.

2. What are the qualities you look for in a good friend?
Honesty, sense of humor, ability and willingness to maintain a confidence.

3. When does an acquaintance become a “friend”?
When we mutually begin sharing personal information we would not tell others and demonstrate trustworthiness.

4. What makes a friendship become more or less significant / intimate to you?
The degree of confidentiality I associate with what I tell them and/or they tell me.

I can genuinely ENJOY a person I do not reveal much to. But TRUST is another matter. Trust is a huge component of friendship for me.

5. What aspects of yourself do you share with a friend that you do not share with others?

Some things about my personal history. Certain opinions, values, hopes, dreams.

6. What aspects of yourself do you usually hold back in your friendships?

Things I feel vulnerable about.

7. What are some behaviors you expect from your friends?

Maintain confidences. Be truthful.

8. What are some behaviors you would not tolerate in your friends?

Mocking my values, (disagreeing is fine, ridiculing is not.)
Disrespecting my personal boundaries.

9. How does one’s willingness to be vulnerable impact friendship development?

I think it's a pretty big deal. It is quite difficult for me to show my soft under belly emotionally. But when I do with someone who can be trusted, it definitely takes the friendship to a completely different level.

10. How would you deal with sexual and / or romantic feelings (either your own or the other person’s) in a relationship you are committed to keeping as “just friends” ?

Since I am in a committed monogamous marriage I have absolutely no room for this. If I felt myself being particularly attracted to or turned on my a friend, or if a friend was overtly flirty or coming on to me in any way, I would WAY back peddle from that person. I value my marriage way too much to allow this to encroach. This is why Sean Connery and I can never be friends.

11. How do you deal with hurt feelings, conflicts, or betrayal of trust is a friendship?

Depends. Sometimes I just swallow it down, don't address it at all, and change my expectations about the relationship. I have to have a lot of respect for the person to go to them and tell them if I have felt hurt or betrayed by something they said or did and work to repair it.

In a case where I did something that made a very close friend of mine feel hurt and betrayed I tried very diligently to fix the rift. It didn't work and that person is lost to me. It has been over 10 years ago and I miss her still.

12. How have you changed as an individual due to the influence of friends?

Oh heavens, in MANY ways. My friends have taught me so much. I've learned things about spirituality, practical things like how to navigate through crowds safely, how to laugh at myself, and tons more. I would be a mere shadow of myself without the impact of my friends.

How about you?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Some Favorite Recipies

CANDY - Delma’s Penuche

3 Cups sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Karo Syrup
1-Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 Cup Water
2 Cup chopped walnuts

In heavy, smooth bottom pan, mix all ingredients except walnuts together and heat over high heat until boils. Put lid over for a few minutes to wash down sides. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium. Cook to firm ball. Dump all at once into glass bowl (Do Not Drip). Let cool and beat.
Add nuts. Note: if mixture turns to sugar, recook adding 1/4 cup water.

Karen’s Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 tbsp. Butter
3/4 cup sugar
1-cup flour
1/2 tsp cocoa
1 tsp. Baking powder
 cup milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

Mix & spread in 9x9" pan. Mix 2 cup brown sugar, 2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa- Sprinkle this over batter in pan. Pour ½ cup boiling water over top just before putting in oven. Bake for 40 min. At 350.

Apple Cake in a Jar

3 Cups flour 2/3 c. shortening
2 2/3 cup sugar 4 eggs
2 tsp. Baking soda 3 cups grated apple
2 tsp baking powder 2/3 c. raisins (optional)
1/2 tsp. Salt 2/3 c. nuts (optional)
1 tsp. Cinnamon 2/3 c. water
2 tsp. Nutmeg

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Mix in remaining ingredients.
Grease 8 wide mouth pint canning jars. Fill jars half full - DO NOT OVERFILL.
Carefully wipe rims of jars clean. Place jars directly on wire rack in oven uncovered and bake at 325 for 45 min.

As soon as cake is done, take out one at a time and carefully place sterilized lid & rim on jar.
JARS WILL BE HOT - use gloves. Jars will seal as they cool and keep for up to one year.
Great for gifts or last minute treats.

Wacky Cake

In 9" x 13" cake pan mix all ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
7 TBSP cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
10 TBSP oil
2 TBSP vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups water

Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 min.

Apple Crisp.

Spray 9"x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Then add:

6 cups sliced apples
2 c. corn syrup 1/4 c. hot water

Place sliced apples in pan. Combine hot water and syrup, and then pour over apples.
In separate bowl following ingredients until crumbly:

1 c. rolled oats
2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. Salt

Sprinkle mixture over top of apples and bake at 350 until apples are translucent and tender (about 45 min to 1 hour depending on the apples).

Grandma’s 5 layer cookies
1 cup (1 stick) margarine
1 package graham crackers, crushed
1 cup chocolate chips
1-cup walnuts
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 15 oz can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed Milk

Pour melted butter into bottom of 9"x13" pan. Spread graham cracker crumbs evenly in pan, pressing down by rolling a drinking glass across surface until smooth. Scatter chocolate chips and nuts over graham cracker crust. Sprinkle coconut over this. Pour sweetened condensed milk over coconut. Bake at 350 for 25 min or until lightly brown on top. Cool in pan 15 - 20 minutes. Cut into bars. Makes about 2 doz 1 x 3 inch bars.

Pudding Surprise

1st Layer:
1 stick margarine
1 c. finely chopped walnuts
2 TBSP sugar
1 C. flour

Mix and press in 9"x13 pan. Bake at 350 about 15 min. Let cool completely and then add other layers.

2nd Layer:
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1 c. dream whip

3rd Layer:
2 pkg 3 oz instant chocolate pudding, prepared according to pie directions

4th Layer:
2 pkg 3 oz instant vanilla pudding, prepared according to pie directions

5th Layer
Cool whip, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Fruit Pizza

1 c. margarine, softened
1/4 c. brown sugar
1-cup flour
1/4 quick oats
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Assorted fruits (mandarin orange segments, strawberry halves, kiwi slices, banana slices, pineapple chunks, blueberries, raspberries or seedless grapes, halved).

In small mixing bowl, cream together margarine and brown sugar. Work in flour, oats and walnuts. Press dough onto lightly oiled 12-inch pizza pan. Prick dough in about a dozen places with a fork. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 10-12 min or until golden brown. Cool; leave crust on pizza pan or move to round cake plate or cardboard.

In medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla, beating until well blended. Spread over crust.

Arrange fruit on cream cheese mixture. Chill. Cut into wedges with pizza cutter.

Larry’s applesauce cookies
1-cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 c. shortening
1 c applesauce
2 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp nutmeg
2-cup flour
1 pkg chocolate chips
optional – add walnuts or pecans.

Cream eggs, shortening and sugar together. Add applesauce, then dry ingredients.
Roll into small balls. Bake at 350 for 12 min.

Blueberry Buckle
2 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 c milk
2 c fresh blueberries
2 c sifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. margarine

Thoroughly cream shortening and 3/4 c. sugar; add egg and beat till light and fluffy. Sift together 2 c. flour, baking powder & salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread in greased baking pan. Top with berries. Mix  c. sugar,  flour & cinnamon; cut in margarine until crumbly. Sprinkle over berries. Bake at 350 for 45 min. Cut into squares. Serve warm.


Bran Muffins

2 1/4 c four
2/3 c brown sugar
 c sugar
2 Tbsp. Baking powder
 tsp salt
4 cups All-Bran
2 beaten eggs
2 1/4 c. buttermilk
 c. cooking oil.

To make batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, stir in cereal. Make a well in center of mixture. In another bowl, stir together eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to cereal/flour mixture. Stir just till moistened. (Batter will be lumpy). Store in a covered container in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 weeks. (Batter will be stiff).

To Bake: When ready to bake, spoon batter into desired number of greased or paper-lined muffin pans, filling one quarter full. Then add desired filling (dried fruit, frozen blueberries, nuts,  tsp fruit preserves, etc.). Top with more batter to fill cups no more than 3/4 full. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or till lightly browned. (Optional, replace half the oil in recipe with applesauce)

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp each: cinnamon, baking soda, and vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
 tsp salt
2 c sugar
3 c flour
2 c shredded zucchini
1 cup cooking oil (optional, replace up to half with applesauce)
 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Blend all ingredients. Bake in greased pan at 350 for 50 min or till toothpick comes out dry.

Main Dish

Italian Black Bean and Zucchini Casserole

4 c. cooked rice Mix all ingredients and place in baking.
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained pan or casserole dish. Bake at 350 for
2 small zucchini thinly sliced 25 - 30 min. May sprinkle more cheese on top
1-cup chunky salsa when removed from oven.
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (Optional, can be cooked on top of stove
1/4 c cilantro at medium heat about 10 min.)


Wash & dry completely thawed turkey and stuff as desired.
Rub all over with Crisco.
Slide bird into a large brown paper grocery sack.
Fold the end over and staple shut. Put that into another bag,
with stapled end going in first. Staple closed again.

Place the bag of turkey in a roaster pan breast up and put in preheated oven.
Cook at 350, 20 min per pound if over 12 lbs, and 25 min per pound if under 12 lbs.
NO PEEKING. Comes out moist and tender every time!

Scarborough Fair Chicken

1-cup flour
1 TBSP Parsley
1 TBSP Sage
1 TBSP Rosemary
1 TBSP Thyme

mix ingredients in plastic bag. Shake chicken breasts one at a time in mixture.
Place coated chicken pieces in hot skillet (use small amount of oil if necessary).
Brown on each side and then reduce heat. Put small amount of water into pan, and then cover immediately with lid, allowing steam to build. Open lid carefully to avoid scalding. Add one can mushroom soup. As you continue cooking, turn chicken often. Cook until done, judging
by color when chicken is cut.

How to Avoid Moving Day Battle Fatigue

This is a GREAT list of week by week steps to prepare for a major move without losing your sanity. How to Avoid Moving Day Battle Fatigue

Cool Quote

Does anybody know the original source of this quote?

Resolve to be tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged, sympathetic
with the striving, and tolerant with the weak
and wrong… because sometime in your life
you will have been all of these.

How to Build Nomad Shelves

Nomad shelves are an easy way to add storage for just about any size area. They do not fasten to the wall so they can easily be moved from place to place...which of course is why they are named Nomads. Great for bookcases, food storage, filing boxes or any other storage need. They are easy to make, sturdy, inexpensive and very portable. Here is how to create them:

Decide what you want your shelves for and where they will go. This sounds very simple, but don't overlook this step. It will determine what supplies you will use as well as which tools will be necessary.

Measure the wall where you will put your shelves to determine the height and length you want. Also measure what you will put on the shelves to decide how far apart they will be . This will tell you how many shelves you will need.

STEP TWO: Select materials

Support beams (2" x 2")
[Two if shelves are 60" or shorter, Three if Longer]
Shelf boards (Length and Width according to your needs)
L shaped Braces (Multiply number of shelves times number of supports = how many braces] Get the biggest ones that will fit on whatever size shelf board you selected.)
Phillips Head Screws (8 x 1 1/4 ) You will need 3 screws for each brace
Optional - Sand Paper, Paint or Varnish

STEP THREE: Gather tools
Power screw driver or drill Saw Horses
Tape Measure Hand Saw
Level Optional - Paint Brush, Electric sander

STEP FOUR: Prepare support beams.

Measure where the shelves will go and then cut 2x2 supports to fit in that space.
(Leave 4 to 6 inches clearance from ceiling).

Optional -If using your shelves as a book case or for storage in living areas you may want to sand support beams and paint or varnish them. THEN....

Measure whatever it is you want to put ON your shelves to determine how far apart the braces should be. (Make sure you leave room for the shelf board when you measure). The shelves should be 1/2 to 1 inch further apart than the tallest book, box or basket. Also, be aware of any electrical outlets, heater registers or other feature along the wall that you will want to make clearance for. Place the first support beam on saw horses and mark with a pencil where you want your braces to go.

STEP FIVE: Attach braces onto support beams
Position the braces on the beam with the short side of the braces against the wood. Drill pilot holes where the screws will go using a drill bit smaller than the screws. Then drill in the screws. (Flat head screws can be used, but phillips head go in much easier).

After all the braces are attached to the first brace, stand it up and check to make sure they are the distances where you want them. Once you have that right, use it as a guide to do the others, lining them up with each other on saw horses.

STEP SIX: Place shelves on your support beams - DO NOT ATTACH. (It really helps to have two people working together on this step. One person holds the vertical support beams in place while the other person slides the shelves onto braces.)

The shelf goes directly against the wall with the support beams on the outside.

If using two beams, place them so that 1/2 the length of the shelf boards will be between them and 1/4 will extend on either side. If using three support beams, place beams an equal distance apart with the length of shelf extending beyond the beams on either side being approximately 1/2 the distance between the supports. Doesn't have to be perfect, but keep them as even as you can.

Continue placing shelves on braces, adjusting the support beams as you go to keep them as straight as possible. When all the shelves are up use a level to check the support beams and make final adjustments. You did it!!! You are now ready to start using your shelves.

The trick to these things is that as MORE weight is put on them the sturdier they get. I've made several sets - some fancy ones I sanded and varnished for bookcases in my home, others I left plain wood for food storage cases in my garage. I've made short ones, tall ones, wide ones, narrow ones. I'm posting this while on the road but later on when I get back home I'll try to dig out some pictures to show what these things look like.

(Basically I'm cleaning out files from a stack of old zip drives I no longer plan to use and figured this is as good a place as any to put some of those resources so I can go back and find when I need them!)

What is your Star Wars Name?

It appears that George Lucas uses a formula to create
all those stupid names you see in the Star Wars trilogy and Phantom
(JarJar Binks,ObiWan, etc.). Well... here's the the formula!

To see what your Star Wars name is, follow the steps below...
Your Star Wars First Name:
1. Take the first 3 letters of your last name.
2. Add to that, the first 2 letters of your first name.

Your Star Wars Last Name:
1. Take the first 2 letters of your mother's maiden name.
2. Add to that the first 3 letters of the name of the town or city in
which you were born.

There you go! There's your Star Wars Name!

According to this formula, here are a few members of my family:

ME: Benly KrFla
My husband: Benla Wofil
My brother Penwa KrFla
My son: BalFo PeCot

How about you? What is your Star Wars Name?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 in Review

My blogger pal Mimi over at Bigger Than a Breadbox did something rather cool over on her blog. She did a review of the past year by sharing the first line to the first post for each month. I kind of liked the idea, but chose to adapt it somewhat. I reviewed all my past posts for 2008 and linked to one for each month that was meaningful for me - not caring if they were first, middle or last in the month. It was interesting for me to look back over time to see what I had been thinking /writing about.

Here is what I came up with:


Always ready to stir my life with a stick and shake things up a bit, I was dreaming of moving to Michigan, longing to be close to my sons and grandkids there. In Pins and Needles I spoke of my excitement when a phone interview for a job that had the potential to make that a reality went very well.


However, the move to Michigan was not to be. Juggling the challenges of a dual career family can get complicated. In the post Unity I link over to my other blog to describe the heartache and resolve I felt about my husband's reticence to move and give up his good job for the sake of my dreams.


Blessings A to Z was a gathering spot for all my posts where I listed things I was grateful for by each letter of the alphabet. That was a fun exercise and helped me keep perspective during seasons of disappointment.


Full Plate and Then Some! described the overwhelm I was feeling as I juggled two jobs and searched for another. It was definitely a very hectic time.


In House Pictures I shared views of my 100 yr old Victorian home in Athena we had just decided to put up for sale. (update - we have an appointment to close on the deal next week.) I sure did love that house, but selling it and downsizing was the right thing to do.


Why I Am Moving explored my feelings about our shift from our lovely home in town out to the farmhouse where I now live.


Trusting the Universe described how I accepted a new job on the flip of a coin which was followed up with Goodbyes Are Hard about the difficulty to leave behind coworkers I really cared about.


In Diverging Roads, Path and Trails I talked about how we can never really know the ultimate outcome of our choices, how at some point we must surrender to trust that the universe will guide us in the directions we need to go.


Where I Live talked about getting settled in to our new residence, living out in the middle of 160 acres of farm land.


Following up on the same theme I had begun in August, Celebrating Cluelessness talked about never really being sure which choices are "right" or "best". That uncertainty and ambivalence really does seem to be a recurring topic for me.


There were several posts in November that were meaningful for me...

Two in particular are Happy Anniversary which paid homage to my marriage of 27 years.

Pondering Pain expressed my feelings about hurting on several different levels.


I wound up the year giving thought to issues of Self Esteem, exploring Absolute Poverty vs Relative Deprivation and coping with work stress in Can You Keep a Secret?

Looking back at my posts for the year I see some silly nonsense and some serious pondering. I see reports of my comings and goings and pictures along the way. There are links to cool resources and ideas I didn't want lost in the shuffle of my sometimes over busy life.

There were lots of changes in 2008, lots of questioning and very little answers. But overall it was a good year, in most respects. There were bumps in the road. There were storms. But now that it's done, I can be grateful for high times and low.

Not sure what 2009 will bring. I hope I'm up for the challenge!

Happy New Year to all of you who join with me in the Blogosphere. May we all live it with passion, integrity, humor and love.

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