Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sadie Frown of the Week: The FDA and Their Milk "Sting"

Sometimes (okay frequently) I wonder about our federal government's priorities. I mean, when you have a president who went into office saying that we needed to decriminalize marijuana because we "aren't winning the war on drugs" you can't really be shocked when the federal government, following his election, doesn't really care if the commercial growing of marijuana runs rampant on their own property (as it does in our area). Let's just say I don't expect to see the military convoys that go back and forth on the freeway that goes through our county stopping anytime soon to deal with the cartels that have moved in. In fact, at the moment, the state government is talking about taking away the licensing fee that funds our entire local law enforcement (they would actually be cutting more positions for our county than we have in our entire county!).

Yet we can rest easy knowing that the feds still go after the real criminals. Take this story, for example. Here's a highlight:
"A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.

The product in question: unpasteurized milk.

It’s a battle that’s been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it’s also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria...."

Read the entire story here.
Now we don't buy raw milk, but I have a good friend who wrote a beautiful, informative post on it not too long ago.

And I have to say: I've never seen anyone have a knee cap blown off by a dairy farmer who sells raw milk. I don't see dairy farmers walking around with their attack dogs in town and I've never had a dairy farmers out of control pit bull jump up on my stroller. I've never had a child go to the ER in the middle of the night because a dairy farmer's product was seeping through the walls into my home, causing the child to be unable to breath. I've never had a dairy farmer neighbor cuss a family member out for stopping on the side of the road to introduce themselves (because they were new next door neighbors and in these parts that's what you do!).

I've seen all of the problems above living in a part of the country known for marijuana production, as a result of that "industry."

But I'm sure our federal government totally has their priorities straight...

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Family Rosary

I've been meaning to do another series of posts for a while, but there never seems to be enough time to sit down and really think (at least not lately) and so I've pushed back the planned posts for at least a month now, although I've known what the subject was going to be since I did my headcovering series.

It is one of the most important parts of every day life in our house and it has been for quite a while now: it's the rosary (and more specifically in this particular post, the family rosary).

I can't remember exactly when I started praying the rosary... It was before I was confirmed.

Paul and I began praying the rosary together around the time we were married. We would go on walks and pray the rosary, or we'd pray in our little fifth wheel trailer (which sold today in the garage sale at Nani and Grumpa's house!) that we lived in when we first got married.

When I found out I was pregnant with Sadie I made an effort to pray at least five decades a day, and once she was born we would pray it together (okay, she would nurse and I would pray out loud) as we rocked in the rocking chair before her nap and before bedtime.

The bedtime prayer quickly became the time for our family rosary. With the lights off I would rock Sadie and we would pray as I counted the prayers on my fingers.

These days if you ask Paul what his favorite part of our day is, he's always quick to answer that it's our family rosary. And we've all noticed that life just runs more smoothly when we pray together each day as a family (I certainly am more even tempered when we pray every single day... when I start missing days I just feel meaner...).

When Paul works a shift that ends at 10pm we miss him, but I usually hold Mae and sit next to Sadie and pray out loud as the girls drift off to sleep.

It's not always the perfect setting. Tonight Mae was refusing to sit still for the first decade and Sadie kept insisting that Mae sleep in her bed (like that's going to happen!). But the expectations have been steady for both of their entire lives, and so they usually (99.99% of the time) calm down by the end of the first decade and are quiet for the rest of the prayer.

Occasionally Sadie might throw in a few extra Sign of the Crosses during the first decade with a giggle. I think that having high expectations for prayer time, and having it be a very special part of the day that the entire family takes part in, has helped the girls understand that it's non-negotiable.

As the series continues I hope to go a little more in depth into an explanation of the chaplet itself (and dispel any misconceptions that are out there!), the meditations and it's impact on our lives. And I'd love to hear any stories you have about how the rosary has impacted your life!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SOS: Save Our Sewing Machine! A Question (desperate plea for help) for All You Sewers.

I'm about to go crazy.

I was oh-so-sure I'd fixed the problem with my sewing machine in my last post. It all went back together so easily. But because the girls woke up I didn't get to test it out until this afternoon. And then I realized that something is horribly wrong.

I think it has to do with the hook. I followed the manual. I carefully put the hook and the ring back together just like it said to. And yet now, when I sew, I have a mass of thread on the backside of my trial piece of material. I've tried taking it out and putting it back in over and over again (I even tried different ways just in case the manual was missing something). I get sideways stitches with a mass of string. I get no stitches. At one point the machine tried to eat the fabric and actually sucked part of it down below the plate.

I tried to look at Yahoo answers but they said two things: 1) Read the manual (that's how I got into this mess!) and 2) Take it back to the store where it was purchased and have them show you how to reinsert it (I don't think Walmart does that... which is, I believe, where this machine is from...).

Any ideas on what I'm missing? It looks like it's working. It rotates when I watch it. It just creates giant knots on the back. I'm going to be experimenting with everything from the troubleshooting guide tonight... Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

If all else fails I guess I'll be making the hour long (both ways) drive to a repair shop...

Edited to Add: It was the needle! I took it out and put it back in (I had changed it yesterday when the other one broke!) and apparently it was a tiny bit off. It looks exactly the same now but it's running like a charm! Thanks for all of you who offered help!

Me vs. The Sewing Machine...

Yesterday was a frustrating sewing day.

As I sat at my sewing machine it began to attack every single project I threw at it. It was snapping off thread right and left. It created creative gigantic knots when it wasn't snapping off the thread at the base of the project...

I did everything I could possibly think of... but without the manual I was pretty much helpless. Then I talked with one of my friends on the phone, who has years of sewing experience under her belt and she asked if I'd ever cleaned out my sewing machine. Or oiled it...

Cleaned it? Oiled it? What?

These things are necessary?

My sewing machine is five years old and while it wasn't used much for most of that time it was collecting dust in the garage. I had tried to figure out how to open it up to clean out the inside a while back, but I was so nervous about breaking it that I finally gave up.

At my friend's suggestion I googled the manual and... Bingo! I had "Maintenance" instructions. Then I picked up the little bag that was inside the machine compartment and discovered a brush and oil (and just about fell over when I saw the zipper foot and button foot which I thought I was going to have to buy separately). Oh how little I know about sewing machines!

As I complained to myself about the necessity of using both a flat head and phillips head screwdriver to clean out a very basic sewing machine, I finally managed to remove the plate on the bottom to find a packed in mass of thread so thick I'm kind of surprised the problems only set in last night (my sewing machine has apparently been a brave little trooper!). I cleaned it out and put it back together and still had problems. I took it apart a second time, reread the instructions, figured out how to remove the bobbin case, found another mass of string packed against the hook and read the instructions on oiling the bobbin and then put the entire thing back together a second time.

I also managed to take apart the top just to give it a dusting, but it actually all looked pretty clean!

I was just about to start sewing when the crying began (the girls, not me...)... and that was my night...

I did learn quite a bit of useful information though. #1) Sewing machines need to be cleaned out regularly. #2) I can do this myself. #3) I now know how to do it myself!

Now to go get ready for tomorrow's garage sale. I'm pruning my closet way back and selling a ton of other stuff (racing snowboard, anyone? All the books I read when my goal was to get my PhD in South Saharan African Political Studies?)... It's going to be a busy day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Secret Project Unveiled!

There's a new project I've been secretly hard at work on. It all began when one of the presents Paul got me for my birthday (the other was the beautiful veil that I love!) arrived... it had taken nearly a month to get here... and it was a beautiful snood from my favorite snood shop... and it was falling apart... The stitches were sloppy... There were strings hanging out everywhere. And when I put it on, it hadn't been sewn quite right (in more than one way) so it wrinkled. We were both disappointed because this was a shop we'd ordered from before a couple of times and I've always been able to give it rave reviews... As I turned the snood over in my hand one thought came to mind... I could do a better job than this...

And that is the moment that this idea was born.

I put the snood away and went to my sewing machine with scissors, pins and a piece of fabric leftover from my last dress. I cut and pinned and estimated and created a pattern. A lot of guessing was involved. And amazingly, my first try did actually turn out to be a snood. I'm going to wear it this week and see how it holds up to wear and tear and see what needs to be changed or improved upon. Here's Snood #1:

I have a picture in my head of the snoods that are to come: some are colorful like the one pictured, some are dainty and some are simple. All will be carefully made to stand up to tugging toddler hands and the rigors of everyday life. This snood, as shown, is actually pictured with my hair down to see if it could hold up the weight (which pulls most snoods off) and it actually did.

So that's a sneak peak of what I'm working on! There will be more to come (both of snoods and dolls and chaplets) soon!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Migraine with an Aura... Strikes Again...

As I got into bed last night, at 9:30, I felt a little odd. It was an incredibly early hour for me... I usually go to bed after midnight, which gives me from 8pm to whenever I go to bed to work on things for my shop (I've been working on dolls and another surprise project that I think a lot of people will be excited about!). But last night I was, for no particular reason, exhausted. I even brought Maggie with me into the big bed so that I wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night with her.

And then, as I lay back, I realized what was going on. It was a migraine aura. Ugh. They always surprise me. And compromise my thinking a bit, because if I wasn't in the midst of one I'm sure I would have realized much more quickly what was going on. For me it sometimes begins with almost giddiness, or dizziness, or feeling like I'm in the fog of morphine that they gave me after my first c-section. If Paul didn't know that I pretty much limit my alcohol to a glass of wine on very special occasions, my migraine auras often look a lot like drunkenness.

More often these days the right half of my face goes numb, and my right hand goes numb and I'll think for a split second: "Am I having a stroke?"

The scariest part is when it happens when I'm driving. Which these days makes me avoid driving as much as I possibly can.

Thankfully, since we've moved, the headaches only happen two or three times a month. Lately, now that I've forgotten what three or four a week felt like, that is feeling like a lot though. And when it starts with an aura, the "soaking my feet in almost scalding water" trick, seems much less likely to work (if it starts with the headache it works like a charm!).

So today I took one of the pain pills that I didn't use when I had my last c-section (since that's also what the doctor recommends for these headaches, since I can't take any of the "migraine" medicines while Mae is still nursing) and the headache that struck last night has abated.

Maybe I will make another appointment at the clinic and see what they say this time... Although it's a bit depressing to hear that there's really nothing they can give me other than hydrocordone as long as I'm nursing Mae (and I'll be nursing Mae for another 14 months if everything goes as planned...).

Monday, April 25, 2011

And the Winner is... (A Full of Grace Creations Monday "Morning" Giveaway!)

I almost forgot! It's Monday! And I have a Full of Grace Creations Monday "Morning" Giveaway to do!

I used and the results looked like this:

True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 15
Result: 3

And that means that the winner is... Maria Margaret! Congratulations Maria Margaret! I'll send you an email and when I get your contact information I'll get your sacrifice beads in the mail to you!

Easter Fun

We woke up bright and early yesterday for a little egg hunt in our living room. Mae Bae was actually surprisingly aggressive about going after eggs. Later in the day she spotted three on top of a heater (that's about neck high for Sadie) and went to work. She'd already achieved her goal by the time I realized what she was up to. She pushed Sadie's tractor across the room up to the heater (standing up walking behind it), climbed up on it so she was standing on the seat (in the quick way she does when she's being naughty) and knocked the three eggs down and then (as I scrambled across the room) crawled back behind the heater to retrieve the eggs (it is open behind the heater to the front door). She's becoming quite the little adventurer.

Mass was beautiful yesterday. We got there a half hour early (despite the fact that we're normally a little nervous about doing that with the girls) which made our total time in the pew 30 minutes +75 minutes for a grand total of 105 minutes! And, as a very pleasant surprise, both girls did well and no one had to be taken out.

Since our new parish has a school attached to it, the Church (which was brimming full with, by my estimate, at least four hundred people) was full of children. And there were lots of little ones in Sadie and Maggie's age range around us, which may have accounted for the girls being pretty quiet. They were so busy watching all the other kids and babies that they didn't have time to come up with any ideas of ways to get into trouble on their own. Sadie even sat like a big girl between us in the pew for part of Mass, instead of being held.

After Mass we made the long drive home and had pizza. Then we headed to the egg hunt in town where Sadie cried for ten minutes because we arrived ten minutes before the egg hunt started and she just couldn't understand why she couldn't run out there immediately, and then found the silver egg and won a prize basket.

Post-Egg-Hunt we headed over to Nani and Grumpa's house where the Easter Grumpa Bunny had hidden a bunch of eggs in the yard. Sadie and Mae both filled their baskets with eggs (Mae proving again that she will grab eggs and throw them into her basket) and then we brought out the bubbles and blew bubbles and dancing around in the yard.

We were going to head down to the river after that, but upon seeing their... "Grower" neighbors with dogs in tow (and let's face it... no matter how friendly "grower" dogs seem when they're with their owners... they do have a purpose and I don't want them around my children...) we decided to go up by Nini and Gigi's house to fly Sadie's kite.

Then Sadie went and had a visit with a tree (she loves learning about trees and nature on walks at Nani's house and even gave this particular tree and Easter Hug) and we went back inside and relaxed until Nini and Gigi came over for the beautiful dinner that Nani had made. And that was our Easter!

I hope you all had a blessed day and have a blessed Easter season!

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I'm in a cheerful Easter mood tonight! It may be, at least in small part, the rush of caffeine from having a soda for the first time in some forty-six days (at least that accounts for the silliness). So I thought I'd share a few photos that were snapped around here this past week.

One of the most popular pass times on rainy days is baths in the "big" (it's really all relative in a mobile home!) bathtub in the master bathroom. One of the girls is more than a little wild every time she gets in the bath. And if you guessed the toddler, you'd be wrong. Sadie plays nicely:

Maggie is fearless. She slides around like a baby seal. She splashes everyone. And while she may look shocked that she's so wet in this picture it is, she is actually the one who does 99% of the splashing!

This may explain why Sadie had so many timeouts today. It wasn't yet Easter when Sadie decorated these cupcakes and yet she'd already managed to convince various adults to give her chocolate, a cake egg and then these cupcakes... It was pretty much inevitable at that point that the time outs would just start rolling in...

Mae Bae and one of the Binks... begging for a cupcake... and wishing she were two so that she could have a cupcake of her own...

And then I joined in the silliness. That is a baby mouth mark on my shoulder (because moments before Maggie was dancing around the room with me) while Sadie demanded I sing every verse to Waltzing Matilda and the moment I finished (or tried to sit down) would say "Again! Again!" Sadie's also taken to singing the song herself, and has come up with her own interesting versions of the words. The whole reason we started dancing around to this song a while back was because the keyboard we have plays it automatically and now it has become a baby/toddler favorite.

Sadie's Basket

Mae's Basket
(She loves her sisters dolls so much and is so good with them that we got her two simple dolls of her own)

Carefully Hidden Easter Eggs

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Balsamic Chicken with Artichokes and Lemon

One of the things I love about having a blog is being able to use it as a sort of recipe book that I can access from anywhere that has internet. That is one of the things that inspires me to write down recipes that I discover/modify/make up. The recipe that inspired today's recipe was originally in All You Magazine (May Issue). But I didn't have all of the ingredients (and as many of you know I tend to be a rule breaker when it comes to following recipes/instructions anyways) and so my dish looks absolutely nothing like the one in the magazine (that's one of the things that happens when you switch white wine with balsamic vinaigrette... actually now that I count it I changed five of the nine ingredients in some way...). So here's my version of Chicken with Artichokes and Lemon (and I should note this is a new Paul Favorite... maybe I'll start a new category on my blog!):

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 12 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained, and coarsely chopped
2 lemons (1 sliced, 1 chopped in half)

In a bowl mix 2 Tbsp Salt, Pepper, and Lemon Pepper. Roll chicken in spices and then roll in flour until coated. Warm olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in skillet and cook for two minutes on one side and then turn and cook for two minutes on the other side (until chicken is browned).

Add balsamic vinaigrette and artichokes. Reduce head, cover and simmer until chicken is almost cooked, about 15 minutes. Squeeze halved lemon over chicken pieces. Scatter sliced lemon over chicken and cover and cook until chicken is done (about five more minutes). Transfer to a platter (or your plates!).

Stir thyme into sauce and season with additional salt and pepper if desired (I actually sprinkled the remaining herbs and spices directly onto the chicken after the sauce and it was great!). Pour over chicken and serve.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday, The Veneration of the Cross and The Real Presence

As we were getting out of the car yesterday to go into our parish I jokingly said to Sadie (who was acting a little small): "What wrong? Do you want me to wear you in the Moby Wrap?" She immediately grabbed the wrap and handed it to me saying "Want be in" or something along those lines. While we might have looked a little odd (her shoes were hitting my shins) it was easier than holding her the entire and since she is still two I do still hold her for most of the Masses we attend.

We began to encounter difficulties at the hour mark. Sadie managed to stay quiet for the first 75 minutes (not bad). Maggie started fussing at the back. Not in a very loud way, just making baby sounds from time to time as Paul walked and jiggled her at the very back of the Church by the door.

However, apparently that offended the sensibilities of many of the people that decide to come to church a couple times a year (Easter and Christmas) and the people turning completely around to glare at the baby (deep breath... I'm trying to be charitable and not thing the "few times a year thing" but it's really hard not to think that sometimes when people turn to glare at your baby... particularly when the baby isn't being loud... when she is loud we do take her out...).

One of the things that does strike me as odd about our new parish is how unfriendly people are during the daytime masses on Feast Days. On Ash Wednesday we went to the "Children's Mass" and when either of our children made even a tiny sound we would be glared at. We usually go to the Saturday Vigil and people are very friendly there. It's just the daytime Masses that are very strange...

So after an hour and fifteen minutes, when the veneration of the cross had just begun and we realized it was very unlikely we would be getting near the cross in the following half hour (people were spending a good amount of time before the cross because there was a relic, and with around three hundred people inside it was going to take quite a while) we decided to call it a day...

One thing that made me a little sad was to see how differently people treated the relic when compared with Jesus Christ who we are so blessed to have present in the Eucharist! As Paul observed, a little wistfully: "If only people received communion with the same reverence with which they approached the cross." And truthfully, I don't think I have ever seen anyone approach to receive communion as reverently or tearfully or joyfully as most of us were when approaching that tiny slice of cross.

Good Friday is an important day. It's an emotional day. Four years ago, on the Good Friday the day before I was confirmed I broke down in tears at the foot of the cross. Yet as important as it is for us to remember the sacrifice on the cross we must also remember the greatness of what God has given us in the Eucharist.

It's hard to hold in our minds the reality of Christ in the Eucharist. And yet we must try... For He is present every time we approach Him in Mass. He is present in the tabernacle. If only we could remember it three hundred and sixty five days a year... How different we might be!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

One of the topics that frequently comes up when people site reasons for not believing in God is the suffering that we see around us every day in this world.

It’s almost as if we want to believe that God is like Santa Claus and that if we’re good enough we’ll make the “nice” list and everything will be peachy and nothing bad will ever happen and we’ll have everything we need. But if we think of God in this way we’ll be almost immediately disappointed. God isn’t Santa Claus. Jesus didn’t come to bring us possessions or to improve our material quality of life.

And that is one of the things that it may be easier to remember on Good Friday.

The road towards God is often paved with suffering. God did not spare His Son that. And we will not be spared it either.

But we might be able to bear it a bit better if we remember that He who is our Savior suffered before us and if we unite our sufferings, however small or great they are, with His (this is something I always remind myself of when in labor…).

To arrive at Easter Sunday in a handful of days, we must pass through Good Friday.

Before I converted I heard quite a few people say that Catholics shouldn’t wear crucifixes, but should join non-Catholics in wearing plain old crosses, because Christ was risen.

He is risen. But first he was crucified. And as Catholics we remember that when we wear our crucifixes and pray the rosary (and of course at other times too... particularly on Good Friday).

You can’t have Easter Sunday without Good Friday.

Holy Week Slideshow

Yahoo has a slideshow of pictures of Holy Week from around the work that are worth looking at!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cam's Barber Shop (Or Saving Money Doing at Home Hair Cuts)

How many of you do haircuts at home? And if you do is it everyone (husband, kids, wife?) or just a few people? I'll admit I was more than a little nervous the first time I let Paul cut my hair... but he did a really good job! Last night I gave him a much needed trim and documented the process. Of course, cutting hair isn't foolproof. Proceed at your own risk if you decide to give it a try. But it does save our family quite a bit each year doing it at home. Here's the steps I take.

Here are the tools. I use the #2, #3 and #4 clipper guides when I cut Paul's hair:

First I have him get his hair wet and comb it back. This makes it easier to cut.

I begin with the #2 and cut around the bottom and just above his ears.

Here's another picture that shows how much I cut off with the first length:

Next I switch in the #3 guide and cut around his head one more time leaving the longest hair on the top.

This (the picture above) kind of reminds me of the hairstyles when I was in junior high...

Then I take the #4 guide and go over the top. This usually takes the longest and I have to go over it again and again to make sure there aren't any stray hairs.

After that I take the little clipper and "clean up the back of his neck, above his ears and his sideburns.


My Chicken Enchiladas

Here's my latest recipe. I started with an actual recipe, but by the time I'd finished I'd changed it so much (I just can't help myself) that my recipe really had very little in common with the recipe I'd begun with. Here it is:

Chicken Enchiladas

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Onions (small to medium)
1 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. chili powder
3 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 packet Taco Seasoning
1 28 oz can red enchilada sauce
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups shredded Cheddar
3 Tbsp. chopped peperoncinis (diced into small pieces)
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
6 tortillas
Sour Cream (to serve with)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

I began by sauteing the onion in a pan coated with olive oil. Once the onion was nearly cooked I added the garlic and seasoning, quickly followed by the red enchilada sauce. After simmering for about five minutes I added the chicken, making sure it was completely covered with sauce. I covered the pan and allowed it to cook, stirring frequently until the chicken was cooked through.

While the chicken cooked I coated a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and minced the cilantro and peperoncinis and grated the cheese. When the chicken was done cooking I put it in a large bowl with the cilantro, peperoncinis and 1 cup of cheese and shredded it (because it was still hot I used a knife and fork!) and then mixed it well, adding a 1/2 cup of the onion/garlic/sauce mix in (the picture below shows the chicken before the 1/2 cup is added).

Here is a picture of the sauce after the chicken has been removed.

I placed the chicken, sauce mixture on the middle of the tortilla and then added a 1/4 of a cup of sauce on top of it:

Once the tortilla was filled I carefully folded the edges over and placed the seam on the bottom of the pan (they stayed shut better than I expected them too!):

I cooked the enchiladas without sauce for 7 minutes and then added the remaining sauce over the top. They then cooked (at a reduced heat of 400 degrees, for another 20 minutes, covered with foil (or they would have if I hadn't been out of foil!):

After twenty minutes I added the rest of the cheese (about 1 cup). Here's the finished result!

We served it topped with a dollop of sour cream. It goes well with yesterday's taco dip recipe!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sadie Smile: Our Local Planned Parenthood is Closing!!!

I saw an article in our local newspaper recently that was short and sweet. It said that our local branch of Planned Parenthood, which is right down the street from the parish that our family attended for much of the past five years, is closing down. It explained that they had done all the marketing that they could do (I guess that's what those pamphlets I would find scattered around town were) but that they still needed to close down. Excuse me while I do a little happy dance (for anyone who missed my piece on my time at Planned Parenthood, click here!)...

...Sadly there was some mention about how they would be sending someone to town once a month to write "referrals"...

In case anyone is worried about "how women will get health care" I will reassure you that the clinic in town that I'll be taking Maggie to this morning for her well-baby check is really wonderful, has awesome healthcare professionals and is amazing at fitting people in the day that they call if they need to be seen.

So I'm happy to announce that very soon there will be one less Planned Parenthood in the world! Hip-hip-hooray!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Three Favorite Appetizer Recipes: Stuff Mushrooms, Artichoke Dip and Taco Dip

Our family went to a town meeting with a State Senator today. The part I saw was very interesting (I surprised myself by speaking about what happened to Sadie and breaking down in tears halfway through... although I did manage to tell the entire story...). I spent an equal amount of time outside the front door with Mae who was practicing saying "Mama" over and over again (usually when someone would try to ask a question of Senator La Malfa).

But I digress. The point of this post is to share a recipe (or three). I made three dishes for the meeting today. They were stuffed mushrooms, artichoke dip and a taco dip. Here are the photos I snapped before they vanished (and the corresponding recipes:

This one is quick and easy.

Cam's Stuffed Mushrooms (my mom taught me this one!):

4 pieces bacon
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 lemon
1 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs parmesan cheese (optionally added with bacon)

Wash mushrooms and remove stems. In a bowl combine the cream cheese, the bacon (crumbled) the onion and the mayonnaise. Squeeze the lemon over the mixture. Mix well. With a spoon, spoon the mixture into the mushrooms. Cook at 250 degrees for 10 minutes (if you overcook these they get really runny... If they are just right they shouldn't be runny at all!).

As a Californian I was raised on Artichokes. I thought that everyone ate them. Around the time I went to college I realized that wasn't the case. Thankfully Paul and Sadie both love them. They're the basis for the next recipe.

Artichoke Dip:

2 jars marinated artichoke hearts (usually around 6 oz each) (slice or pull into smaller pieces)
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup green onions (diced)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs crushed garlic
1 tbs garlic powder
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a baking pan. Mix well. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden on top. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

Last there's the taco dip. This is likely the first thing that I ever learned to make. I remember it from pretty much every holiday growing up and it was one of my favorite foods for as long as I can remember. This is another of my mom's recipes:

Taco Dip:

Refried Beans
Sour Cream
2 Avocados (although I used three so this would be larger)
Cheddar Cheese

Layer the refried beans on a plate. Spread to cover entire surface. Cover refried beans with sour cream. Spread to cover the beans.

Cut the avocados and remove the pits. Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash. Add a dollop of mayonnaise (I usually use 2-3 tbs) and a dollop of salsa (I usually use around a 1/2 cup... my mom probably uses around a 1/4 when she makes this so add it slowly and see what you prefer!). Mix well. You now have guacamole.

Spread the guacamole over the beans.

Grate cheese and spread over the guacamole. Sprinkle with sliced olives.

Serve with chips!

I hope you enjoy my three favorite appetizer recipes!

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Sadie Pictures

My baby is getting so big! She is big enough that today I was asked if I've put her in school yet and when I said no, I was asked if she didn't want to go to school. While this is the first time I've heard that particular question, I have a feeling it isn't going to be the last time... I better start coming up with better answers to "why aren't they in school" type questions... although for now I would think that the answer: "She's two" ought to do it.

Here are some of my favorite pictures that have been taken lately!