Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jennie

For those of you curious...me as of today. Mom made me take it to send to her so I'd figured I share generally as no promises if I'll do anymore!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Traffic AGHHHs

I don't care WHO you are you should NOT be allowed to stop in one of the traffic lanes to do your deliveries! This is a constant and major problem in downtown Canton as far as I'm concerned. Those idiots (including UPS, FedEx, etc.) need to be TOWED!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life started off yesterday. You can check out the prayers for the first week here.

Giggles

Some funny jokes from Three Weddings and a Giggle, which is a cute book, but not that exciting. A library check out for beach reading.

Just Rewards
One afternoon, Christopher's father picked him up early from school to take Chris to a dental appointment. Knowing that the parts for the school play were supposed to be posted today, the father asked his son if he had gotten a party.

Christopher enthusiastically announced that indeed he had gotten a part. "I play a man who's been married for twenty years."

"That's great, son. Keep up the good work, and before you know it, they'll be giving you a speaking part."

The Best Husband of All
"An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her."
-Agatha Christie

Who Needs Britannica?
Ad seen in newspaper recently: For sale by owner: complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last week. Husband knows everything.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Black Bear in Talkeetna

Never tried this before...this is a black bear my father saw while moose hunting in Talkeetna. We'll see if this works....

Friday, September 21, 2007

Taft NHS

When I visited Tamara last weekend, I went to the Taft Museum. If interested in that, check out my post on the APB.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Cat and the Computer

Does she understand I have to work to do?

My bookshelf....

Okay, what I've been reading lately...mostly British murder mysteries, but a few other things as well.

The Bloody Tower by Carola Dunn

This is another installment in Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple series. As usual, we are treated to a new location in Britian and new murder to be investigated by Daisy's husband, Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. Daisy has been pregnant in the last few books and now she has twins. The twins play a very minor role, though. This is Daisy's first assignment since the birth and take her to the Tower of London. She discovered a murder one morning - a case of mistaken identity it turns out. Daisy isn't quite as involved as normal, as she isn't living at the Tower, but she still provides a lot of fodder for Alec to work with. This is another exciting and interesting mystery - Daisy and Alec never fail to amuse me! But I will admit that if you are looking to start this series, start somewhere else than here. Also don't start with the first one, which is by far the worst. Start with a middle one and then go back and the read the series in order once you are hooked.

The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert

This series of Susan Wittig Albert's is charming and sweet. It is definitely a cozy mystery and one that you will enjoy, although not the type that will keep you up at night to finish it. The entire series has ran much the same. While the characters are a lot of fun, the plot tends to be a bit slow and gets sidetracked on a lot of other little things. The use of the talking animals is not badly done (in fact it was one of the issues that original worried me about this series, but I found I actually enjoyed), but some of the animal sidelines get a little lengthly and irrelevant (Jemima Puddle-duck and the fox, for instance, in this one). This story involves no murder, rather an abandoned baby. These are a great starter series for a young mystery reader - there is absolutely nothing shocking in the story and it is all very clean. Albert certainly has fun alluding to the eventual marriage of Beatrix Potter to Will Heelis in this book as well. There is plenty here to enjoy, but it is definitely a warm mystery, not a scary or thrilling one. The plot does have an interesting twist at the end to add to the story, though, as throughout most of the book, you think you know who did what, but it turns out to be something different.

Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, etc.

I love the Joanne Fluke mystery series, but I hate it when they put an installment in an anthology to convince you buy it and THEN make it hardback. But well, I fell into the trap. It is a cute story and one that continues to add to the characters, but unfortunately, because of its inclusion in an anthology, it is rather short. It is cute, but more of a library check out then a need to buy unless you are like me and collecting the entire series.

Behind the Veil: An American Woman's Memoir of the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis by Debra Johanyak

This is a definitely the book to read for a new look at Iran and the Irani people. The author is telling her story - she goes to Iran in the late 1970s as a young wife of an Iranian man she met and married at college in the US. This isn't the story of forced conversion or one that makes life in Iran look terrible. Rather the author finds she loves Iran for its people and culture, but she has problems adjusting. Her new family is very accepting of her - a foreign, non-Muslim bride and her husband never seems to fall into the Muslim sterotype of repressing women. Actually he pays so little attention to that and to politics, that is hard for her to get his take on anything and thus certain issues she might have avoided come to pass. She starts teaching English part-time and is at home with her two sons, part time. On their first stay, it is the medical situation that sends her running back to the US. In her first stay in Iran, she feels no pressure to take the veil, cover her head, etc. For her, it is an emergency surgery that freaks her out. Her husband eventually comes back to the States as well, and they manage to work out their differences and they go back to Iran about a year later. By this time, Iran has a new government - the Ayatollah has returned. At first, this seems to be much the same Iran, and she goes back to teaching and starts working on a graduate degree. But mounting tensions with the US, mounting religious preseuctions and then the hostage situation continues to make life difficult for her. She really fights the idea of the veil even though for her it would mean protection. Her husband's family is extremely supportive through all of this, although they must have found her resistance to the veil extremely strange. The veil had not been mandatory until the return of the Ayatollah and the issue was that the author could pass for Iranian and so her American identity was not always clear - making her look like she was flaunting the government, rather than simply following her own cultural norms. It is eventually the tensions and hostile attitudes that make her use the veil in public as protection that makes her finally insist on leaving Iran with her kids. Her husband does join her in the States, but they can't manage to make it work and they end up divorced this time. She hasn't been back to Iran since.

This really is an important book to read because it gives a human perspective to the Irani people. Her in-laws and the people she associates with are all people she finds connections with and enjoys. She always feels accepted by her husband's family for who she is and not expected to change. Yet the changing government of Iran and their anti-American attitudes made it hard on her. Her opinions had to be shielded for fear of retribution and even her graduate papers got her into trouble.

HB 2881

HB 2881, which is the FAA funding bill, passed the House today. This is a good thing (I wrote and annoyed by Congressman - did you?). User fees - which is in the Senate (SB 1300) is NOT a good thing.

Tomatoes

My first pot of spaghetti from my own home-canned tomatoes!

Adam's New Clothes

Yes, my mother sent CAMO. The baby is reading for hunting season, I guess!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

From the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
It's hard to believe, but officials at Arlington National Cemetery plan to replace the original Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a new replica solely because of repairable cosmetic imperfections. This 1932 monument is nationally significant and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The 48-ton marble block has two nonstructural cracks which pose no threat to visitors or the historic structure. Surprisingly, federal bureaucrats want the replica carved from new stone that experts agree will likely again crack along its grain just as marble does naturally when exposed to the elements. Repair and proper care of the Tomb (re-grouting the cracks and using only gentle cleaning methods instead of high-pressure power-washing) is possible and is the preferred method for fixing the existing cracks, as other marble monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial were repaired.

Once the National Trust learned about this ill-considered plan, we raised the alarm with Members of Congress and tried unsuccessfully to consult with those who administer the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


A decision to determine the fate of the Tomb Monument is expected by September 30th. Your help is needed to weigh in with decision-makers to help save the memorial.

Please Contact your Senators and ask them and the Senate Committee on Armed Services to explore alternatives to replacing the memorial; and

Contact John Metzler, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and ask him to repair rather than replace the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

I already did this - your turn!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grocery Store Guilty Pleasures

Now I'm normally the woman in the aisle standing there doing the math in her head to see which brand is the best deal. So I tend to shy away from many convenience foods as overpriced. For example, I never buy frozen dinners. I do always keep at least one frozen pizza in the freezer, but that's more just to always have a quick meal on hand (and during Lent it is always cheese pizza). Now there are some convenience foods that are actually good deals, but many are just a rip-off trying to con you into believing the time saving is worth the price. But as I'm sure all of us do, I have my guilty purchases. The ones I KNOW aren't a good buy, but the task is so odious I buy it anyway. For me, that's shredded cheese. I know I can buy the brick of cheddar much cheaper, but I hate to shred cheese (what I really hate is cleaning the shredder if I'm honest), so I buy all my cheese pre-shredded. And if someone would shred pepper jack cheese, I would probably pay a major premium for that. That stuff is ANNOYING to shred (I even usually put it into the freezer for about 20 minutes first to harden it up).

I was reading my new copy of Rachael Ray's magazine (I love cooking magazines...I think because I like pictures with my recipes) and she had a little section called "Shortcuts to nowhere" about overpriced conveniences. So here are some of the biggest rip-offs:
Precurled ribbon (for presents): saves you 7 seconds and the prices goes up 350%
Self-heating green tea lattes: saves you 5 minutes for a 1200% price jump
precut onions: 5 minutes for 570% price jump [plus to me these go stale so fast, they are only useful the day you buy them.]
I figure these have to be pretty ridiculous for her to notice - she always buys the convenience foods to help make the 30 minute cut off. She loves her chicken stock....yeah, I'm a cheapskate...I buy the buillion cubes in bulk at Sam's Club and make my own the day off. Just takes boiling water - I can manage that.

Now some convenience foods that I do think are good deals. I LOVE Rhodes frozen dinner rolls. My bread maker does fine for loaves, but rolls then still require shaping, etc. Rhodes are pre-shaped and frozen. You just let them rise for a few hours in your kitchen and then bake. YUMMY!! Ray adores these. And these are still much cheaper than buying refrigerated biscuits or the store's rolls. I actually also like bagged mixed lettuce. For me, the issue is that Ray can't eat iceberg (what we all grew up on), so I have to buy the fancier lettuces anyway (like romaine) and I can get a bag of mixed cheaper, and in a better quantity, for that. If I just want romaine, I buy it normally, but if I want any blend, I find it is better to buy the bag. I don't have to buy as much so it works out in the end. I always keep a few boxed mixes (like Hamburger Helper) on hand for dinner emergencies. You know the night nothing goes right and you just want something more than a sandwich for dinner.

Oh, one of my other pet peeves - pre-mixed chai tea. I ADORE chai tea, but the price of the-premixed stuff is outrageous! I even looked at Sam's Club, but it isn't that good and it still isn't really cheap. So I make my own now - I can buy the materials in bulk and pre-mix the stuff myself. Then all I need is tea bags - right now I even have decaf tea bags in the house since I'm on caffeine restrictions. I also make a lot of food and freeze it - like steak fajita roll ups. Then I have the convenience of a quick meal without having to buy a premium or know its full of preservatives. I actually think I do pretty good on that. Last spring was really bad - both of us just too busy to do more than basic cooking. But I'm back on track! I do still have the American convenience cooking staples - like cream of mushroom soup. I happen to like casseroles with cream of mushroom soup, although Ray doesn't so I try to moderate my use of them. He likes casseroles with other bases though (like tomato soup or spaghetti sauce).

Okay, I think I'm done ranting for the moment. My casserole is done in any case. Yes, it's 11:30 at night and I'm making dinner. Why, you ask? Well, Ray is teaching night classes so actually isn't usually home for dinner or lunch so I have to make things ahead of time that he can take and reheat. I try to take him dinner once a week too...make it here and meet him at his office. Tomorrow he's actually coming home for lunch, so we are doing our big meal then. But since he'll only have a short time, I don't want to have to bother cooking it then (it takes over an hour to bake and he's never quite sure on times)....so I'm making it tonight and will just reheat it tomorrow. I also already have a salad and bread made to go with it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of 9/11 - there is a growing digital archive online if you are interested.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This is a great recipe that I got from my mother-in-law (from Paula Deen's cookbook) - anyway, I was in a hurry, so I microwaved the potatoes rather than baking them - quicker and just as tasty.:) Anyway, I updated my notes on the recipe.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I had to!

I was trying to be good at Wal-Mart today (buying boring stuff like toilet paper), but boy toys just called to me! I had to buy something for a boy now that I know! It even makes cool sounds (but you can turn it off if it annoys you too much).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

IT'S A BOY!!!!

We had our 20 week ultrasound today - it is official, it's a boy! I decided that I wanted to know - maybe I'll do it differently on the next one, but I just wanted to know! I want to buy gender specific clothes and toys!
Adam David Weber (we even have a name)

You can clearly see for yourself - I should keep this picture to show to his girlfriends....

And a foot - just cause I thought these were so cute!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ancient Honey

Archaeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found.

Pretty cool, huh?

My tomatoes all done

Aren't they pretty now that they are on the shelf in neat rows?

Okay, funny story. We spent all weekend teasing Ray about throwing tomatoes at his mother. Well, I was finishing putting away the canning stuff today and went to move the table - the wall behind it had tomato stains! So I had to clean it, but Ray wasn't just tossing tomatoes at us, but at the wall, too! (They were on his side of the table for clarification here).

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hoisin Pork Roast

I just put up a new crock pot recipe, Hoisin Pork Roast. It is from Rachael Ray's magainze (a great magainze to subscribe to, by the way) and is absolutely delicious! I'm not a big pork fan (just ham at Easter), but I LOVED this - the meat is very tender (and I cheated and used a lesser roast to save money) and the sauce divine. Plus it is super easy - crock pots were the BEST INVENTION EVER!!!! I honestly think I'd give up my microwave over my crock pot. I served it while were canning tomatoes this weekend and everyone loved it so it was a total success!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Drunk Olga

Olga's Wild Weekend

Canning Tomatoes

We spent the last two days canning tomatoes. We did a bushel and a half and ended up with 21 jars. We only had one go bad on us, so I figure that's pretty good for my first attempt. Dave and Pat (Ray's parents) have lots of experience and came and helped us out. They also brought theirs to can, so we could do it all at once. The entire reason for us to can tomatoes is for Ray and his spaghetti sauce. It just isn't the same with store-bought canned tomoatoes.
Pat with the skinned and cut tomatoes, ready for the jars.
Ray with the tomatoes in the jars, ready to be cooked and sealed (doesn't he look thrilled?)
Jennie and Pat skinning tomatoes
Dave pulling out the finished jars.

Ray's New Leaf Blower

Ray's parents got him a leaf blower for his birthday. He decided to use to clean out the garage...can you even find him in the dust cloud?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

New History Carnival

History Carnival LVI is up at Walking the Berkshires - go check this out for some new blogs to read!