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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brownies











Brownies

4 sq. unsweetened chocolate ( 4 oz)
2/3 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Salt

Melt shortening and chocolate together in microwave. Beat melted chocolate with sugar and eggs, then stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread in well greased 8 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing With Fabric


This week I have been busy cooking and creating. And spending money I shouldn't be spending. I don't have any recipes to share from last nights dinner as I made breakfast instead. I don't cook breakfast in the morning, never have. I am not a morning person. If the kids want a hot breakfast, well that is what microwaves and Fathers are for. I just can't stand the smells that early in the day. So I cook breakfast at dinner time at least a couple of times a month.

In and around all that cooking I have been playing with my fabric. Still itching to get outside and start dyeing more colors, but I am sure I have at least a month yet before that can happen. So I am trying to make due with what I have and start creating anyway. The piece I am working on now is a dragon against a sunset landscape. It is finally starting to come together into something recognizable, but the process is rather slow. And there is so much more to do. I have been working on it mostly as a practice piece. I don't know if I would ever want to sell it, but I suppose for the right money anything is possible. The point has been to experiment with different ideas and techniques and tools. I think it looks pretty cool so far, but I am not sure if I want to show you all a picture or not before it is done. As I said there is still a lot of detail work left to be done, its just the basic foundation for the most part right now.

I also started working on a silhouettes series that I think I will actually frame and try to sell when they are finished. I have a couple of trees that I have cut out, but they are also a long ways from being done. These are ones I am really looking forward to working on too, but I am still waiting on some better tools to be delivered which will hopefully give me a little better control for the intricate cutting I want to do. Years ago I used to make these beautiful, intricate snowflake designs. I never did anything with them except give them away, but I am hoping to reproduce a similar style of design in fabric now, and maybe make some money from them. I am using my own hand dyed fabrics for both the foreground and the background and I think I may do some detailing with some iridescent colors to highlight the designs further.

As I have mentioned before I always have a million ideas floating around in my head waiting to be executed. I usually work on several projects at one time if only to get a record of an idea before it floats away. Unlike some artists who can draw a sketch of an idea to save it for later, I can't draw worth a shit. When I go to cut fabric I usually do not draw out anything, I just start cutting and layering until get the shapes I want. I have tried drawing a rough sketch first, but it takes me longer to draw a simple sketch than it does to cut out hundreds of pieces. And then it still doesn't even look anything like what I envisioned! So I just gave up on that idea. If I really think I need a pattern for something I will trace it out of something else to get the basic outline.

That is something else I have thousands of hours of practice at, tracing! I remember having special coloring books as a very little girl with sheets of tracing paper inserted between the coloring pages. And if they didn't already have the tracing paper in the book, I would steal it from my mom. I even bought a new light box that finally arrived this week. It is much bigger and better than any I have had before, and it sure as heck beats using the window! So I have been printing out animal photographs to work with too. I would like to do a series of at least “semi” realistic wildlife in fabric as well. I am seeing lions and tigers and frogs, oh my! All spinning through the back of my head waiting for their chance to be created. Then of course there are all the landscapes, and the portraits, and the foliage and flowers, and, and and ... My goodness it better warm up soon! I need to get to dyeing so I can get to work!

Honey Cookies


Today's recipe is a very special family favorite!  It used to be a family joke that these are my "weight loss cookies" because I always made them when I was trying to shed the "baby weight" after the kids were born.  You have to remember that I do NOT diet, ever, and I have always been perpetually skinny, so this strategy will probably not work for anyone else, but I did lose weight eating them, just cause I would have lost it anyway doesn't make the joke any less funny!

 Picture is of cookies similar to the recipe added by request.


Honey Cookies

2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 1/3 c. honey
2 tsp vanilla
5 ½ c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Salt

Cream sugar and shortening together well. Beat in eggs, honey and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in 2 cups flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until it forms a stiff dough. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours. Divide dough in half. Roll out each half on a well floured surface to ¼” thick. Cut into desired shapes and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes until just turning brown. Can be eaten plain or frosted with a powdered sugar frosting.

Powdered Sugar Frosting

2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
10 drops food coloring, optional
milk

Cut butter into powdered sugar, mixing well. Stir in vanilla, and food coloring if desired, and add milk, just a teaspoon at a time, until it forms a thick but spreadable consistency. Frost cookies when cool and sprinkle with toppings if desired.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fried Rice

I made this for dinner last night, but by the time I finished typing out the recipe and cleaning up the kitchen I didn't get a chance to post the recipe for you.  I originally learned to make this from one of my ex-sister-in-laws when I was a teenager  She was from the Philippines and her version was a little different as I am sure I have "Americanized" it over the years.  Its really good with some sauteed mushrooms thrown in there too, but my husband won't eat them.


Fried Rice

3 c. cooked rice
1 stick (½ c.). Butter or margarine
1 c. sliced carrots
¾ c. sliced celery
1/8 c. Soy Sauce
1 c. chopped bell pepper (the more colors the better!)
1 bunch green onions, cleaned and chopped.
2 c. chopped cooked ham, chicken or steak
6 eggs


Fry cooked rice in 3 Tbsp, butter in a very large frying pan over med-low heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, saute carrots and celery in a separate small frying pan in 1-2 Tbsp. Butter over med-low heat until tender, adding small amounts of water as needed to keep from burning. Add soy sauce to rice, stir well and continue frying over low heat while other ingredients cook. When carrots are tender add to rice in large pan. Add meat to rice and stir well. Fry be1l peppers and green onions in 2 Tbsp. Butter until softened, add to rice, stir well. Scramble eggs and fry until well done, stir into rice mixture and continue frying over low heat for 5 minutes.  Serve hot with additional soy sauce to taste.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weirdness Isn't Just Genetic


Everyone in my family is weird. I think I have established that fact before. I suppose an argument could be made for a genetic influence contributing to the weirdness in my home, but then how would you explain all the crazy critters we end up with? I mean, I expected my children to be a little weird, they really didn't have a whole lot of genetic normalcy coming from my half of the contribution, and all of their Father's had their own unique brands of weirdness as well. So, the kids never stood a chance. But why are the animals in my family so weird?

Take our dog Jack for example. A few of you may have seen his picture on Mother's Facebook page, I posted it the night we brought him home last August. He was six weeks old at the time and just as cute as could be. He is a Red Heeler, aka an Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog with a permanent grin on his face. He stands knee high now and he is already almost stronger than I am. Now Jack is a very smart dog and he learns new things really quickly, when he wants to, but he is also extremely stubborn and when he doesn't want to learn something, he won't. He is still a puppy, so he does still have some issues with bladder control when he gets excited, but there is nothing particularly unusual about that.

What makes Jack weird is his personality. I swear he is the MOST jealous dog on the face of the planet! No one in out house is ever allowed to go anywhere near anyone else when he id present. He cannot stand it! Now we are a physically demonstrative family, always have been. Everyone gets hugs or kisses or just a pat on the back all the time, and we tend to often be found in close proximity to one another, so having a dog who believes that this is unacceptable behavior and that no human being should be allowed to touch anyone but him in his presence can lead to some fun times let me tell you. It really is quite funny to watch him. He can be sound asleep on the couch and the minute I start to walk toward my husband to talk to him, the dog is awake, across the room and up in the chair next to my husband making sure he puts his body between us. He will bark and growl and act like he is going to tear me apart if I dare to reach out to touch my husband. Now he is NOT violent, but he does like to pretend he is. He is very careful most of the time to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone, although he just doesn't seem to understand the concept of his dew claws being painful when they rip though human flesh, but he really isn't trying to hurt anyone. He just wants you to think he is.

He is a pretty good dog, if I tell him No, he will stop and allow the physical contact to occur, but then he gets mad at me afterward and tries to eat my clothes. The clothes I am wearing at the time. His favorite thing is my slippers. I am on my third pair this winter, his puppy teeth really did a number of the first two pair! Now that he has his adult teeth, and a little better sense of his own strength, he doesn't tear them up as fast. I generally try to get dressed during the day and put on my jeans and tennis shoes whether I am planning on going anywhere or not because it makes me feel better when I get dressed for the day. Jack is not allowed to chew on my tennis shoes, and he knows this. But at some point during the latter part of the day my feet start to get cold and I end up changing into my slippers and you can just see the excitement on that grinning little face! His eyes light up and the instant the first one is pulled on my foot he launches his attack! Growling and nibbling and biting that slipper like he has a personal vendetta against all things soft and warm. As I said, he is always careful to bite around my feet and never to bite down into any body part that happens to find its way between his teeth. But if you didn't know he wasn't tearing me limb from limb it sure could sound like he is!

Jack is a very sweet dog, he loves to lick my face and he gives a great hug, especially if he thinks he is in trouble. He's just a little weird, like everyone else around here.

Grandma's Chicken Soup


This is what I am making for dinner tonight!  I don't actually have a written recipe, I learned it from my Mother who learned it from her Mother as it is with most of my dinner recipes.  So I am writing it up from memory as I make it, as a result all measurements are guestimates and are not guaranteed for accuracy.  The amounts aren't really important in most of my dinner recipes because I scale them up and down depending on who I am cooking for, cooking is more a matter of proportions in my family, I seldom measure anything if I don't have to! 


Grandma's Chicken Soup

1 1/2  c. chicken breasts, cubed
1-2 Tbsp. Cooking oil or shortening
½ c. onion, chopped
1 tsp. chopped garlic
chicken stock, chicken broth, or chicken bouillon
1 c. carrots, peeled and sliced
¾ c. celery, sliced
2- 3 bay leaves (opt., remove before serving)
1/2 tsp.pepper
1/2 tsp.oregano
1/2 tsp.basil
1 tsp. rosemary, crushed
1 tsp. thyme, crushed
4 c, potatoes, peeled and cubed


Saute chicken breast cubes in oil over medium high heat in the bottom of a dutch oven or other deep pan, stirring frequently until golden brown, add onions and garlic when the chicken is about halfway done. When chicken is cooked, add carrots and celery to pan and then add chicken stock and water to fill the pan to cover all, plus an inch or two more. And herbs and spices, bring to boil, then cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, and continue to simmer for about 30 more minutes more, or until vegetables are soft. Serve hot with homemade bread.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Cooking Adventure


I got a little flack from my last blog post because I mentioned that I “get” to cook dinner this week. Actually I requested to be allowed to cook this week, not that I got any fight about it. My husband is an excellent cook, and lately he has been doing most of the cooking. When we first got together we made a deal that I would cook Monday thru Friday, and he would cook on the weekends. It worked out well then because he was working away from home during the week, and I wasn't. Over the years things have changed, the arrangement has pretty much become a matter of whether or not there is fresh meat in the refrigerator. If there is, he cooks, if not, then I cook. He does a much better job of cooking meat as a “slab”, whether its steak, or pork chops, or chicken breasts, I on the other hand, usually only cook meat cut up into bite sized pieces and mixed in with other stuff. I am the “Queen of one pan dinners”, although I usually use several to cook the meal, it all ends up in one pan in the end. Since my husband the boys prefer their meat “unadulterated” by other foods, he ends up doing most of the cooking. Unless of course he just doesn't feel like it, then I either cook, or order pizza. It works out pretty well for me, most of the time, but this week I have plans.

I made the ham today, which was served by the slice, not mixed with anything this time, but the leftovers will be used in Fried Rice and my American Stir Fry later this week (as well as at least one “breakfast” of fried eggs and ham! Yummy). Tomorrow I am making chicken soup. It is not my husband's favorite, so it has been probably more than a year since I have made it, but I have been craving it for weeks now, and I finally have the celery to make it with so that's up next. I was going to make a different loaf of bread to go with it, but the rolls I made today were so delicious that I think they will work fine with the soup. I would love to make my tuna casserole too, but I know the boys won't eat that at all, so I probably won't get that far.

Its funny how different things can become. Ten years ago I would have never dreamed of wanting to cook dinner when I didn't have to. But before I met my husband there was seldom a time in my life when I didn't have to cook dinner. Maybe if we went out for hamburgers or ordered pizza once a month or so, but for a long time even that wasn't an option. There were a few times when I was single that my kids did get to eat cold cereal or popcorn and fruit for dinner, but it wasn't very often. I don't really mind cooking, except when I am sick, but it has never been something I enjoyed, mostly because I don't enjoy eating I think. But now I know if I ever want to eat certain things again, I have to cook them myself, so I am looking forward to my adventures in the kitchen this week, and I hope you all will join me as well!

Here is a little bonus recipe from today's adventure, its not vintage, but it was pretty darn tasty for desert!

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Crumb Pie Crust
1 1/3 c. chocolate cookie crumbs, ground fine in the blender
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

Combine ingredients and mix well. Press into bottom and up the sides of pie pan, using the back of a spoon to pack firmly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes Let cool.

Fill cooled pie crust half way up with white chocolate pudding (I use instant), refrigerate 5 minutes. Top with chocolate fudge pudding just to the top of the crust. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes, top with whipped cream before serving.

You can use a purchased chocolate crumb pie crust instead of making the crust, I just happened to have some failed cookies that turned into a crumbly mess that I knew would work really good for the crust.

Quick White Bread


Mother is taking over the cooking this week for a change.  Tonight we are having a delicious ham with mashed potatoes and gravy, and I made this tasty recipe into rolls to go with it!  A double layer chocolate pudding pie for dessert and my husband may never want to cook for me again, ooppps, maybe I should rethink this ...

Quick White Bread

1 c. milk
2 ½ Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 ½ Tbsp butter
1 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg, active dry yeast
3 c. flour
3 – 3 ½ c. flour

Scald 1 c. milk. Stir in 2 ½ Tsp. Sugar, salt and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Let cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile dissolve 1 tsp. Sugar and yeast in warm water, let stand 5 minutes. Stir yeast mixture into milk mixture, beat in 3 c. flour, 1 cup at a time (you can do all of this with an electric mixer up to this point).

Stir in enough remaining flour, one cup at a time, to form a smooth ball. Knead on lightly floured board until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Divide dough in half and shape into loaves; place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees, for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned and produces a hollow sound when tapped. Brush with butter while hot, then cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Taking Time to Play


I have finally managed to do a little bit more than just look at and fondle my fabrics the last couple of days. So far I have started 4 different pieces (possibly 5) and my husband came up with a whole new concept for me to explore that is a really cute idea. I am still waiting for all of the new tools I ordered to arrive, so I am trying to find things I can do while I wait. Yes, I went all obsessive-compulsive shopping again, and I don't think I am done yet. But they are tools! I need them. Okay, I don't need them, but they will be lots of fun to play with, and I didn't really spend that much money, yet.

I am fighting a massive headache today, so I am a little slow at doing much of anything right now. I probably shouldn't be sitting here trying to type either, but that's never stopped me before. I did work a little bit on the dragon I am designing, I just have to work up the courage to cut out his wings and his front legs and I will have the bulk of him done. I am trying to do this all myself, freehand with no patterns so that my work is all original. That is really important to me, being original, unique in the things that I do. If I could figure out how to learn to draw cool pictures quickly on the computer I wouldn't even use the public domain images that I use to make the silly pictures. I have all the software and the hardware to do it, I just don't have the room to spread out comfortably and the time to play with all of it to learn how it works.

Mostly I have been thinking about all the new fabrics I need to make to be able to make all the the pieces that are already floating around in my head. I don't have even a fraction of the color variations that I need to do all the ideas I am seeing in my mind. And Now I just remembered that the annual local quilt show should be coming up in the next week or two, so I will have even more inspirations to contend with! I really do need to figure out how to use the computer stuff I have to my advantage though. There is so much I want to do that I know could be so much easier if I just knew what the hell I was doing with the computer programs and accessories I already have. But as I said, that takes time, and room that I don't have at the moment. What I really need is like a 10,000 square foot warehouse to work in (heated and air conditioned of course), then I might have enough room to spread out and work. But probably not, I would just fill it up and then complain that I still didn't have enough room to work! I have been trying to sell off most of the fabric that I have purchased over the years on eBay to make more room out in my studio, but it is slow going at the moment. And I still have dozens of boxes of books and movies and crap like that which I still need to get listed on eBay, which is taking up space in my studio as well. But instead of working on any of that I am sitting here typing out this blog post wishing my head would quit pounding so damn hard!

I also have some new writing ideas bouncing around inside my brain. You people have really inspired me to make some time in my life for this renewed hobby of mine, where the hell I am going to get it from I have no idea, but I am working on it. Right now I probably should quit typing and start planning out the boy's school work for this week, I have been letting them slack on the paper work and it is coming up on annual testing time for the older one, “Boogie”. “Bunkin” is the younger one and he doesn't have to be tested for the first time until next year, but he still needs to be doing the work a little more often than he is. I have never done a lot of structured school work with any of the kids when they were home schooled, but math and writing are two things I think they need the paper practice with. So I better get some work printed out for them tonight because I know I won't do it in the morning.

It gets kind of complicated sometimes, trying to find the time for everything I am supposed to do, and everything I want to do. Sometimes my priorities are a little screwed up when it comes to my time, and I am the first one to admit that. But the one thing I learned through years of neglecting to give time to myself is that I can't ever do that again! Mother has needs of her own, and sometimes it is okay for them to come first!

Easy Batter Bread


I promised something different, so here you go!  This is probably the fastest and easiest yeast bread recipe I have ever found!  No kneading needed!  Hot, fresh, homemade bread in less than 2 hours!  I don't know if it gets any better than this!

Easy Batter Bread

3 c. flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 pkg. Active dry yeast
1 egg
1 c. milk
2 Tbsp. Shortening

Mix 2 cups of the flour, with the sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Heat milk until very warm, stir in shortening until it melts, then beat in eggs. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and beat on low speed with a electric mixer for 1 minute, scraping sides frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in remaining flour until smooth dough forms. Dump dough into a greased loaf pan, 9x5x3”, and pat down and smooth into pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan and brush crust with butter while hot.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Melt in Your Mouth Sugar Cookies


Today's Vintage recipe makes a great St.Patrick's Day treat if you cut them into Shamrock shapes and sprinkle them with Green Sugar crystals! Be careful when you bake these, they do burn easily!

Melt in Your Mouth Sugar Cookies

1 ½ c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter
1 ¼ tsp. Vanilla
1 egg
2 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Granulated sugar

Cream butter and powdered sugar, beat in egg and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in dry ingredients except granulated sugar, and mix well. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours.

Divide dough in half and roll out each half on a well floured surface to about ¼” thick, cut into desired shapes, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Freeing Myself From Repression


All this time I have been spending writing has really cut into my quilting time. As the weather is finally starting to warm up I am starting to get anxious to play with fabrics again. Up until last year all of the quilting I have done has been in the making of blankets to warm my family and my family's families, but that was never what I really wanted to do with it. I want to make art quilts. From the very first patchwork quilt I made for my oldest son, the thought in the back of my head has always been that I wanted to do something different. I made the bed quilts because that was what Grandma did and because I knew no one in my family would really appreciate the things I really wanted to make. And for the longest time I didn't really believe that I would ever be able to do what I really wanted to do with the quilting anyway because I did not consider myself artistic. How can a non-artistic person really expect to make art quilts?

But then, last year, I discovered a whole new world when I found http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml.
The whole concept that I could “create” my own fabrics just opened up a whole new world of possibilities that I could never have even imagined a few years ago. I always thought dyeing fabric was some terribly difficult, hugely expensive and just plain out of the question hobby for someone like me, but the more I learned, the easier it sounded. And the more I played with it the more I enjoyed the Hell out of it. And as I started dyeing more and more fabric, I started learning about other ways to “embellish” the fabrics with paintstiks, paints, batik, … and oh my the options that I have found! Suddenly I had the answer to my “something different” that I was looking for. I don't know if anyone else will like the new art that is now flowing out of my head uncontrollably, but I am enjoying it very much. My “art” is like my writing, it is my voice, my expression of myself, it is a window into my world, and I hope that other people will enjoy it as much as I do, but that is not why I have to do it. Yes it would be nice if someone paid me for my writing or my art, but that is not what either of them are about.

I have always felt repressed. In every aspect of my life, from the time I was a very small child, repression really was the theme of my life. Whether it was external or internal, societal, cultural, or familial, I have felt mentally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, sexually, artistically, and verbally repressed pretty much all of my life. I don't say this because I am looking for sympathy, I think we are all repressed to one degree or another, and I am the first to admit that the worst repressor in my life has always been me. This is what I am working on now, among other things, and that is why I mentioned it. Letting go of all of the fears that have held me back from ever attempting anything is probably the hardest thing for anyone to do. I know how hard it is for me anyway.

So I am trying to release myself from that repression through my art and my writing. Throw off the proverbial chains that have tied me down, held me back for so long as it were. If I am truly ever to be free to be who I am, this is where it starts, with my words and my art. I know that some “repression” is required for socially acceptable behavior, but the rest is unnecessary, and unwanted in my life anymore. I won't be silenced and curtained any longer, I can't. If I am to have the life I want for myself, I will have to make it, and I can not make it while I am hiding away behind the curtain in the corner. I have left the corner now, and I have cut up the curtains. I have declared my freedom and I will not willingly surrender myself ever again.

So now as Spring is rapidly approaching my artistic juices are flowing and I am trying to figure out how to make time for all of the things that I want to do before the cold returns. I have never been very good at making or keeping a schedule, but I know I am already neglecting too many important things as it is so I am going to have to figure out a system that will work for me. And I will, eventually, until then I am just going to have to muddle around the best that I can and keep reminding myself that the kids can't eat fabric so I better make sure I don't forget to deal with them!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


 I Love Oatmeal Raisin Cookies because they are about as healthy as a cookie can get and still taste delicious.  I think my oldest son even talked me into letting him have these for breakfast once or twice!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

¾ c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
1 c. shortening
2 eggs
5 Tbsp milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal
2 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Cloves
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
1 c. raisins

Place raisins in a microwave safe bowl, pour grape or apple juice over raisins to cover. Cover bowl and microwave one - two minutes on high until liquid is very hot. Let stand covered 30 minutes.

Cream sugars with butter until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended. Stir in oatmeal. Mix other dry ingredients and stir into oatmeal mixture. Drain raisins and pat dry with a paper towel. Stir into dough. Drop by Tablespoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes, until light golden brown.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies


Here is another special cookie favorite from our house to yours.  These are even better if you put a big chocolate chip in the middle before baking!  Hey, they have peanut butter in them so they have to be good for you, right?

Peanut Butter Cookies

½ c. shortening
½ c. peanut butter
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 ¼ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Cream together first 4 ingredients. Beat in egg. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add wet ingredients and mix well. Chill dough thoroughly, at least 4 hours. Take 1 Tbsp dough and form into small balls. Place 2” apart on well-greased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork dipped in flour making a criss-cross pattern and flattening the cookies to about 1/2” thick. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finding Focus ... Or Not


Some days I really do think I am going to lose my mind. I am trying to decide what the Hell I am going to do with the rest of my life and I have so many ideas that I am finding it very difficult to focus on any one of them for any length of time. What I really need to do is find a way to make more money. Yeah, I know, don't we all. But I need to find a way for me to make money that doesn't make me crazy. The only way I am going to do that is through my art or my words, so now the questions is how do I do that? I want to write. This is what I truly believe I have always been meant to do, but what the hell do I write about? And how the hell do I convince people to pay me for my words?

I have a stack of books in my head so thick that pages just keep flying out at random. I need to find either a way to sort them into the right books, or pull one book out of the stack at a time and work on putting it together first. The second option would really be preferable, but my brain doesn't work that way. So I have random thoughts flying all over the place and I have to find a way to organize them into some kind of coherent system that can be accessed as necessary.

First, I really do need a starting point. I need to start focusing my mental energy in one direction at a time, at least long enough to make some progress towards anything. I think this is my starting place. I am trying to figure out how to make this blog more user friendly. I know I jump from one topic to another, (sometimes within the same post!) without a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the structure of my thoughts, and while I can blame this on the distractions of the world around me, its really how my head actually works. My thoughts are a freaking mess!

So how do I compartmentalize this blog, and my brain, and make them both more user friendly? I am working on it, but I am still unsure of myself, afraid of putting all my heart and soul into this and having it all tossed aside as being as unworthy as I used to feel. I had a friend once, who happened to be a professional psychiatrist, who pointed out to me that I have a tendency to set myself up for failure. It is one of the many issues I am still working on in my own life. I am trying to figure out how to not do that with my writing. I need this to succeed, not just financially, but personally.

I know there are probably millions of other people like me all over the world, just trying to live their lives in peace, to raise their families as they choose, and follow their dreams where ever they may lead. People who struggle everyday to find a little bit of happiness in a world which glorifies greed and frivolity but discriminates against love and compassion. Now, how the Hell do I find all of you and convince you to read the insane ramblings of a crazy hippie lady? And perhaps more importantly, how do I get someone to actually PAY me for my crazy ramblings?

I have a lot of interesting stories to share, and I honestly believe that my perceptions and observations on life might really be helpful to a lot of people struggling with the same demons that I have slain. I am not an expert, or a “trained professional”, in much of anything. I do have an extensive background in the study of psychology, most of it coming from the need to understand what was “wrong” with me or to try to help other people figure out what was “wrong” with them. The one thing I learned that stands out above all else, is that there was probably never anything “wrong” with any of us in the first place. The “wrong” is in our society, our culture, it is not within us.

So I guess I should thank you all for joining me in my very public struggle with sanity, and on my journey towards my “American Dream” of independence and freedom for myself and for all those who challenge the status quo in search of a better way of life. The trip will be bumpy, and I am guaranteed to get lost on a regular basis, but I will be having a good time, and I hope you will too! I hope you find comfort in my struggles knowing that you are not alone in the world and that it is not only okay to be different, it is preferable.

Russian Butter Cookies


This is one of my favorites Cookie recipes!  I try to make them every year for Christmas to put in the cookie packages I send out, but usually most of them end up in my stomach rather than in the mail! Make sure the little balls are bite sized because they will crumble all over the place if you try to take a bite out of one!  But they sure are melt-in-your-mouth good!

Russian Butter Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. Salt
2 ½ c. flour
¾ c. chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, stir in remaining ingredients. Roll into small balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 17 minutes until just starting to brown. These burn very easily so watch them carefully. Shake in powdered sugar while still hot, and again when cool.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Legislating Morality


I just don't freaking understand people! They drive me crazy! Can anyone explain to me why someone would think that just because they do not like something they have the right to deny it to EVERYONE else on the planet?!? I will never understand this stupid crap. It is beyond asinine and just completely incomprehensible to me, especially in the USA! I thought this country was founded on the belief in personal freedom, that is the party line I was fed all through my Public Education anyway. Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness are supposed to be our unalienable rights, that is what the damn paper says. So why in the Hell do certain people think that they have the right to dictate to everyone else how they can or cannot live their lives?

And I am not just talking about the religious extremists on the right either, there are extremists on the left who are just as obnoxious and just as wrong. I think we all tend to actually do it to one degree or another. Everyone thinks they have found the one “right” way to live and that everyone else should just agree with them. I know I do. But the difference between my “right” way and their “right” way is that I don't presume to have the audacity to tell anyone else what they should or should not to with their own bodies or their lives.

It might not be as bad if any of them actually lived by the moral codes they try to inflict on everyone else, but they don't. So not only are they judgmental in determining how others should be forced to live, they are hypocrites as well. If people would just get the hell out of everybody else's damn business and start concentrating on their own damn lives, EVERYONE would be a lot happier!

Prohibitions are destructive. There are no, ifs, and or buts about it. When you attempt to prohibit people from doing what they want to do the only thing you accomplish is to turn good people into criminals. We are all human animals. We all have basic human needs and desires that we are going to fulfill. Just because you do not like what I desire does not stop me from desiring it. If I am not hurting you by fulfilling that desire, then STFU! Its none of you damn business what I desire! And don't give me that stupid crap about “protecting the children” either. FU – protect your own damn children and I will protect mine. I am far more concerned about people like that denying my children information than I am in anyone giving them “too much information”. I monitor what my children see and do, I do not need anyone else to do it for me, thank you very much. I am the parent. I am responsible for them, I only need the government to protect them from the things I cannot, like poisons in the air, the land and the water.

Now it is one thing to pass laws saying you cannot do things to other people without their consent, that is good. We NEED those laws because people are just mean and evil sometimes. But whatever you want to do to yourself, or with another consenting person or persons, well that is nobodies freaking business except the people involved. I get that some people don't like “foul language”, for instance, and I understand that they do not want to be bombarded by it from every direction all the time. But I still do nor believe that gives them the right to tell me I should never be able to use a certain word simply because it offends them. FU. There are lots of words that offend me that they still use, like “God” and “prayer” and “sin”, but you don't hear me telling anyone they cannot use them now do you? I don't particularly like you using them in my house, but even then I won't usually demand you don't.

The usage of words is just one small example of the ways in which other people try to force their beliefs on everyone else. There are plenty of others in the news today, from birth control to DOMA, the religious zealots are fighting tooth and nail to return this country to its roots, to its “original core values” alright. They want to return to the values of Elite White Men being in complete control, and women, minorities, and everyone else toiling in the fields to provide for their desires. Its too bad they picked the values the rest of the world has outgrown as the ones they want to return to, instead of the values that truly could make the US the greatest nation in the world, like personal freedom and dignity.

The zealots on the “left” can be just as bad though. I do not need you to tell me what I should or should not be able to eat, thank you very much. I am a human being, I am designed by evolution to digest meat, I like meat, and I am going to continue to eat meat. You do NOT have to ever eat meat if you don't want to, that's fantastic for you, but stay out of my meal planning, and my children's meals too while you are at it. If I want to feed my kids chicken nuggets and french fries it is none of your business. My kids are healthy, happy little people, and the older ones are healthy adults. Not one of my kids has ever been over weight, or had any illness that could be linked to their diets or anything else I may have done that you do not approve of, so you STFU and stay out of my life too.

I am glad that all these people have found the “one right way to live”, but your way is only right for you dumbass, it isn't the “only right way” for everybody else, and it never could be, because everybody else is not you! Lets get back to what really matters. People are people, some are good, some are bad, most are both depending on what they need to be at the time. Live your life however the heck you want and enjoy every minute of it that you can and quite freaking worrying about what other people should or should not be doing in theirs. We can move this country forward, we are living in the 21st century for goodness sakes people, start acting like it. Quite trying to drag everyone back to the stone ages with you and come on in to the future where every person has value, every single person in this country, and all around the world for that matter, has the right to Their Life, Their Liberty and Their Own Pursuit of Happiness.

Double Chocolate Drops


I made these for my guys yesterday to make up for the cookies that I seriously screwed up the day before!  Note to anyone thinking of adding marshmallows to chocolate cookies - DON'T!  Save the marshmallows for the brownies and rice krispie treats - trust me on this one! Fortunately, these turned out much better!  The dough is as sticky as peanut butter and molasses, but it sure was tasty!


Double Chocolate Drops

½ c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ½ c. flour
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking soda
½ c. cocoa
¾ c. buttermilk*
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in egg and vanilla. And dry ingredients alternately with milk, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop tablespoon sized balls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

* I use just under 3/4 c. whole milk plus about a tablespoon of lemon juice instead of actual buttermilk, I have never bought buttermilk in my life!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Good-bye to Guilt


Today's word of the week is “guilt”. According to the second definition at Dictionary.com guilt is - “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” It is my experience that if there is one word in the English language that can destroy the best day in your life, it is this one.

I don't do guilt anymore. If I made a mistake, I am sorry. I will apologize, I will try to make amends if I can, and I will do my best never to make that same mistake again. But I will not feel guilty about it. Guilt is a destructive emotion. It destroys your soul from the inside out. Churches and religions feed on your guilt. They require it for their very existence, so they create it where it should never exist and try to force it down our throats as if there is some redeeming quality to either it or them. There is not.. Not when it comes to guilt. Guilt is like shame, they are both external emotions originating in judgment and ignorance, thrust upon us by others for their benefit. The only people who “should” feel guilty about what they do and who they are, are usually the ones who are imposing guilt upon others.

I am a strong advocate of taking ownership for your own life and your own actions. In my view, guilt prevents you from doing that. Energy wasted feeling guilty about our faults and failings is energy denied to the improvement of ourselves and the world around us. I choose to spend my energies on the latter, I have none left for guilt. By owning my own life, by taking responsibility for my choices and my path in life I have found a feeling of freedom that I really did not anticipate. Letting go of all of the negative words and emotions that held me prisoner in my own self-induced misery for so long allowed me to live for the first time in my life without fear, without shame, without guilt. By refusing to live my life any longer enslaved by the tyranny of guilt I found I no longer really cared if other people “liked” my life choices or not. This is my life to live, they have their own.

I am human. I will never be perfect. All I truly ever hope to be is just the best me that I can be. I will hurt people. I will break things. I will make mistakes. And every once in a while I am sure to make a complete and total disaster out of something. That is just part of being alive. Everybody does those things. Every single human being that has ever lived, or ever will live, does those things. And unless you intentionally set out to hurt other people on purpose, feeling guilty about doing it isn't going to do a damn bit of good for anyone.

So, basically what I am saying is … screw guilt. It has no place in a life well lived.


Easy Cinnamon Rolls


This is what I spent the day making yesterday in between loads of laundry and all the other things that a day in my life can bring.  I am not a breakfast person, so we had ours for dessert last night, and oh my but they were delicious!


Easy Cinnamon Rolls

1 c. milk
1/3 c. butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 ½ tsp dry yeast
½ c. white sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 ½ – 5 ½ c. white flour

1 c. brown sugar
2 ½ tsp cinnamon
1/3 c butter, softened

Whipped Buttercream Frosting

Combine milk and 1/3 c butter in microwave proof container. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating until milk is warm (not hot) to the touch and butter is melted. Add beaten eggs and about a tablespoon of the white sugar to warm milk and beat well. Stir in yeast and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Add remaining white sugar to 4 c. flour and the salt in a large mixing bowl. Pour in warm mixture and stir until soft dough forms, adding flour as necessary.

Turn dough out onto well floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Place in well-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 ½ – 2 hours).

Turn out dough onto well floured surface again, punch down, then cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix well.

Roll out dough into a rectangular shape about ½ inch thick. Spread softened butter over surface and then sprinkle liberally with brown sugar mixture. Roll up tightly, squishing the ends and sealing the seam to make a cylinder about 18-20” long. Slice into 1 – 1 ½” slices (I use plain dental floss to cut the dough, slide it underneath, cross the sides on top and just pull – cuts them with out crushing). Place rolls in well-buttered 9 x 12” baking pan, cover and let rise until doubled. (If you want to have hot fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast, put the pan in the refrigerator to rise overnight.)

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then frost with your favorite frosting. I like the whipped buttercream frosting from the grocery store, but some people prefer a cream cheese frosting on their cinnamon rolls.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Keeping Up With My Crazy Brain


Ever have a day where there are 50 million ideas floating around in your head needing to get out on paper, but none of them will stay in the center of your focus long enough to get it written down? That is my brain. All the time. My mind is always going either a million miles an hour, or not going at all. I have been trying for days to get a new blog post written. I have 12 different documents open, each with a paragraph or two to start them, but no ability to finish them. Every time I pull one up to work on it, 7 new ideas pop into my head and I can't remember what I was trying to say about any of them!

And people wonder why I always say I am crazy! Its bad enough that my brain seems to be wired differently than that of most people, but then it operates at such a fast processing speed that I am constantly racing to keep up with myself. When you already don't think about things in the same way that other people seem to, having a brain that operates faster than your mouth (or your fingers) can make communicating your differences a little bit tricky. But when the brain shuts down and decides it is taking the day off, well that leads to a whole different set of challenges.

I really do like my brain, most of the time. It is very absorbent and pliable. I can easily wrap it around ideas and concepts and it can soak up information at a respectable rate of speed. I do believe I operate with a different processing system than I am apparently supposed to have, but I am learning to enjoy it now that I work with it instead of trying to make it perform functions it wasn't designed for. Now if I could just get it to focus!

Slow down, take a deep breath, center yourself. I used to do that before every test in college. When most of the other people in the room were trying to cram that last few seconds of studying in, I was sitting quietly with my eyes closed, desk cleared. I would use the moments to focus my brain to the subject at hand, not the subject matter. Maybe that can help here. Well, then again, maybe that is a bad idea here. Since the focus of this post is my lack of focus, finding my focus might defeat the whole point. But it is something I am working on. Along with the 50 million other things I need to work on. Its a good thing that I see my life as a work in progress, otherwise I really would be crazy.

Pita Bread

I Love to bake breads!  Probably because I LOVE to eat bread, and it is one of the very few things that I actually like!  But the sensation of kneading dough is very therapeutic.  Smashing it down and squeezing it through your finger you can work out all the anger and frustrations of the world and have something tasty to eat!   This recipe is one of my personal favorites because it really does go good with almost anything!  Breakfast, Lunch and/or Dinner, these Pita Pockets are always a winner!  Haha, sorry couldn't resist!

Pita Bread

1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. oil
3-4 c. white flour

Mix first 4 ingredients and 3 cups of flour.  Add enough remaining flour
to make a dough that is easy to handle.  Knead until smooth and shiny.
Put in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.  Cover, and let rise until doubled.

Punch down and cut in half.  Cut each half into 4 equal pieces.  Form 8 round balls of dough
and let rest at least 10 minutes.

Roll out each ball into a circle 1/4" thick.  Don't worry about making them round.
Place on oiled baking sheet and let rise until doubled.

Bake at 475 degrees for about 15 minutes.  They should just start to brown.
Cover with a clean towel and let cool slightly.  Cut open one side and fill while still
slightly warm.

Great filled like a taco, but pretty much any filling is pretty good.  Chili, chicken salad, breakfast casserole,
even peanut butter and jelly, but that's a little tricky to put in there.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Corn Bread Ditty

Today I found a cute little ditty about cornbread that I thought was fun.  I also wrote out my interpretation which makes a pretty tasty treat with some good chili or beans.


CORN BREAD.
Two cups Indian; one cup wheat;
One cup sour milk; one cup sweet;
One good egg that well you beat;
One-half cup molasses, too;
One-half cup sugar add thereto,
With one spoon butter, new,
Salt and soda each a teaspoon.
Mix up quick and bake it soon;
Then you'll have corn bread complete,
Best of all corn bread you meet.


My interpretation:
2 c. Corn meal
1 c. flour
2 c. milk (I add 1 TBSP vinegar or lemon juice for the soured milk part)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. sugar
1 TBSP butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Mix dry ingredients well, cut in the butter, and then stir in the milk and egg until just blended.
Pour into greased 9" square pan and bake at 400 degreees for about 30 minutes or until
a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.


Now my Dear husband likes to add creamed corn and replace 1 c. of milk and the vinegar with sour cream. 
So there is something else you can try.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I am Weird!


I have come to accept that people like me will never fit into this world. I am not a round peg who will neatly line up in my little round hole. I am asymmetrical, unconventional, and more than a little warped perhaps. I stand out when others would rather I blend in. I scream out loud my joys and frustrations with life when others would rather I sit quietly in the corner and keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. Other people might see me as crazy, but usually they just try to pretend they don't see me at all. It took me a long time to learn that this is not a reflection on me, it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. It is about their deficiencies, their ignorance, their jealousy, and their fear. Its not about me at all.

I am different. I like to think. I think a lot, about a lot of things. Mostly I seem to think about things that other people would rather I did NOT think about. I place value in things that they see as unimportant and I shun the things that they believe have value. Some days I wonder if I was even born on the right planet!

I refuse to accept what I am told without knowing where the information originated. I question those things which I am told should not be questioned. I want to stand up for what I believe even when I am being told that what I believe in is wrong. I think people should be free to live their lives however they choose as long as they don't infringe on anyone else's right to live how they want. No one should be able to tell me what I can or cannot do to or with my own body or my life. I sure don't presume to tell anyone else what they should or should not do with theirs. I do not believe that your right to practice your religion gives you the right to dictate to anyone else what medical treatment they can or cannot have. Or what profession they may choose, who they should be allowed to marry, or anything else for that matter. Your religious beliefs are just freaking fine, as long as you keep them to yourself!

I love to learn. While I like a good story, I would rather read about real events and actual processes. I have read thousands of books in my lifetime, at least half or more were non-fiction. I finding learning new things extremely enjoyable, and for some reason I have been told this in not normal, that learning is “hard work it is not supposed to be fun”. I home school my children for both educational and religious reasons, because I believe there is too little education and too much religion in the Public Schools.

I do not care about appearances. I don't give a crap what the neighbors will think. And I have never had any interest in keeping up with the Jones' either, Material things don't really interest me unless they serve a purpose.

I am obsessive about my hobbies and interests. And I have issues with compulsive shopping related to those hobbies and interests. I have a deep seated need to acquire information, tools and supplies of all kinds that apply to anything that interests me. And since I have an extreme multitude of interests, I tend to collect a lot of stuff. Where other people may have 100s of pairs of shoes, or closets full of clothes, or shelves full of curios and collectables, I have fabrics and ribbons, beads and stencils, scissors and punches and paints and dyes. And books! Oh my do I have books! I have actually significantly downsized my library several times over the years, but it just keeps re-expanding. I have books on almost every subject you can think of: geology, psychology, quilting, embroidery, quantum physics, political science, home improvement, home decorating, gardening, history, botany, biology, spirituality, human sexuality, applique, ecology, sustainability, environmental science, archeology, geography, survivalism, dyeing, painting, stenciling, cooking, baking, zoology, chemistry, self-help, herbal medicine, womens' studies, cultural studies, law, business, technology, ethics, logic, mechanics, electronics, astronomy, wood working, architecture, mathematics … seriously, I have at least one book (usually several) on everyone of those subjects and that is just off the top of my head, there are more I am sure.

I also collect rocks. Not fancy, polished semi-precious stones mind you, but rocks. When I left my ex-husband I moved 32 milk-crates filled with my rock collection. I don't have nearly that many now, I have edited down that collection as well so that I only have enough to fill about 9 or 10 crates now. I drive my husband crazy because I actually have “inside rocks” and “outside rocks”. He doesn't really understand the concept of “inside rocks”, but I don't suppose most people would,

I am just weird. I accept that. I am okay with it. Some people do not like me because I am weird, and I am okay with that too. I know that it is their loss. Weird is beautiful. If others cannot see my beauty I can only hope that someday they can find their own.

Apple Coffee Cake

Today I bring the first in my new special feature: Vintage Recipes!  I have been collecting vintage recipes since I was a teen-ager, copying my Grandmother's hand written recipes onto new cards for her and into my personal recipe book, which I am now opening up to all of you!   Please note: These recipes are NOT healthy!  If you are looking for health conscious recipes I am afraid you are in the wrong place!  They are high in fat, high in calories, and absolutely delicious!  They were written in a time when no one knew any better, and guess what?!  My Grandmother and Grandfather ate this way every day of their lives and lived active lives well into their 80's.  Like Grandma always told me - "All good things in moderation!"                     
 


Apple Coffee Cake

Ingredients:
2/3 cup butter or margarine (room temp)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg
1tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
2/3 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 chopped fresh apple (about a cup)
1/3 raisins (optional)

Topping:
1/4 cup flour.
1/4 cup brown sugar(firmly packed)
2 tbsp. butter or margarine (room temp)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In mixing bowl, cream buter and 1/3 cup sugar until light/fluffy. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and egg.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix into creamed mixture. Blend Well.
Combine all of the topping ingredients with a fork until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Spoon half of the batter into a greased  8 inch round cake pan.
Sprinkle with apples and raisins and half of the topping mixture.
Top with remaining batter, sprinkle remaining topping over top of the cake
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. It's best served warm!! Also very nice with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Myth of the "Right Way" to Raise Children


This may come as surprise to some of you, but it turns out that I am not a “crunchy parent”. Can you imagine my surprise to learn that I do not fit in with the latest parenting trend. Shocking, I know. I don't do trends, or fads, I do not get on band wagons, and I absolutely refuse to drink the Koll-aid, so I do not generally fit in well anywhere. But the “crunchy” thing got my attention a week or so ago and got me thinking about parenting and raising kids and just what way is the “right way” to raise them.

I have been raising children for over 25 years, and have raised 5 of my own, so I do have a little bit of experience in the matter of parenting. I have also read dozens of parenting books and probably hundreds, maybe thousands, of articles and blog posts on the subject. Not to mention, countless television shows, interviews, and a few actual college courses as well. So I have a little bit of background on the subject of parenting beyond just popping out babies. And the one conclusion I have come to about the exact “right way” to raise children – it does NOT exist!

I breastfed all of my children for at least the first few months, some longer than others according to what they each needed, not because it was a “trend” or “the thing to do”. It was what I needed to do for each of them. I think every mother should be encouraged to breastfeed if she can and, if she wants to, but that should be up to the mother, its no body else's business. And for those who find it “offensive” when mother's feed their children in public, I just want you to know I find it offensive when you eat in public too, but you don't hear me bitching about it so STFU. Don't like it? – Don't look at it. It really is as simple as that.

I used cloth diapers with two of my children as babies, but not out of any real “environmental concern”. We were poor, I could not afford to buy disposable diapers all the time, especially with two in diapers at the same time! And when we lived out at “The Farm” (aka “Camp Purgatory”) we didn't have waste removal services (no garbage man) out there. We had to haul our refuse to the “sanitary landfill” (the dump) or dispose of it ourselves (incinerate it). Now if you have ever smelled a disposable diaper burning, then you will understand that this is not an option, and if you have any idea how many diapers a child can go through you will understand that storing them up to haul to them dump is also not an attractive alternative. Cloth diapers were our only practical choice. So I do believe that cloth diapers are a fine way to go, if you can do it, but my goodness there is nothing like the freedom of the disposable ones. What somebody needs to do is figure out how to make then biodegradable cheaply and yet still be functional, that would make everybody happy I think. Too bad the only economically feasible solution for that is currently illegal.

My point is that I do not care what you think, I do not care who you are, or what qualifications or authorizations you think you have, if you do not understand that every child is different then you do not understand anything about raising children. There is no one “right way” because there are no “right” children. Sorry, they do not exist, or if they do, they are extremely few and far between, and I have certainly never met one.

Children are little people. Every single one is different, unique. This necessitates a different way of dealing with each one. You give to each one according to his/her needs, and expect from from each one according to their abilities, that is a good way to think about it I guess. If I had tried to raise my intellectual, empathic child in the same way that I raised the child with the strong physical/spatial intelligence somebody would have been miserable. The only wrong way to raise children is to put them in a box, either metaphorically or actually. Unfortunately this is exactly what a lot of people do. I hated sending my kids off to school. I hated seeing them in that box. I hated what the teachers had to do in order to try to make sure all of the children fit within their box.

Children need love, acceptance, nurturing and guidance. I have tried to raise my children with love, respect and honesty, and just a touch of intimidation when necessary. Today, my oldest son is my best friend, but my youngest sons still know that mom is the boss (along with dad of course). All of my kids have eaten junk food, and spent way too much time sitting around playing video games and watching cartoons, but none of them have ever been over-weight or unhealthy. I smoked during my pregnancies, and guess what? - the only child who ever had any health problems - actually died when I quit smoking! Now I know I cannot prove that the stress of quitting smoking caused my son to be still born, but no one can prove to me that it didn't either. So if it is not your baby in a woman's belly – STFU about what she chooses to do or not do when she is pregnant.

I guess my thoughts on raising kids are kinda like my thoughts on everything else in life - all good things in moderation, and mind your own freaking business. I am never going to be a perfect parent. I accept that. But my kids are happy, healthy, (mostly) reasonably well-adjusted people who know their own value. Did I make mistakes? Yep! Still do, probably every day. But that is okay, no one is perfect. Should I have my children taken away from me because I smoke around them, even though they are perfectly happy and healthy? I don't freaking think so. Should someone else be allowed to tell me what religion I must teach my children? Or what food I have to feed them? Or what lies I have to tell them? I don't think so. Unless you have proof that I have actually harmed my children in some way, stay the freak out of my parenting, and I will be happy to stay out of yours. And no, that doesn't mean that if you don't like my parenting, you get to stalk me and invade my privacy until you find proof of “harm” either.

I know there are really bad parents out there who seriously damage their children's fragile psyches, but there are a lot of pretty decent parents who damage their kids too. Every parent is gonna make mistakes because they are human beings. Fortunately kids are resilient creatures, just like people. If you don't try to stop them from being happy I think they will be fine. There are certain basic human needs that we all have, like the need for love and acceptance along with food, clothing and shelter. That is the most important thing to remember in parenting I think, the problems usually seems to occur when people miss out on that acceptance part.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Really Hate Politics


I know this may be hard for some people to believe, but I have never considered myself a political person. I don't like politics and I really have very little interest in the subject. Of course I have always had my opinions, which I will admit have evolved over time, but I have never really even shared my views on most subjects, not even with the people closest to me. I was told by my family as a teen-ager that while it was nice that I was forming my own political beliefs, I should from that point forward always remember to “keep them to yourself”. Literally, that is a direct quote. So, I always have kept my beliefs to myself.

I have voted in most of the elections since I became eligible to vote. I have voted for Democrats, and I have voted for Republicans, and at the local and State level I have voted for a LOT of independents or third party candidates. But I have never supported, or “campaigned” for any candidate. And while I have studied our system of government, and I know how it is supposed to work, the only real interest I have ever had in government is in keeping it out of my life! Which is exactly why I cannot keep my opinions to myself anymore. There is too much at stake, not just for my life, but for the lives of my children and everyone else's children. The same outspoken minority that came out of the closet spewing hate and cruelty in the name of their “God” in the 1980's here in the US, the “Moral Majority” {who were never anywhere near a majority of anything except crazy), have returned with a vengeance and it appears to me that they are trying to bring about Armageddon so that they can “prove” their religion is right and they can all be raptured up to heaven and “live” happily ever after.

I would have preferred to stay out of the whole election conversation all together this year, but when everything I hold Dear about this country is being attacked at every turn I just can't sit idly by anymore. I have to speak up. And even if no one ever hears me, I have to keep talking. I cannot just watch these people trying to force their hypocritical, judgmental, holier-than-thou BS done the throats of every man, woman and child in this country, and around the world. I have to speak out against the hate, the intolerance, the shear stupidity that all of the Republican candidates for President are spewing, because I know I could never look my children in the eyes and tell them I remained silent in the face of what I see as an all out assault on everything that I believe the United States of America should stand for. I don't think I could look myself in the eye anymore either.

I hear people talking about the “Republican War on Women” all the time. What I am seeing though is a Republican War on America (and the rest of the world for that matter). I know I am crazy and all that, but I thought that the foundations of America were built on Personal Freedoms and Responsibilities. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Am I misinterpreting those words? Do they not mean what I think they do? Yes, I know it says “men” and it would certainly seem that the GOP would like that to be taken literally, and I know that it actually only really included “white men” in it original application, and again it seems to me the GOP would like to return to that definition as well, but the main basic concept of those words have always signified Personal Freedom and Personal Responsibility to me. The “right” to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, requires that we do not infringe on anyone else's rights by exercising our own.

Like I said, maybe I am just crazy. The Republicans seem to be telling me that anyone who does not want the GOP to micromanage their personal lives while permitting them to rape and pillage the world in their business lives, is somehow “crazy” or “immoral”. I know I cannot be the only person who finds it extremely offensive to have a Republican candidate tell me that I have no morals, that my children should be turned into slave labor in exchange for an 3rd rate education, that I should not even be allowed to raise my children because I do not worship the almighty dollar and that I should be put to death for taking responsibility for my own medical care when he refuses to provide any care of any kind for anyone, has divorced, not just one gravely ill wife for a younger “prettier” women, but two now, and has lied, cheated and stolen from the American tax payers for decades on end! I am sorry I cannot stay quiet when I am being personally attacked at every single debate and in every single speech. And, yes, I realize it is not really personal, he doesn't even know I exist and he has certainly never called me out by name in the horrendously disgusting way that some unfortunate individuals have been personally attacked by some of the GOP membership. But when everything you care about and everything you believe in is being threatened and attacked at every turn by someone who has never met you, and has no factual basis for his claims, it really becomes quite personal.

So, they brought me into this. I didn't want to be involved, but they didn't leave me any choice. As much as they may try to claim that an Atheist has no morals, I feel an extreme moral obligation to speak out against their hate-filled, judgmental hypocrisy. I owe it to myself. I owe it to my children. I owe it to my country, and the rest of the world. If we are to ever have a future that we are proud to leave or children with, we must all stand up and speak out for Love, for Freedom, for Humanity, otherwise their hatred and greed will be the end of us all.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Joy (and Terror) of Writing Again


Oh my goodness we had a beautiful day here at Mother's house today! The sun was shining and it actually almost made it to being warm outside. I spent 4 hours in the front yard cleaning salt grass out the first of several flower beds that haven't been really touched since last Spring. We don't really get a lot of weeds, the salt grass chokes the rest out I think, but that damn salt grass is a nightmare! I will never get rid of it. It can't be done. The damn roots run at least 3 feet and sometimes much further underground and are branched a thousand times each I swear! Okay, so that is an exaggeration, but not by much. My fingers are sore, my knees and my back are aching, but I sure do feel good! To finally be outside in the sunshine after being cooped up in the house since the end of October was exactly what I needed today!

It is still early in the day (for me at least) and I probably should get off my skinny little butt and go out to my studio to get some other work done, but I am tired and I would rather sit here and type than stand out there and do any of the dozen or more tasks awaiting me out there. Its funny, I don't think I could have imagined myself saying that even a year ago. Well, that I was tired and didn't want to do anything, yes, I say that all the time, but that I would rather type than play out in my studio when it is actually warm enough to be out there? That I wouldn't have even considered. I even had a blog back then, but I never got involved in it like I have this one. It is hard to get excited about writing when you aren't allowed to write about 90% of the things that are important to you because they might offend somebody. Now that I no longer give a crap, blogging has become much more fun!

I am so very glad to have gotten back into writing. I remember when I was a kid and I first discovered how much I loved to write. Back then there was no computers at home, and I never could learn to type very well, so I wrote everything out by hand on paper. I mentioned in an earlier post I think that I still have boxes of those papers out in my studio. I tried to keep a copy of everything I wrote. And I wrote a lot, from about the age of 12 until I was 22. I had to quit writing when I married my first husband because he didn't like it and would use anything I wrote down on paper against me in one way or another.

When I bought my first computer in 1997, I tried to start writing again, but he just made my life so miserable over it that I finally restricted my writing only to what was required for school just to try to keep the peace. Even after I left him 3 years later I just couldn't get comfortable with writing again. I was always so worried about upsetting my mother with what I wrote that I just couldn't write anything. I had the most awesome Creative Writing teacher in High School and she always told me to write from what you know. Well when the life you have lived and the things you believe in are so totally contrary to the people who claim to care about you, it makes it difficult to find anything from “what you know” that you are “allowed“ to write about.

But as I said, now that I don't give a crap anymore, the whole world has opened up to me, and I want to talk to it. Not everybody is gonna like what I have to say, and as much as anyone might want to think so now, no one is ever going to agree with everything I write (trust me just give me time). I don't ever write with the intent to hurt anyone or to offend anyone even, that just seems to come naturally to me. I know I have strong opinions and beliefs that are kinda uniquely my own, but I came by them honestly, I earned them, and I do not apologize for them. I might apologize for offending you when I know I am being offensive, but I won't stop and I won't apologize for saying what I think needs to be said.

And that is the biggest surprise to me I think, I never really wrote about what I believed or the things I cared about before. I wrote fiction, and I wrote poetry, and I liked to write research reports, but I never kept a diary or a journal. I never wrote down my thoughts or beliefs because I was so frightened that other people would use them against me. Mostly because any time I had tried, that was exactly what happened. I had a therapist once while I was married to my ex who wanted me to write down my thoughts and feelings as part of my therapy, Somehow my ex got a hold of some of what I had written and tried to use it against me in our divorce, and when that did not work he used it constantly to try to poison my children, until my own daughter hated me so much that she tore our family apart and has not spoken to me since. So yes, I know what it is to have your words come back to haunt you, especially when one sick twisted individual twists those words into things that were never said, or the things that were actually said by them are attributed to you.

So if people want to take offense to what I say, or to try to twist and pervert my words to try to hurt me again, then that is the price I will have to pay because I just can't go back to being silent. Too much is going too terribly wrong in the world around us for any of to stay silent any more. We all need to speak out against the injustice and hypocrisy and fight back for our lives, because that is what is at stake. Those who are destroying our countries and our world will not be stopped by our silence, our silence strengthens them. When we speak out for what is right, we strengthen ourselves, and everyone around us. So I will keep speaking, and I hope more of you will join me, in whatever way you choose. I hope you will find your voices and speak out against those who would deprive you of your freedoms, your dignity, or your rights.

Yes, to be perfectly honest, I am still terrified ever time I write a post and publish it online. I am always waiting and watching for the attack, never sure when or where it will come from. That's why the comments on this blog are “moderated” and why I monitor every post and comment on my Facebook page like a maniac, I know people are going to attack me for what I say. Thank goodness for the dang ban and delete feature on Facebook or I would not be able to write at all. I just can't stand to read the hateful attacks that have no basis in reality, they sadden me, and they make me angry. Not even so much because they are attacking me or my words, but their ignorance and intolerance is just so very disturbing. Those are the things I am fighting against more than anything, and it bothers me that people can't see that, or that they see something wrong with that. I just can't shut up anymore, probably more because of those who would disagree with me than because of those who actually want to hear it. The ignorant and intolerant need to hear what I am saying, and if I can get even one of them to stop and think about anything for even one minute, well then, I will call that a job well done.