Keeping the house, the kids and the hubby without breaking the bank, the earth, the people I love, or myself.

Six Random Things About Me

That British Woman strikes again! You can thank Gil for these six random things about me:

1) I have had 550 stitches in my face and head at one time and over a thousand after the facial reconstructive surgery that restored my face as close to its natural state as possible. Thanks to a brilliant plastic surgeon, I am not a monster.

2) I can still spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious thanks to a 2nd grade contest for which I won a kite and a box of sweet-hearts.

3) I once did a face-plant in a diving competition held at a lake in Texas and was so embarrassed by my frog-legged face flop that I swam as deep as I could and completely freaked out the rest of the divers, judges, and announcers all of whom were lined up on the edge of the dock anxiously awaiting my resurfacing. (What can I say...I was 16 and mortified. There was a guy I liked in the audience!)

4) I'm a night owl, but manage a regular schedule because I must. Whenever the mood strikes me, I will be wide awake at 2a.m though. I have been known to go to bed with the kiddies and get up at 4am, too. Once you have children the best hours of the day are the wee hours of the morning when you've had a full night's rest and the kids are still sleeping . . .

5) I tend to read a couple books at once. I've been doing this since University and no, I don't confuse the plot lines or characters at all.

6) I'm a natural messy on the outside with an anal-retentive organizer on the inside. You might see piles on every surface in my home, but my cupboards and closets are quite organized. *shrug* (Some people cram their mess into closets, I choose not to hide mine & keep my closets tidy!)

Now -- YOU are tagged! It's your turn!


Christmas Trees: The Good, The Bad, The Far Out and the Wickedly Ugly

I personally like eclectic, personal trees. Take ours, for example -- ornaments from the kids for the past 17 years, some lights, some garland, a topper and that's our tree. The folks who entered the World Wide Christmas Tree Contest lean towards themes and...well...take a look for yourselves...

In the My Kids Are Going to Need Decades of Therapy Anyway category, we have: I have no idea what all is going on in this scene (these scenes?)

What happens when a poinsettia vomits in your living room? And what is with the crown of fake golden prairie grass sprouting out of the top of the tree?

Poinsettias and bows and what the hell, let's just put out every single Christmas decoration we own and place them on this one side of the room.

And if you really want your kids to have nightmares, just impale Santa to the middle of the tree with a weird fake floral arrangement.


Again -- WTF???

And now for something completely different (I like different, unless I make sarcastic remarks in the captions):

I don't know either, but I like it!

Kinda cool.

I like it. I do!

Good use of wall space. Only problem I can see with it is storage when not in use.

I think there's a white tree underneath.

Finally! It's a tree and a place to put all those blasted Christmas Knick-Knacks that build up over the years!

My daughter would LOVE this!

I think I really like non-tree trees.

And in the category of You Just Had to Screw it up, Didn't You? These trees would have been fine if they had just stopped before . . .
...the damned ramp. What the hell is that, anyway?

...the extraordinarily wide purple ribbon.

...putting all that crap all around this perfect little tree. What's with the beer, anyway? Nothing says Christmas like a beer under the tree...

...adding the carousel horse to the stripper's pole. Come on, I'm all for turning the stripper pole that's installed in the living room into a festive Christmas "tree", but the horse just doesn't do it for me.

...ramming the tree upside down into it's base. Is that a wall-eye coming out of the "top" of the tree?

...shoving the silver coloured twigs into the top of the tree. What's with that?

Some classic trees I really like, despite the lack of personalization:

I just wanna hug it!

I love this upside-down tree. Having cats and kittens in our home most every holiday, this idea really appeals to me!

And a couple more on the Wrecktacular Side of things:
This is like the twig tree that I liked, except this one's on acid.

A dentist's Christmas nightmare.

Maybe it's the only way to cover up the crap-mountain in the living room.

Not only is it anorexic, but it's red and black!

I'm not sure there's even a tree under there!

Nothing says "redneck" like a bubble jug Christmas tree.


Christmas Getting to Know You

Because I'm just *that* bored . . . (and I haven't posted in awhile)

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? Brown paper wrapping that's compostable, re-usable gift bags & santa sacks.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial....for some reason the annual tree slaughter bothers me. Though real is more environmentally friendly. Before I switch to real (if ever I do) I'll figure out a way to recycle this puppy.

3. When do you put up the tree? Hubby puts the tree up. If it were left up to me, it'd probably get put up sometime around New Year's. Yes, I procrastinate tedious jobs like no one else. Yes, I find putting up a tree tedious.

4. When do you take the tree down? Hubby generally takes it down right after the New Year. Especially if cats or kittens are in the house.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don't mind it once a year...but I'd rather have my own homemade much lighter version.

6. Favourite gift received as a child? I never received a Christmas gift as a child. Though as far as gifts..probably the diamond necklace & ring my father gave to me. I'd still like to know who stole those, though I still think I know.

7. Hardest person to buy for? This year, my daugher.

8. Easiest person to buy for? The littlest kids....

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, but I neither believe it's a depiction of a historical event, nor do I place any religious significance on the scene. Ours is a beautiful hand-carved 30-some piece scene that my husband's uncle made just for us. For that simple reason it will always be featured in our home during the holidays.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards. Email this year. Canada post is scam. If I can't cross the border to mail them, they'll get emailed.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I guess lavendar lotions as that's how I learned I'm allergic to lavendar.

12. Favourite Christmas Movie? Can't say that I have one.

13. When do you start shopping? January, February...whenever I start seeing deals to sock away for the next holiday.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I haven't regifted one, but I know a few have been freecycled.

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies...fudge. If I can talk him into making them, DH's Nanaimo Bars.

16. Lights on the tree? I haven't the foggiest.

17. Favourite Christmas song? Cartman's O Holy Night.

18, Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home. This is immediate family time.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Dasher, dancer, prancer, vixen, donder, blitzen, Cartman, Kyle, Oh wow I think my allergy/sinus pills just kicked in. . .

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I really really don't like angels. It's a star or a spire.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One for the kiddies on Christmas eve all the rest are opened THROUGHOUT the day on Christmas.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Just about all of it except for the family togetherness with the kids & hubby. The shopping, the presents, the decorating, the messes, the cooking and cleaning, the marketing, the CHRISTians, the anti-Christians, shoppers, shopping, marketing, stores, traffic, stores, insane drivers, stores, dumbass gifts showing up in every damn store and on every damned's all annoying.

23. Favourite ornament theme or color? Blue & silver theme.

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Really don't do much for Christmas dinner. Busy eating chocolate letters & playing with the kids (new toys lol!)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I'd really like a kitchen aid mixer or a digital camera to replace the broken one....but that's not gonna happen. It's moisturizer, socks & mugs for me.


I Miss Thanksgiving

Oh, it's true. There is a Thanksgiving in Canada. It's really just another holiday Monday. Here, people are having yard sales and washing their cars, mowing their grass, attending craft festivals (apparently a Thanksgiving tradition in these parts) or even catching up the laundry on Thanksgiving. That depresses me. If there's a meal, it's just another meal. No big deal. Families don't come together. It would be too much trouble for just another Monday holiday. And Canadians are utterly baffled by the huge deal that Thanksgiving is in the states.

It's true --- in America, Thanksgiving is a Very Big Deal. It's THE big family holiday in the states. Families go to great lengths to be together. I wonder some if the holiday's popularity is a result of its placement at the end of a week as opposed to the beginning of a week as Canada's is.

If there is one thing I get homesick for it is Thanksgiving . I want so many people crammed into a house that you're bound to step on toes, bump into people, spill gravy on your neighbors and shout to be heard. I want twelve people in a kitchen trying to use 4 burners on a stove to heat 14 things. I want so many children underfoot that you don't even notice when they've stolen a plate full of cookies and devoured them long before the turkey(s) get carved. I want at least three disputes before anyone has left for their own homes. I want at least 4 people snoring in the living room after the meal is done waking suddenly when the football game is turned off to say "HEY!! We're watching that! What are you doing?" In my world, if there are fewer than 30 people or 15 desserts, it's really not Thanksgiving.

In my own rather large family we would all get together at one house. Everyone would chip in with the meal -- helping to prepare the meal or bringing prepared dishes. We had the standards: turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy (usually mom made this -- I still can't make it!), a couple different cranberry sauces, succotash, cottage cheese and pineapples suspended in extra-jiggly green Jello, several pumpkin pies and usually a cheesecake or two, along with whatever new recipes someone wanted to try out. One year I was responsible for bringing the succotash (which is baby green lima beans and corn in a milk and butter sauce). I had never purchased this. I had never prepared it. Much to several people's horror, I showed up with mature (white, large, dry) lima beans and frozen corn and nearly ruined the meal!

Many years ago, my father started the tradition of sending around a stenographers notebook to have everyone write down what they were thankful for. There were just too many people to simply announce our gratitude at the table. Gaining full attention from this crowd would have been as easy as keeping my oldest brother out of the turkey later that night! The item most frequently expressed on those pages was family. While my family -- like every family -- has its quirks, I surely am thankful for them. I deeply miss this ritual of excess. Along with the overabundance of gastronomical delights, our homes were filled to bursting with merriment, fellowship, laughter, noise, and especially love. How could I not miss it and all of us together?

We haven't gotten together for Thanksgiving since 2003. It was my father's last Thanksgiving. I don't know whether he was the glue that held this family's traditions together or if the pain of his loss is still so acutely felt that a family gathering would renew that soul-scaring grief. It's true, we are scattered about the world a bit, but I think we could do it. I'm in Canada, my brother's in Colorado, two sisters in Pennsylvania, Mom and oldest brother are in southern Ohio, nephews in various states. I still think we could manage, though we probably need to start planning now.


Tough Times All Over

You know we're in an economic crisis. You know people are getting laid off in droves. You know the prices of everything have gone up. It's no wonder food banks are reporting that they're running out of food. Usually at this time of year, giving goes way up as people feel the need to give during the holidays. It seems everyone's feeling the pinch as more people are in need and fewer people are giving.

So, while I pinch pennies and stretch my grocery dollar as far as it can possibly be stretched, I'm making it a point to donate to the food banks every time I shop for groceries. If everyone just put one or two items in the donation bins at the stores, can you imagine how far it would go?

Oh, the things we could do . . .


Veterans Day / Remembrance Day

Today we take a moment to remember those who've either given the ultimate sacrifice for peace or have served beside those who did.

I have a long list of family members who have done so.

My grandfathers on either side served in World War I. Though my maternal grandfather was too old to serve overseas, he took his position in the home guard very seriously.

My father served in World War II in Italy. He was but a boy. Luckily, he survived. As did his brother, who was among the men of the US Army at The Battle of the Bulge. Another Uncle was at Iwo Jima. Uncle Bob (the last one mentioned) left his youth, his health and his vigor on Iwo Jima. He was so severely shell-shocked after that battle that when he was released from the Veteran's hospital in Hawaii after his recovery, the police arrested him for drunk. He wasn't drunk. He was terribly injured, hadn't managed balance yet and would forever remain a bent man. He passed away only last year.
My mother served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

One of my sisters is a veteran of the Army Reserves.

My brother served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is thankfully safe on American soil at long last.

Two of my nephews have served. One in the Marines during the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom. He's now in the Army!

We lost a cousin in Vietnam, a man I'll never know.

And to all those who have served and sacrificed, thank you.


The People Have Spoken

Thank you, America!

Now, let's just get to work.


I Can Hardly Wait 'Til This Time Tomorrow

When the votes are counted and we finally know!

I was surprised to learn today that one of my brothers will vote for McCain. Actually, all of my brothers will probably vote for McCain. The two oldest ones because they're racist. Simple fact, folks -- they are. My little bro, though...I always thought him a thinking man. I viewed him as the type to find information on his own and sort it out for himself. But, he's going the way of the military man. I hope it's just a military thing and none of the lies he's heard from McCain's campaign.

None of them of course have talked to me during the campaign or about the campaign. Perhaps it's that my politics are too well known.

Politics aren't a reason to divide a family, though, and they don't.

I do, however, get incensed when people (my mother) say things like "I tell you one thing. I won't vote for that damned Muslim!" WHAT? How loud must we shout it from the rooftops? When you're dealing with that kind of small mindedness, there is no evidence or argument you can present to educate a person.

Most, if not all, of my sisters will vote for Obama. Isn't that interesting? Men against him, women for. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have 4 sisters and only 3 brothers. (YAY!) Our five votes beat your four. Neener neener neener.

Oh, and mom, if it's really that you just can't vote for "that damned Muslim" and don't feel so good about the other guy either, go ahead and vote for Nader. :D

My eldest sister and I were talking the other day about what an Obama presidency would mean. We were discussing how it always takes a Democrat to fix the budget shortcomings and damages that the Republicans do when in office. It happened after Reagan, when Clinton went in and paid off our spiraling out of control national debt and deficits. It's going to happen again now with Obama. And we discussed just what it means to be African American in America and have an African American president. Do you think things will be so different from how they are now? Sadly, I don't. I do think that it will be the first step of many in ending the thoroughly entrenched anti-colour racism in America, but it will not eradicate it in the next four years. It won't end the 'good ole boys clubs' that are the CEOs of nearly every company in the US and the trickle down advantages that power lends to people of a paler persuasion.

Go ahead and say it. That's right. I'm so white I glow in the dark. It's true. I have two biracial children and was married to an African American man. I saw it when he was laid off from his job for lack of work when he took out 40 -- that's right -- FORTY resumes to companies that were hiring for jobs that he was perfectly qualified for to be turned away. He'd say he didn't want to apply for work in such and such town that they were too racist. I wouldn't let that stop me. No. I couldn't believe my country was still so backward. This was the 1990's. It's not true, I said. You go. You apply. You watch what happens. And we did. After two months with no income, he had no choice but to apply for and accept the one position where he was given an offer. What was it for? A cleaner. Sure. It's perfectly acceptable to hire a person of colour for a service position. (The other positions were labor jobs all things for which he had experience, nothing that would change the world.) Then I'd hear it, too. Because of my own race, ignorant people assume I am as ignorant as they are. They would tell me things like, "oh, you don't want to live in that neighborhood ..... " and they'd look around to see who was within earshot and tell me, in a conspiratorial whisper: "there are a lot of blacks there." Wow. I always enjoyed the looks on their faces when I would whisper back in the same conspiratorial tone: "Really? That's awful! I'm married to one of them, too!"

People like that make me ashamed of my own heritage.

I think in ten years, women, blacks, and all other people of colour in the states will still have to work 10 times as hard, achieve 10 times as much, go through 10 times the rigorous proving trials to be judged half as good as their white counterparts. Why is that? You've got the Southern diehards who still cling to the racial hierarchy of slavery times. You've got the wealthy white elitists who still view anyone not of their class as lesser people. You've got the media. I think it is the biggest culprit. You can watch any newscast anywhere in the United States at any time and simply see how much video time is dedicated to showing black criminals and how little video time is dedicated to the white ones. The white criminals reported in the news are clearly "alleged," minimal images are flashed for their stories, and very little airtime is given to those stories. Instead, the focus goes on black crimes/criminals. The message is clear: fear the blacks.

Those of you who only visit the states occasionally, pay attention to the newscasts and you'll see how the media supports the racism in America. I find Canadian news refreshing. Everyone gets equal billing if they're committing crimes and actually crime reporting isn't given the devoted attention it here that it is in the states. There is more positive news reporting here, more current events, more of a world view given to even the local news than anything you could ever watch in the states. Also, all the news reporters don't come from the same package. I love that! Though it's still old white men who have the top anchor spots, you see women of every shape and colour in top spots as well. I love that there are technically overweight newswomen. I don't think that's even possible in the states, though I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

I know I've gone down the garden path tonight. The brain is engaged and just rambling along till we get those numbers in about 23 hours. I'll go ahead and try to sleep now.

If you're American, GET OUT AND VOTE tomorrow! Just do it.


If Obama Ran his Campaign like McCain

We would be hearing things like:

Prepared to lead when he can't even take care of his Senatorial commitments?

  • McCain holds the record as the most absent senate member having missed 64% of his votes. At one point he missed five straight weeks! I can understand his absence during the campaign, but even prior to it he was among the most absent Senators. Ah well, he doesn't need to work! His wife is loaded! Why bother to show up?
McCain supports torture
  • in 2006, McCain voted AGAINST an amendment before the Senate that would establish one interrogation standard across all government, military and CIA, and would ban waterboarding.
McCain supports teen pregnancy
  • By repeatedly voting against amendments that would expand sex education and contraceptive education for teenagers with the intention to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
  • Strongly opposes public funding for birth control
  • Strongly supporting abstinence-only sex education for teens (because it works so well!)
McCain says he believes in the sanctity of life ... except when he wants to see people killed
  • Strongly supports the death penalty
  • Supports broadening the use of the death penalty
McCain: more of the same -- yet another underachiever floating through life on the benefits of nepotism
  • Like the current administration lead, McCain graduated at the bottom of his class. 394 out of 399.
McCain: more of the same -- uses his family's pull (or his wife's money) to get what he wants
  • Despite his extremely low standings at the Naval Academy, he was pushed ahead of more qualified candidates and trained as a Navy pilot where he promptly destroyed five navy planes
McCain: an honorable man who leaves his crippled wife for a newer, younger, richer one?
  • While McCain was a POW in Vietnam, his first wife, Carol, was horribly injured in a car accident. When McCain returned his former swimsuit model wife did not look anything like the woman he'd last seen. He stayed with her another six years using his pull as a Navy Pilot to fly off to carouse and have extra-marital affairs. Then he divorced the now misshapen and broken Carol and married Cindy one month after the divorce. Cindy is the heir to an Arizona brewing fortune and young enough to be John's daughter at eighteen years his junior. (I'm trying to see the honor in this. Trying. Squinting real hard. Coming up with bupkus.)

Ahh, but thankfully, that's not the kind of campaign Obama's run.


Barack Obama's Message to America

While I cannot get the channel that played this tonight (it's American and doesn't come in for me), I did watch the video on Youtube.

Here is a run-down of his policies (editorializing is my own, everything else is directly quoted):

He begins by mentioning the current economic crisis that is a result of the past 8 years' failed economic policies. Immediately he promises to restore the wealth of US economy and its middle class.

Obama's rescue plan for middle class:

  • cut taxes for families making LESS than $200k
  • tax credit for hiring new employees in the US
  • eliminate tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas
  • freeze foreclosures for 90 days
  • low-cost loans for small businesses

What laws he has in mind, I do not know, but he feels that companies should be held legally accountable for promises made to their employees. If a company spends its employees' retirement funds and then files bankruptcy, leaving those workers without their retirement -- that company should have to pay! (YES!)

Health care reform
  • improve information technology to improve the healthcare that is provided
  • required coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions (most insurance companies will exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions with some outrageous exception like the second Tuesday of the third week of the 15th month of the year.)
  • lower health care costs for families by $2,500/year (my own insurance cost just about that much out of my own pay, my employer chipped in the other half. However, many employers do not offer health care coverage so those employees have to pay the FULL amount. I have been unable to find a policy that would cost me as an independent buyer what my employer-sponsored plan cost both my employer and myself.)

Obama's Plan for Energy Independence
  • will invest $15billion/year in energy efficiency & renewables --- wind, solar, and bio-fuels --- this will create 5 million clean energy jobs over the next 10 years
  • help auto companies retool for fuel efficient cars
  • tax credit to help people afford fuel efficient cars
  • tap the US' natural gas reserves to further reduce dependence on foreign oil (yet mcCain says all we need to do is dig more oil wells)
  • expand domestic oil production
  • call on all Americans to conserve in a new era of responsibility
  • invest in clean coal technology

Federal Spending
  • Plans to cut government spending beyond expenditures
  • Promises to go through the federal budget, line-by-line, eliminating programs that do not work & make the ones we do need work better & cost less

Obama's Plan for Education Reform
Opening his plan with the statement that we have a moral obligation to provide EVERY CHILD a world-class education, he lists these plans:
  • Invest in early childhood education
  • Recruit new teachers and pay them higher salaries (new teacher salaries are at or below the national poverty level)
  • Demand higher standards & more accountability
  • Tax credit to cover tuition @ public colleges/universities in exchange for serving their communities or their country
Obama's plans to Defend our Liberty
  • Change policy in Iraq (currently spending $10b /month in Iraq) yet Iraq has a $79b surplus
  • Rebuild the military
  • Renew tough direct diplomacy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons
  • Curb Russian aggression
  • Refocus efforts on finishing the fight against Al Qaeda & the Taliban in Afghanistan

If you'd like to watch the video yourself, here it is:

I am simply so impressed by Barack Obama. He is insightful, incredibly intelligent, unafraid to think and act "outside of the box." He is decisive and optimistic. He's honest. He plainly states again and again that we are not going to get out of this economic crisis overnight. Warren Buffett approves Obama's economic plan. I think that he is the hope for tomorrow.


Dispelling more Barack Obama Lies, Innuendo, Conjecture, Rumour and Distortions

Lie #1: Obama wants to kill babies. John McCain made that statement in the final presidential debate. McCain knew the statement was an extreme perversion of the truth. McCain knew he was doing more than distorting facts. McCain knew the facts behind Obama's vote in Illinois against a bill requiring doctors to make life-saving efforts for an infant that was the subject of a late-term abortion. There are two reasons Obama (along with nearly all the others voting on that particular bill) voted against it: 1) there is already a law on the books regarding this instance, not to mention doctor's Hippocratic oaths demand that they do exactly that regardless what the laws say and 2) the bill, as it were written, made no provisions regarding saving a mother's life and essentially outlawed late term abortion in any case whatsoever, including a case where it would save the mother's life. For detailed information on Barack Obama's stance on abortion read these excerpts from his own speeches and interviews.

Lie #2: Obama wants to subjugate all women in the style of radical Islam. Obama is not Muslim. This lie is just another spin on the proposition that Obama is Muslim. First, there's nothing wrong with being Muslim. Second, Obama is not a Muslim. There is no evidence whatsoever to support that claim. There is a wealth of evidence to support Obama's Christianity. If Obama wanted to subjugate women, why on earth would he fight so tenaciously to preserve her right to choose?

Lie #3: A vote for Obama means death to Israel. This is from Joe the Plumber. Apparently, Joe the Plumber is nervous about having higher taxes should he hit the magical $250,000 income bracket. So he's been making campaign stops with John McCain and talking to the people. This is one of his assertions. Joe the Plumber is now an expert on international affairs. Everything Obama has asserted regarding Israel and Iran sum up to he knows exactly what the score is. He knows fully well that Iran is Israel's biggest threat. He has stated repeatedly that the Iran's threat to Israel is very real and his goal is to END THAT THREAT. No splitting hairs on that one. The source for the lie: John McCain himself. He distorted several speeches given by Barack Obama by cutting out copious amounts of text so that the end result didn't even come close to resembling Obama's original statements. Do we want someone so utterly deceptive and duplicitous in office as John McCain has proved he is again and again with his dirty campaign tactics? I sure as hell don't. We've had enough of the lies and cheating with W.
Check it out for yourself at


Polls aren't looking too good for McCain

There are about a million polls out there. I don't consider them an accurate predictor of the election, but I'm enjoying the diversion a bit.

Here are a few:

Electoral Projections Done Right by Five Thirty Eight

The notoriously ultra conservative Fox has lots of anti-Obama rhetoric, but even their polls show Obama's favour.

USA Election Polls are reporting some momentum for McCain, but not enough to pull off a win.

Even Florida has pegged Obama in the lead.

Real Clear Politics shows 10 nationally recognized polls, all of them showing Obama in the lead.

And, if the world could vote in the 2008 US Presidential election, this poll shows the results.

By all means, people, this does NOT indicate Obama's got the Presidency all but tied up. YOU STILL MUST GO VOTE. Don't forget. If you need to file for an absentee ballot you have until the day AFTER the election to get your papers in to your local election office.


So good, you have to go see it for yourself

This links to a photoblog of Barack Obama. Just gives me chills. Incredible pictures.


Chicken Waldorf Salad

This is one of my favourite dishes. My family loves apples. Our staple meat is chicken breast. We probably have 100 different ways of preparing them, but tend to vacillate between 10 standards.

I had some leftover chicken breast (intentional leftovers so that I could have a quick & easy meal another night though I should admit, the first one was quick and easy too!)

I had some celery in the garden begging to be plucked.

I have a bushel of organic apples which make me drool just thinking about them. OH they're so good.

I use one apple per person for this recipe. Tonight we served four. Here's my quickie recipe:

4 Red Delicious Apples diced (a firm apple is best. I also like a mix of red delicious & granny smith)
4 ribs celery diced
leftover chicken breast
1/4 cup salad dressing (not mayonnaise unless that's your preference. We don't like the stuff. Besides it has WAY more fat in it than salad dressing like Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip Lite is gluten free!)
Sea salt

Wash the apples & celery. Core the apples, slice and dice them--don't peel them. Dice the celery. Sweet apples tend to oxidize quickly (turn brown) so I squeeze or sprinkle lemon juice on them as I place them in the bowl (don't overdo it -- it doesn't take much). I toss frequently so all the apples get some lemon juice on them. Dice the chicken breast. Stir in the salad dressing. You may need more salad dressing depending on the size of your apples and the quantity of chicken in your mix. Don't overdo it, don't want the salad dressing to dominate, just to accent and hold everything together. Top with sea salt and paprika to taste. Stir well. Serve cold.

Other additions: you can add grapes, sliced in half. I add walnuts when I don't have much meat to add.

Serving suggestions: have this as a sandwich filler stuffed into pitas, or open-faced on focaccia bread. Have this on a bed of lettuce. Have this all by itself!

The kids ate it all gone! Not a bit was left. The boys both had seconds!

Want another apple recipe? Check out my Apple Puff Pancake recipe.

I'll get back to posting more regularly now. I hadn't been feeling well for a while but things are looking up.


What's Wrong With Men?

I have to wonder this now and again. Despite the fact that I'm married to the greatest guy on earth, he still sometimes makes me wonder....what the hell?*

Tonight we're tag-teaming dinner prep. We're having apple puff pancake and breakfast sausages. Hubby's making the apple puff pancake. It's a Betty Crocker recipe. Of course, the Betty Crocker cookbook is MIA. Hubby goes to the computer and goes to the Betty Crocker site. It's no longer there. I tell him, "I blogged it. Just go to my blog & pull it up." He's got a bookmark toolbar link to my blog. All he needs to do is click it. Does he? No. He has to enter another recipe site and search for it. Now...there are lots of recipes out there for the apple puff pancake. Some of them require so many eggs they taste more like souffles than pancakes. So I roll over to his desk, steal his mouse from his control and click on my blog's link. Pull up the recipe and there it is. He gives me a look. You know....a look like, I woulda got there eventually, you just didn't give me a chance.

So tell me, why is it that when it comes to directions men always have to drive the longest route, pass 14 gas stations without stopping for assistance until finally and at long last he must stop because the car's damned near out of gas so that the wife can go inside and say "how the hell do we get to....?" Why?


The pancake was good. Even if the journey was a bit odd.

*I'm sure I never illicit this response in him. hahahahahaha


Dispelling the Barack Obama Myths, Lies, Rumors & Innuendo

The willingness of the American people to believe anything whispered in their ears has always surprised me. It shouldn't. I've been American all my life (we'll not discuss how long that's been.) The American people love a conspiracy. They love to believe they're in on some secret or have some hidden knowledge to which not many people have access. They do not love to check facts, do research, or find their own answers. I do.

I think that a large handful of Americans most fear Barack Obama because he is a man of colour and because he has Muslim sounding names like Barack, Hussein, and Obama. So....let's just get down to the facts:

RUMOUR: Barack Obama is a Muslim who will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
FACT: Barack Obama has never been a Muslim of any sort, radical or otherwise. His biological father was born Muslim but was not a practicing Muslim. His father was atheist or agnostic by the time Barack was born. Barack's early education in Indonesia was in Catholic school and secular public school. The public school was predominantly Muslim because that is the religion of the majority of the population. His religion lessons at this public school were Christian. Obama has been a member of the United Church of Christ since the 1980s, long before he ever entered the world of politics. The statement that he will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance is simply a lie.

Who started these rumours? Insight Magazine, a conservative leaning political magazine formerly owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Moon has said that he is the second coming of Christ and that he "appears in the world as the substantial body of God Himself." Moon has always had conservative Republican leanings and ensures that his major media outlets promote those leanings. He also owned the Washington Times. He is also known for his belief that the Holocaust was retribution against the Jews for failing to support Jesus Christ when he was alive. Fox News is the other source of this rumour. Fox News has long been known as a conservative right wing supporting news source, which leaves neutrality in the dust to further its political views. Who debunked these rumours? CNN.

RUMOUR: Barack Obama is the Antichrist.
FACT: Wow. Leave it to the American religious Reich to come up with this one. This one really illustrates how fundamentalist Christians in America use fear and people's ignorance to ally those people to their churches. More allies, more donations, right? Apparently there are viral emails out there stating that Barack Obama meets Revelations' description of the anti-Christ. The book of Revelations contain no descriptions of an anti-Christ. There are lots of very odd beastly monsters described, though I really think it's a stretch to say that Barack Obama resembles a seven-headed, ten-horned sea creature. (Again, wow.) Within the same viral email, the claim is made that Revelations reveals that the Antichrist will be a 40-something Muslim. Interesting, this claim. Especially since the Muslim religion didn't even come into existence until a few hundred years AFTER the book of Revelations was written. And were it true, Barack Obama isn't and never has been a Muslim.

RUMOUR: Barack Obama was sworn in on the Quran.
FACT: This is simply another lie. There is a Minnesota congressman, Keith Ellison, who was sworn in on the Quaran. Barack Obama was sworn into office on his own family bible.

Soon as I hear a few more of these rumours being used as reasons not to vote for Obama, I'll post them and their counters.

Sadly, I really think the root to the average American believing these rumours is based in white Americans' longstanding fear and suspicion of black men. The thought alone depresses me. So many Americans would forgo the hope that this young man can bring to the nation and instead embrace the continued economic degradation dumped upon us by Republican after Republican...just because that hope is not pale.



Wearing my Politics on My Sleeve


Lunch-meat Free Lunch Ideas

With the recent Listeria outbreak here in cold luncheon meats, we're all trying to come up with lunch meat free lunch ideas. Even though all the offending products have been removed from store shelves, my confidence has certainly been shaken and I do not want to use lunch meats anytime soon. I think it will be a long, long while before I purchase any again (even though our usual brand isn't manufactured by the company that made the contaminated meat.)

I pack my kids' and husband's lunches every day. Lunchmeat always made things easy, but I never depended solely on them. Now I simply won't use them.

Lunch Entrées :

  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Tuna Salad sandwiches (For either of these I use a food processor to make them and it makes it so quick and easy. They're also of a more spreadable consistency which makes them last longer and makes them easier to use.)
  • Cream cheese (and jam if wanted) sandwiches, my son prefers plain cream cheese.
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Homemade ham cut in cubes along with some cubed cheese
  • Salad
  • Leftover chicken or turkey sandwiches
  • Pita pockets filled with salad fixings and topped with leftover meat (chicken, turkey, ham). I pack salad dressing in a small container and they can add it at lunch time.
  • Tatziki spread on whole grain bread with cucumbers and sliced tomatoes. My daughter adds the sliced tomatoes at lunchtime. I pack them in a bowl separate from the sandwich.
  • Cereal and milk (though they don't get this for breakfast if they have it for lunch.)
  • Pasta salad with everything in it (meat, veggies, cheese, the works)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
Snacks (I always pack two of the following):
  • Single-serve yogurts
  • Single-serve puddings
  • Jello (sometimes with fruit)
  • crackers of any kind
  • carrot sticks (or celery sticks, cucumber slices, etc) with ranch dressing in a small container
  • baby carrots
  • fruit
  • string cheese cheese
  • the occasional cookies (maybe once a month)
  • pretzels
  • the occasional single size bag of chips (less than once a month)
  • pasta salad that's just pasta and dressing

What alternatives have you come up with for lunchmeat free lunches?


Garden Fresh Red Salsa

Another 'what to do with my harvest' post... (this is only some of the harvest. We had two more large metal bowls full of peppers and Roma tomatoes that I didn't get a picture of)


  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes diced
  • 1/4 cup onion chopped coarsely
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Oregano or 3/4 teaspoon fresh diced Oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Jalepeno Pepper chopped coarsely (use a sweet pepper if you don't like hot & spicy foods)
  • 3/4 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro chopped or 1 teaspoon dried cilantro (might be called coriander leaves in your locale)
  1. Chop the tomatoes and Onion, blend them well
  2. Add all the other ingredients, blending well. Let stand for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours can combine. Can be served at room temperature or chilled. This recipe makes about 2 1/4 cups.
  3. BE CAREFUL when chopping your hot peppers! Wear gloves if your skin is sensitive to the oils in hot peppers and pay attention that there are no littles around waiting to snatch pepper pieces!

Yes, my little one did, the poor guy! He thought they were sweet peppers and grabbed & gobbled one before we could stop him. Milk -- lots of milk. Then he had some cheese. That seemed to do the trick. For grownups -- beer works very well to dissolve that pepper oil that burns so much!

So that's the straight recipe. We used 2 Cherry Bomb Peppers, 5 mini bell peppers (sweet, not hot), 1 habanero, 4 jalepenos, 4 hungarian wax (banana) peppers, 2 medium-small-sized onions, and 8 roma tomatoes as well as a handful of incredibly sweet and delicious cherry tomatoes. We have hot peppers and we're not afraid to use them! Here's our finished salsa (two quarts):

And here's what we did with it for dinner:

Grilled chicken breast, cubed, shredded cheddar cheese, LOTS of salsa and plain yogurt for me, sour cream for the rest of them! It was very good. Not very hot. We left no seeds in from the peppers.


Cutting Your Family's Grocery Bill - Part 5

Yes, there are a few more things you can do.

Take advantage of rewards programs
I believe judicious application of rewards programs is the best course. With a bit of thought, you can decide if the rewards program is worth it or not. Usually incentives are introduced regularly to help you earn more rewards, however that usually means you must make certain purchases. Do not purchase items you will not use before they expire. Do not purchase items that are priced higher than elsewhere (unless the reward earned would justify the added expense). Do not purchase items you do not use. Some stores have built-in rewards that include sale prices and earned bonuses for nothing more than showing the card when you check out. I strongly advise that you apply all other principles before delving into rewards programs.

Purchase large quantities of low-priced items you regularly use
When the meats your family uses most frequently go on sale, purchase up to a 3-month supply. You will need storage for these and deep freezers are a good investment. Our family eats mostly chicken breast for meat however the price in Canada is steep. On a regular basis, chicken breast starts at $6.00 a pound. When it's available for $1.99 a pound, I purchase several month's worth and store them in my deep freezer.

Any other grocery staples that you regularly use can be purchased in large quantities to take advantage of sales. Milk can be frozen. Dry goods generally do not present a problem stored properly.

Check the unit price
If you're accustomed to buying convenience foods or convenience sizes, you'll find greater savings in purchasing family-sized items in their stead. Check the shelf tags as these will show how much you're paying per ounce, pound, or 100-grams. Quite often you're paying 100% more for a single-serve than you will for a family sized item. You can store extras in the fridge or freezer if it's more than you can use at once.

Purchase reduced items and freeze or use immediately
Fruit, vegetables, breads, and even meats are reduced for clearance near their best-by date. These dates often give some lee-way for home use and are still good even by their sell-by date. If you cannot immediately use the produce, clean, chop and freeze it. Breads and meats can go directly into the freezer.

If coupons are available for your regularly purchased items, use them! Try to combine the coupon with a sale for greater savings. Consider whether the coupon for the name-brand product will offer greater savings than the store-brand product available. I haven't found many store-brands that I didn't like and often they are a much better value than the name brand is even with a coupon. For coupons to really work for you, you need to be judicious in their use. Do not purchase items you normally wouldn't simply because you have a coupon. That is not a savings for you. Full-value coupons or free offer coupons afford you the opportunity to try out a new product without having to purchase it. When it comes to items you would not normally purchase, only use a full-value coupon.

Purchase a deep freezer
In order to stock up on sale items, you need to have the storage. Deep freezers are a very economical way to stretch your grocery dollar. They are often available in the classifieds, on kijiji or craigslist, and I've often seen them on freecycle.

In my final posting on this topic, I'll review all the tips I've posted.


Heartland Forest, Niagara Falls, Ontario

This is the entry to the two-and-a-half mile trail system of the Heartland Forest. There is signage along the way that will educate and inform you about the various flora and fauna of this incredible Carolinian Forest.

Before you even enter the Forest, you'll see two large and lovely butterfly gardens. I saw a giant swallowtail butterfly, which I was unable to photograph. I saw others, too, but I couldn't tell you what they were other than pretty.

Some of that incredible Carolinian Forest.

This is the sign at the parking area. All of the Heartland Forest is wheelchair accessible.

The cabin.

She's trying to see the bear in there. I can see it. Many projects are in progress at the Heartland Forest.

A patch of jewel Weed. The flowers of these are orange and reddish.
Remember what I said about Jewel Weed in an earlier post?

It often grows near Poison Ivy and here is the Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy doesn't have a set of rules for easy identification. Sometimes its leaves are smooth-edged, and sometimes they're toothed. Just remember that old adage from your childhood camping days and honour it:
"Leaves of three, leave them be!"

Hiking is always an adventure. There is always a series of discoveries to be made.
Today, my daughter found this wonderful Hawk feather. How cool is that?

RJ found one of those threatened Fowler's Toads. I'm really glad I heard its mating call found at that link before hearing it in person. That would totally freak me out!
See the light line going down the center of its back and the dark spots on either side? Those, along with the elongate parotid glands which contact its prominent cranial crests are identifying features of Fowler's Toads. (The glands look like raised bumps behind the second set of black spots just behind the toad's head.)

I discovered a Mayapple with fruit:
I have rarely seen a Mayapple fruit. They are edible, however the skins and seeds are poisonous. The Mayapple is currently under investigation as a possible cancer fighter.

Roy discovered an adult Fowler's Toad:
Can you see it against the log? You may need to click on the picture to view it in more detail.

Here it is:

A little bit of the more-than two miles of trails in the Heartland Forest. Remember, it is all wheelchair accessible.

We didn't get to see the whole Hearland Forest as I did not realize that it was part of a protected wetland. The mosquitos were HORRIBLE! We were unprepared for the nasty buggies and we were all being eaten alive. So we ran out of the forest and spent some time exploring the butterfly gardens and ongoing construction outside of the Forest entry.

They do have a learning fish & frog pond in progress. Some people were already exploring its inhabitants with nets, but after the bug attack in the forest we did not want to be near a water source!

You can learn a lot more about the Heartland Forest at its website. There are also easy to follow directions. It's only a couple miles from downtown Niagara Falls. The Heartland Forest was rescued from designation for industrial development.

Upon entry to the unpave, gravel road that goes to the Heartland Forest, you can see all the destruction of habitat on the opposite side of the street. It was heartbreaking and very poignant to view after having visited the forest itself.

Judging from the regularly-spaced fireplugs along the entry road, it seems that Industrial Park will probably be complete in the next couple of years. Say goodbye to all that habitat (except for the protected Heartland Forest).

If you plan on visiting during warm weather, be prepared for the mosquitoes so you can enjoy the whole experience without having to run screaming from the bloodsuckers!


About This Blog

Saving money. Saving graces. Raising children, husbands and, sometimes, cats. Laughing. Living. Thinking. Doing. Life in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

About Me

I am a happily married woman with four children and various cats and kittens (fosters). I love to read and my favourite authors are George RR Martin, Thomas Hardy, Raymond Carver, PD James, Kurt Vonnegut, J. K. Rowling, and Margaret Atwood. I know there are only three women in that list (and none of them American), so if you'd like to suggest some I'm willing to give them a shot! And yes, I am an American living in Canada. (Hence the nick -- CannedAm.) I like it here. There are things about the states that I miss, but my love is here and this country has things to offer that my own does not. Things that make my quality of life much better than it ever was in Ohio. Guess I'm stuck here. Though there's a nice spot in the Appalachian hills where I'd love to spend my retirement.

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