Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Solid, Solid As A Rock

First, I need to give you a little background.

While I'm normally a very devoted rule-follower, in the kitchen I tend to walk on the wild side...much to my family's dismay.  I'm infamous for forgetting to purchase necessary ingredients and deciding on a whim to make a substitution.  Recipe, shmechipe!  That's my motto.

It often gets me into trouble.

Like a few nights ago.

I had a hankerin' for some Pecan Pralines and my favorite cookbook happened to have a MICROWAVE Pecan Praline recipe which sounded like it would be a snap.

Oh, a you need a little more background.

My friend Kim makes a FANTABULOUS microwave fudge.  It melts in your mouth like buttah.

I have tried rather comically THREE times to make this delightfully easy fudge.

It did not end well.

Kim says I'm the only person she knows that can screw up microwave fudge.

Ok, back to my story.

So, I skimmed the recipe and perused my pantry...

Here's where the wheels fell off my endeavor.

The recipe called for half-n-half.

I had flavored coffee creamers, fat-free milk and evaporated milk.

Hmmm...what to do, what to do?

I ruled out the Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer for obvious reasons.

I ruled out the fat-free milk because it just seems like fudge should have fat in it.

Which left the evaporated milk.

Why not?  It's a dairy product, right?

So I proceeded to mix it all up and pop it in the microwave just like the recipe said.

Everything seemed to be going fine after 4 minutes when I checked it and stirred, as directed.

I popped it back in for 5 minutes like the recipe said but after 3-ish minutes it started to smell...

And not a good smell either.

More like a burnt milk and sugar smell.

I still wasn't ready to give up so I boldy dropped it into blobs on the waxed paper while Wes looked on skeptically and I kept saying optimistically that maybe they were ok.

The smell was overwhelming.

Before I could get it all scooped out...

It set up like concrete.

Ok, no problem.  We'll just soak the bowl and spoon in hot soapy water, right?

Not so much.

Wes volunteered to finish cleaning up for me:

He's so helpful.

Not one to be daunted by failure, I pulled out my traditional stove-top praline recipe...which actually DOES call for evaporated milk.

Wes was dubious especially when he heard me muttering about my candy thermometer being broken and having to use the old-fashioned method to determine when it had reached soft-ball stage. (Sidenote: Thanks Mom for teaching me the cup of water method!)


Now, THAT'S a praline!

Once again my family is amazed.

And they have banned me from using any more microwave candy recipes.

Today I made Chewy Gingersnaps...except I was out of ginger.

They are actually more like Randomly Available Spices Cookies.

But quite tasty, thank you very much!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tales from the Deer Woods

My dad has requested a blog post about my children because it makes him feel lighthearted and apparently my last blog post was a real buzz-killer.  So I thought I'd regale you with a cute story involving my younger daughter, a gun and a couple of amused deer.

Last weekend was Youth Hunt here in AR which means that kids can hunt and kill pretty much any deer in any shape or form that they so desire.  My girls eagerly look forward to it every year.  We have a family place in the middle of nowhere where all the hunter-types in the family go to kill meat.  All the grandchildren in the family happen to be girls but that hasn't stopped their daddies from teaching them to do all things redneck.

My baby girl is the only cousin that hasn't killed a deer yet...well, except the baby, Faith.  She's just started walking so she's not packin' heat yet.  So, this weekend was a big deal.

Caitlin and her Pappaw spent the morning on the deer stand together and Wes was on a stand with Hayley not too far away.  He heard some gunshots and was so hopeful that Caitlin had finally gotten a deer.  Then the walkie-talkie squawked beside him and Caitlin said, "Dad, I just shot four times at some deer and missed!"

So they talk back and forth a bit and then she says, "And now I'm out of shells....and Dad, those deer are still standing there...and they're laughing at me!"

All I have to say is those deer better laugh while they can 'cuz their days are numbered.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Don't Hate Poor People or Children

Content Warning: If you are really into partisan politics, Republican OR Democrat, or if you frighten easily, (Tiff put your fingers in your ears right now and sing La La La La!) you should probably not read this post. I'm probably going to step on your toes or scare the snot out of you.

OK, still with me?

I've had a few requests to explain the health care debate, i.e. "I know the health care bill is bad but I'm not sure why." and "What's all the hub-bub about the government option?"

I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination.   I'm going to attempt to articulate my position which you should take with a grain of salt. Do your own research and form your own opinion based on your core values and principals.

We have actually had this same argument back in the 90s and we decided against universal health care.  Hillarycare, anyone?!  But if you're like me, you were young and healthy back then and thought you didn't need health care so you didn't really pay attention.   But now you've got aging parents and children and suddenly it's a discussion worth having again.

So let's start at the beginning.  Politicians in both political parties campaigned on health care reform.  During the campaign you heard this said a lot: "America is the richest country in the world!  It is unacceptable that 46 million hardworking Americans are uninsured!"  It was presupposed that everyone agreed with this statement; the only disagreement was on HOW to fix it.

No one ever challenges the idea that America is the richest country.  The claim is made to imply that we are so rich we can afford to pay more.  Not so much.  Let's say you have a neighbor who has a big, fancy house and a shiny new car in the driveway. You'd probably assume based on appearances that he's the richest guy in the neighborhood.  But if you knew that he had a first and second mortgage on that house and he borrowed the money for the car and he couldn't afford to pay his bills, would you still think he was rich?  Right.  Not so much. That's America.  And America paying for universal health care is like your bankrupt neighbor pulling out his Visa and charging a trip to the Bahamas.  It's just stupid.

Are there really 46 million uninsured?  Not so much.  That figure makes a great campaign line or eye-catching headline but it's exaggerated.  First, that figure includes approximately 10 million illegal aliens or other non-citizens who likely wouldn't qualify for health care anyway.  About 18 million of the remaining 36 million uninsured have a household income greater than $50,000 and over half of them have a household income of more than $75,000 which is more than enough to afford health insurance if it were a priority for them.  I'd be willing to bet that a lot of those households don't go without cell phones, cable and high-speed internet.  So if we eliminate all those people we're left with the ones who truly need help.  And we already help them.  Close to 30% of our country's population already lives under some type of government health care.  And another estimated 14 million American's qualify for it but haven't bothered to apply for it.  The true number of uninsured Americans is somewhere around 3% which is still too many but is vastly different from the number our politicians and media like to toss around.

Our health care system is not perfect.  Could we make some improvements?  Sure.  Do we need a new behemoth government program that we can't even afford?  Not so much.  If we were really serious about bringing down the cost of health care we could have done that already.  No, what we're really talking about is growing the size of government.  Because progressives think you are too stupid to manage your own life.  Government is their answer to everything.

Frankly, I think the whole debate can be settled by answering one simple question:

Do you want the same people who run the post office to cut your chest open for heart surgery?

Let's say you've decided you're ok with that risky proposition.  Let me ask you another question:

You think that a government who has brought us Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the IRS and the DMV can possibly run an efficient and cost-effective health care program?

Or ask yourself this:

Do you really believe that the government who gave us Amtrak can be expected to run a health care system that pays for itself?

If you're still reading this, by now I'm sure you've figured out that I'm not really in favor of nationalizing health care.  It's not because I hate poor people or because I want children to die in the streets.  I just happen to think that government is the problem NOT the solution.  Everyone complains about our "employer-based" insurance.  Do you know why we have that system?  Government poked its nose where it didn't belong and ,presto-chango, it created a whole new set of problems in addition to the one they were trying to fix.  During the Great Depression, government decided it was a good idea to mess with the free-market system by using wage controls.  Employers had to find another way to attract the best employees and since they couldn't lure them with higher wages they started offering fringe benefits like health insurance.  Then, in 1943 the IRS further encouraged employer-provided insurance by declaring them tax free.

That's just one example of government creating more problems than it solves.  So do you really trust them to get it right this time?  Do you really think they won't create a lot of unintended consequences with all the regulations in a health care bill?  I hope you're willing to bet your life on it....because you are.

In my next post I'll try to address the things that I think are wrong with the bill that just passed the House.  And believe me, there are many, many things.  It will take more than one post.  You'll need to plan to stay awhile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You

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"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."--Thomas Paine

When Thomas Paine penned these words in 1776, he was describing the beginning of the American Revolution. But these words have proven true time and again throughout our nation's history. Each time a crisis has arisen, brave men and women have risen up to answer Freedom's call.

These men and women are no "summer soldiers" or "sunshine patriots" who shrink from service. These are men and women who boldly go without reservation in the name of Liberty. These men and women consider the cost to themselves and their families and count it as gain in the name of defending America and her ideals.

We owe the men and women of America's armed forces a debt of gratitude that we can never hope to fully repay. From the American Revolution to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, these amazing men and women have served our Great Nation with honor and dignity. They have preserved our rights as individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, often at great personal sacrifice.

Please join me in giving a hearty Thank You to all of those who have served and continue to serve in our armed services this Veterans' Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Insert Clever Post Title Here

So today I went to Walmart (ugh!) and purchased all the items necessary to try Carpoolqueen's Roasted Vegetables and Orzo. It sounds yummy!

I was disappointed that the Tyson Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts were $7.54 for a 3-lb. bag. I can usually find them for $6.00! Which has nothing whatsoever to do with CPQ's recipe but I just thought you should know.

Sweet onions were down $0.40/lb but yellow squash were up $0.50/lb.

Can you tell that I LOVE my iPhone app "Grocery IQ"?

And there were NO eggplants. Just a big empty case where they should be. Was there a run on eggplants this morning? Did everyone read Carpoolqueen's blog and stampede to the produce section? Is there an eggplant shortage I don't know about?

Also, Walmart, I am on to your store brand scam. Del Monte Cut Green Beans and Whole Kernal Corn are $0.20 per can cheaper than the Great Value brand. Hmmmph!

And your Great Value Fruit and Grain bars are NOT the equivalent of Kellogg's Nutrigrain Bars. I don't care how much cheaper they are. They are nasty.

That is all.

Friday, November 6, 2009


My dad pointed out recently that I haven't been blogging much lately and since I'm his favorite blogger he finds that very disappointing. I must confess I've been in something of a bloggy slump. Do you ever just have so many things running around in your brain that you can't form coherent thoughts? That's me. So I'm going to set some of that stuff free by dumping it on you, my bloggy buddies. Here goes...

  • I am completely freaked out by all the Marxist/Mao-revering/anti-capitalists in the Obama administration.
  • At night, when I can't sleep, I worry about the Fed's monetary policies and the falling value of the dollar.
  • There's a pervy kid at my daughter's middle school that is really making her uncomfortable but it seems like no one at school believes her. She's strong and she'll be fine but it makes me wonder if this is a sign that I really do need to homeschool next year. Or would that be running away from our problems?
  • If I do homeschool her, how will that affect her socially? What about athletics? Will she miss Prom, Homecoming, Graduation or are those things even important? Will she be prepared for college? Can I really do this?
  • I'm the cash manager of sorts at work and yesterday when I called the bank to order change they told me they were out. Of ones. And won't have any more until Tuesday. Really? The bank is out of cash? Huh.
  • My family is gone this weekend to the farm because tomorrow is Youth Hunt in these here parts. I. am. so. happy. For them, of course. They love to hunt. I'll just have to suffer through the loneliness and having the remote all to myself and not having to prepare meals and not feeling guilty for laying in bed reading blogs all day instead of doing laundry.
  • I have lot of tasks to do that I've been putting off for a long time. Not big stuff but I just can't make myself do them.
  • I don't feel like myself these days. Uncomfortable in my own skin. Not sad. Not happy. Just...brittle. And burdened.
  • Global warming hysteria makes me CRAZY.
  • Glenn Beck had an emergency appendectomy this week and I miss him.
  • My baby girl is growing up and I'm not quite sure what to do with her right now. She's so different from her big sister, who is an open book. She's quiet and private, like me. I'm not even sure I really know her.
  • I'm beginning to feel a little festive about the upcoming holidays.
  • Right now I'm into comfort food and nesting. I think I just feel like I need to hunker down with the ones I love.
  • I'm terrified of the government takeover of health care. HUGE mistake. HUGE.

M'kay. That's enough.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Out To Pasture

*****Guest Blogger ALERT!!*****

Well, well, well, hello Lisa’s bloggy friends. Wes, here, the other half of the “smart” friend. Would that make me smart too? Not so much, just lucky to have a CPA/political junkie/marathon reader/wonderful mother/Godly woman in my life.

The time of the year is coming for our girls and me to be sent out to pasture by Lisa. We do all things hunting and riding over the next few months at our family farm.

We leave Lisa alone at home with our 3 dogs and 2 cats feeling sorry for herself that her family has left her. She really misses us…really!!

We were able to ALL go to the farm a couple of weekends ago for a family reunion. We left out Saturday morning after the last soccer game of the year for Caitlin. With the four wheeler loaded and all bags packed we took the hour and a half trip to the farm. We arrived to find out the party had already started.

Meet my Aunt Bessie.

The view from the house is out of a picture book.

Not quite the mountains of the land of
Mer but not bad for Arkansas.

My family was the first of all my brothers' families to get there so I decided we would go on a family four wheeler ride and beaver dam demolition derby.

Here are Caitlin and Hayley on the four wheelers and no, they are not 16... shhhhh! We have very strict rules about those things. It's all very safe, really. So we made it down into the “bottoms” where our first stop was busting out several beaver dams.

The beavers are so cleaver, when they need to sharpen their teeth they do this.

Then they can get back to work and build another dam.

While I was hard at work, Lisa was doing this.

****Comment from Lisa: If I'm going to have to do this again, I demand cuter boots.****

She found one of the only places we get cell coverage on our farm, deep in the bottoms near the river. Leave it to Lisa. She has never met a cell tower she can’t find.

We were getting very hungry so we started to head back to the house, but Lisa couldn’t wait to eat. So being the manly man that I am, I provided the meat for the family, but who knew Lisa was this hungry. Look what she did to my deer!!!

Picked it clean didn’t she? Well she may have had a little help from the vultures in the area. Someone shot this deer from the road, I am guessing, at night. That’s how they roll in Yell County, USA. Enough of the gross stuff.

****Another comment from Lisa: Personally, I think that Boney Stoney, as the girls named him, didn't get the memo tha high-sodium diets are bad for your health.****

The family reunion was about to start.
As all family reunions there is a lot of this.

And this

That is my mom on the right and my Aunt Betty. My family loves to sit around and tell the same stories over and over again. I love it!

Here is my dad with Hayley and Caitlin relaxing on the couch getting read for another adventure chasing cows and visiting Uncle Paul, the Resident Uncle of Yell County.

Here is Lisa with the sister in laws, Maria and Jill. They have a great time together talking about how goofy and alike me and my brothers are.

Hayley loves to have pictures taken of herself. Here she is with my mom.

After the fun had been had at the dinner I took Lisa over to the other house where she got her redneck on. Just call her Sure Shot Lisa. I was impressed with her shooting skills.

After a good night's rest we got ready to head to Hayley’s soccer game in Bryant but we had time for one more picture with Uncle Paul and all the cousins.

So there you have it. Who wouldn’t want to go there every weekend with no TV, cell coverage or fast food within several miles? Oh, that’s right...Lisa wouldn’t. She is not a country girl. I am ok with that. I get to spend some quality time with my daughters and Lisa gets to spend some quality time with…herself!! We are all happy with that.

Thanks for letting me visit!