Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yummy cake for the daughter's big 13!

My daughter is turning 13 on Saturday. She was born on Thanksgiving. That was really nice since I did not have to cook that year!! Anyway, it's also kind of a curse since I have to cook for Thanksgiving and I usually have a party of some sort for her around the same time.
   Since we are a gluten free family (and she needs to avoid nuts and dairy), I always bake some sort of goodie to sing Happy Birthday with and serve. It's been brownies the last few years. This year, thanks to an Adopt a GF Blogger that happens every month thanks to Seamaiden at the Book of Yum, I found Thomas from The GFCF Experience. He has a fabulous Jewish Apple Cake recipe that is super easy and beyond good!!! My non-celiac husband said it did not taste gluten-free.

It was extremely moist! It has beautiful layers that show very well if made in a bundt cake pan.

   I made my cake tonight, planning to put it in the refrigerator for Friday. Well, there isn't any left. It was THAT good. So, if you are gluten-free and casein-free, I recommend you check out what Thomas shares.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Supporting Small Businesses

I have noticed on Facebook, over the last week, a "Small Business Saturday" page that is supposed to take place on Saturday, November 27th, this year. Almost 750,000 people have clicked the "like" button for this page. I think it is great that people want to support small businesses, especially since I am one. However, I do not think people have looked very closely at the page. It is basically an ad for American Express.
If you want to support your small businesses, you need to know that most can not afford the costs involved in credit card sales, let alone American Express which is more expensive than Visa or Mastercard. Definitely support the small businesses in your area. Help them even more by using cash, if you can, and checks, if accepted. Do not use an American Express card. Support your small businesses consistently, not just for one day or by clicking a "like" button.
I sell handmade aprons made from re-purposed materials. I have some friends who run a yoga studio called Evolve Yoga. I have another friend who makes gorgeous, funky jewelry and apparel from re-purposed items. And, I am friends with another company that sells handmade, organic teas, Yera de Herbal Teas. Lastly, there is a struggling small business in our area that is crucial to those with food allergies. None of us accept American Express. We are small businesses that would appreciate your support, however.
Please realize this is a ploy for American Express to obtain information from you. All it is is an ad. To help small businesses, tell them to waive fees the companies have to pay them to "honor" their cards at their establishments. That is what would help small businesses, not a "like".

Friday, November 12, 2010

Turning into a TechnoGeek

I've never really been into technology. Our tvs are older models (one takes at least two people to lift it. I am scared what will happen when it actually dies.) We do not have HD. We did have an 8 year old desktop, but it recently died due to the power source frying. It died while the hubs (my resident computer/technology nerd) was out of town. This was extremely disconcerting since the internet was pulled through the desktop and my kids can not live without the internet. That meant I had to figure out how to re-do everything through a laptop.

I am thinking that was when my inner-geekiness started to peek out of the closet. Since then, I have started to figure out the workings of code. **GASP!!** My cell phone was dying. Lucky me, I was eligible for an upgrade!! I went from a Symbian based Nokia Smartphone to an Android based Samsung Galaxy S. Oh my goodness!! It is like going from a VW Bug from the 70s to a 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5!! I am having so much fun with my phone. I feel like I don't need/want my iPod Touch anymore. It feels "outdated."

Which brings to me to adding extensions to Google Chrome. Oh wow!! Upgrading again. Internet Explorer is useless. Windows is useless, actually, I am just taking all of this upgrade stuff slowly and can't put all of my computers to Ubuntu just yet. The two that have it on aren't using the internet efficiently.......YET! I will be getting there. I know I will. I can't be outdated by my own children so quickly!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is part of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. The prompt is: Sarah Silverman once gave an interview where she described her childhood depression as feeling homesick while at home. How would you describe it?

I am lonely in a crowd of people. I feel isolated. What I may have enjoyed previously just makes me sad and could possibly cause me to cry. Food does not taste as good - the cheesecake I love now tastes like cardboard. But, I want to eat everything in sight despite it tasting bad. I feel exhausted all the time but put on the happy face so no one asks "what's wrong." I am tired of hearing that and not really having an answer. My body feels like it is failing me and I don't know why. All the blood tests come back "normal." People begin to think I am nuts. I start to believe that maybe I am nuts. One innocent (but perceived negative) statement from a loved one can send tears down my face. Darkness brings dark, sad feelings. I also feel cold all the time. These are from the low phase of Bi-Polar Disorder.

Then I get a Manic phase. I have a lot of energy. Too much, really. I can get a whole week's worth of chores done in one day. My brain is working overtime and I feel jittery, with the possibility of a panic attack. It can appear that I have ADHD. This comes with a price, it physically exhausts me and launches me back into the Depressive phase once again.

I really wish I knew a cause for Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder. Then maybe we could find a cure. For years I have been on some kind of medicine due to Depression, only to find out I was actually Bi-Polar which is different (it has the manic phases). It is yet another reason why I hate this time of year and long for late March. There is more dark than light and it is cold this time of year. I already feel bad enough, I don't need mother nature to remind me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Joys of Going to a Military Medical Clinic and its Pharmacy

The biggest thing I am probably looking forward to with my husband retiring from the Navy in less than a year (besides his not traveling so much), is not having to go to the doctor on base and use the base pharmacy if that doctor gives me a prescription. While I am aware there are also issues with civilian doctors, you can usually change to another doctor within your insurance system. Trying to do this within a small military clinic, that will most likely not even be in existence within 5 years, is extremely difficult. Our clinic is now down to two groups of doctors with only 3 doctors in each group, and two doctors in pediatrics. Most of them come here when they are ready to retire. They have very little time for their patients since there are so many of us and so few of them. The Commanding Officer has a lot to do with that problem since numbers show better on paper. I have a couple of issues that I need dealt with. I am not asking that they be fixed tomorrow, just that it at least looks like they are trying to help. I am still pushing for information. I have another appointment next week. Did I mention I have to be there 20 minutes early? I just to want to feel like I am more than just a number.

Couple this with the inefficiencies of our pharmacy. If they were a single pharmacy that relied on their pharmaceutical services to survive, they would go under. If you have a new prescription, you have to take a number. There are three levels of numbers: A) active duty in uniform, B) new prescriptions, C) called in or internet refills. Even if you have just come from the clinic, your prescription will not be filled until you have gone up the first time to request it. In other words, they do not fill the prescriptions sent over from the clinic. Apparently they do not see those prescriptions until they bring up your name. It may take you 45 minutes to get up there to request your prescription. It will most likely be an additional 30-45 minutes to get your prescription. Unacceptable, but they refuse to change anything.

Now, when I see a civilian provider (my neuro or psych), I get a paper prescription and get it filled at Giant. I pay $3 for each one. They are efficient. My scripts are ready within 20 minutes (this includes line waiting to hand them my script). I then get my nasty gram from the military insurance system telling me I only have so much money left to get scripts from out in town and I really should use the base pharmacy. Umm, no!

I am so sick of this. I know where I will be going already. The practice has one of the doctors I used to see on base, before she got forced off by the current C.O. I will be glad to see her again!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Someone Hits Their Breaking Point

This is part of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Years ago I worked in a food bank that was associated with a church. We gave food to people who came in and needed it. We also helped pay bills such as rent and electricity. We generally did not pay the deposits for electricity since the client would get that money back, after a year, if they were able to pay their bills successfully each month. We had a mix of populations: those on Welfare and those not on Welfare, nor eligible because their jobs paid a little too much.

Just as we were about to close one day, a woman and a very pregnant woman holding a toddler's hand walked in. The pregnant woman was crying and her face was bruised. She kept looking down, gently whispering to the mischievous toddler. I brought a toy over for the toddler to play with and found out the accompanying woman was actually a social worker.

This pregnant woman was leaving her husband, her abusive husband, after almost two years of abuse. They had an apartment set up for her but she had to pay all the other bills. She needed money for the electricity deposit and the social worker was bringing her to us for help. We didn't pay deposits, but how could deny her freedom from abuse?

I locked the doors since we were technically closed. I filled out some paperwork for her. Then I got to calling various other organizations to see what we could do. We all had the same policy and none of them had seen her and her aborable child. I thought, what the heck!! I called the electric company and spoke to a certain someone. I explained her situation and that she already had the apartment paid for for one year. I was able to argue my case and the electric company waived the deposit. I don't think I ever saw such a huge smile on someone so desperate!!

I saw her one other time prior to our moving (my husband is Navy after all). She had her baby and her toddler. She came to thank me. Her husband was in jail for several years and she was getting divorced. She had a great job and had been able to maintain her bills and take over the apartment payment. She was doing well. I hope she still is doing well!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Sweet Poochie

My dog cracks me up! She is 7 1/2 years old. We got her at this place we like to call "The Dirt Mall." It is a giant outdoor market where there is flea market type stuff, fruits and veggies and animals. It actually has a livestock auction once a week. The Amish sell their goods there as well. Our poochie, a beagle, came from the Amish and we named her Nimue (said nim-way).

The Amish are not exactly known for careful breeding. Her parents are brother and sister. So, we got her with hip and shoulder displaysia. We found out about that initially because of how she would sit, rolled back beyond her hip bones with her legs open wide. As she has aged, other things have shown up: a thyroid condition and an allergy to grass. She is on medication and doing fantastically!!

This is where she cracks me up! The hubs has to go on travel every so often. He leaves and I get the stink eye from her. I make her food to avoid allergens and she has now taken to "talking" when it is time to eat. Really funny since she barely makes a peep the rest of the day. She just is not a noisy beagle! She will tell me EXACTLY what she wants. Even pawing me in the back of the knee so I look at her while she says it!

Recently, she has learned to open cabinet doors. Now, I came home one day to find trash and the trash can spread all over the kitchen floor. I figured I had left the cabinet door open a smidge and she was able to nose her way in. NOPE!!! I was WRONG!! This beagle will use her paws to open the cabinet door. She can do ALL of them!! I now have to find child safety locks of some kind to lock all of my lower cabinet doors. It has been about six years since I have had to do this. How did she learn this??? It totally cracks me up, however.

Now, for the cherry on top of all of this, here is my sweet, hysterical poochie:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Bacon??

So, tonight's dinner came from gluten-free girl and the chef again!! On Saturday I was able to get my hands on some pork belly when we visited Whole Foods (due to a Halloween party up that way, an hour away). A pork belly is the cut of pork used to make the bacon before all the spices/marinating happens to make it bacon. I also got some good bacon while we were at it!! I really love Whole Foods and wish it were closer!

Anyway, I decided that tonight would be the night and I would roast some brussels sprouts as well. I was so excited to try this recipe, just because it is such a heart attack waiting to happen!!! I also did not have to replace anything (except for using Earth Balance Buttery Sticks instead of butter). I did most of the prep work, including braising, prior to picking up the kidlings at school. Had a lot going on after school so I needed dinner to be done fast!!

For my brussels sprouts, I sliced fresh ones in half then put them in a round stone with olive oil, smashed garlic, salt and pepper. It went in on the top rack while the bacon wrapped bellies went in on the bottom.

After about fifteen minutes, a flipping of the bellies and stirring of the brussels sprouts, I came out with this:

As you can see, both dishes are quite beautiful!! Yes, my kids do eat brussels sprouts, as long as they are fresh. These came out very good!!! The smashed garlic and roasting really brought out their flavor!

While it was very easy to make, it took a lot of waiting time for the braising. Also, because it is a heart attack waiting to happen, we will not have this very often!! LOL!!

Trick or Treating is for Fun Not Proselytizing

Everyone knows yesterday was Halloween. It is called another name Samhain (said sow-wen), and Ancient Celtic holiday when the veils between the dead and the living are thin and we can easily communicate with each other. This blog properly sums up the meaning and history of Samhain. Thank you to a friend who posted this link.

For some reason, certain groups of Christians believe Halloween to be evil. They take a passive aggressive approach and hand out pamphlets about you needing to be saved TO CHILDREN who are trick or treating. My kids received such a flyer. It is titled "Eternal Life Is A 'Free' Gift." It then goes on connect small sentences from the Bible in order to tell you how/why you have to be saved. This was given to my children from someone who also gave out candy and had decorated simply for the holiday.

I do not get why someone would choose to do this through children during a time that children do not understand the holiday. To kids it is a time for dressing up as someone/something else and getting "free candy." There is no need to ruin their fun due to your perceptions that your belief is the only way. I'll tell you straight: it is NOT the only way.  How about you live your life the way that the pamphlet says or that your Bible says? Christianity is not the only religion in the world. People are free to choose what they believe. Maybe you should not pretend to participate in a holiday you find offensive just to hand out these useless pamphlets. Don't decorate, turn off your light and don't answer the door. It is that easy and lots of people did just that. Let the kids have their fun and turn off your light next year. Thanks!