Monday, December 30, 2013


I'm not here today BECAUSE THE FIRST STORY I SOLD IS PUBLISHED! I'm at the online magazine “lit”, one of Briane Pagel's blogs.  He pays for stories.

I'd REALLY appreciate your feedback in the comments there. It's only my second short story and I'd like your honest opinion.



P.S The characters and events in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.   Actually, the idea came from a creepy dream I had. The idea. Not the story.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Annandag Jul: The Other Day of Christmas

Happy Friday to you all! We enjoyed THREE days of Christmas!  Not a french hen in sight, though. This was the first year we celebrated the Swedish tradition of Annandag Jul, “The Other Day of Christmas.” Except we celebrated it American style..yeah, try to keep up.  I'm trying to be brief...(I see those eyes rolling!)

Long time readers know that Swedes celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. We do this with all the Colorado contingent of our family and it's a big group. My Swissie has a great house, perfectly designed to host a party this size, and she and Windex (her husband, please see nickname tab above for explanation and intro to him) do a marvelous job. It was a truly special time. Thanks again to both of you.

Being Swedish and having that big celebration with my family on the 24th works out perfectly, because then we can always spend Christmas Day with The Engineer's family, American style. We really do try to incorporate both cultures in our family of four's traditions that we are creating as we raise them.

However, this year, his sister didn't have her kids until yesterday, so we postponed. That meant that American Christmas would be on the 26th, Annandag Jul.  Swedes really take three days to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, each day having different traditions.

What this also meant was that for the first time since OYT was three and I had the stomach flu, our family of four (which I kept referring to as our nuclear family – but people didn't like that term, something about weapons of mass destruction was the objection, and wanted to just call it “our family” so we did a bit of both, depending on to whom we were trying to explain ourselves.)

OYT, appreciator of all things Christmas especially the traditions, went all out helping me plan our day. The Engineer and The Transporter stuck around long enough to make sure we had snow crab for dinner, then left with, “Whatever. I want some time to do my own thing, too, though.”

Here's a list of what we tried for our first family Christmas:

Hot chocolate while opening presents
Peppermint tea with candy canes available at all times
French toast with bacon for breakfast
Lighting all the candles I decorated with
Free time
The Charlie Brown Christmas Special
Apples to Apples
Left-over Swedish Christmas food for lunch
The new Veggie Tales movie “Merry Larry and The True Light of Christmas” (narrated by Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty – he's HILARIOUS)
Snow Crab for dinner
Movie together all four of us in the evening

We had a great day, and the only things that didn't happen were Apples to Apples and the movie. By the time we finished crab legs and Uncle Si, it was 10:30 and all of us were droopy.

As to Annandag Jul, that was of course a great day as well. On both sides of the family, we just enjoy each others' company so much. This lot of cousins are a bit older, 23, 22, and 17. They've taught my boys a lot of useful skills over the years, like how to turn a golf club into a LARP (live action role play) weapon, how to play card games like the ones the Big Bang gang plays, and of course, video game strategy. They have similar interests, which makes it all just flow.

While some of us watched Man of Steel (I may have to write my first movie review so strong is my opinion) others did a puzzle, which is another tradition. Day turned into night quickly, and as we drove home, I counted my blessings. Too many to count.

How was your holiday? Want to share a favorite part?


P.S If you want to know more about the Veggie Movie. 52 second official trailer.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

50 States of Pray: Reflecting on The Year

Isaiah 9:6

King James Version (KJV)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.

Thanks so much to all of you for sticking with me through thick and thin and in sickness and in health this very challenging year. May God bless you in the coming year. 

This is my Colorado contribution to The Fifty States of Pray, hosted by Mark Koopmans  of “Aloha! Mark Koopmans Says Hi from HI”.


(photo credit here)

Friday, December 20, 2013

My High School Sweetheart

Today is the 30th anniversary of the first date The Engineer and I had. I wrote our love story several years ago when I first started blogging. You can find it here if you're curious.

Oh, and check this out. I can't believe I have a picture of this. Thanks, Momarazzi for documenting my life so well so that my blog can have vintage pictures.

(it'a a photo of a photo in an album, the "assisting" is from the caption for another picture and I don't know how to photo shop...)

The Engineer has made me promise not to put pictures of him on the internet. But this is so classic – he's hiding behind the tuba just like I talked about in those stories. I'm in the white shirt in the front row. Not my best look, but at least you see how young we were when we met. 30 years ago. Where does the time go?


P.S Took the plunge. After editing my story for a week, I finally sent it. I'll let you know if and when it gets put up. Meanwhile hit Briane Pagel's blog “lit” because Brian Miller's story is up already.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Promised Excerpt

Mom, they kicked us out. Said we weren't old enough.”
That's ridiculous,” she says, never taking her eyes off the chess board.

And Tim says he feels weird. And I'm kinda scared. I don't feel so hot myself.”

Excuse me, Clarence while I deal with my kids.”

She turns to look at the boys and grows instantly still. Jace has short hair, not the unkempt mop he so loves, his zits are all gone, and his clothes look many sizes too big. Tim looks ready to cry, while holding onto his shorts, with a t-shirt that reaches his knees.

This is from the middle section of the story I'm working on.  

Remember, this is for Briane Pagel, who has like forty-seven blogs, but I'll link you to the page where he, in excruciating detail (he's a lawyer),  explains the contest on his blog “lit”. 

Perhaps your competitive streak has been awakened and you want to join me. Brian Miller is apparently up for the challenge, and Andrew Leon of StrangePegs (another not to be missed blog) threatened me with boxing gloves.  I pulled out OYT's sword and shield 

See, no worries, I can totally hold that heavy sucker with THAT handle and strap

and he ran off for other weapons.  We'll probably settle on nerf...but there's a battle a ragin' and you don't want to miss the fun.  I'm thinking if it ends up nerf, I still have an advantage.  This is part of OYT's arsenal. 

It won't all fit on the peg board...


Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm SO Competitive...

Taking today off to continue to work on a short story for a contest. Yeah, he had me at the competition part. I haven't written a short story since Brian Miller, of the hugely popular “WaystationOne”, and I collaborated back in 2010. Here's the link to "Mourning After" if you want to read what we wrote. We placed well in the competition, though we didn't win.

The story I'm working on now is coincidentally for another Brian, Briane Pagel, who has like forty-seven blogs, but I'll link you to the page where he, in excruciating detail (he's a lawyer),  explains the contest on his blog “lit”. Perhaps your competitive streak has been awakened and you want to join me.  (Ahem, Brian Miller, I mean you especially!)

I hope to be back Friday. If not, I'll give you and excerpt on Wednesday.


Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make a Winter Emergency Kit

How can anyone who is wrong 75% of the time still have a job?” That's the joke going around about Colorado weather forecasters. Coloradans, at least the well-seasoned ones, know that you need to be ready for rapid, unusual changes in weather.

I'm not talking about the mostly predictable summer afternoon thunderstorm, or the to be expected snow at very high altitudes. I'm talking about a normal day when you think you've got it covered because you're just running for take-out and you'll be fine.

My boys learned the hard way that maybe mom's “crazy” Colorado Winter Emergency Kit in the back of her station wagon isn't so crazy after all.

I do understand a bit about how it might not seem legit. It's not organized. I did leave it there all summer out of laziness. But it does contain:

extra winter coats
extra gloves, scarves, hats
unopened water bottles
boots (though with the way the boys feet grew, I need to replace those)
jumper cables
small tool kit
extra batteries
car phone charger
down comforter
fleece blankets
puke container (from a hospital, totally legit)
a pee bucket.

Why the pee bucket? I mean, if you're stranded, go pee in the woods, or between the open doors to your car. You don't need a pee bucket. Yes, you do, and I speak from experience.

I got stuck in a snowstorm on I-25 (THE main highway in CO, it runs N-S through the whole state and beyond) in 1992. This was before I had a cell phone. The how and why isn't part of this story (but may be another blog post, cuz well, the Indians took care of me and all, that's pretty postable). I kept thinking, “Surely they know we're all stuck here and will send plows and tow-trucks and fix this awful mess.” Nope. The hours went by. I really, really had to pee. It was dark, and at that point, I didn't really care who saw me.

Had I left my car though, I would immediately have become soaked and I didn't have a coat (because I never wear one, I'm too hot). So then I'd get back into my car and have to somehow dry off. Or shiver all night. I did NOT have an emergency kit at that time. But you can see how most of the items in my list come from what happened that night and what I wished I'd had.

Which brings me back to the beginning. My boys set out to get take-out, and as they're going out the door, I say, “OYT, don't you want to change out of your shorts? And take a coat?”
No, I'll be fine. I'm just riding in the car. It's not like I need your stupid emergency kit.” Famous last words.

The Engineer and I are starting to get worried because the boys are so late. And won't answer their phones. About an hour later, they stagger in the door. Human popsicles. No winter coats, OYT in his shorts. It's about 20 out.

Come to find out, The Transporter's throttle control sensor had finally called it quits, and they'd walked about ¾ of a mile home.

Mom, I kinda wish we'd had your stuff with us.”


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Whirlwind

I'm on “a short, three-to-five minute hold” with my insurance company so I thought it would be a great time to write my post because we all know their hold time estimates are kind of like when a contractor gives you the date a project will be done...

I posted last week about being swamped. I thought I'd catch you up about which of the dangers of the fire swamp have been eliminated, and which I'm still dealing with. To catch you up, here was my swamp as of last week:
  • I've got my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary Party to plan

Here are the invites

Here I am, mailing the invites, "only" 6 days past my deadline...

    But they're DONE! How that happened is actually funny/sad/frustrating/miraculous so I may post it. Teaser: sometimes the solution is so simple only a future engineer can see it.
  • My last Precept lesson of the year to plan

  • Had last lesson and a great pot-luck after wards and we're all set to start again mid-January.
  • We have literally no FRESH food in the house, only our zombie apocalypse stuff. Need groceries.

  • We hit up our apocalypse stash a few more days, then The Transporter dragged me through store. He's a gem.

  • Nobody has clean clothes. Laundry must be done!
  • Everyone pitched in and it got done. Since I wrote that post, we've done yet another round. Feeling on regular schedule there again. Amazing feeling.

  • I've got a list of phone calls the length of Rapunzel's hair to make
    Rapunzel's hair is even longer. Let's leave it there or I'll end up telling you about the over an hour call to my insurance company this morning and no one wants to hear about stuff like that.

  • And I haven't slept well in two I need to go to the doctor
  • Thank you God for letting us invent Ambien. I'm less of a zombie and more of a functioning person.

Bottom line: still have to deal with the R.O.U.S's, but I've got weapons.

I'm leaving you with one of my favorite commercials. It was my inspiration for Monday's flash fiction honoring Arlee Bird. Flaming turkey wings for all my friend!


P.S Pay attention to the tree in the background...

P.P.S The dots and bizarre font size changes all over the place?  Don't ask.  I was feeling insane and downloaded Windows 8.1 (it can't get any worse, right?) (I should know better than to even think that...)  Apparently it likes dots so much I can't erase them...and has it's own opinion about what size my text should be.  Or I could blame Blogger.  It all looks perfect until I hit preview...

Monday, December 9, 2013

CheersFest 2013: Arlee "Lee" Bird!

I'm delighted to participate in the 2nd Annual CheersFest. Last year we roasted The Ninja Captain, and this year my wonderful friend
Arlee “Lee” Bird

has been chosen as the honoree. A very deserving guy, not just because he's the Godfather of the April Blogging from A-Z Challenge (you have heard of that, right?) but because he's an all-around class act. Cheers to you, my friend. This next part has word limits...egads, I'm going to epically fail...

  1. Why did Lee come up with the A-Z Challenge? Arlee started the Challenge to celebrate his birthday.
  2. If someone dreams about being a juggler, what does it mean? Google says: If you successfully juggle alone, or for no particular reason, this may reflect the desire or feeling that you actually are controlling numerous facets of your life.
  3. Is a post by Mr. Bird worth two in the bush? A post by Mr. Bird is worth WAY more than two in the bush. He writes with insight and to stir up conversation. Boy, does he succeed!
  4. Who could play Lee in a documentary? (Living or dead.) I pick a live person...I say Sean Connery. I've never heard Lee talk, maybe he has a Scottish accent ;-)

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts: Bird, Juggles, Challenge, Brown Jacket, Tossing

Flaming Turkey Wings!

The man in the brown jacket found it a challenge to juggle those flaming turkey wings. Tossing them into the air for a fourth try, he was finally successful. So if you see a man who juggles parts of a bird, you know who it must be...

For Bonus Points: (like I could resist...)
In +/- 40 words, can you come up with a caption for Lee’s Facebook picture?  

If juggling was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's not, so I'm cool.

Happy CheersFest my friend!  I hope this day makes you feel as special and appreciated as you truly are.

P.S For more "cheering", hit this link for the list of participants.  Someone is bound to have a better caption than mine...

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Transporter Got a Promotion

The Transporter has been promoted. He just got his driver's license yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I don't know who is more excited, the boy who drove himself to school this morning, or the mom who now not only has a Transporter, but also an errand man at her beck and call.

How did I manage to convince a 16 year-old to be willing to drop what he's doing (say, holding an XBOX controller at a friend's house) and for example, go pick up his brother from robotics club? Simple. Money.

He has to pay for his insurance, but we'll buy his gas if he'll be our go-to guy. I'm so excited to hand him a grocery list and my debit card and continue writing. Or whatever, but I'm thinking I've just gained oodles more writing time. Maybe Worlds Colliding (my sci-fi/thriller WIP) will get some more words added!

Or I'll be able to be able to spend more time returning visits. I give myself a B- for my current rate, but of course I'd like an A+. Over-achiever and all that stuff. The possibilities are endless.

He'd had grand plans for his first evening of having a license. These plans included, “Bye Mom, I'll be home later.” Instead he opted for, “I'm going take OYT to Game Force. I think he'd like to be along the first time I get to use my license.” So as it ended up, it was still pretty much “see you later” only he took his brother to dinner and bought himself a new ice scraper, and one for me since all of mine seem to vanish. They had a great time, and as their mother, I couldn't have been more thrilled that he chose his brother for his first adventure. That's the kind of thing OYT will remember and cherish forever.

Personally, I will always remember sitting with The Engineer at the kitchen table which overlooks the street, watching him drive away, actually excited to go to school.  We're holding hands, and both of us are a bit misty. It's was a good thing. Life is Good.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG: Ideas for When You're Stuck 2 - WIP

In last month's IWSG post, I gave some ideas for what I do when I'm stuck writing a blog post. Today I'd like to share my tips for what to do when you're stuck in your work in progress, your WIP. (Which makes me feel like a real writer when I say “WIP”, cuz, like, I know the lingo and all. I'm in the club!)

Maybe I'm not the best person to take advice from, considering I've been writing my first draft of my first novel for three years. What you need to understand though, is that I've really only been writing it about four months, if you count the actual time I've put into it.

I did a NaNoWriMo in secret. Got a lot done. That encouraged me, so the next February I did BuNoWriMo, which stands for Burrow...and you know the rest of the acronym. You can find them on facebook and I highly recommend you do because talk about a supportive environment! Got a lot done. Actually declared myself a participant and joined the banter. Same the following year. Then if I count the scraps of time I've invested that wasn't during a big, supportive push like that, and that's my four months. I'm at about 35k.

Just sayin', so you don't think that I think I'm an expert.

My novel is a sci-fi/thriller (which IWSG helped me realize when I was having genre-confusion – thanks wonderful folks!) and this rough draft is set in two separate time lines. I'm not quite sure how that's going to work out...but that's for the revising part. However, it leads to my first tip.

If you're stuck on a certain section, go write on another one. If the present is plaguing me, I go write a scene from the “back in time” part. If you're a plotter, you know what's going to happen, pick something you're in the mood for and write that instead of where you were stuck. Just because you're methodical, organized, and all those things I'm not, as a pantser (see, I really am in the club!) doesn't mean you have to write it in order. Movies aren't shot in order. (Now that's a club I'd like to join – screen writing...)

Go back and re-read what you've written. Maybe not from the beginning, but read a section. Bask in the wonder that is your writing. It's like finding a piece of your wardrobe in the bottom of a drawer and saying, “Oh yeah, I loved this shirt! Great shirt!” Instead you're saying, “Oh, yeah, that IS good. This is going to be a a good book. I remember that part more clearly now.” 

I get inspired when I do that. This might not work for you if you work more, um, consistently on your WIP than I do, since you probably remember all that you've written, but giving yourself a little pat on the back never hurts. Just don't edit what you're reading. (Not that I have that problem or anything...just, ahem, a warning...)

Write a scene that's key to the book. It will make you feel like you've really accomplished something. Yes, plotters, it might not be where you are, but you already know where it goes. Me? I have a vague idea what scenes might be needed to get where I think I'm going, so I go for something that might be useful later on. At least I'm writing!

Regardless of what kind of writer you are, you just have to keep writing. It's that discipline thing I talked about last month. JUST DO IT. Good luck!


Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh  is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now.  Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Swamped!

I'm swamped too.

  • I've got my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary Party to plan
  • My last Precept lesson of the year to plan
  • We have literally no FRESH food in the house, only our zombie apocolypse stuff. Need groceries.
  • Nobody has clean clothes. Laundry must be done!
  • I've got a list of phone calls the length of Rapunzel's hair to make
  • And I haven't slept well in two I need to go to the doctor

That whole part in the video of get some rest, if you haven't got your health...I say POO! I'm trying...

~Tina, frantic, but still alive

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Compromise

I want to clear up a few points regarding my Black Friday rant.  I think I got so rant-y that I wasn't clear.

I am not against stores opening early and giving good deals. JUST DON'T OPEN ON THANKSGIVING. To me this means you open on Friday morning, and not butt-crack-of-dawn early either, because then you're just depriving people of sleep. 5 am to me seems reasonably (foolishly...) early enough. That way the bargain hunters can get a modest amount of sleep, get up around 4am, throw their clothes on and go battle the hordes, should they choose.  Besides, whatever time you say you're opening, they'll be there.  Why make it so early?  It's not going to deter anyone determined enough to take part in this craziness.  (That was foreshadowing.)

I am not against the ads. Just give them to me in the Thanksgiving paper like you used to.  I just think having pre-Black Friday deals the entire week before Thanksgiving (my favorite day of the year as you may have heard) takes away from the specialness of THE day we are meant to be celebrating. It's like having all the Christmas decorations up in the store before Halloween. I hate that too.

Any questions? And Mr. Briane Pagel, I'm eagerly awaiting your “respectfully disagree” rebuttal. Very eagerly. BRING IT ON!


All that said, you can't keep The Engineer away from a tool which is 1/3 the regular price AND needed for the dreadful bathroom project, AND he has declared as his Christmas present from me. (That's how we do it – I got new Vibram Five Finger Shoes because I, of all hideous outcomes, LOST MINE somewhere. I hate losing things. Seems so...unintelligent.) 

Anyway, of course this is a doorbuster Black Friday special and I sit down to “calmly discuss” my objections to his adventure. He (actually) calmly points out that:

Home Depot opens at 5. (Ok, that's OK, I can go with that IF:

They weren't open on Thanksgiving. Which they weren't (thank you Home Depot, you are now my favorite Home Depot-ish store).

So they rise (early), go, and conquer. And also scored packs of 24 AA batteries for $4 per pack. Yeah for my conquerors!  Yes, this probably makes me a hypocrite.  It wouldn't be the first time...


There's also a bonus to this story. When I get up, OYT is already up, and I ask him to make me breakfast.

We call this omelet with a piece of bread squished into it. Maybe I'll write another piece about cooking...another day. We have a second Thanksgiving dinner to go to with The Advocate's extended family. 25 people. My kind of party!

I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. See you Monday!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

He is Good!

(photo credit wikipedia commons)

Psalm 106:1

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for his lovingkindness is everlasting. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful friends in this community.  I'm grateful for each one of you. 


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Random Act of Kindness

I am happy to report that there are still nice people out there who do random acts of kindness for others. It's a good thing, because I needed this R.A.O.K because as it turns out, someone had done a random act of vandalism on my car.

I'm in line a l o n g time before I even get into the test bay at Air Care Colorado, our state run emissions testing station. I'm ushered politely into the tunnel-o-more-waiting. Almost immediately the polite young man who processed me comes to me and says,

You do know you don't have a gas cap, right?”
Yeah, I know. It broke off a long time ago and I've never replaced it.”
No, ma'am. I'm not talking about the door. I mean gas CAP.”

I lose it. I've had a pretty stressful ten days, I know they test the gas cap for leakage, I've been to emissions testing three times in the fall already with The Transporter's car which failed (among other tests) the gas cap test. 

I imagine myself going home, cannibalizing one of our other Volvos, and then remember that the gas cap which passed is on The Tranporter's car. Which is in Boulder, with The Engineer, at work, because we're waiting for his car parts to arrive and the weather to thaw so he can fix his. (When you drive old cars, always have a spare...) And of course I have no idea where mine is.

I apologize for crying hysterically over a gas cap (and of course over all the facts of the above paragraph and having to come back and get in line again because I've procrastinated so well that it's the next to the last day to accomplish this, but I don't share that...I'm just telling you why I'm nuts) and explain that it's been a bad week.

Stay right here.”

He literally slinks off, looks around, and then grabs one of their gas caps and puts it on my car.

That ought to make your week just a tiny bit better.”

I beam and thank him, drying my eyes.

When the test is over, I notice that there is once again no gas cap. Makes sense. I PASS EMISSIONS. Miracle. As soon as the paperwork guy is done with me he dismisses me.

All of a sudden, I see Mr. Nice Guy sneaking back over, and hear the distinct Volvo click of a tight gas cap. He pats my car like they do at pit stops in Nascar and runs off before I can thank him.

I was shocked. What a totally nice thing to do for this hysterical lady about to just totally lose her marbles. Made my day. Which was a good thing, because when I got to the DMV, and W A I T E D again, one of the other vehicles I was renewing needed proof of insurance, and I didn't have it with me, and my agents office which I called to have them FAX proof was already closed for the I get to go back today. On the last business day of the month. Looking forward to it.


P.S I can hear you saying, “I bet she just didn't put it on when she last got gas.” No way. It was a freezing day, we'd just had a snowstorm, and without the door covering my cap, it was crusted with snow and ice. I remember when I went to put it back on considering getting my gloves but I hate getting them gas smelling, so I just took one for the team and twisted that cold, icy cap back on. We have had a string of car vandalism in town, all over town, random things. What would they want with my gas cap? Ooohhh...maybe they need it to pass emissions...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Go Away Black Friday and Leave Thanksgiving ALONE!

Can we talk about Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the fact that THE ONE NON-COMMERCIAL, NON-RUINED BY SOCIETY holiday we had left has now been high-jacked by the retail community and is no longer about friends, family, pausing to be grateful, and just enjoying each others company (and of course FOOTBALL) but just a day to quickly shovel in some sustenance before heading out to the stores to be trampled and perhaps killed for the latest and greatest in electronics?

Phew. I need to calm down. That first paragraph was one sentence, but I feel extremely strongly about this. Extremely is probably not strong enough of a word to describe how this pisses me off. I'm incensed. Furious. Disappointed in society. ANGRY. Sad. Melancholy for the “good old days”.

I'm in the mood to boycott any and all stores until spring. (Well, except my boys are growing like weeds and both need new wardrobes. If they stand still long enough, which they don't, they certainly SIT still long enough, but you can't really see someone growing when their quickly expanding feet are tucked under their legs or under a desk, and they're playing video games...but as I was saying before I interrupted myself – you can see them growing before your very eyes, much like aquaponic lettuce, but wow, I need to calm down because:
  1. This is starting to be a jumbled mess, and
  2. I was talking about Thanksgiving, not my boys...

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. We have a wonderful tradition of celebrating with a cousin on my mother-in-law's side and his entire family. I've know The Engineer's family for 29 Thanksgivings, and it's always been with those cousins. This makes for a table for around 20-25 depending on who has a date, or who is bringing a parent(s) from the other side of the family. Both hostesses love to set an ELABORATE table. I mean, Martha Stewart would take notes. Everyone brings a dish so the labor is divided, and you can always see the TV from the kitchen so you can football it all up and do dishes.

But now, it's all changing. Thanksgiving isn't about family and tradition and gratitude anymore. The ads for Black Friday (did you even know what that meant 7-8 years ago?) started weeks ago. There are pre-Black Friday specials. My mailbox, my inbox, my newspaper are STUFFED with ads.

Many of my friends work in retail and have to be at work as early as 2 pm to get ready for the pre-Black Friday early openings of so many major stores. 2 pm is about when we sit down for our meal. It's not right.

What are we doing people? We're slowly being convinced that being thankful, grateful, and focused on family isn't really that big of a deal. No, the big deal is to be had at the store. Get shopping! Buy something! No one has enough!

Thanks for listening this far. I'm thankful for you wonderful friends and the community we've built where we can discuss whatever we want. What do you think about this whole mess?


P.S Briane Pagel (you must read and follow him, truly) also wrote a piece about how Thanksgiving is disappearing, but for a different reason. (And his debunking of the Pilgrim story in quite a deliciously funny read). Go. Please.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good Enough For Walmart

You've seen this video, right? If you don't have the 6:45 to laugh your butt off, cringe, and gape in wonder at the wide world of weird out there, then let me sum up. She has taken pictures of actual Walmart shoppers dressed in their...finest attire. Kinda scary actually.

Anyway, here's how I got the sweetest compliment EVER from The Transporter.

I had taken a nap and my new ultra short hair looked a bit weird. I was wearing my uniform: jeans and a t-shirt, Danskos. I was pretty sure the rest was fine, because it better be since that's what I wear. Like all the time.

I was concerned about the hair. I'm still in the experimenting with different looks stage because it's a really GREAT cut and I can do at least 6 different things that look really different. So I decide to ask The Transporter. Teenagers know when their parents are embarrassing.

Mom, you're going to W A L M A R T. You could wear ANYTHING.”

But I'm meeting Dad to help him pick out his new glasses. I'm don't want to embarrass him.”

Mom, you could come to my school and meet all my friends looking like that.”

I think that's the ultimate compliment from a teenager.

What's the best compliment you've gotten?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Best Thing I Ever Ate: Comfort Food #2 - Grilled Cheese

This post is the second in a series I'm calling “Best Thing I Ever Ate, after one of my many beloved cooking shows. My first category was comfort food, and I talked about Jenocide's Favorite and gave the recipe. 

When I first started blogging, I wrote an Ode to Grilled Cheese and gave some of my secrets for making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Since that post, I've figured out an even easier, quicker and MORE delicious way to grill it. What can I say, I like tinkering in the kitchen. So get comfy and pretend you're watching a cooking show ;-)

Welcome to Tina's Best Thing I Ever Ate! Today the category is still comfort food, and the topic is grilled cheese. We are making a simple grilled cheese sandwich to help you beginners get started on the wonderful road of gourmet grilled cheese.

First I will start browning some butter in my pan while I assemble the sandwich. Today I'm using English muffin bread because it's solid and has a slight sourdough taste, which I love. I'm putting on a slice of provolone, which is a cheese similar to Swiss, but with a bit more of bite and tang, and a slightly nuttier profile. It pairs well with this beautiful roast beef I'm adding. Last is another slice of cheese, and we're ready for the microwave. 45 seconds.

Surprised? Microwave? Buttering the pan and not the bread? Let me tell you why. Cold butter is hard to spread (and as you know from watching my show, we only use real butter, none of that syntho-crap that IS easy to spread), and it takes too long to melt the cheese, on medium low, so as not to burn the outside before the inside is melted. If you already melt the inside, and put it in a hot pan with melted butter, you're done in about ¼ of the normal time.

So as you see my butter is now nicely browned. Smells delicious! A chemical change occurs as it browns and the taste is AMAZING. I now place my melted hot sandwich in the pan. Oh, hear that delightful sizzle.

When your pan starts to look like this around the edges, it's probably time to flip your sandwich. 

(yes, it's already flipped...I didn't decide to make a post until I got to this point and then there was no turning back.  This isn't a REAL cooking show...I'm just an amateur!)

(Don't worry, it's supposed to look just like that. It's called browned butter because it's...brown.)

So we're going to flip, as I was saying, but wait! Just hold it on the spatula and throw just a titch (Technical info: a titch is about a ¼ of a pat of butter. I know you've always wondered!) in the pan, it will melt and sizzle and brown instantly. Now flip and cook the other side.

Slice and serve. Ooey, gooey, cheesy, melty goodness with some perfect roast beast. What could be better? We'll see you next time when I share about another delicious “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”


P.S If you want to learn more about my grilled cheese making ideas, read that other post. Just cook it this new way. You'll be amazed how fast it is.