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Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Made It Myself

One of the fun things about Facebook are all the great recipes you see that you want to try - the downside are either they don't actually come out like that or they're so full of fat and sugar you CAN'T go wrong. A friend of mine posted a No Bake  Two Ingredient Fudge over Christmas with the usual (annoying) blurb about How Her Family Was Amazed,  yada yada yada... I actually read the recipe and then posted back to my friend to see if she was aware that the two "ingredients" were a can of cake frosting and candy - seriously, what's not to like? I made another one of a baked cauliflour coated with some sauce with a yogurt base. The sauce was good, but the rest of it..plain hot cauliflour that was rather tough.  So when I saw the Cauliflour crust I was interested, but not too hopeful. I searched the internet and tried a variety of recipes - some tasted good but the big issue is the general soppiness.  Arrgh. 
So after some (alot) of experimentation I came up with a crust that has the consistancy of pie crust, tastes good and is a little higher in protein. No flour, no eggs, no cheese (that was the other problem - by the time I added all the ingredients I had....well, I had a crust with some cauliflour in it. And a lot of fat and calories - so here is my version :
Cauliflower Crust
1 head of cauliflour
-1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten (common binding agent for vegetarian, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and most grocery stores in the natural foods section)
-4 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (adds a cheesy taste to foods, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and any natural food store)
-2/3 cup ground walnuts (flour consistancy)

Boil cauliflour until fork tender, drain and run cold water over to cool
Take a linen towel, dump the cauliflour in it and squeeze as much water out as you can (it will look like a while cake and will get really small!)
Put into a bowl, add the other ingredients, knead for a minute until smooth, pat flat into a pan that either greased and non-stick or greased parchment paper
Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until firm and dry.
I used vegan italian sausage mixed with pepper and tomato sauce, parmesean cheese and then sliced mozzerella - the crust held and it was good enough for David the Super Non Vegetarian to not only eat, but go back for seconds 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Stink Eye

So, I had to see a client out near me today and on the way home I stopped at our local grocery store. A lot of the small towns around here still have at least one small to midsized food store nearby. Most of the staff have been there since time immortal and know everyone, including me. I just had a couple things to pick up and got in line behind a woman with a shopping cart full of soda and bottled flavored water. She swiped her card and then told the cashier she was buying less than $20 with her stamps and should have some left on the card. Stamps? Food Stamps? On soda? I looked down at my phone as I was really getting steamed - I mean here I was buying on sale blueberries and black trash bags - store brand I might add - and that woman was buying SODA with my tax dollars! I was actually surprised at how annoyed I was at what I perceived was Some Nerve. 
But - the soda was 4 six packs for $10 and the flavored waters were 6 for $5 - that's not too expensive I suppose and just because you have food stamps doesn't mean you have to drink healthy. Actually, if you were buying skim milk you wouldn't get half of that. And what I bought - I bought the blueberries because they were on sale, not because I needed them. And I always buy the store brand for trash bags, plastic wrap, etc....why spend money on something that I'm actually buying to throw away? So it was a choice, not a have to sort of thing.

And, what did I expect of this woman - that she should hang her head in shame and only buy foods that I and my taxpayer buddies approve of? And then I thought of Mary, a friend of my mother's when I was a kid. Her husband up and left her for his girlfriend - he left her with 3 children, a mortgage and no support. She went on welfare which shocked everyone, but you know what? She did what she had to do to get by - she got a job and got off it in a year or two, paid off the house and raised the kids. And I would have had a fit if anyone had stared at her that way.  There are a lot of people that abuse it, I'm not saying there aren't - when I was down in Tennessee I was witness to two men who were completely wasted trying to buy munchies with their EBT cards - it happens. But I guess those are the people that we point to when someone mentions food stamps. Not the person that lost their job or the working poor that are not even making enough to slide by. So as I got into my car I realized it's not my job to decide who deserves and who doesn't - because hopefully, there will never be a time in my life when I'm swiping my EBT card and there's a woman behind me in line judging me. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

(Knitting) Group Therapy

When I worked in West Virginia I was in a knitting group  that met once a week at the old Morgantown Hotel downtown. It's a beautiful, well preserved turn of the century hotel and every week I would go stepping past the concierge and up the marble steps, past the crystal chandelier with knitting bag in hand. One of the members of the group is a member of the family that owns the hotel and from what I could figure, they had been meeting for about 20 years - or more. Most knitting groups are a fluid lot as people discover it, move, come back. Some nights it would be me and Dotty, other nights they would be dragging more chairs to the table but it was never boring - we chatted with two people or twenty, about everything and nothing.  I've also been a member of the group in the little store downtown for a short period of time,  but I think it was the time they held the group, I could just never make it in time no matter how fast I scrambled. When I did make it there I enjoyed it - I sat next to a sheriff who sometimes would hide her yarn stash in the patrol car until her husband went to work so she could sneak it in the house. Since we've moved around a bit I've been to different groups, very rarely are they not fun. 

I did go to to one in the Poconos that was no fun - it was an established group but they were not very friendly to newcomers. You know that feeling you got in the beginning of school, when you realized none of your friends were in the same lunch period - you'd stand there holding your tray scanning the lunch room looking for a friendly face or at least an empty table.  Then when you finally sat -  a group would come and sit that knew each other, but not you - so they would look past you, talking to each other as if you were not there - that was exactly that group. The third time I finally gave up after sitting and keeping my eyes on my knitting while everyone else talked around me, never inviting me into the conversation. The only good that came out of that experience was I make sure to introduce myself to new people and include them in the conversation.

So, now I work in Pittsburgh and can no longer make it to Morgantown - so after I started working I found another knitting group and this one is halfway between work and home. I try to schedule my clients so the one I see on knitting group nights are the closest to Kid Ewe Knot - the store I knit at. The meeting are late enough in the afternoon I can get there in time to knit. Knitting groups are fun because you meet all sorts of people - a retired physical therapist, a homeland security agent, a retired CEO, housewife, ball room dance instructor, special education teacher. We speak about everything - traveling, retirement, getting married, babies, crockpot recipes and the latest book we're reading. We laugh - a lot - it's one of the most relaxing, enjoyable things about my week. If things are not going well, my knitting group gives me that welcome respite I sometimes need so much. But most of the time it's just a fun time spent with talented friends. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Just Call Me Grandma

I've been waiting to write about this - I am a grandma, twice! But for the past few months we've all been holding our breath - this was a rocky pregnancy for our daughter in law Brandi and our son Jackson - what amazing people they are. Brandi spent over 3 months in the hospital on bedrest, hooked to monitors while Jackson worked and held down the home front. But they did it and we FINALLY have grandchildren And they are twins- girls!! -and they are a rare thing. They're mono-amniotic which means they shared a placenta and an amniotic sac - the fact that they survived and are here are is a testament to modern medicine. They're very early - almost two months and are having thier ups and downs, but they come from a very long line of weirdly healthy people.

David has often laughed that my side of the family has all these health issues and risks - but it never actually kills us. My grandmother had breast cancer in her 70's - went into remission and lived quite a few more years. My grandfather had a massive stroke and came out of it complaining about how it affected his golf swing. Pointing out to him how lucky he was got you nowhere since you obviously did not know how much his game had suffered. We have blood disorders, cancer, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc... and yet we're all happily dorking around - so they both have a strong genetic background to carry them through. I will have to wait a bit longer of course, they're still in the hospital and will be for a little while longer, but Brandi has been so generous with pictures and responds when I text her to see how everyone is. I've had a lot of good things happen to me - but this I have to say, is one of the best things ever! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blue Light Special

It's been awhile. Well, for me it's been awhile - for other people not so much. I took an early day today and was heading home, minding my own business - something caught my eye in the rearview. Sparkly blue and red lights twirling behind me, I put on my blinker and got in the slow lane to let him by - but it was no good. He slowed down too and rolled down his window to let me know where I could pull over. Now, I've gotten a few tickets so I know what not to do:

Whine - Hell, I don't even like whiners and it just makes you want to be twice as mean, doesn't it?

Pretend - I know I was speeding. He knows I was speeding.

Cry - hmm. Jury's out on that - the time I got caught doing over 75 in a 35 mph zone that was certainly worthy of a few tears. And a lawyer. 

So, I went with my usual - by the time he reached my window I had my license, registration and insurance card ready to go. We played a rousing game of Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over followed by my (not) favorite game of Do You Know How Fast You Were Going - word to the wise - NEVEREVEREVER guess how fast you were going. If you guess too low you'll get yelled at, if you guess right you'll get a big ticket. I did know why he pulled me over but declined to guess at my speed which apparently was 66 in a 45 mph zone. I was actually secretly delighted - in my universe that is not bad at all! But I did not say that. I freely admitted I was speeding and I was sorry (I was sorry). I was glad I didn't have to get out of the car for anything because I didn't have time to put my shoes back on. 

So, after making sure there were no warrants out on me or suspended license - he let me go with a warning. I had to sit through a somewhat longish speech on the Evils Of Speeding but seriously - no ticket - I'd have sat through another hour of lectures. So I have learned my lesson for now, I drove home at a respectable 55 mph although my grandma could have frigging WALKED faster than that......hmmm. maybe I haven't learned as much as I thought I had.....

Saturday, March 12, 2016

From Pillar To Post.

I can actually hear my sister laughing as I write this - she swears I'm the only person these things happen to. I am currently watching True Blood on Amazon Prime and like most of these services , they give you all the seasons but the last ones that are available for sale. Fair enough - it's not expensive and  I also get two day free shipping - or so I thought. I ordered on the 6th with a delivery date of the 9th. Monday I got an alert they could not find my address. I called Amazon and spoke to Rep #1 who called the carrier who apparently needed to speak to me to verfy my address. Since Amazon has delivered here before I was a bit kerfuffled. Two more phone calls and a very weirdly long winded explaination about 3rd party carriers and postal zones I was assured it would be at my house as scheduled.  I will not go over every detail but in the span of 5 days my two DVD's went to New Stanton, Smock, Washington, Smock, New Stanton,, Smock Warrendale and Waynesburg. If they had just sent me a little email saying it would be delayed a day or two I would have been annoyed but not too much as I'm not even done with season 5.

Instead, due to the internet and the ability to give the blow by blow I recieved alerts and email galore detailing where it was going which appeared to everywhere but my house. I had to keep calling and e-chatting because if I didn't it would just sit in whatever post office they tarted it off to and it would be labeled "undeliverable" - please keep in mind all of these places are in a 30 mile radius. Amazon kept upping the ante - I got $5 refund, a $10 dollar refund and then the last person gave me a free one month extension on my Prime membership. But I was still living in my sad little no Season 6 & 7 house where there was all sorts of doom and gloom, not to mention David who did not want to hear one more word about it. But then - on Friday morning - there it was! Through all of this strum and drama   I found out that USPS uses a 3rd party carrier - did you know that? They deliver the package to the nearest post office and then your postal person gives it to you. Unless you live here, then it's tarted around until you cry. 

So after all of this I then get ANOTHER email that my order for True Blood season 6 &7 will be here Monday - what!! Email, call, call and come to find out last rep decided to save time and order the replacement. The rep I was talking to was giving me instructions on how to return it when it got here - no, no, no I told her. She said it was already processed and would be heading this way - nope. I told her and then followed with yet another email that if it came here they were welcome to send a rep out and THEY could return it, otherwise it would just lay in the bushes. Amusingly they were able to stop the shipment. So, in the end I have my DVDs and am actually tempted to order something else just to see what happens. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Picture This

I used to take tons of pictures as a visit nurse in WV, there was not an abandoned building, grave yard, old mining yard I didn't enjoy carefully walking through. My old boss and I had several discussions on this subject since she would often view my pictures. She told me if I had to squeeze over, under or through a gate I was probably tresspassing - and the company would not in any way, shape or form pay bail or legal fees.  I believe this conversation took place after she saw the ones taken (inside) of a crypt. In my defense there was a hole you could access if you stood on the bricks outside and hung down over the wall while sneaking your hand in that was holding the camera. It was tricky but not officially tresspassing. I always took them on my lunch break and really, most pictures I take can be taken out of a car window. 

I like to take pictures of things that interest me, favorite is grave yards of course! I love the old statuary from the past centuries - the composition of decay, religious figures...some of them soar, others are small, plain and heartfelt. I love landscapes, cows, plants. Abandoned buidings with vines crawling, buckling under years of decay. But working in Pittsburgh I can no longer explore these - because most are not as abandoned as they look and I've been told not to go in them. That is disappointing as I've driven past so many! But there is the skyline with the big buildings and today I was able to take some of my favorite bridge. I've been taking more lately, David bought me a (so far) unbreakable camera and I've been using it more and more. 

This weekend I'll be taking the dogs Easter pictures - every year it gets harder and harder to find something new! They've been rabbits twice, so I don't want to do that again. I know it's silly but I really enjoy doing it and they like it too. They are, I have to admit, my favorites as far as picture taking. They're both such clowns it's hard not to take them. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Yarn Me!

I was at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival this weekend, I had briefly entertained the idea of asking someone to go with me - briefly. I am not a big crowd person - I've been to a total of 3 large concerts in my life, the last one when I was around 19 and it was so miserable! Smaller ones I can do, but big stuff for me is no fun.Since I've done this venue before  I've found the best time is to get there right before it opens, I can be done by noon, 1pm and then heading home away from traffic. Pittsburgh is fun in the morning but the afternoon - I went to Whole Foods ONCE on a weekend late afternoon, holy crow is all I have to say. SO, I got there about 8:30 which was great, I had enough time to figure out the parking and to make a memo on my phone of where exactly I parked. I do this all the time since we had that rather horrible experience in Newark airport coming back from Florida. We arrived at night and neither of us could remember which parking area we parked in - and it had snowed!. I parked and then paid ahead of time in the little machine that sucks your credit card in and makes you panic a little that it might not give it back. It did and I went to get a day pass. Fortunately I'd brought enough cash to cover the admission - forgot about that. 

I hadn't registered for any classes and was sorry I hadn't - there were a few I passed that looked like fun. This year they added in quilting and sewing booths and demonstrations neither of which I can do, but I admire those that can. The new sewing machines are expensive - almost $4000, but they are computer driven and can happily embroider without you even being there! What's the point! The knitting  booths were amazing, I found my favorite alpaca ladies- handspun laceweight alpaca yarn in the most amazing shades you've ever seen.I just wish I had remember to bring a little of the purple yarn I had bought last year for them to match it. I ended up buying a beautiful forest green skein of about 2500 yards and have a pattern already to go.  I also bought local but not the booth that sells the brown and beige yarn. I actually was given a skein of that years ago and it's the scratchiest stuff ever and very expensive. Yikes! I just use it for decoration in my knitting room. 

I bought a little of everything - even though I have an extensive collection of books, bags, needles, yarn, etc.... there's always something I don't have. I found the 8 inch double points I was sure they don't make and some cute little stitch markers with little lambs of course. They had a nice coffee and bun kiosk outside in the lobby so I got to sit and drink my coffee overlooking the Pittsburgh skyline, then back in for another round. I left around 1pm and wandered my way home, stopping to take a few pictures. I've been doing that more lately since David bought me a camera for Christmas and so far, I haven't been able to break it. Good on me!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Stand On Your Own Two Feet

I've been noticing a lot of these memes lately, directed at young women in which fathers threaten to shoot anyone wanting to date thier daughters - mothers hoping these girls will know how smart, beautiful, worthwhile they are - please stop. Everytime women take one step foward there's a legion wanting to drag us ten steps back. Think of this - would you post this about your sons? I see nothing assuring boys that they are good looking, that they're smart, that they should never let a woman not treat them well - nothing threatenting anyone that might "mess" with their boys -after all I suppose boys are too smart for that.
Everytime you post something like this you're announcing to the world your daughter is too stupid to take care of herself, to know her self worth and that she will hopefully be good looking enough to survive in this world. It's nonsense. I come from a long line of strong, powerful women - they were knocking em dead before it was acceptable. My one grandmother was a riveter during the war, she could brawl with the best of them. My greatgrandmother ran a boarding house, my grandmother ran a lumberyard, my mother was a nurse - my great aunt was an accountant - as is my cousin, I could go on and on. We did not have any namby pampy simpering good wishes from anyone - we KNOW we're strong and what we're worth. We can survive quite easily on our own. It never occured to me at anytime I would not be independent - I've been married for almost 35 years and it's an equal partnership, no one is the boss. 

So the next time you're tempted to post something like this - please read it first. Ask yourself - am I really raising an idiot? 

I wouldn't say I'm a feminist, but I don't like girls pretending to be stupid because it's easier
. Amy Winehouse