Feb 25 2013

Barbarian hordes visiting? Huns coming over for boardgames? Or, are you just spending a quiet afternoon at home with the fam? This recipe will keep you ahead of the pack. Maybe.

It was a Sunday like many others. We were enjoying the nothingness when organic corn chips in the kitchen apparently sounded an alarm. As if on cue, all testosterone laden individuals rose up from the couch in unison. Lock step they went into the kitchen to initiate a feeding frenzy. The target was home made nachos. And, “So what?,” I thought. It was the first of many mistakes I would make that day.

It was a nice calm Sunday until….

What could be the harm, I thought? Nachos on a Sunday afternoon. How sublime. But, that’s because I wasn’t in the kitchen to see two pounds of hamburger being cooked and stirred. Sure, I knew hamburger was cooking, but TWO POUNDS? Never would have it occurred to me.  I was a babe and uninitiated into the world of MACHO NACHOS. Katie bar the door!

Would two and a half pounds of chips be enough?

And, you know those BIG $5 bags of organic corn chips at COSTCO? The chips who felt macho enough to sound the nacho alarm in the first place? Well, it never would have occurred to me the ENTIRE BAG would be stacked up in a ROASTING PAN to make a corn chip mountain. Common sense would dictate reasonable portions, but no, the feeding frenzy preparation was in full swing.

Fit for a king or restaurant parties of ten.

A WHOLE JAR of organic jalapenos and TWO POUNDS of shredded Amish raw milk cheese complemented the TWO RIPE ORGANIC AVACADOS added to the WHOLE JAR of organic salsa. All of this was transported into the oven via a system of steampunk wenches, pullies and airlifts. The shear weight of the snack was too much to lift by human musculature alone as they were left to bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Ceiling Cam shot of the HALF PINT sour cream application.

And, none of this did I know until the roasting pan of MAN NACHOS  was wheeled out into the living room by a legion of gladiators using ropes and rolling wooden logs to lessen the friction of the roasting pan over the living room rug. I was left to feel the pain as chip crumbs, melted cheese, jalapeno juice and salsa seeds flew in my direction. I had to get out an old camping rain poncho to put on the weather the storm.

All of which leaves me to say it will be a long time before unsupervised chefs are allowed in the kitchen again. My life is a nightmare. Save. Me.



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Filed under: Food,Recipes,Uncategorized — admin @ 7:48 pm Comments (0)
Feb 18 2013

Every once in a lifetime, I meet someone so profoundly amazing, to be with them is to stand in the presence of brilliance. My mind can hardly focus on witty repartee as it tries to keep up and assimilate the input from a dazzling source of soul light.

I want to introduce you to a friend who is just such a person. She’s beautiful, gifted and lovely, inside and out. And, as amazing as her renown and talents are, she is all the more so engaging, because to talk with her, she will never, ever, point to all of her accomplishments. Her name is Christi Stewart-Brown and today is her fiftieth birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTI!

Christi Stewart-Brown

But, I am not bound by such compelling modesty. I can share the profound points of her chocked full CV without any humility whatsoever. In fact, I’m sharing not as much to praise Christi, as she’s had plenty of that, but rather, so you know this little Sunbonnet is Smart enough to know someone this special! Why, every time I read about her, or find out about her latest accomplishments, my self esteem goes up a notch and I don’t have to do a thing.

Writing plays, books or “wrasslin’ cattle,” Christi ties one on.

Just read this bio from her web site, for instance: “Christi Stewart-Brown has had over 40 productions of her plays across the U.S., in Canada, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Stewart-Brown is a four-time Helen Hayes Award nominee and her plays include: Morticians in Love, which ran Off-Broadway in 1995 at the Perry Street Theatre, The Gene Pool, Three More Sisters, Sweet Land of Liberty, Full of Grace, Steak! (co-author), a country-western musical about cattle-rustling vegetarians, and Do Not Use if Seal is Broken, which was made into a film entitled Loungers. Loungers, directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball, The Kite Runner), was featured at the 1996 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where it won the Audience Award and placed second for the Jury Award. Stewart-Brown has also written a work of young adult fiction, entitled Kin. Click HERE to read reviews at amazon.com.”

“Kin,” poignant young adult reading.

“Kin,” Christi’s latest accomplishment, is an edge-of-the-seat Young Adult read that was satisfying to me as a grown-up as well. Christi is a startling wordsmith, able to spin a phrase creating images before your mind knows what’s happened to it. She is smooth in her verbiage and mischevie0us. When I read her works, I keep turning pages to see what will delight me next. In addition, because she’s clever, her characters have to follow along behind. A review for one of her plays, Morticians in Love, commends her thus: “…Morticians [in Love] is a simple enough idea: the tender story of first love between two devout necrophiliacs. Now, the idea itself gets a laugh, but what’s a pleasure is that Stewart-Brown follows through and creates characters, dialogue, and stagings that are a real joy to watch. It’s so depressing to see ingenious ideas or plots wasted by paper-thin characters, or to watch great characters ruined by dumb dialogue. Morticians scores on all counts, following up a great idea with solid writing.” — Matthew Richter, The Stranger (Seattle)

But, the most amazing thing about Christi is the entourage of friends she is carrying through life. Just reading through her Facebook page, she has blessed many people with her friendship and they, remembering her birthday is today, have left comments by the dozens. You have to see it to believe it! What love, what tributes and all of these friendship go back years, even years and years. Why, Christie’s friends are writing poems, making movies and singing original compositions for her birthday, each vying for her attention. Why, the staggering fanfare is giving competition to the Queen of England’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her sixty years on the throne.

 

Christi’s friend, Gavin Derek is moved to song. What a guy! LOVE this.

So, don’t be left out of the party! Go to Christi’s Facebook page and say, “Hi!,” check out her books on Goodreads and look to Amazon to see all of her books and mentions, some in the Kindle’s immediate download. Make Christi’s birthday a fiftieth to remember and grab on to a bit of her intellectual celebrity presence, for she is Renaissance in her command of many venues.

Every now and then, someone comes along with spell-binding gifts in order to create joy and happiness for others. Join me in shouting out, “Yay, Christi! Happy Birthday with many more to come.”



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Filed under: Beauty,The Arts,Uncategorized — admin @ 2:25 pm Comments (0)
Feb 11 2013

How easily most of us read these words and are able to immediately relate. Listen to what? Shout out what? What should we communicate and when should we do it?

There are so many people who can easily “listen up” or “shout out,” the phrases have become cultural idioms in the English Language. Idioms are phases that have an accepted use other than their literal meaning. And so, “listen up” means “pay attention” while “shout out” can literally mean to “shout out” or just to “pass the word around” and tell everyone you know. But, people who have hearing and speech problems cannot always either listen up or shout out. For them, these simple directive phrases, can cause frustration and fear over the inability to express feelings while communicating effectively.

When I was a kid, there was nothing more exciting than staying home from school to watch a space launch. We all knew of Astronaut John Glenn and in February of 1962, it was all anyone talked about. He orbited the earth three times and became a national hero. Later, after his outstanding military career, he became a Senator from the State of Ohio, serving in Congress for twenty-five years.

Senator John Glenn’s wife Annie hid a debilitating secret.

With the name “John Glenn” being household word for most of my life, I thought I knew everything about him. What I didn’t know was his wife, Annie Glenn, was emotionally suffering for most of those years while her husband was in the limelight. She severely stuttered and was extremely fearful of interacting with anyone outside the Glenn family. She did not get help until she was fifty, but then became fluent after attending a treatment program at HCRI in Roanoke, VA. Now Annie and John Glenn are dedicated to publicly sharing that no one has to isolate themselves due to speech and language inabilities.

John and Annie Glenn encourage all stutterers to get help.

There are many, varied communication treatment options and modalities available, along with innovative outreach methods. The American Speech-Hearing-Language Association or ASHA, found at ASHA.org, is a proactive organization  reaching out to insure help is available for everyone with hearing, speech and language problems. ASHA.org provides a Professional Search Tool Page with easy access to audiologists or speech-language therapists. ASHA’s intent is all inclusive, stating that,  in order to enable Communication for a Lifetime, “The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is committed to ensuring that all people with speech, language, and hearing disorders receive services to help them communicate effectively.”

John and Annie talk about stuttering being treated into fluency.

Hearing loss and speech difficulties do not always begin at birth or in childhood, but may commence at any stage of life. Many people, who become speech, hearing and language disabled later on, live for years not understanding that their sensory functions are slipping away. Those who have had stokes may not be able to fully communicate to their previous level of proficiency overnight. Those who have difficulty speaking, who stutter, have trouble swallowing or keeping their balance when they walk, may be too shy to reach out for help, feeling overwhelmed by perceived obstacles.

ASHA headquarters in Rockville, MD.

So, listen up and shout out to those who might need professional help to ease their inabilities to speak fluently, having any one of a number of speech, language or communication challenges. Shout out to inform others who might need emotional support to get help for themselves. And, listen up, if this is something you, yourself need. Don’t wait to get help. Opportunities for physical and emotional healing abound. They are there for the asking. Get Help…Don’t Wait!

With the wealth of resources listed on the ASHA.org web site, it is reassuring to know anyone who has speech, hearing and language challenges can find help in the privacy of their home by clicking on the Professional Search Tool Page. Thank you, ASHA.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by
BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf ASHA.org and received payment
for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.
I believe in and support the work of ASHA.org



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Filed under: Functionality,Head,Uncategorized — admin @ 7:41 am Comments (1)
Feb 10 2013

In my next life, I will love crowds. I will spend each New Year’s Eve in New York City at Times Square and each Chinese New Year in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown.

Today is 2013′s Chinese New Year, a year of the Snake. It will be celebrated in fine style, here in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown. If I didn’t mind crowds, I’d be there. Or, if I could use the Popemobile, and be encased in plexiglass while I zoom around, that would be OK as well. But, just being me, I have to enjoy the festivities on TV or YouTube, safely sequestered away from the crowded excitement, but missing out on lots of it. Even so, I’ve got the pitch that celebrating the Chinese New Year in the District of Columbia is a very good time.

A targeted view of the D.C. Dragon Dance winding around.

When we go to the National Gallery of Art, we come home by way of 7th Street, a main north-south artery of the City. The City was carefully planned as the Nation’s Capital by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, appointed by President George Washington in 1791. All of the streets are on a naming system with all of the north-south streets being numbers and all of the east-west streets being letters of the alphabet. When we drive on 7th Street, we cross H Street, passing right by the Friendship Arch signaling the beginning of Chinatown at 7th and H. For those interested in going to Chinatown by subway, there is a convenient Metro stop, Gallery Place/Chinatown.

The Friendship Arch welcomes visitors to Chinatown, D.C.

Washington’s famous Friendship Arch is the world’s largest arch of its kind. It is a “seven roof arch” consisting of three large and four small tiled roofs. The Arch was erected in 1986 to celebrate our friendship with Washington’s sister city of Beijing, China. Designed by local architect, Alfred H. Liu, the arch boasts 272 dragons, reminding the viewer that many Chinese people consider themselves People of the Dragon.

The Washington, D.C. Chinese New Year’s Festival, 2012.

As with all political situations, there are many stories and back stories associated with the Friendship Arch. Many of Washington’s Chinese businessman did not want the Friendship Arch to be built in association with Communist China. As their sympathies aligned with Taiwan, they were intent on building a second arch on the other side of Chinatown to represent what they considered the true government of China. After many years, the funding for the businessman’s Taiwan Arch never materialized and the present Freedom Arch was built in concert with Beijing and the Communist People’s Republic of China.

Making New Year Cake or Nian Gao.

My parents lived near San Fransisco, CA in the early 1950s and were friendly with their Chinese neighbors. My father developed a definite fondness for sweet Bean Paste Cakes which you can study by clicking on the Guide to Chinese Pastries. Whenever I was near any sort of Chinatown with traditional Chinese Bakeries, whether in Los Angeles, New York City or Boston, I would always buy a box of Bean Paste Cakes to insure a happy homecoming and see his big smile. Although the Bean Paste cakes are eaten all year long, the New Year Cakes seen in the video above are special to the Chinese Lunar New Year.

By watching the video above, you can bake them “just like your Chinese grandmother use to make.” Sounds good to me. I LOVE recipe secrets! Happy New Year, everyone!



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Filed under: Beauty,Outside,Uncategorized — admin @ 1:10 pm Comments (0)
Feb 09 2013

My last visit to IKEA was shocking. Everything went fine until I rounded the corner in the children’s section. Then I saw them.

I was eyeball to snouts with cold, hard reality. In an unabashed exploitation of their pet beagle, BlogHer’s Denise and T.W. have sold the rights to their underage wonder dog. Popular canine persona, Skeeter Bess, has been transmogrified into a plush toy. Have these women no shame? You can imagine my concern, when I turn the corner at IKEA and was confronted with a bin of Skeeter Besses.

Sweet Skeeter has been sold out and mass produced.

A mass of snuggling Skeeters reached out, whimpered, attention got and begged to some home with me. It was heart wrenching. What was really frightening, however, they seemed to exhibit the behavior characteristics of the real Skeeter Bess as the day went on.

Bouncing around the cart, nuisance behavior started right away.

Skeeter II was the model of puppy behavior as I was picking her out, but things soon deteriorated as I put my selection in the cart. As sweet as she was in the bin, she became very self aware and determined. She knew what she wanted and she wanted it NOW! One would think I’d remember the numerous Chatters, Comments, Posts, Tweets and Facebooks about the Skeeter Bess vs. T.W. and Denise face off. But, no. I was smitten.

See Kitty saying, “What is this? And, when does it leave?”

First, Skeeter II created a disturbance all the way from puppy bin to check out. She was excited, jumping around the cart, crouching and hiding behind purchases and then pouncing out to whimper at other shoppers. I could have turned around at any time, but I thought, “She can’t possibly be like the real Skeeter Bess. This will get better when we get home.” How wrong I was.

It’s pitiful to see Kitty praying, “How long, oh Lord, how long?”

As soon as we got home, Skeeter II mouthed the words, “Where’s the bed?” and hasn’t been off of it since. Talk about bed hog! Kitty, a happy bed resident for thirteen years in our home, was given her marching orders by this IKEAN mini-beast. Only recently, was Kitty allowed to return.

Skeeter II now lets Kitty on the bed, to provide sleeping support.

Since then, Skeeter II has commandeered the bed, cuddling up to any warm body that happens to lie down. And,  just of whom does that remind me? That’s right, Chicago Beagle of the Year, Skeeter Bess.

So, if you got to IKEA and see really cute beagle puppy plush toys in a bin. Take my advice and walk. On. By.





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