Thursday, November 21, 2013

Leftovers and Sell by Date Creations

I often try to use up the random things that are leftover in my fridge. This AM when I opened it up there were lots of new/ unopened containers. Cream, Ricotta cheese, eggs, and spinach top the list. There was also some stale gluten free bread and a stick of butter that I am sure had been hidden since before school let out for the summer.  I could now see them because I used most of the leftovers earlier this week in a soup and breakfast bake. So, I started checking dates... Nov. 28, Nov. 12, Dec. 6, and Nov. 18. Hmmm. I knew with Thanksgiving coming and that these needed to be used very soon or they really would not be useable. I opened the packages up, sniffed, tasted, and decided that they were "just fine". 

I decided to make lasagna, manicotti, and baked french toast. 

I found myself in trouble came after I got the lasagna made. I had a lot of filling for the manicotti left, but no meat to put in it. So back to the fridge I went. Wallah! I found the last bit of Sunday's beef roast. That was what I had and what I was going to use. Into the food processor it went and then into the pasta tubes! Worked like a charm and full of protein!
After covering it with the end of 2012's homemade spaghetti sauce  and a bit of cheese, it was complete! 

My freezer is now filled with several pans of tasty meals, breakfast is made for tomorrow, and my fridge is now almost empty! 
I guess it is time to start filling it back up. Well, maybe after Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Story of and from Veterans

Today was a whirl or a day, but as I pit stopped at CVS drug store I stood in line behind two elderly gentlemen with a great sense of humor and frustration. I loved that they cracked jokes with the cashier about the year they were born and that they had seen a "friend" after a long while who was older than they were and still wrecking havoc! 

But, I was deeply saddened by the conversation that fell among the jokes. It started with "what kind if run around are you getting with your insurance?" And "Damn Vietnam! The docs say nothing is wrong, but the pain in my legs won't go away." And "I talk with my neighbor (a high level state official) about the crap they put us vets through, but nothing changes." They comained a bit more, cracked a few more jokes , but always came back to "blame it on Vietnam".  

I stood there and pretended not to listen. More and more people congregated around the "prescription pick up" counter. It was a busy Monday! Then one of the two guys said (recalled to the best of my ability), " You know, I go to all of the welcome home events here in town for our men and women. I am pleased that they are  home. People gather, cheer, cry, and treat them like celebrities, like heroes. Those in Desert Storm and Afghanistan are treated like they are royalty." They talked about the thrones that our men and women are placed on, acknowledged that they may even deserve it, were worthy of the parties of sorts that are thrown, had put their lives at risk to defend our country and that these men and women have something in them that many young people don't even desire or strive to have. (Ok, I can process and come to terms with their thoughts, but then their conversation when even deeper and I am nt sure I have even begun to process it.)

It was the next part if the conversation that brought tears to my eyes, made my knees weak and inspired me to say a little prayer. One of the men said (and I share as accurately as possible),"These people need to be honored, but they have no idea what it felt like to fight in a war that no one wanted to be in. I went to Vietnam three times and every time I came home I was greeted by a crowd. No one clapped. No one cheered. These men and women are so lucky, yet have no idea what it feels like to be greeted by people throwing things at you and telling you how awful you are. They just have no idea and I am not even sure they care." 

I believe my heart stopped. I know I took a huge breath and let out a sigh. I looked to the ground and swallowed hard. I wondered if those returning home over the last 10-15 years really did or didn't care. If they did or didn't deserve to be cheered for. If they were fighting a "wanted" war or if they too were fighting a war "no one wanted". I asked myself if these men were bitter and if so did they deserve to be? Did they deserve to have the same respect as all other vets?More ? Less? 
I had many thoughts,probably 100's more than I just listed, swirling in my head and then I looked up. The man that had done most of the talking had a tear in his eye. He looked right at his friend and said( and I remember and can hear it clearly), "Damn Vietnam! We did what we had to do, can't talk about or we cry and now suffer because if it. If only people knew how awful it was they wouldn't think we were so awful. We really are good people."

Then, as if the entire conversation had never happened, the clerk said thanks, wished him a good afternoon and he and his friend parted ways.

In all honesty, I thought about how to interrupt and tell them I care and that I respect them. To tell them not to give up hope for the "young men and women". I tossed around ideas of how to let them know that their stories shared while standing in line were important and need to be shared more often and that all of us in the "prescription pick up" area were leaving the store better than when we came in because of them. But, I didn't want to stop listening. I wanted to see where their story went. They had captivated my attention, drawn me in, and I didn't want them to stop. So, I stood silent, a tear in my eye, and listened, promising to share their story with others. 
So, to the two Vietnam vets at CVS this afternoon, this blog post is for you. Thank you for doing what most won't, experiencing what most can't begin to understand and for supporting those today who continue to defend our great nation! I wish you the best in the years ahead! Cheers to you and the stories I hope you continue to share!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We The People: a Rx for Better Health

As a mom I am concerned with the well being of my kids. I want them to eat healthy food. I want them to get over illnesses fast AND I like the idea that I can buy products that kill germs before they can get me and my family. But what does that really mean?
It means I buy food at a decent price and prepare fairly balanced meals. It means I take my kids to the doctor when their boogers are green, throat is sore, and they have a juicy cough. It means I purchase antibacterial wipes, soaps, school supplies and anti- microbial clothing. But is all this making them less healthy? 
Well, the truth is that WE THE PEOPLE may just be making ourselves less able to deal with illness. You may ask, how is this possible? Isn't all that previously mentioned stuff supposed to help us? Well, in theory- yes, but think about where they are coming from-- business/ companies that are looking to fit a "need" or give us a feeling that their product is needed. But by overusing, not understanding what we are using, and minimizing our exposure to germs we may be putting ourselves at risk. 

For example... How many times have WE THE PEOPLE run to the doctor because we or our kids weren't feeling well. Perhaps even showing signs such as a low grade fever, a juicy cough, maybe even green boogers? What about that infection from a hangnail? Well, the honest answer is that we go to the doctor more often today than in any previous decade... Why? Because we want to get better more quickly and keep on moving on. Now don't get me wrong, there are times when prescriptions such as antivirals and antibiotics are needed. But, have you ever noticed how quickly they are dispersed? And then I ask, how many doses are left in the bottle? 

I also use the example of of overuse. Take a close look at your soap, deodorant, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, pencils, scissors, sponges, mouth wash and yes, your clothes- socks and undies too! Most of these are "treated" with an antimicrobial or nano silver products that works to kill, minimize or prevent bacteria from entering our bodies. Neat concept, but with tragic side effects. What these products do include, but are not limited to 1) kill the weak germs, preventing us from building immunity and making us more suseptible to the stronger ones, 2) enter our bodies through absorption and initiate and aid in the building of resistency to a variety of antimicrobial/ antibiotics, and 3) get washed out of the product in the laundry and run the risk of entering the water supply- not everyone or everything has the privilege of ingesting, using, purchasing treated water. 

So, how do WE THE PEOPLE combat the need to feel better faster, the marketplace flooded with products, and our own choices within our families and homes? Well, what I did was start reading. I started finding out what exactly was in the products I purchased. I came to understand more about the food I was purchasing and how it is ALL safe. That I can actually help my family and my budget by serving well stored and prepared food and that the "sell-by" dates really are guidelines. (My nose and eyes are the best judges.) 

I have also begun waiting until it was needed to go to the doctor and not just after the first day of illness or because a weekend was coming. I make sure that if I, or a family member, am prescribed an antibiotic that I finish it and that I vary the ones I am given. 

I have stopped buying as many products as I could that were labeled "antibacterial", "microban", "antimicrobial", and that included nanosilver. Have I eliminated all of these products from my house- no, but I have cut down. 

So tonight, as I wait for the last load of laundry for the day to get done, I simply share a glimpse of insight into a prescription for better health. WE THE PEOPLE have the power to make a difference in our homes and with our families. We can write our own Rx list. What will be on yours? 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Are Form Letters Really a Legit Response

Over the last nine months, I have chosen to contact my senators and congressman on a variety of topics. I have emailed, called, Tweeted, Facebooked, and used their online form. I can say that I did meet with each office in person and have spoken to a real person at all of them on several occations. 
 But what about the other times? I have received numerous email responses and form letters thanking me for expressing my concerns. I have received emails that state they have counted my contact and that they appreciate my contacting the office. But, only once did any of the three offices actually take interest in the concerns I expressed. ( Thank You Congressman Cramer!) 

So I ask, "Does a canned and/ or automated email really count as a response?" I ask after seeing a Facebook post and story about how one of my senators has responded to over 50,000 emails, calls etc. 

Yes, a tally of contact can help a representative note importance on a topic to his/ her constituents. Yes, sometimes that is all we want. And then I wonder what happened to their comments directly to me ( when I met with them in person) about wanting real stories from the state about how this or that is perceived, impacts, affects North Dakotans. They plea for us to share stories so they can share them on the house/ senate floor, with others when meeting, when looking for support for positions on bills, and to help explain their position. But, when stories are shared are they ever read, used etc. or are just the calls, emails, texts that fit their position cared about?

I guess what I am saying is that just because they ask doesn't mean they really want to know. They like to count contact and use it as publicity. Who wouldn't want to look good to those who aren't as active in the game. Headlines sell... Headlines are what most read. So, it is up to us to make our headline bolder and stronger, more eye catching in order for a staffer to want to hear, read, listen to what we have to say.
Don't settle for a form letter. Don't settle for a, " I will write it down". If you want to share more, be persistent, but be respectful. As much as we want to be the most important person trying to contact them, we aren't. We must be willing to invest time and energy. Persistence pays! 

P.S. Gotta love when the email responses ( below is a section from one ) come and direct you support the program you  directly opposed and doesn't acknowledge what was discussed in you message. Plus, it comes from a "DO NOT REPLY" email account! Love it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Quiet Evening BUT....

I have always heard that being a parent has its ups and down. Today was one of those days. Kids not getting along, no one willing to pitch and pick things up and attitude like I haven't seen for a long time. I really think that my kids are over tired and in need of some down time. BUT, a few things really needed to get done and the kids needed to help... AND the they all got home from school early today... PERFECT, or maybe not so perfect timing! 

Tonight is also a HUGE game for our small town volleyball team- a chance to take 1st in the district, a huge honor!  I had hoped to take the kids and go, but given our struggles in the afternoon, I knew they would not be in any shape to attend and cheer at the game that it probably wouldn't start until 8pm. 

So, I instituted quiet time after out few chores were complete. To my surprise no one whined, complained, or threw a fit. In the midst of an hour they all found something to if and 2 kids ended up falling asleep. They found activities that were not loud and did not require a TV or other electronic device!  

So if parenting has it's ups and downs I am happy to say we ended up and only know the good times because of the tougher ones. 

We are missing what I am sure will be a great time at volleyball, but we gained some ground on a house much out of control, spent time together, and got ready for a fun deer hunting opener weekend! 
I don't think we could have ended the day better!

Breakfast Treats: Carmel Apple Monkey Bread

It's no secret that I love tasty food! I enjoy making it, sharing it, and consuming it!  I am also one that never follows a recipe and hates to see food go to waste. So, this morning I took some leftovers, some partial servings, and a few fresh items out and made ... Carmel Apple Monkey Bread! 

I took a 9x13 nonstick pan with 2"sides, coated it with non- stick spray. Then I took my container (about 1.5 cups) of left over baked apples and layed them loosely in the bottom of the pan. The next step is to take a ziplock bag and place approximately 1.5 cups of white sugar and a reasonable amount if ground cinnamon in it. ( side note : cinnamon is a great seasoning for brain power) I shake the sugar and cinnamon a bit so they mix together. Then I take 2 containers of jumbo refrigerator biscuits or cinnamon rolls or a combination depending on what I may have. (You can use bread dough too.) Cut them into bite size pieces and drop into sugar mix. Coat with sugar mix and drop into pan on top of apples. Making a single to double layer fairly evenly spread.  

Then the extra tasty part.... In a microwave safe dish I melt 1 stick BUTTER. I mix in about 1 cup brown sugar. Then it needs some form if heavy dairy product. Today I melted the last (about 1/2 cup) of vanilla ice cream and added the last of my heavy cream, about 1/2 cup to the butter and brown sugar mixture. These ingredients need to be mixed well- 2 minutes. Finally, I poured the caramel sauce over the bread dough. I try to get it all covered evenly. Yes, it will seep to the bottom. 
I placed it in a 325 degree preheated oven and cooked it for 1 hour. Took it out and flipped it over on a cookie sheet!  

Yum! The kids enjoy it! The guys at the farm shop like it too! It takes a bit of time, but a tasty treat every once in awhile never hurts! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

We the People: Thankful and Time to Share

As the month of November beings, I am always thrown into the mode of remembering things and taking time to acknowledge things and people that I am thankful for. So tonight, I start a series of posts called, " We the People".

On this November 3rd, 2013, I am ultimately thankful for the words, " We the People". At a time when the country is struggling, I hear chatter about individuals not being able to make a difference, and personal struggle  with many events,  I am drawn to these words. WE THE PEOPLE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. We have been given a voice, a brain, and a right to ask, investigate and speak out. WE THE PEOPLE deserve answers and acknowledgement. WE THE PEOPLE need to know that this is still our country, our home. WE THE PEOPLE can make a difference. BUT, WE THE PEOPLE need to step up and be heard. 

So many times we are upset about things and just sit and complain in our own homes, to our neighbors, and our spouses. We choose not to speak out, be heard and share our experiences, our stories with a larger audience. We may be afraid that our voice will offend others. (They may just be offended because they wish they could have said it, feel guilty, or simply have a different perspective. Don't be afraid. If they can realize that you are standing up for and not directly against them, all will be okay.) We may also feel defeated before we have even begun or that no one cares. Additionally, we may even feel that we don't know enough to speak out. But, we DO know enough. WE know our story. WE know how a decision, change or event impacts us and this is what people need to hear. 

WE THE PEOPLE cannot settle, we cannot let others make our decsions, we cannot swallow our voices. We have to find our voice, speak loudly and share our story. No one can change the emotions, facts and impact that our own stories tell. So I ask that WE THE PEOPLE not be so afraid, look at our own stories and speak up and out! Share with a neighbor, your community, your community school, the media, and your elected officials! WE THE PEOPLE have a lot to share. 
Who doesn't like a good story, and we have a lot to share!