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Oh, happy day! New calendar!

There are those of us who like new calendars, and those of us who don't. If you don't like a new calendar, I'm not sure why we're still friends, honestly. But that's not why I'm posting.

Unk was standing in the doorway to my office this morning, talking about technology. It's possible I tuned him out a tiny bit. And then my eyes fell on the new calendar I bought yesterday. So beautiful and pristine, so full of possibility. So ready for me to start entering birthdays and recurring meetings and .... So I picked it up and showed it to him, Vanna White-like. He kept talking. So I put it in my lap and started petting it. Like this:

new calendar

Him: Look at you - all rubbing that like it's porn.

Well. I do like a new calendar.
la cocina

My "new" favorite Stuffing recipe

A long time ago around this time of year, I posted my best gravy recipe here. I recently mentioned on Twitter the crockpot stuffing recipe I've used the last few years and how much I like it. And then I promised it to someone, so I thought this was as good a place as any to post it :)

Crockpot Stuffing

(doctored from

1 cup butter
2 c chopped onion
2 c chopped celery
generous portion of dried parsley
1 t dried sage
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 t marjoram
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

1. cook the above on low-med heat, stirring often
2. brown a tube of sausage (whatever you like - I've been using low-fat Jimmy Dean Sage)

Put in the crock pot: 2 bags of stuffing "mix" or 12 c dry bread cubes (I've done this both ways - either is good. When I do the bag mix, I use one Pepperidge Farm and one "any other brand" - it seems to me that two different types add another dimension to the bread part)

Get liquid ready: depending on your crock pot, you're going to need approximately 4 1/2 cups liquid. Can be a combination of stock, water, white wine, white grape juice, apple juice ... On my recipe, I wrote what I did the first time I made it because I liked it: 2 c chicken stock, 1/2 c water, 1/2 c white grape juice)

3. Spoon cooked veggies over bread
4. Pour in enough liquid to moisten the bread. Reserve the rest to add over cook time if needed (I usually use about 3 1/2 cups total)
5. Mix in 2 eggs, beaten, and cooked sausage
6. Add lid and put crockpot on high for 45 minutes. Then drop to low for the next 3-6 hours
7. If desired, bake in a casserole dish at the end to crisp up

This is the most perfectly moist stuffing I have ever made, and it has great flavor. If you're the kind of family who adds raisins and/or apples, I think you could still do that to this easily and get great results. You'll probably use less liquid if you add diced apples. I added the sausage on a whim because there are always so many discussions about what goes in stuffing, and that was something I always wanted to try. I love the flavor of it, and it's a great addition. Unk prefers his stuffing a little crispy on the top, so I just put a little dish of it in the oven for him :)

Besides the obvious benefits of having one less dish in the oven, the majority of this can also be prepped the day before. I usually chop the veggies the day before and put them in a baggie with the butter overnight. Spices too. You can also brown the sausage the day before. This makes assembly go so quickly, and I'm all for less work on the day of :)

Logged in to write a post and found this saved draft ...

I don't remember when I pasted this here, nor what I was going to say about it. What's even more shocking is that I actually wanted to quote Rick Warren, of whom I am not a fan. Interestingly (to me, anyway), I still like this quote and thought I'd still post it. It doesn't me to further elaborate on it.

Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

-Rick Warren

Oh, Father's Day

... and once again, the retail spammers of the world are conspiring to pound Father's Day into my head. Delete, delete, and delete some more. I have deleted more Father's Day emails this year than ever before. And the things they think I might buy my deceased father crack me up. Really? An iPad? Who gives $500+ gifts? I didn't even when he was alive.

I miss you, Dad. There are only so many men in this world who would drive this monster station wagon onto a ferry, with the back end hanging off, and sit on the hood for the entire trip from Turkey to Greece.

Update: brothers & sister are telling me in a most hilarious email string that this was probably Turkey to (then) Yugoslavia, which I think might be right. I vaguely remember being upset we weren't going through Greece! ferry from turkey to greece

The girl who cried "skinny"

Yup, that's me: the girl who cried "wolf!" ... because, let's face it. I have so many times said, "I'm doing it! I'm losing the weight!" ad nauseam, that frankly it's a little embarrassing to talk about. Again.

And in fact, it's so "again" that I decided to wait to talk about it again until I'd actually made some progress because at minimum I could point to that and say, "see?"

Anyway, I've lost 13 pounds. And it's true that you do change a clothing size approximately every 10 lbs (who knew? my sister; that's who). So I'm doing it again. I'm giving it the old college try. I'm starting over. I'm ... well. I'm done talking and I'm doing. But I'll talk a little about it here if you're interested. Don't feel obligated. Really!

Update 5/31/2012: I've changed the address of the blog, as was funny but no longer accurate :)

Too conservative for the liberals; too liberal for the conservatives...

I think I've mentioned before that I have some ultra-conservative relatives ... and some days I have a harder time with them than others. When one of them posts that she's read a review (ONE REVIEW?!) about The Hunger Games, and based on that thinks they are awful and Christians shouldn't read them, I feel compelled to write. The good thing is it forced me to think, and as I knocked myself out trying to not be offensive, I thought I'd post my comments here, too.

So ... Why Christians should at least be ok with other Christians who read The Hunger Games trilogy

Quickly, and without thinking about it too much:

It's true you just might not want to read the Hunger Games books, [cousin]. The hard thing for me, though, is when people make a decision about something without actually having all the information.

It seems literature is one of those grey areas where people will always disagree -- which is partly why it's so fun that there are so many books in the world -- there's something for everyone! In terms of these books specifically, they aren't striving for realism - they aren't saying that killing children is good, or that it should be good. When I was reading them, I literally felt as if they were a (great) cautionary tale and commentary on where our world is today. That is, if we continue in the vein of things that are currently popular -- plastic surgery, reality shows, etc., etc., the human race will degenerate into such a mess that something on the order of "the hunger games" as a reality show could happen. It seems to me this is actually in agreement with at least some of your concerns. Cautionary tales come in all shapes and sizes -- allegory, fairy tales, etc. Think about C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" - if that's not a cautionary tale, I don't know what is! In addition, these characters learn a LOT about consequences, helping each other, grace, sacrifice ... truly, there are a lot of Biblical themes in these books.

None of that means you'd still like them, [cousin] - as I said earlier today, one of my friends just couldn't read past page 30 because the concept was too upsetting. And I totally get that! Lots of my friends love books I can't/don't want to read :)

But I think it's worth considering other angles on things like this. The book reviewer for Christianity Today has a very fair review posted online that you might find interesting. Whatever the case, choose for yourself if you want to read the books and/or see the movies. It seems a little unfair to make sweeping statements though, without having given them a chance yourself.

In terms of seeing movies and giving money to Hollywood, in general I try to support movies that are more family-friendly and/or clean or where there's growth in the characters and they teach good lessons*. That's why I saw "The Help" in theatres 3 times and refused to see or rent "Bridesmaids". I want to give my money to the people making good movies; not the ones making garbage.

Anyway, I've probably said too much :) I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being argumentative -- I really don't want to argue about this! I just thought it might be helpful to hear another angle on the topic.

*yes, I recently saw (and subsequently wrote about on this very blog) the Dragon Tattoo movie. If you want to criticize me for that; go ahead. You'd be right :)

Everybody's doing it

You know when you put something on a to-do list and it's not on fire, so you keep moving it forward, or hitting snooze, or whatever method you use to put it off, and pretty soon it's been a year since you added it to your list? No? Just me? Well, I do that all the time. And sometimes it's 2 years, and then 3 and then I turned around and I was 45 and still hadn't had a mammogram.

It's not even like I'm worried about what I'd find (well, of course that's scary, but I'm still young and dumb enough to think I'm invincible), or that it's as invasive and icky as a pap smear; I just keep putting it off. I suppose a headshrinker might say it's because of my horrible 34th birthday ...

[wavy Wayne's World flashback motion]

The day I turned 34, I realized I was officially "old". ... which is sad, really, because I love birthdays. Three things happened that week/day that are branded in my memory:
1. It was the year I realized that while I'd been dyeing my hair for fun -- funky highlights, etc. -- my hair had been going gray and I didn't know it. It just snuck up on me, and then I was stuck dyeing my hair after that because I had a gray line at my temples I didn't know what to do with.
2. On my 34th birthday, my doctor's office called to tell me I should schedule a mammogram. THIRTY-FOUR! "But, but, I'm not even 35!" I exclaimed incredulously to the poor girl making those calls from my doctor's office. I honestly don't even remember how she responded, because the rest of the call was a blur.
3. I was in a small group of women that had grown out of a grief support group at church. What I liked about that group was the diversity in our ages. I was the youngest, and I think the oldest was 60-something. However, when I started telling them about my sad discovery about my hair AND getting called for a mammogram, they all pooh-poohed my concerns and told me to get over myself. Since it was a time we were actually meeting for my birthday, that hurt my feelings and I felt sorry for myself ... with no sympathy from the women who were all about the "just wait until .... happens!"

[reverse wavy Wayne's World flashback motion]

So anyway, time passed and I'm 45. And I'm on Twitter the other day, minding my own business, when Jennifer Vides posts
As I go in for surgery... I'd be grateful if at least five of you scheduled your mammogram today.

Included in the tweet was a link to this blog entry (you should read it - I'll wait). Have you read it yet? Go read it.

So I picked up the phone and made an appointment. And then I went to the appointment. And I had such a nice mammography technician that I called her boss afterward to say nice things about her (and what does it mean that their hold music was "Impossible Dream"?). She did a great job educating me, explaining what she was doing, also that Ashkenazi Jews have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world (I don't know if my family was Ashkenazim or Sephardi, but they were from Romania, so probably the former), and that if I got a call to come back in, not to be alarmed as that wasn't uncommon for first-time screens, because they had nothing to compare the xrays to.

And so I was left to ponder my grandmother's radical mastectomies (both sides!), so long ago we can't remember when she had them, and assume I'm fine. Except that I did get a call back that I shouldn't be worried about, but they want to do one more mammogram on the right side, followed by an ultrasound, just to be sure. So. That happened.

Another post started & never finished: Dragon Tattoo, redux

I mentioned on Facebook yesterday a month or so ago that we were going to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I got a bunch of questions about the book, the original, etc., etc., so I decided it was time for a blog entry ... it's only been like 5 months since I blogged, right?

Q: Have you read the book?
Yes, I read the first two books with my book club and then had to read the third because I'm OCD about series.

Q: Do you recommend it?
I honestly don't recommend it. If I can have a conversation with someone about it, then I'll tell them that it's really heavy subject matter, that the original title was something along the lines of "Men Who Hate Women", that it's upsetting, that the mystery in it is fascinating, and then I'll say again that it's upsetting and warn you from reading it. Frankly, it was the mystery in the first one that kept me reading. But it's not light reading and in fact is upsetting reading, and no, I don't recommend it. Also? Lots and lots of (Swedish) political/news junkie stuff in it that could have been edited down a bit.

Q: Did you like the original movies, subtitles and all?
See my answer to the previous question. "Like" isn't the word I'd use. They're VERY well done. Very. And I didn't feel like I was "reading" a movie. But I'd already read the books. And I couldn't believe they'd attempt to re-make them. Surprisingly violent. Also, cold - so much "greyscale" that they are almost black and white films and I watched all three wrapped in blankets.

Q: Did you like the new one?
It was also surprisingly good. I thought I'd think it surprisingly Hollywood AND sanitized, and I don't think it was. Daniel Craig was great. Rooney Mara was great, but the whole time I was watching it, I thought, "what does her family think of this?" I didn't so much like the way they handled the unfolding of the mystery or the annual flower pictures.

I had more to say and more questions to answer, but I have a short memory and can't find the FB post where all the questions were, so ... that's it. And now I have an awfully boring but more current blog entry up. So there's that.

Just me?

Anyone else totally freaked out when they watch (or watched) "The Social Network" and see the Zuckerberg character using LiveJournal?

Every time I see it, I'm a little shocked :)

Edit 9/24/12: I am getting a TON of spam on this entry - no idea why, but I'm tired of it. Locking the comments.