Monday, December 1, 2014

What we made for Thanksgiving

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our place this year and cooked up a storm. Unfortunately, I have since admitted that I don't love turkey...and we have about 6 pounds left over. So far I've mostly attempted to disguise it the form of Mexican food. Turkey tostadas anyone? The side dishes were good though. Here's what we made:


I found this recipe out of people magazine and it was really good. Generally speaking I don't really like stuffing (it's mushy bread cooked in a dead bird) but this was actually tasty (and not cooked inside the bird). It was the hit of the night. 

What you need: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 pound of sausage (chopped), 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper, 3 tablespoon minced garlic, 6 1/2 cups of cornbread (that's two small packages of the mix from the grocery store), 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning (which I mixed myself using Emril's recipe), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 5 cups chicken broth (I used about 4.5 cups), 6 tablespoons melted butter.

What to do: 
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the sausage. Cook, stirring as needed until browned, about 3 minutes. Add onion, green onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook 5 minutes longer until the vegetables have softened.  Remove from the heat.3. Add the crumbled cornbread to a large bowl.  Stir in the sausage and vegetables, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, cayenne and chicken broth.  Mix thoroughly.4. Brush a 1 1/2 quart casserole 8 x 8-inch square pan, or 12-inch skillet with some of the melted butter. Drizzle the remaining butter over the cornbread mixture and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the casserole and bake in the oven for 50 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to distribute the browned bits and keep it from sticking, every 20 minutes, until browned on top.
Mashed Potatoes:
Sadly, these were the flop. I tied to make them in the crock pot the ended up being undercooked. :(

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

 We used this recipe from Kevin is Cooking but we added bacon.

What you need: 1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts (cut in half), 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey. 

What to do: 
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil. 
3. Toss brussels sprouts with the olive oil salt and pepper. 
4. Bake 'em for about 20 minutes. 
5. Put 'em in a boal and toss them with balsamic and honey. 

We rounded the meal out with crescent rolls, green beans, turkey, ham and two kinds of pie (because we couldn't choose between pumpkin and apple). It was nice to be with friends and family and just relax. Our furnace actually went out on Thanksgiving morning which was a big bummer but it was pretty warm Thursday through Saturday and with the help of a couple space heaters the house stayed pretty toasty. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa

In October Truman and I got to go to go to California to celebrate my grandpa's birthday. I love California and I love spending time with grandpa. He just turned 90 and he's still has his brain and physical mobility...not many people can say that.

I always had a great relationship with my grandparents. My grandma died eight years ago and I was devastated. We were really close and I never expected to loose her so soon. The only silver lining has been that my grandpa and I started talking more. When my grandma was alive it was always easiest to have a relationship with her (what can I say, her hearing was better than his :)). I'd come over, she'd cook and we'd talk. When I called my grandfather would pick up the phone, we'd exchange a few sentences and then he'd hand the phone over (remember what I said about his hearing?). But when my grandmother died my grandpa and I started hanging out and talking more. When I decided to go to law school I even thought about going to school in LA and living with grandpa. Probably wouldn't have been good for my social life but I think we would have been really good roomies.

It's funny, my childhood memories with my grandparents  mostly center around my grandmother. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know my grandpa as an adult. Not everyone gets to do that. 

Happy 90th Grandpa! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why I don't plan on breastfeeding the baby I'm probably never going to have

Have you read this Washington Post article about breastfeeding? It fabulous. If you haven't read it you should go do that now. It's ok, I'll wait...

...oh, ok. Are we back? Didn't you think it was great!? Now let me tell you why I, as woman who isn't planning on having biological children, is blogging about a breast feeding article. You know, other than this quote which I might print out and frame somewhere:

“I’m not saying breast-feeding is not beneficial,” Colen told the media at the time of the study’s release. “But if we really want to improve maternal and child health in this country, let’s also focus on things that can really do that in the long term — like subsidized day care, better maternity-leave policies and more employment opportunities for low-income mothers that pay a living wage, for example.”

There are a lot of reasons why I don't plan on having biological children. One of them is that the societal pressure on women that come with being pregnant and having an infant seem like more than I can handle. I've watched friends go through pregnancy and suddenly no one trusts them to know what is best for themselves. Pregnant women's bodies become community property. The belong to the unborn fetus, they belong to doctors or husbands or overbearing parents or in-laws but they don't belong to the woman. Because, suddenly, she is no longer her own entity but an entity defined by her relationship to something else. No longer a woman but a mother.

So imagine my feelings when this conversation happened at a meeting last month.

Me to colleague whose wife just had a baby: "So...are you a dad?"
Guy 1: "Yeah, he was born 11 days ago."
Me: "Congratulations! How's it going? I can't believe you're even at this meeting!"
Guy 1: "Eh, it's actually not that bad. Well, my wife is breast feeding so she's doing all the work. It's a lot harder for her than it is for me."
Me: "Yeah, that's the complicated thing about breast feeding. I'm not planning to have a bio baby but if I did I don't think I'd breast feed. It makes it really hard to equally parent from the get go."
Guy 2 (not previously involved in the conversation): "That's terrible for the baby! Breast is best!"

Hold up home fry! Let me get this straight. I wasn't even talking to you and you feel entitle to yell (yell!) at me about my parenting of my probably-not-going-to-exist-hypothetical-baby? Ok, great, we'll continue.

Me, to guy 2: "Well actually the long term effects aren't all that well documented and for the toll it takes on some women, it may not always be the best choice. Have you read the research?"
Guy 2: "Well, not really."'re entitled to tell me what to do with my body but you haven't even done any research on the subject? Awesome.

Nursing is probably the right decision for a lot of women. I have friends who relished in the unique kind of bond and gratification it provided them. But I also had friends for whom nursing was stressful, painful or traumatic. For whom it defined parenting in ways they didn't want. And for whom it made working outside the home really difficult.

Of course we're not going to improve maternal and child health in this country by creating (and funding) policies that actually support women and children. Because, frankly, it's easier and cheaper to just blame women. Look, I will wholeheartedly defend a woman's right to breast feed (and do it wherever and whenever and for as long as she wants. If you want to nurse your toddler in a liquor store in the middle of the day, good on ya.) I'm just not willing to get on the we-know-what's-best-for-you wagon.

I really long for the day when we trust women to know what is best for themselves and their families. That we don't feel entitled to tell someone that they should or should not be nursing. And that we operate on facts rather than pop culture. Until then I'm going to keep making whatever decisions I want with my totally non-existent baby.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Olivia!

I haven't been blogging much lately...well, I have been writing but I haven't been publishing what I write because I've been to angry. I've been angry about Ferguson and about some stuff at our church and police brutality...and...and...and...

...and everything I wrote came out angry or preachy. Angry and preachy does not a good blog make. So I've written some things about Ray Rice and some things about the Unitarian Universalist church but for now, for the most part, I think I'll leave them unpublished.

But you know what makes me super happy and not the least bit angry? Olivia's birthday!

On October 6th Olivia turned eleven. I love celebrating, I'll celebrate damn near anything so obviously there needed to be a celebration for Olivia. We decide the occasion called for chicken nuggets and a birthday hat. Olivia had never had chicken nuggets so this was a real treat. She loved them so much that she even kinda sorta put up with a birthday hat. It was all supremely silly and pretty amazing. Olivia has had a bit of a rough year. Health-wise her 10th year wasn't her easiest but I'm so thankful that she seems to be doing better now.

The pictures aren't the greatest because I was laughing to hard to focus the camera for most of the chicken nugget experience. What can I say, life is just more fun when you're hanging out with this dog.

If you ask me, she doesn't look a day over five. 

The nuggets! Yes, we made a special trip to Burger King. 

 O.M.G. that hat! (and yes, it's an Amanda Gonzalez original)
 The nuggets...
 She figures it out...
And the rest is a blur. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

National Suicide Prevention Week and the meaning of "safety"

One of my favorite quotes has always been Mother Teresa's "If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week a couple weeks ago (I'm a little tardy to the party) I have been thinking about how we can better take care of each other.

Colorado is a little bit of a weird place to be a raging progressive. While it definitely has it's progressive moments, the one constant that runs through Colorado's value system is the idea of rugged individualism and self preservation. I don't know if these folks all think they are decedents of cowboys or what. It's the wild wild west y'all. To this California girl (who doesn't even believe in proverbial bootstraps) the whole thing is bizarre. Coloradans, for example, love them some guns. My (liberal) father in law recently posted a picture on facebook of a boy scout troop he volunteers with learning to shoot. His comment on the post was something about preventing tragedy and how knowing how to handle a gun is essentially a safety measure. See...guns...individualism...yada.

For me, gun pictures on facebook often lead to googling and this was no exception.

According to the Center for Disease control, between 2005 and 2010 3,800 people died from accidental shooting. By contrast, in 2011 alone (compared with the cumulative 5 year stat above) there were 39,518 suicide deaths were reported in the United States. Yes, 10x the 5 year stat in one year. Which got me thinking...we're doing it wrong. What if we thought about self preservation differently? What if it wasn't about individualism and taking care of yourself but about community and taking care of one another?

This boy scout troop on facebook teaches their kids to shoot in the name of safety (protecting one's self from accidental shooting) but, if we were looking at the data, aren't they better off teaching the kids coping and communication skills along with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence? My theory is that if we had fewer bullies, more loving communities, boys/men that protected and honored each other's whole emotional selves, and people that were trained to taking care of each other we would have fewer people killing themselves. Imagine what the world would look like if we thought about "safety" as emotional?

It seems that these skills are particularly needed in boys and men. Suicide is four times higher among men than women and a men are most likely to kill themselves with a gun. In fact, 80% of all firearm suicide deaths are white men.

Imagine if instead of teaching children to shoot or even to "protect" themselves from guns, we taught them to care for each other and to recognize when their fellow man was having a hard time. What would that look like? What would boy's sports teams, classrooms and scouts look like? What would Colorado look like if we shifted out value system a bit.

Which brings me to another of my favorite quotes, "we've begun to raise daughters more like sons..but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters" - Gloria Steinem.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Linq and High Roller Las Vegas

The Palms has a really great 24-hour checkout policy where if you book online you get to check out 24 hours after you checked in (instead of the normal 11a check out) so if you check in at 5p, you can check out of 5p the next day (or two days later or whatever). This was great because we could use the pool or leave our stuff in the room until we were ready to head to the airport. Very convenient.

We spent most the day wandering around the strip at the new Linq shopping center. "Los Angeles" seems to be the theme of new development in Las Vegas which is pretty fun. Poloroid has opened a "Fotobar" which prints cute coaster-like prints for a dollar. We thought about getting some but couldn't think of anything we needed printed. 

Attack of the giant flamingo!

I think Truman does a better flamingo than I do. I've sort of got a special chicken thing happening.

 The real flamingos are more sophisticated than we are. 

In true Las Vegas fashion the folks who own Cesar's have recently build the "High Roller," the world's largest ferris  observation wheel (but if you call it a ferris wheel people get offended). At 550 feet it's taller than the London eye (which is only 443 feet tall, sucka). Each "cabin" holds up to 40 people but since we were there (and you drinking) at 11a there weren't very many riders. It turns out most people in Vegas don't do much before 1p. My husband, on the other hand, wakes up at 6a (seriously we had to go get snacks so he could munch on something before the buffet opened). We ended up getting out own bubble to ride in and Truman was excited about having his own space for a while (he was a great sport of hanging out in crowds for his crowd-loving wife's 30th birthday). I'm not sure if I'd pay full price for the thirty minute ride but for the Living Social price (that included a free drink) I thought it was a pretty cool.

In case you were wondering this is how Truman celebrates having his own space...

 And also this...

We finished up our trip by meeting my friend Jesus for happy hour. He moved from Denver to Las Vegas in May and it was great to see him. We grabbed happy hour at Simon in the Palms Place and it was great. Much quieter than other restaurants in Vegas hotels and everything on the happy hour menu was $10 or less. If you're looking for a relaxed place that still feels like your in Vegas (and has a view of a pool) you should check it out.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Very Vegas Birthday

I decided I wanted to do something for my 30th birthday. And then I decided that I wanted to go somewhere. Where better to go than Vegas to see Britney Spears? It was fun and silly and a great weekend spent with my husband. Just the way a 30th birthday should be. 

 Silver ducky! At the new SLS Hotel.We thought the design of this place was pretty cool but nothing amazing (other than the ducky of course).  

 We stayed at the Palms and the rooms had the silliest collection of oddly shaped furniture pieces. Does anyone really utilize these?

 At the pool right before the bro pool party started. It was fun people watching (what up pregnant cocktail waitress in a bikini!?) and I sort of adore Vegas pools. 

 Birthday dinner was at Nove on the 52nd floor of the Palms. I think the theme of this trip was awesome views. It was a pretty cool place to to eat dinner. 

And finally, the main event: Britney!!!

 And our seats got upgraded! Our tickets were midway up the 200s section and they upgraded us to the 6th row of the 100s. The seats were great and the show was really fun. 

See, there's Brit Brit. 

And there she is in the ring of fire. Britney may have been a during the show. The fire made me a little nervous for her. Keep it in the middle Brit. 

After Britney we got some of those giant slushy drinks (thanks groupon). The Vegas check list was nearly complete. 

Our final stop was Ghostbar on top of the Palms. It may not have been our scene but the view as fabulous and the tickets were comped.