Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Status Update, of sorts

I don't even know if I have any readers left here but I have a few things to say that I can't cram into 140 characters on twitter, or that seem reasonable even for a long FB status update. So this is where they shall go.

• Wondering... when speaking like a foul mouthed pig became so normal in our culture that even little kids do it? Here's the way it went down:

We were leaving a family "fun farm" a couple of weeks ago and it was already very dark.  I stopped with my youngest at the row of portable toilets on my way out but all the lights were out so we just walked away. A little girl of about 10 was standing there with an adult male (I assume it was her dad) and he said something to her about it being too dark to see, to use the bathroom.  She responded with this "I can't believe the f****** lights are out!"  I assure you, she did not say asterisk.  Dad responded with nothing. Nada, zilch, zippo.  It stopped me in my tracks, just a few feet from them and I said to my youngest "did that little girl just say what I think she said?!" Ruth replied, "yep, she sure did".  No doubt they heard us, as I wasn't trying to be quiet.  This happened a couple of weeks ago and it's been bugging me ever since.  Our culture has changed so much I can't even wrap my head around it. Honestly, I'm not even sure I want to.

• I got a super-cool package in the mail today and I blogged about it here. That's me there in that fun t-shirt (one of 8 in the package). But you prolly already knew that was me, huh?

• I have not read the book or written a review on Rachel Held Evans idea of living biblical womanhood.  I've heard from those I trust that the book made them go "oh no way, you've got to be kidding me" and I hate reading books like that.  I like reading books that people go "wow, this is fantastic insight".  So, don't look for any book reviews from me on this subject.

• Hurricane Sandy ripped through my area today with much less ferocity than it had when it hit the east coast, but it did knock some trees down and cause massive power outages.  Three of our kids stayed home from school today since their school was one that was without power, heat or phones.  We were spared, but we pray for those who were not. May God be merciful in their efforts to rebuild their lives.

• I have a much bigger post coming soon on this topic but I wanted to report that after 8 weeks of being diligent on this healthy eating/weight loss/exercise kick, I've dropped 10 pounds (as of yesterday's weigh-in).  Even cooler, is that hubby has lost 27 pounds!  Pretty awesome, huh?  I assure you there is no trick to what we're doing, it's just a lot of hard work, watching our calories, making smarter food choices (no pre-packaged foods - it's pure garbage!) and getting on the machines faithfully, 6 days a week.

• I posted a FB status the other day that I soon removed for personal reasons, but essentially it was a rant about people who steal things.  I don't even think they realize that's what they're doing but it's exactly what they're doing.  Let me give you the mock scenario:

Mary the Uber-Talented artist has a gallery where she displays her work for sale. Selling her work is how she contributes to her household income to pay bills, send her kids on school field trips, buys her son new jeans every time she turns around because he's growing like a weed, make the car & insurance payment and put food on the table. Sculptures, paintings, hand-crafted jewelry, all sorts of wonderful items.  The vast majority of the people that come into Mary's shop really appreciate her work and purchase directly from her.  Some even commission her to do custom work just for them, and she really enjoys that.  Although, once in a while someone comes in, really loves her work and wants it, but doesn't want to pay for it.  When Mary isn't looking, they just take whatever they want and walk out the door.  Now let me ask you, what is that called? It's called shoplifting, and if you did it and got caught, you'd be charged with theft, and rightfully so.

So now let me ask you another question: if you do it to an artist who's merchandise is for sale strictly online (not an actual brick and mortar store), what is it called?  It's called common, normal, every day occurance, and yet it's still stealing.  People do it all the time and never bat an eye.  They take songs, games, programs, movies, images and more and they never pay a dime for them.  They like the work, they appreciate the work so much that they really want it for themselves but just not quite enough to actually pay for it. Somehow, somewhere along the way they've latched onto this idea that somehow, they're simply entitled to take what they want, for free.  You could never get away with that in real life, and yet people online do it every single day.  It's absolutely maddening and it happens to me more often than I like to think about.  Listen, if you're someone who normally takes without paying for it, KNOCK IT OFF.  Artists that have their work for sale (actors, musicians, artists, designers, etc.) sell it to make a living, just the same way other folks go to work every day to make a living.

Well, that's about all I have to say.  I think I did have other stuff planned but either it wasn't important enough or it'll just go in the next status update.  Thanks for reading. :-)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Autumn Goodness: Pumpkin Spice Muffins Recipe

Yesterday afternoon after running errands, hubby and I went through the Tim Horton's drive thru so he could get a cup of coffee.  Now, if you've ever been to Timmies you know they have these giant, evil, horrific signs right near the order thingy that have pictures of massively delicious and fattening yumtastics, such as donuts and bagels and sammiches and other things.  Well, it's fall now so guess what they were showing off there yesterday?  You guessed it, their wonderfully-horrible-fattening delicious pumpkin spice muffin.  I've had one in the past, and let me tell you, one bite and you're pretty sure there's an angelic chorus being sung, somewhere.  They really are that good.

So, being calorie-minded I quickly checked an app on my phone for that specific culprit and I almost fell out of the van when I saw 1 muffins has 410 calories. FOUR HUNDRED AND TEN.  That's insane.  That's more than my entire dinner last night that consisted of oven roasted potatoes, carrots, onions and left over roast beef.  Anyway, all that to say, it just inspired me to one-up Tim Hortons with my own version of a low-fat, low-cal, awesomely delicious pumpkin spice muffin.  I am quite pleased to say, I have met that challenge and now I'll share the results with you! Yay!  If you love pumpkin, you're going to LOVE these:

2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. almond extract
1.5 T melted butter
1T. sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Pre-heat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & pumpkin pie spice.  In a separate bowl combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar, applesauce and almond extract. Mix well then add to the flour mixture.  Mix just until moistened all the way through then scoop into prepared muffin tin. (I used a 12 cup tin).  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

While muffins are baking, melt the butter and mix the sugar and spice.  When muffins are still warm, baste the tops with melted butter then sprinkle the sugar/spice mixture over the top.

I just ate one (I tried really hard to wait until after dinner, but it was impossible) and they are just fantastic.  Fluffy, sweet, pumpkinny wonderful.  And the good news is, they are only 138 calories per muffin. w00t!


Pop-Culture Buzzword: Bullying

There are all sorts of buzzwords in our culture these days and "bullying" is most certainly one of them.  Now let me be clear when I say buzzword I mean a word that is used often, one that we see in print often, and is also often misunderstood or misused.

While the term bullying isn't new at all, the focus on it (and the effects of it) do seem to have a stronger focus in our day than even 5 or 10 years ago.  I don't really know why that is, but I assume it has a lot to do with the explosion of internet use, social networking, global connectivity, etc.

I will confess that the modern definition of the word seems to be a bit different than the definition I grew up with.  You see, I'm from the time when a "bully" was most often the mean, overweight, ill-mannered little booger on the playground who made you think he would beat you up if you didn't hand over your lunch, or lunch money.  He may or may not have ever beat anyone up in his life, but he was cruel enough verbally and intimidating enough physically to make you think that he likely had, and probably would, if you didn't do what he said.  As a kid, you just fear that bully.  If you see him coming you run the other way or hope he doesn't notice you.  As an adult, it's clear to me that these were kids that came from a home where either the mom or the dad acted exactly like that.  Kids act out what they learn at home, so if mom is going around the house screeching threats if things don't go her way, or if dad is threatening (or doing it) to slap mom (or the kids) if he doesn't get his way, then naturally the kids just pick up on it and learn that this is how you get your way.  I will also confess that there were times (more than I care to recall) when I was a younger mom that screeching and threatening when things didn't go my way, was a normal part of our home life.  Certainly not one that I'm proud of but it wasn't until someone said to me "how would you feel if someone talked to you like that?" that it really hit me.  Of course I didn't think I was a bully but there are different kinds of bullies and different kinds of bullying.

There are some things I'd like to toss out there about bullying.  You may or may not agree but this is the way I see it, from where I sit:

The word bully or bullying is over-used.  Some will say this and in some cases I think they might be right.  However, I think in some of those cases the people thinking it's over-used are those who still see bullying as the brat on the playground, and that's pretty much it. But, what about:

• The husband who consistently runs his wife down about her weight, or her cooking, or her hair style or whatever, in an attempt to get her to lose weight or dress differently or wear her hair differently?
• The mom who screams and cusses at her kids as a common form of communication?
• The teenage girls who insult, threaten and intimidate another girl at school because she's different in some way (weight, race, sexual orientation, etc.)? (remember the movie Carrie?  Count yourself blessed if you never dealt with the venom that can come from ignorant, self-absorbed teenage girls).
• The teenage boys that do exactly the same thing but more often take it another level by making it physical and actually assaulting other kids?

All of those examples are nearly textbook examples of bullies.  Someone using verbal or physical intimidation through threats or insults to "get" something.

Here is a possible mis-use of the word.  When Jennifer Livingston, a Wisconsin journalist, received an insulting email from a viewer that called her a bad example and bad role model because she is overweight, she fired back, when on air and labelled him a bully and his actions "bullying".  Now while technically the method he used to address her wasn't any kind of repeated, over-bearing, intimidating or threatening style (as is typical in bullying) I can see why it was quickly labelled that way.  It was rude, it was uncalled for, it was insulting and it just never needed to happen.  However, I'm not convinced, no matter how out of line the emailer was, that he deserves the label of "bully".  Bone-headed and obnoxious and no tact, yes, but bully I'm not so sure about.

This is where I go back to where I said at the beginning of this post that the modern definition isn't really the same as the one I grew up with.  Back when I was a kid, if someone called you fat they were just a rude person, they weren't a bully.  But now, apparently "bully" means rude and obnoxious as well.  No question about it, I applaud Jennifer Livingston for standing up and speaking out and using the experience to address her audience and maybe be a voice of encouragement for someone who is truly being bullied.

But I do have to wonder if as a society we're not doing more harm than good, by re-defining words and terms if it fits with our idealogies.  No doubt about it, bullying is wrong and cruel and hurtful, but just being a jerk isn't bullying and I think it waters down the seriousness of real bullying that causes real harm to those that never deserved it to begin with.