Monthly Archives: March 2012

Let’s Go Camping!

Big Sister has been begging to go camping for months. We’re not particularly outdoorsy, but we’ve been known to camp from time to time. I mean actually camp too, not drive an RV to a hook-up or sleep in a cabin. Actually set up a tent and a campfire and stay outside…on state sanctioned camp grounds (come on, we’re not animals). Well, with Spring Break this week, I decided this might be a good time to have a quickie campout (or camp-in) as a test run for what a real one might be like with two little girls. Although I have been called “prissy” in my lifetime, I’m actually pretty good at roughing it as long as I’m not in danger of someone seeing me peeing outside…I don’t handle that well. I’m worried about the girls deciding in the middle of the night that they don’t want to sleep outside when we’re an hour from home, so practice campout it is! Plus, it’s hubby’s birthday, so that will make the campout extra special…and gives us an excuse to make 2 desserts!

We borrowed a fire pit from some lovely friends, got a tent, and set out to camp in the great, just barely outdoors.

I did some pre-camp out work yesterday by making my second batch of homemade graham crackers. After making them twice now, I believe I will make some tweaks to the recipe next time. If you embark on making these graham crackers (and believe me, you should), add more flour. Increase the flour in the batch to 2 3/4 cups and some for dusting. When the recipe says dusting, I think they incorrectly use that word. To me that means it should be ready to roll out. I had to knead a significant amount of flour into the dough to make them roll out and be in a fit state to move to a cookie sheet. The crackers taste amazing, and if you add more flour and roll them out thin enough, they really taste and crack like graham crackers. If they are too thick, they are more like graham cookies…which are still delicious.

We had dogs, chips, fruit, pork ‘n’ beans, s’mores and pineapple upside down cake and were ready to rough it. The hot dogs rocked (highly recommend Oscar Mayer Selects Premium Beef Franks…so delicious), the Doritos were…Dorito-y and made for lovely color when mixed with dirt on my children’s faces, the fruit was ripe and yummy, the beans were beans, and the “Snores” were ooey, gooey, perfection. We didn’t make it to the cake, so Hubby will have some eating to do over the next few days, but I’m sure he’ll manage.

I’m just going to say it, part of the inspiration for this camp out was the graham crackers. I wanted a reason to make S’Mores with homemade graham crackers. I love a good S’More. I have definitely been known to make one with a candle lighter or, in the much more hazardous way that my husband taught me, by briefly touching the marshmallow on the stove (the electric stove that is) and lighting it on fire. I blacken my mallow. I think it’s partially out of impatience and laziness. I don’t like standing over the fire “toasting” a mallow. Just set the thing on fire…it’s so much faster and totally scrumptious. Hubby and I both had the S’Mores scene from “The Sandlot” running through our heads while we assembled ours: “First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate ON the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flamin’, you stick it on the chocolate. Then, you cover it with the other end.” Ah, Sandlot, good times.

I’d say the camp out was definitely a success. The weather was great, there were very few mosquitoes (yes, we already have mosquitoes), and the outside dog didn’t drive us totally insane. Big Sister got to make “Snores”, Little Sister got to climb in and out of the tent, and Big Sister and Hubby got to sleep outside. I actually felt a little left out of the last activity, but we thought it would be too cold (mid-50’s for a low) for Little Sister to be outside all night, so I slept in the house with her. After Little Sister went to bed, I went out to check on the campers, and just like any good, 21st century camper, they were busy with camp out activity…watching Cake Boss on the iPad. I said, “You’re really roughing it, huh?” Hubby said, “Who said anything about roughing it?” Touche….

MORNING: The campers stayed all night in the tent! I was very proud of Big Sister for sticking to her plan and not making her daddy get up in the middle of the night to bring her in. She had so much fun that she asked if we could do it again tonight. The answer was no, but we can definitely do it again soon! I slept later than they did, so I didn’t get a picture of them emerging from the tent.

They did apparently have a small encounter with a wild animal who actually devoured part of our extension cord (AKA: the iPad power source):

Hubby and I tore down camp so that the “animal” didn’t eat our new tent.

This is the stuff childhood is made of…and it’s fun for adults too! When you have a 33-year-old man saying that this was a great way to spend his birthday evening, that is pretty high praise (and a pretty awesome man). We will definitely camp-in again…and might even camp-out pretty soon. To quote my baby girls’ favorite band (The Fresh Beats…of course) “What a great day!”

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Menu Monday: Spring Break Edition

By “Spring Break Edition” I mean late. I was busy enjoying a lovely botanical garden with my family yesterday. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been that consistent anyway, but I’m trying.

This week is special because we are on Spring Break…sort of. I still have to work, but I don’t have any classes, so my schedule is much looser. We’re doing some special meals that we probably wouldn’t do during a regular week because we can be up a little later and not get up quite as early in the morning.

Monday: Ate out in Hot Springs after 4 hours at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Tuesday: Homemade pizza and garlic rolls (the little girls will get to make their own personal pizzas too)

Wednesday: V8 Tomato Basil Soup (if you haven’t tried this soup, do…it rocks) and grilled cheese sandwiches (it’s supposed to rain all day)

Thursday: Backyard camp out! Hot dogs, chips, and S’Mores made with Homemade Graham Crackers

Friday: Smorgasbord (AKA: Clean out the fridge)

Saturday: Pasta with diced tomatoes

Sunday: TBD

I’m really looking forward to this week! Big Sister is particularly excited about Thursday. Let’s hope the weather holds out for us. We have a tent and everything, so we’ll see how the “Campout” goes.

 

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NYT: Violence Against Women Act divides Senate – politics – The New York Times – msnbc.com

NYT: Violence Against Women Act divides Senate – politics – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

Really?! Again?! I’m finding this less and less funny as the weeks go on. This legislation would extend the existing “Violence Against Women Act” which began as bi-partisan legislation in 1994, and expand it to include new programs for underserved populations including rural areas (like where I live) and Native American tribes (where violence prevention education is SORELY needed). The sticking points seem to be the inclusion of same-sex couples in the definition of domestic violence (because a man or woman could never beat up their same-sex partner…) and the allowance for battered illegal immigrants to claim temporary visas. Really? That’s the issue? So, “Conservatives” (and I put that in quotation marks as a signal for irony because I hate those blanket words and because I find it very difficult to believe that Phyllis Schlafly speaks for all who claim a conservative stance) don’t like gay people and illegal immigrants. I think that has been well-established through other bills and repeated shouts for a return to “family values”. (Notice that was in quotes too.)

I’m calling bull-sh!t on this. On what planet does it make sense NOT to give sanctuary to an immigrant, legal or illegal, who has been beaten on our soil? Does the bill say that they will automatically be given citizenship? If so, I sort of see the problem. We wouldn’t want people committing “anchor beatings”, now would we?! But, odds are, if someone who is an illegal immigrant was a victim of domestic violence so heinous that they would seek medical attention or police intervention at the risk of their status being discovered, they probably need it!

As far as “the gays” go (there are those pesky quotes again), regardless of one’s personal views on homosexuality, gay people are people who deserve the same protection as any other person. So basically, by excluding same-sex relationships from domestic violence coverage, the government (state or federal) is saying “We don’t really care if you get beaten up by your gay lover, we only care about victims of brutality when they are in normal, heterosexual violent relationships.”

When will “Conservatives” begin to understand that people are people and that being inclusive is a POSITIVE thing? How does being inclusive “dilute” the focus on domestic violence? How does protecting women from domestic violence in any way vilify “all men” and make “all women” victims? (Thanks for that, Janice Shaw Crouse. She supposedly speaks for “Concerned Women for America”. She definitely doesn’t speak for me.) How does being inclusive and protecting women “promote divorce, breakup of marriage and hatred of men”? (We have Phyllis Schlafly to thank for that. I’m sorry, Phyllis, if a woman is beaten by her husband, I think she has every right to divorce him and hate him. Of course, Phyllis doesn’t think that marital rape exists, so there’s that.) I’ve never been a victim, thank God. But the fact of the matter is, many women have been and will be. In political and economic climates like the current one, domestic violence tends to increase in frequency. Men’s power structures are being threatened, and that is often met with violence and frankly, stupidity (did you hear what Rush Limbaugh said a couple of weeks ago?!).

It really bothers me that many of the more outspoken opponents to bills like this work for organizations that have the word “Christian” or “Women” in the title. I am both, and I find this blatant attack (and believe me I don’t use that word lightly) on women’s health, rights, and well-being disgusting. If there were parts of this, or any bill that genuinely included earmarks for things that were unrelated (i.e., if you sign this you are also legalizing gay marriage), I would better understand the reticence of Republican hold-outs. But, I think if that were the case, they would shout that from the rooftops. Many Congresspeople on both sides of the aisle don’t seem to have a problem with sneaking earmarks into bills all the time, so what is it about the current Congress that is so damn stubborn and unwilling to yeild?! Apparently the Congress of 18 years ago could work together enough to pass progressive legislation protecting women from domestic violence, and they have since re-upped. Why now is this such an issue? Why is the expansion of coverage to underserved groups met with such hostility? Expanded government? Not really…the coverage group is expanded, not the government.

Come on, Republicans, wake up and grow up. This is an issue of human rights and a chance for the US to stand up to institutionalized oppression and patriarchal power structures. A chance for the US to protect the weak, no matter their sexual orientation, citizenship status, or regional residence. I know we can do it. If we are the “greatest country in the world,” let’s act like it.

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A Daylight Savings Lament

Daylight Savings Time, you annoying [string of curse words], here you are again.

Every year you return with your cute little mnemonic “Spring Forward”. Ha. I’d like to spring you forward.

I kind of enjoy the “Fall Back”…but that’s what I physically want to do today.

If I wouldn’t get fired and miss all of my favorite TV shows, I would probably just ignore you.

My kids don’t understand you. “I’m not tired!” They say. And why should they be…it’s only 7:30, but the clock says 8:30…which is their bedtime. Their bodies know the clock is wrong, so they fight sleep…and I curse you.

Thanks a lot…

When it’s mid-summer and still daylight at 9pm (which will be the only time of day it will be comfortable to be outside), I’ll like you again, but today…you suck.

Thanks for upsetting my otherwise peaceful bedtime routine.

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