Saturday, July 04, 2009

Walking Through History During The Independence Holiday

I'm currently visiting family on the east coast- my sister in Massachusetts, and then down to NY. Yesterday we spent the day in Boston, and walked quite a bit of the Freedom Trail. My 9 yr. old daughter was very excited about this since she spent a good part of her 3rd year in school learning American history. Both of my daughters are very into history, something I hope that sticks with them. I was never a big history buff until 5 or 6 years ago myself. Never really liked it in school.

Funny moment- the guided tours on the Trail are done by guides dressed in Colonial garb. I asked 9yr.old if she wanted her photo taken with a Redcoat- and she said "no way- I want my pic taken with a Minuteman!"

The history itself is amazing. The graveyard where Paul Revere lies, among so many others who started and ended their lives in our very new country. Even before it was a country. The kids had control of the map and pointed out many things along our walk. They loved standing in the Old Statehouse- we didn't go in the museum, but we did stand directly under the balcony where the Declaration of Independence was read 223 years ago. They were both excited and a little awed by this.

The high point for them was visiting the home of Paul Revere. This time we went in so we could walk through. 9yr old looks at me as we're walking in and says "you know he had 16 children from two marriages?" Sure enough, there it is written. After that is was a string of "this is so cool".

Did you know that one of Revere's daughters, Mary, went on to marry Abraham Lincoln? I didn't. Actually neither did my daughters, so we all learned something new.

It was such a great experience, walking in the footsteps of those who helped fight to begin this great country. I couldn't help but have a wave of patriotism come over me, I am proud to live here. It also makes me a little annoyed at those who are ruining the true meaning behind our struggle for independence with their hateful tea parties. They really should be ashamed. There is no struggle against tyranny, no fight for freedom in their goal. It's simply another chance to whine and complain about Obama and wonder why they haven't seen his birth certificate yet.

Yet they will all rally and slap each other on the back, thinking they are helping the greater good, when all they have accomplished is once again missing the point, and the real meaning behind our freedoms. Only concerned with their own personal situation. Not yours, not mine, certainly not the millions less fortunate struggling in this country we all share.

I'm happy my children will grow up understanding the history of America's Independence, and I hope they will always be respectful of the struggles so many went through so that we may have the true freedoms we partake in today.

Including misguided tea parties.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Is That Krunk??

Mmmm... Queso Krunk. I've talked about it on Twitter, and a few of my friends have actually indulged in the cheesy high fat goodness. The photo on the left is a new creation- the Krunkburger. I have my friend ScottyJ to thank for that. Along with the name "Krunk", but that's a whole other story...

So, recently I was asked for the recipe. I have to say first and foremost that I can't take credit for this at all. My neighbor Kimber served it at a party once, and I asked for it myself. Props go to her. She calls it "Slop", and you will see why. Of course all ingredients can be tweaked, and substitutions can be made, things omitted, etc.

Steve, this is for you baybee!

Queso Krunk

1lb. ground beef
1 small onion chopped
3/4 cup chopped pimiento
3/4 cup slivered almonds
salt/pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic or garlic powder
1 can (4oz.) chopped ripe olives
1 can (4oz.) sliced mushrooms
1 can (10oz.) tomatos w/green chilis (I can only find this in the Rotel brand but you might have better luck)
1 lb Velveeta cheese (hot mexican flavor) (If you can't find this flavor, then add chili powder to the hotness level you'd like. I know what heat level THIS guy would want.)
8oz finely chopped jalapeno peppers (this is optional, but I like 'em! Bret? Not so much.)

Brown beef and drain. Dump all ingredients into a crock pot (cube the Velveeta).
Simmer for at least 2-3 hours on low.

Really, nothing to it. But most of the greatest things came from really simple ideas.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Day In My Life

My friend Jen Tucker (who also got me doing the Five Things meme), recently did a post going through one day in her life. It was fun to read and see a typical day in a friend's life. Not to mention I was part of her day! So I decided to do one of my own, because it looked like fun. Also thought it would be interesting to see exactly what I do in a day.

Turns out it's rather boring. Ok, very boring. But you know, I'm not complaining. I don't mind routine, since I have plenty of other days where I'm running around like a crazy woman. This just happened to be a slow day.

There are 45 photos- prepare yourself. Remember, if you think it's silly or stupid or don't want to read any further- then don't. I didn't do this for you. ;-)

Preparing to record my radio tracks for the day. However I've all ready been up for an hour and a half, getting the kids ready for school and out the door. Just didn't think about the camera before I had coffee in me.

The time. Coffee in hand, I head to the studio/office/storage and guest room to...

...record tracks for the radio!

Uploading... uploading... uploading...

So after that was done, I changed out of my PJ's and into my workout clothes. Then I noticed there was a message on the machine from my sister Katie. Since she's about to pop with baby #3 any day now....

I gave her a call! Turns out she is still waiting (I suggested a bike ride), but unfortunately had bad news regarding our Great Aunt Anita, who is back in the hospital (91 years old!). Once we got the sad news out of the way, we got to other topics...

Oh dear will you look at the time? I should probably get off the phone now...


Ok, NOW it's WiiFit time! I did pretty good this month- even with the three days we were at Disneyland.

What I've been averaging for a workout. About 30 minutes of the time has been running. I want to get that up to 45 minutes. Time to step it up a notch!

All ready thinking about #evfn (east valley friday nights) tonight. It's at my favorite place, Whole Foods Tapas Bar. I couldn't decide which top to wear, so I put three aside for later.

Showered- time check! I think I'm hungry. Of course I'm hungry- I just worked out and all I had was coffee!

Eww. I guess I need to take care of this at some point. But first things first...

Loads of protein, low fat, and really the taste isn't too bad.

Hey- how did that bagel get there? I also think I still have some Disney fever going on.

While eating, I did a few retakes of lines for an upcoming podcast a friend is doing (not going into detail because I don't know if he wants it public yet).

Finished recording before I finished eating.... so I checked in on twitter and facebook.

Finished eating, and look ma no more dirty dishes!

This pic is really just to shock my husband. I bet he didn't know I knew where it was!

Time Check! Geez... less than an hour until I get the kids. And I haven't even looked at Google Reader yet!

Ahhh.... Google Reader fix. How else would I know what's happening in the world? While I was browsing, my neighbor gave me a call to tell me about something wonderful on the TV today. So wonderful she called me from inside a movie theatre so she wouldn't forget to let me know. To the DVR Batman!

Is it true? Yes! Yes it is! Justin on Oprah! My neighbor is a true friend.

Time for carpool hour! Yes, I mean hour. You'll see...

Allison transferred up to the school's north campus this year, so I have to travel to two schools, 3 miles apart, in 15 minutes to make both car lines. With all the construction going on along the routes to the school, I leave early, and usually have to wait for a few minutes before getting in the car line. That way I'm not sitting like a dead duck on a busy stree waiting in line.

Stop #1 complete, along with her two classmates I drop off on the way home. Line went slower today- will we make it to main campus in time???? Oh the suspense!!!!!!!1!!

Whew! Made it! Good thing, I might have had to get OUT of the van to get her then...

Looks like someone got a hold of the camera...

Home. Took a little longer today because I ran into even more construction on the way home.

Sam was complaining there was nothing to eat for a snack, so I fixed it the only way a mom can.

Then we chilled on the sofa for a bit. PE days on Friday makes for a tiring end to a school week!

I chilled with her for a bit, but what am I thinking?
"evfn evfn evfn..."

Well, I had a snack. Really wanted the Doritos, but this seemed like the smarter choice. Then what do I hear? The sweet, sweet ping of skype? Why yes! It's Dave, calling conservatives maroons. I politely correct him with the proper Bugs Bunny vocabulary, stating it's actually "ultra-maroon". So he checked my facts:

Oh yeah, I know my stuff. What a gull-a-bull! So I sat through a few cartoons, then realized I should make dinner in the hopes of sneaking away to evfn.

When life hands you ground beef, you stick your hands in it and mush it around, add a few spices and...

...turn around momentarily to see your daughter in a laundry basket, writing in a journal. Ok then.

as I was saying... you add some spices and make burgers! I was a good girl, I didn't eat any. I had an ear of corn. I noticed the time, it was after 5:30. Still no hubby. I hadn't changed yet, no make up. My window was closing fast. Then-

He is home! He is home!
He is tired! He is tired!
Poor thing has been a little sick all week, and just looked exhausted. So I made a decision.

No evfn for me.
It's all good though- because tomorrow I am going to lunch w/some friends, have a meeting for PodcampAZ, and next week? Big fund raiser concert for the radio station! Bret ended up taking the girls out to buy kites for a father/daughter Girl Scout event tomorrow, so I BET I could have snuck away...

What was scary though is when I looked up from the computer to realize I was alone, and Hannah Montana was still on the TV. Hmm... let's do something about this...

MUCH better. Watched the Oprah recorded from earlier while watching #evfn, #earthhour, and #tcot on the twitter feed site Monitter. Am I old enough to be a cougar yet? I think I still have a few years, but I could always be his stalker until then!

So, after that was over I did the dinner dishes, and realized I was still just sitting and browsing online. The girls were kind of doing their own thing, Bret was on the other computer doing something. So I figured that was probably it for my day. At least where documenting it was concerned.

So there is a typical day of my life. Even though this was one of the more drab ones, it was still kind of neat to look back on it and see exactly what I did (or did not) do. I might do it again in the future, maybe when I know I've got more things on my plate for the day! Thanks for sticking it out to the painful end!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Comparing Blood Types

I have been teasing my fellow Mom-friends for months about this whole Twilight phenomenon. As is my usual way, the second something becomes a bandwagon, I avoid it at all costs. I'm not sure why that is. Probably because I personally can't just jump in and think something is awesome because millions of others think so. There always has to be a catch- you know, "if it's too good to be true..." blah blah blah. I did the same thing with Harry Potter. Even when it came to now-President Obama (my jury is still out on him though), I just couldn't jump on and support him. Hell, I didn't even join Twitter right away, and fought it a long time before joining. Now I'm its biggest cheerleader. Same with Facebook, though I still don't use it as often as Twitter, but I definitely see the positives now.

Seeing how Twilight became such a big tween/teen hit, and then seeing grown women fantasize about being Edwards lamb, it just didn't mix right with me. If it appeals so much to children, why are my friends acting so weird? The books have only gotten warm reviews from them, but yet they go nuts over it. One friend even saw it seven times in the theatre. What the hell was I missing?

I finally had my chance to find out- my neighbor threw a Twilight party today, and invited me and my daughter Allison. Allison was way excited, and I figured sure, why not. I can see what all the hub-bub was about. Who knows, I might even be surprised. As with most of the bandwagon jumping I resist, I can come around. I just need to do so at my own pace. And after all I *do* like vampire movies/stories. True Blood is a great series (want to read all the books now), and I still find myself watching "Interview With A Vampire" when I come across it on the movie channels now and again. So I went in with an open mind, and wasn't even thrown off by all my friends wearing Twilight T-Shirts (It was a little disturbing though, sort of like if a grown woman was wearing a Hannah Montana shirt).

To sum up the movie, it was like watching a two-hour music video. Visual images with that goth-sounding music in the background. Mediocre acting, none of the characters really grabbed me or drew me in. Not very realistic. "How can it be realistic? It's a vampire movie!" you might say. Well, the difference is that True Blood basically has the same premise, but they set it up in such a way where vampires and humans are actually living together openly in society. They drink synthetically-made blood so they don't feed on humans (supposedly). There's a Christian/political base who is trying to keep vampires from being equal citizens. AND it also has a love story as well. A vampire and a woman fall in love, and she doesn't fear him. All in all a lot more depth and meat (and good acting) to the story than Twilight. (For the record, The Sookie Stackhouse series True Blood is based on came out first. Wonder if Stephanie Meyers read it before her dream? ;-) )

As for Twilight, I tried to enjoy it. I truly did. I think for me what it comes down to is I need more adult stories. I need something that will make me actually believe the world that is presented to me could exist, not just a long, drawn out fantasy. If it's meant to be a fantasy (like Lord of the Rings or something like that) I can deal. However, Twilight is set in a real-life present time, and it fell way short. It's a fantasy meant to appeal to the tween/teen imagination, and in that respect it was done well.

Now, I don't even want to read the books, and I had been toying with reading them after seeing how much Allison enjoyed them. I wanted to see what was making her laugh out loud and read lines to me. That desire is gone.

I will never be invited to another party at my neighbors again, I'm pretty sure. But before anyone calls me an old fuddy-duddy, I will fight any 13-year-old tooth and nail for tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cookies Gone Wild!

As most who parooze the many places I am online know, I am a Girl Scout Leader, this being my first year. I admit it was rough taking this on. I had no clue what I was getting into when I said yes. It's pretty much like running a small business, except since you're part of a bigger Borg you don't have to do taxes.

Once we actually got started with working with the girls, I have totally been enjoying showing these girls how to take an interest in the world around them. I'm also using the Girl Scouts to promote my own evil liberal agenda: Community service, taking care of the environment. I figure the more of our youth we teach to care about where they live now, well, the better chance our future has all around. We've become too lazy, too self-involved.... but that's a post for another day.

I've had to bite my tongue on a few things concerning Girl Scouts. Some are silly and easy to not make a big deal about, like the fact that they sell a shirt that says "Defy Conformity" while requiring a uniform. I mean, I get it. Teach our future women to think outside the box, while still being part of a team. All the same, it still makes me giggle. Another thing that bothered me but I can still handle, is the use of "God" in the Promise. GSUSA made it ok to substitute "God" to cover any religion, but has never officially said it was ok to opt out of saying you want to serve any Diety at all. Again, not a huge deal, easy enough to overlook for the greater good of the organization.

What I *do* have a bit of a beef about is how archaic Girl Scouts still seems to be when it comes to technology, social media and using the many online tools available to get the word out about various things related to Girl Scouts. Like, for instance, cookies. Recently a Scout in North Carolina was ordered to take down her You Tube video advertising cookies sales. Upon further investigation on this story (as the AP article doesn't really tell you bupkus), I found out that this girl, Wild Freeborn, went to her dad with what seemed like a very innovative way to generate sales. A video on You Tube, with information on how to order cookies. How awesome is that?

Not so awesome, according to GSUSA. Not only did they say it was a violation of their "no internet sales" policy, but they made her take the video down. The policy states:

"Our existing National Girl Scout policy prohibits the sale of Girl Scout Cookies® or any other Girl Scout approved product on the Internet. The safety of our girls is always our chief concern. Girl Scout Cookie Activities are designed to be face-to-face learning experiences for girls. In an online setting, there is no guarantee that the seller is indeed a girl member of Girl Scouts. We have many ways for girls to explore and experience the benefits of science and technology and the Internet, including our Girls Go Tech* initiative. "

Safety. Ok, I understand safety being the top priority, whether online or not. What is safer- selling online, or having your child in front of a store for hours? In the set up Freeborn had, she would still have to deliver the cookies- hence face to face experience. I assume her parent(s) would be with her to deliver, just like she was selling/taking orders door to door. The risk seems to be no different. Besides, why should one girl be reprimanded for having a great idea? Isn't the point of Girl Scouts to encourage "out of the box" thinking? To defy conformity?

GSUSA states that the marketing of cookies is online is allowed. I'm trying to understand the difference, since technically they were not taking any money online, and were still delivering the cookies in person. I am led to believe there would probably have been a complaint regardless, because a video online can reach a lot more people than going door-to-door. Writing all over your car about cookie sales can reach more people too, but not everyone does that. Every parent takes their cookie order sheet to work, but not every parent works. It's great to try and be fair about selling, but the fact is selling is not fair. There is absolutely no way to make something fair when the goal is to sell as many boxes of cookies as possible. This is a reason I have a problem with competition, someone always whines they are not getting a fair shake, just because someone else comes up with a great idea.

As far as selling/advertising online goes, Girl Scouts needs to learn more about social media and the online world, and become a part of it, not discourage our future from learning the advantages. I created Upcoming pages showing when our troop would be at a booth. I Twittered about and during our booths. There is no positive lesson in showing our future that the internet is a bad thing and not to be trusted. Thin Mints may never need to change, but it's time for Girl Scouts to revisit their policies for selling them and come into the next century.

Please, if you agree with what I'm saying here, contact the Girl Scouts of the USA and tell them so. The more that speak up, the more chance there is for change.

*couldn't connect to this website. Found out it's The .org makes all the difference. ;-)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Taking Advantage Of The Big Ball Of Fire

Well, many of you on Facebook and Twitter know this all ready, but I finally found a moment in the middle of all the Girl Scout Cookie pushing selling to write about the switch to solar energy for the house.

First off- duh. Why this isn't just a given here in Arizona, I don't know. ALL new construction should just have it. Period. Don't whine about cost, if it's added during new construction, it goes into the mortgage. If you are lucky enough (as we were now 10 years ago) to be able to buy new and have a house built, then having your monthly payment just a little bit higher- really, is it that big of a deal? If not, then maybe having a brand-spanking new home isn't your best economic move. Besides, that was for all the builders out there anyway. But I'm getting off topic...

The entire process itself is rather uneventful. We found a local company (Bret knows a couple of the people who work for them) and a rep came over and checked out the house, then gave us estimates on what we could use to cover different amounts of energy in our home. After crunching some numbers (and a re-fi on the house), we decided on a package that would cover 80% of our total electricity usage. ALL of the approval hassles (HOA, etc.) were taken care of by the company (yes they will get a big plug at the end of this ramble). We thought we wouldn't be ready to go until March sometime, but they were ready to install by the end of February.

They began on Tuesday, and three days later they were finished. It wasn't even a full three days, so the process is very quick. The guys were nice and didn't get in my way at all (not that they would need to being outside all day. Like I go outdoors ever?) They didn't even get annoyed when I was out there snapping photos, which can be found here.

Friday morning the Town (really Gilbert, "Town"? Let's grow up all ready.) came by for inspection (for some reason Gilbert has different guidelines than other cities. Others need only SRP/APS to come), and gave us permission to use the Sun. Now we just need to wait for SRP to come by, and then the switch is complete.

What is EVERYONE curious about? Oh yea, July and August. I'll give a bill-update then. ;-)

Now, if you are curious about taking this step yourself, honestly a great website is the company we used, Sun Valley Solar Solutions ( They have pages about the process, energy comparisons, information about the incentives and tax credit, and much more. Browse around. Of course The Google will turn up more information than you know what to do with as well. I'm a big "buy local" person, so I will advocate for the local business first every time.

No, you will not get prices from the website, but you are looking at quite a commitment in the mula department. It's quite the chunk of change up front, and you have to wait a year to get your return. Hence our re-fi of the house. Rates were VERY good a month ago. The big question now with the economy currently: how is the equity in your home holding up? That really could be the deciding factor.

We're not exactly living a life of luxury, and I'm very lucky to have someone who is very smart about the big investments we make for our home and family. That being said, with some smart thinking about what you can truly afford, I think just about any home owner can make the switch to solar in some form. The costs are continuing to drop as well. Solar energy doesn't have to cover all of your electricity, and the benefits go way beyond the break you could get on your electric bill.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Solar Power The Way To Go

This was a great segment on PBS's local show Horizon on solar tax credits and refunds, and the future of renewable energy in Arizona. It was of particular interest to me because at the end of the month we're having solar panels installed on our home. More to come on that!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I hate this part right here...

I'm not a regimen kinda gal. There are some things I'm forced to stick to daily/weekly etc, like getting the kids to school, afternoon carpools, radio tracks and girl scout meetings. Everything else in my life is pretty much a free-for-all. If I feel it, I go there. But not always.

This is what happens with exercise and staying in shape. I have NEVER been one of those crazy people who live for the workout. I know these people too. I hate them. Yes, it's because I'm jealous.

The longest streak I ever had was last March, when I started back at the gym. Then we had our summer vacation away and I was STILL able to stick with it somewhat, though not nearly as often. I was pretty proud of myself. Then Bret bought Wii Fit, and that was last August. I am the one who used it the most, quite honestly. It was also more beneficial to me than several months at the gym. Not sure why, it could be a focus thing. I dropped weight in half the time by using Wii Fit.

THEN came the holidays. Between family visiting and food, it all went out the window. All the weight came back, and unfortunately plus a couple more pounds just for good measure. Finally I put my foot down (on the wii balance board) and started over again, now almost two weeks ago.

I have friends who never feel good exercising, and do it simply because it's the only way to stay fit. But they complain all the while- absolutely hate it. Me, I love it. I do. I love feeling my body work. I love being sore the next day because I pushed myself further. I love that after only a few days I feel the positive effects of getting myself moving. I feel lighter, I have more energy, and even when I look at myself I swear I look trimmer. Seriously, you would think that with how much I love it, and how good I feel, I could stick with it right? Make it habitual.

I've now reached the part I hate. I step on the scale, or do the stupid WiiFit Body Test. It KILLS my high instantly, and I want to go eat an entire bag of Doritos. I know, I probably shouldn't do the test every day. You lose inches before weight, blah blah blah. I know how it goes, I just wish I could figure out a way to be more patient AND make excercizing a permanent lifestyle change.

Because one of these days I'm going to throw the Wii remote at the picture of my Mii puffing up like a balloon when I get the results of my body test. Bret wouldn't appreciate that.