December 27, 2008

Drink Ovaltine to Wake Up Gay

When I lived in Detroit, the attic of the house I lived in was full of old magazines. My mom took 3 of them, one of which was from the month that she was born. My brother-in-law's brother was over for Christmas and was thumbing through the magazine when he noticed an ad that promised to help him "Wake up Gay." Everyone got quite a kick out of it, so I scanned the page and thought I'd post the whole thing here.

December 4, 2008

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Rogerio posted this, this morning (with Portuguese subtitles) and I thought it was excellent. (It's similar to "The Last Lecture".)

Ironically, it struck me that his 3 main points jived quite a bit with what we've been studying in our gals' Bible study. (We're reading through the book Peacemaking Women -- which isn't a traditional Bible study by any means, but it's still full of Scripture and is absolutely fantastic in terms of learning to love and forgive others.) I'm hoping, at some point, to tie Steve's thoughts to Tara and Judy's (perhaps on dandelion wine - now called Whispering Weeds) and if I do I'll post a link here.

November 24, 2008

My Martin Luther King Jr., Senior High School teacher days

I always got a kick out of the name of the school. Since MLK was a junior, but the school is a senior high school, they'd write out (and say) his whole entire name, but they'd add the senior bit in there lest anyone think we were a junior high school. ;-)

You can see the gold suit in all its glory, and more students pics, and another suit my grandmother sent (orange), in my Detroit photo album.

November 16, 2008

Easy No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

This recipe is from the More-with-Less Cookbook (put out by the Mennonites). Rob has been using a Joy of Cooking recipe to make bread every once in awhile but he couldn't get it to rise properly. He tried this recipe yesterday and the bread rose wonderfully and tastes delicious!

3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. salt
3 pkg. dry yeast
2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
5-6 c. more flour

Combine the 3 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Heat 2 c. water along with milk and oil in a saucepan until warm. Combine dry ingredients, warmed liquids and 2 eggs. Beat at low speed until moistened. Beat for 3 minutes as medium speed. Stir in by hand 5 - 6 cups additional flour.

Use enough flour to form a stiff batter. Cover and let rise until double. Stir down and spoon into 2 greased 9x5" bread pans. Let rise 20-30 minutes. Bake at 375° F for 35 - 40 minutes.

Tastes great with butter and honey slathered on top.

Double Chocolate Snack Cake

This recipe is from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Edition Cook Book. The problem with "upgrading" from one cook book to another is that the new version might not have all your favorite recipes from the old one. So this is one of those recipes that I can't find in the new BC cook book. (I think it's in there, but it's hidden within another cake recipe.) As I transfer cook books, I'm hoping to get all of my old favorites listed here so they're easy to find.

I like using this snack cake when I make a trifle (which Melanie got me hooked on. I'd never heard of a trifle before she posted a lavish photo spread of one she made.) The cake tends to be a bit dry on its own.

1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350° F. Mix ingredients together and pour into an 8x8x2 in. pan. (The directions say to hold back the chips and sprinkle them on top, but I've also made it where I've just mixed them in. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar or slather jam on top as I do.

I've also made this where I sprinkled chocolate and peanut butter chips on top. (As pictured.) The only problem with this is that the cake is really too dry without something custardy poured on. But once I put the peanut butter chips on it looks done and I tend to skip the custard.

September 21, 2008

House Kitty

One day Mr. Tibbs decided to check out my doll house. The kitchen seems to fit him nicely.

August 3, 2008


This is Mr. Tibbs in full battle gear (made by Nathan Inc.).

July 9, 2008

Half Indian / Half Mexican -- James Luna

I just saw this picture in the Denver Art Museum mag. I thought it was very cool. If you check out James Luna's website there's some other very cool stuff there as well.

(Sorry the pic is so grainy. It's much clearer in the Museum magazine.)

Here's a bit of the blurb from the mag: "The self-portrait was intended to confront people's expectations about ethnicity. It is Luna's response to the prejudices about his mixed American Indian and Mexican heritage, and questions about who is a 'true Indian'."

July 4, 2008


This is a recipe straight out of the More-with-Less Cookbook, a cookbook put out by the Mennonite Central Committee. This was the first cookbook that I ever sat down and read like a book. They have great sections for each chapter describing ways to stretch a dollar and still eat well and thoughts on global hunger issues.

The cookbook has this to say on Blechkucken: "Traditional among Prussian Memmonmites when guests come for Sunday afternoon coffee. "Blech" is a large baking pan."

For awhile Rob couldn't remember what this was called and termed it "Blawken snawken." He's been making it regularly lately. It's great with some rhubarb thrown in.

(listed below)

Scald and cool to lukewarm
3 c. milk
Stir together to dissolve:
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 c. warm water
Combine in large bowl:
lukewarm milk
1 1/2 c. soft shortening or lard (we just use butter)
1/2 c. sugar (we use sucanut)
4 t. salt
1 egg
6 c. flour
Beat well until dough is smooth and satiny.
Stir in:
1 c. raisins combined with
3/4 c. flour
(and some chopped up rhubarb or other dried fruit if you have something you want to get rid of)
Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. (Rob says he usually lets it rise 1 hour. But this morning the kids were so hungry that he cooked it without letting it rise and according to Nathan, "Wow, Papa! This is the best blechkucken you've made, ever!") With back of spoon spread dough thinly onto 2 greased 10x15" cookie sheets. Brush generously with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (we use brown sugar here -- Rob mixes the butter and sugar together and dollops it on top, making pockets of super yumminess!)
Bake 20 minutes at 375ยบ.

(Recipe from Elsie Epp, Marion, S. D.)

June 4, 2008

Update on my dad -- Picks Disease: year 13 or so

This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote today:

My dad continues to get worse.  For a long time he seemed to stay about the same.  He was more active in the summer and a bit easier to deal with in the winter, but from year to year it seemed like he was stuck at a point where he could converse and do various activities, he just couldn’t remember very well and he occasionally did embarrassing things (like comment on how fat someone was within hearing distance).  But in the past two years there’s been a sharp decline to the point where now he hardly speaks.  He can read almost anything, but spontaneous speech is pretty much limited to a few lines.  (“Let’s go out the front door,” being the one that I hear the most often.)

My mom sends him to adult day-care twice a week.  They’re really good with him and it gives her a breather.  She really should have sent him more often when he was harder to deal with, but any break, even now, helps.

He walks A LOT.  You can walk in a circle at my mom’s house through the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room then back to the kitchen.  Pretty much my dad just walks in that circle from the time he gets up to the time he goes to sleep.  A couple years ago he went through a phase where he ate everything in site (including food in front of other people and dog or cat treats that were left around).  He gained a lot of weight and went up several pant sizes.  Well now he’s lost all of that weight and is even thinner than my mom ever remembers him being.  Something about the dementia makes him agitated and he just walks and walks and walks.  If he sits down, it’s only for a few seconds and then he pops right back up again to walk around some more.

If you ask him a question, he’ll look at you for a few seconds, and then continue doing whatever he was doing before (most likely walking).  As recently as 6 or 8 months ago he was able to answer a question such as “Who am I?”  but not any more.

It’s difficult getting him to eat anything.  If cookies or candy are sitting out, he’ll grab something to eat and munch while he’s walking.  Lollipops are particularly favored, although he’ll chew the stick when the candy is gone, so you have to watch and remove the stick when he’s reached the end.  But getting him to sit down at a table and eat is very hard to do.  Often you have to hand him a plate of food and he’ll take a bite while walking.  Then he sets the plate down and you have to get it and hand it to him again on his next pass through.

But while he’s clearly getting “worse,” he’s also getting better in the sense that he’s easier to deal with.  Whereas before he’d ask questions almost non-stop, now he hardly talks and when he does it’s quieter and not insistent at all in the way that it used to be.  He’s pretty gentle and complacent (other than needing to walk like crazy).

He’ll most likely eventually lose the ability to speak at all, even to read.  Sometimes he leans when he walks, so obviously something is taking place physically, but it’s hard to tell what’s going on when he can’t tell us anything.

The plan is to try to take care of him as long as we can on our own and only put him in a nursing home when it’s too hard to care for him.

The picture is of my dad after I picked him up from daycare where they had been celebrating Mardi Gras.

February 10, 2008

blue vinyl: the world's first toxic comedy

Genre: Documentary

A few years back we somehow managed to get on the phone lists of several local window companies who wanted to give us a great deal on new vinyl windows. I hate telemarketers, especially telemarketers who want to sell me something I don't need and didn't ask for. But, being little Meg, meek and mild (stop laughing, Rob), I often listen to a telemarketers schpiel before politely declining. The vinyl window people put me over the edge, though. Not only hadn't I asked for them to call me, but when I politely said no, they started getting pushing. So that's when I pushed back. I would rant and rave about how bad PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) is for the environment. I'd blather on about how it's the worst form of plastic in the world today and that there's no way I'd put it on my house.

But the truth of the matter was that I really didn't know squat about PVC. I'd heard that it was a big baddy, but I didn't know why. So when I saw the documentary blue vinyl at the library, I jumped at the chance to find out more. (We're also going to have to order windows soon, so I figured this would help me decide just how much I really want to go through the drama of avoiding vinyl. Based on what the telemarketers said, vinyl appears to be fairly ubiquitous in new windows.)

Blue vinyl is the story of Judith Helfand and her parent's house. When the wood siding on the house started to rot, they decided to replace it with vinyl siding. Judith, a victim of DES related cancer whose ordeal led her to become hyper sensitive to the issue of toxins and their interaction with humanity, decided to do a little research on vinyl. The documentary covers about 5 years of research and explores not only the problems with PVC (including the number of PVC plant workers that have died from exposure to the product, but also the cover-ups by both European and American companies regarding the dangers), but also the search to find an alternative house siding that would be both affordable, and meet with Judith's mother's approval.

I felt like the documentary was very well done. As a viewer, I felt that I was being drawn into an exploration that wasn't already pre-determined. Though Judith started out with obvious concern about the product, she also started with ignorance as to the dangers, and she walks the viewer through her own thought process as well as through the information that she discovers in a clear and orderly way that helps the viewer feel like a partner in discovery rather than a voyeur in anger (a feeling Michael Moore's "documentaries" always leave me with). In the end, Judith's parents, who were very clear in the beginning that they thought she was being rather foolish to be concerned about the vinyl, decided to take the siding off their house and replace it with something less toxic.

I would definitely recommend this movie. It has it's funny moments, as well as it's tragically sad points. I feel like I have a much better sense of the problems with PVC after watching blue vinyl, and I have a renewed plan to research all-wood windows to install in our house.