It’s NOT the dog’s fault…but…

In respose to the “Pitbulls are Dangerous” blog that is circulating, I submit the following Cute Puppy Girl Sittingblog and also comment that training, parenting, good fences, and a little bit of responsibility on EVERYONE’S part would go a long way in situations such as these. I’m not saying everyone should get a pitbull. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. Bet there are behaviorists out there who will agree with me when I say KNOW THE BREED YOU ARE ADOPTING (or buying, but please, adopt don’t shop!)

Maybe I’m some sort of brain child and I just was smarter than everyone I know back in the early part of this century (just kidding, I highly doubt that) but I actually did RESEARCH before adopting a greyhound. I read up on the breed, their needs, their habits. And I believed greyhound was the breed for me.

Additionally, when I determined that Coombsy was unable to control her urge to bite other dogs that got TOO MUCH in her space during meet & greets…I started to leave her at home. (She’s not the same dog she was back then, but I still won’t take her to meet & greets).

What am I saying? I knew the breed, I knew my dog…I acted RESPONSIBLY. If the owner of the pitbull (or any dog that kills or maims a human) was acting responsibly…the dog would not have been unsupervised around a child who might just possibly “take his bone”.

If you don’t have the time to learn about the breed, know your dog, supervise your kids and your dog…then maybe, just maybe you need to not have a dog. Or a kid. Or both.

The answer to the problem is not wide-spread legislation (don’t we have enough thumb twiddling going on in our governmental halls now-a-days?)  The answer is individual and personal.  Only YOU know what kind of lifestyle you lead.  Only YOU know if you’ll be able to manage a dog and 3 kids.  Only YOU know if you’ll be able to contain an animal that could be dangerous to your neighbors.  Matt Walsh never said in his blog that pitbulls should be illegal.  He said he would never own one.  That is a personal decision made based on his desire to keep his family “safe”.  He probably won’t go out and buy a car that gets horrible safety ratings either.

I, on the other hand, live dangerously.  I have an ill mannered 14 (almost) year old “bitch” (she’s a she-dog…that’s the term) that has a tendency towards sleep startle, has bitten several dogs (mostly foster dogs), has drawn blood on me twice when colliding with me.  This is why you seldom see her unless she’s taking her daily constitutionals with one of the family. I try to be responsible.  She’s not a dangerous dog (unless you’re a squeaky toy) but she reacts.  And so I reacted to her reactions…by keeping her home.  BTW, she loves staying at home.  I also frequent loud rock concerts and could care less what my car’s safety rating is.  That’s just me.

What’s the point?  I’m just asking you to think…especially if you are considering enhancing your life with a pet.  Matt Walsh (in his Pitbull blog) did say something I disagree with…that humans are more important than animals.  And, while I see his point, I believe that every being has value. Therefore, consider your companion’s value before you add to your family.

Next chapter of this subject might be titled: It’s not enough just to want to “SAVE” a dog….

 

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Heeding the call…also known as ignoring the call in my case

I said this in my Facebook status this morning but I have been feeling this pull all day to gracewrite a blog…so…well, hopefully I will at least make a little bit of sense.

As if the “stars” are aligning, today my devotionals all lined up to say pretty much the same thing.  I’m paraphrasing by saying, “Get off your butt and do what God is calling you to do.” While paraphrased, the sentiment is apropos.

That would be one thing, if 5 devotionals lined up and said about the same thing.  And, they did.  But wait.  Around 2 PM, I received yet another “devotional” that was in effect saying the same thing.

So, how can I ignore God now?

Some of you know that I post on Facebook about Cursillo.  And, some of you also know that I’ve done some Cursillo posts here too.  In South Carolina, weekend #172 is occurring right now.  So, to help remind MY little lambs from Cursillo 171 about their weekend and the need to always draw near to God, I have been reminding the group what each day has been like – or at least what the contents for the day are.

Remember today is about discovering who you are in God.  What your ideal is, what grace means, who the laity of the church are, what faith is, and finally, how a life lived in grace is a pious life.  Today is also about how Christ sees you.  God’s grace is something you cannot earn, you will never “do enough works” to make God love you more.  And, Christ bought our grace with the ultimate sacrifice.

Tomorrow is about growing closer to God.  I know God, but how can I know Him better?  The answers are studying His word, participating in the sacraments…in communion with others, taking action – bringing others to Christ, overcoming the obstacles to a life lived in grace, and being a Christian leader.  Yes, we are all called to lead in our own ways.  Being a Christian isn’t always easy…in fact, it frequently is NOT easy.  But, it is our actions…our struggling to come closer and closer to Christ that make us leaders, and show others that there is, in fact, a God that loves us and has giving his only Son so that we can live a life of pure abounding love.  Yep.

Sunday, finally, in the weekend is all about going home.  No, not dying….going home from your Cursillo weekend and stepping out in Faith…committing to showing the love of Christ to all we come in contact with.  How do we do this?

Okay.  So, I paraphrased a bit.  That’s not really the perfect ‘script’ for the weekend but…it does bring me to my point.

To continue the original point (yeah, I do know I started somewhere else) Cursillo is a reminder to me that God does not put us on the earth to be passive observers of our life…as it whirrs by.  No.  He actually has a plan for us.  And, he wants us to live into his plan.  He wants us to answer the call.

Focus it down one more step?  I need to get off my butt and do what he’s calling me to do.  Yep.

You do too, don’t you?

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Thank you Joyce Meyer

crossY’know when the stars all line up and you’re reminded several times of the same thing?

This morning, I was thinking to myself, “Self…” haha…just kidding.  I was thinking to myself tho: Prayer…what is “intercessory prayer”?  I didn’t know the meaning of the word “intercessory” … it was one of those words I hear, I understand it in a sentence, but I don’t 100% know the definition.  So, I looked it up.

It’s the adjective form of intercession:

intercession  (ˌɪntəˈsɛʃən)
— n
1. the act or an instance of interceding
2. the act of interceding or offering petitionary prayer to God on behalf of others
3. such petitionary prayer

Petitionary prayer.  Petitionary – the act of petitioning.  (Formal request).

Then along comes Joyce Meyer – while my daily devotional always has a prayer starter, this devotional TODAY was about praying.  And making it simple.  So I thought to myself, can you have simple, straight-forward petitionary prayer?  Can I ‘formally’ ask God for intervention but in a friendly, one-on-one way?  Sure!  I was, and still am, positive I can.  For example, I want to pray for my friend Molly and her husband Terry.

Dear Lord Jesus – Molly and Terry, your faithful servants really need you now.  They need your healing, they need your comfort, and because when you’re down…well, that’s when the evil one tries his best to infiltrate.  Cover them with your angels’ wings – surround them with peace and healing.  Lift them up so they can feel your strength and power and know you are God.

See, that’s kinda “informal” but formal.  My prayers are often informal – because I feel as if every day I start the day as a prayer and continue in that prayer all day long.  My conversation with God.

Now, as I am waiting to “hear back” from him about my future plans, I have to remember…be still…wait for that still small voice.  (The word WAIT always trips me up…)

So what’s my “call to action” for you?  Pray.  Do it in whatever form you have.  I know some of you aren’t as “into” God as I am.  But really, if you take the time to put your petition out to “the cosmos” and you WAIT…you will receive an answer.  You may be like I am – and only see that answer in your rear view mirror…but it will be there.  Ask for what you need.  Ask for what your friends need.  Take the time.

And don’t be so concerned with the loftiness of the words you use.  Pray it out in your day-to-day language.  Because…well, think of it this way: (substitute whatever diety makes you happy here) God is your friend.  Do your friends ask you to speak in high English when you talk with them?  Probably not.  Do you have to rhyme your couplets when you ask a favor?  Naaaah.  So…just “tell it like it is” and wait.

As it says in James 5: pray for each other so that you may be healed…these prayers produce “wonderful results”…

To Him be the praise!

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Soothe Your Tummy Smoothie

Okay, I admit.  I’m just drinking it now so I don’t know if it will soothe my tummy but…I created a Ginger-Pear Smoothie that is actually really yummy and I am hoping it will take ginger-pear-smoothie-3care of the burning sensation I’ve had all morning.  More on that later.

Ginger-Pear Smoothie

2 D’Anjou (or bartlett, or bosc) pears (mine were sizeable)

12 oz coconut water – I use this instead of soy, almond, rice, or cow’s milk in my smoothies

3 grated “knobs” of ginger (or, I had to use the already grated type – about 2-3 tbsp)

2 tsp coconut sugar

1/4 c oat bran

1/2 c greek unflavored yogurt

2 ice cubes (to make it colder…you can leave these out if all your ingredients are chilled)

Place everything in a blender.  Buzz on the Liquify setting.  This will make 3-4 smoothies.

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Psalms

I’ve always loved poetry. And, just for the beauty of the words – mostly reminding me of song.  Poetry makes me happy, gets me going, provides a gateway to singing.  And so then Psalms come along…reminding me of the gift God gives us in his word.  The beautiful gift of poetry – David, the psalmist (most of the time, I believe), wrote some stuff that really rocks my world.  And, in this world of … well … worldly things, it’s great to have psalms that sing of our creator….in so many different ways.

The Psalms are part of my daily reading plan – but in Church yesterday, we read Psalm 51, and I was moved by it.  Remembering how sinful David was…how absolutely human he was, I reread every line and thought how beautiful his request is.

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant

mercy

Wash me thoroughly from

my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin

For I know my

transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight

so that you may be justified in

your words

and blameless in your

judgement

He implores God to “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me”

Don’t we all want that?  I mean, I guess some don’t want that – but in the beauty of this stanza lies a request that many of us have.  Regardless who you implore it from – most of us want to “be right” with … well … something.

This is merely one instance of the psalmist (David) desiring redemption in this psalm alone.  Restore me to the joy of your salvation.  Do not banish me from your prsence, Forgive me for shedding blood, purify me, unseal my lips….

My newfound love for this psalm lies in the beseeching manner he uses…he is contrite, and when we come to the Lord with contrite hearts and ask forgiveness of our myriad sins, he looks with compassion on us.

I love it.  I love the poetry of it, because it is beautiful in its construction – I’m partial to the ESV of the psalm, but all versions are beautiful.

I encourage you reading it.

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And so related to “Can You Make A Cheese Sauce”…

I’ve become an afficionado of macaroni and cheese. As detailed in my previous post, I like making cheese sauces, so the next step in the staircase is to make macaroni & cheese.

Now, don’t even THINK I mean that stuff you take out of a box.  It has its place in food history but that is NOT what I’m talking about.  Let’s just say that I’ve taken a page from the Southern cooking mindset and I make hand crafted, home made macaroni and cheese.  Baked in the oven.

This is how I do it.  And, just so you know, I’m going to put in a few additional tips for “if you like it this way….” or “if you like it THIS way…”

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour (AP works here)

2 cups milk

Let’s start with the basic ingredients here.  Melt the butter on low.  Sprinkle in the flour.  Whisk until smooth.  Turn the heat up to medium.  Cook for about 2 minutes to get the “flour” taste out of it.  Don’t let it get too golden brown – just a nice blonde roux.

Slowly add the milk, whisking to keep it from lumping.  At this point, I turn the heat up to around medium high, but I’m working with one of those ceramic topped ranges and controlling the heat is a nightmare.  I would say on any NORMAL range, keep the heat btwn medium and medium high.  Whisk constantly.  Just keep stirring with the whisk, and stirring and stirring and stirring.  Could take up to 15 minutes.  The mixture will thicken and when it comes to a boil, you’re about where you’ll be.  Now, depending on how you like your mac & cheese, the next step is kinda up to you.

If you like a runnier, wetter, not quite so thick cheese sauce, stop cooking the white sauce before it comes to a boil. If you want a thicker, gooier cheese sauce, do the full time and let it boil up to a minute. Still stirring of course.

2 cups cheese – again, this is a “how do you like your cheese sauce” point.  I’m a fan of big cheese flavor.  So, I use a combination of Mexican cheeses (acadero, queso blanco, monterey jack and another I can’t remember).  If I just want the cheesy texture but less flavor, go just with monterey jack.  If you want even more cheese flavor, go with colby, or even sharp cheddar.  I’m a lazy person and use preshredded, but if I’m looking for a sort of artisinal spin, I may grate my own gouda, or something.  BTW, it won’t hurt if you add an extra half a cup of cheese.  Whisk the cheese into the white sauce until melted.

1 lb pasta, cooked and drained.  If you want a nice chewy texture, cook it on the short side of the amount of time noted for the pasta.  If you are looking for a softer, creamier texture, cook the entire time and add maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute.

In a large baking pan, prepared with cooking spray (makes the clean up SO much easier!), combine the pasta and the cheese sauce.  Try to distribute both as evenly as you can.

This last step before baking is optional.  Some like it, some don’t.  Sprinkle the top with panko breadcrumbs.  Really nice if you’ve got a bit of a wet sauce going on.  If you REALLY want some fun, add in a bit of dried parsley.  BTW, some people like to mix the bread crumbs with butter-I find that with a good sauce, no butter is needed and you get the right proportion of crunchy on top.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

 

Now, some of you may want to adjust a bit – things you might want to do:

  • sub out some of the milk in the white sauce with white wine or veggie broth, or chicken stock.
  • saute a crushed, minced garlic clove in the butter at first, then add the flour.
  • add veggies to the overall product.  I used to add in broccoli and cauliflower.  If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more veggies, this might be the way.  I’ve also added fresh spinach to the pasta/cheese sauce mix in stage then layered roma tomato slices on top and covered with a thin layer of dry cheese – romano or parmesan – along with bread crumbs. for a “florentine” mac & cheese.
  • include some pasta water in with the cheese sauce to thin it, then let the cooked pasta re-absorb it during the baking phase.
  • add lobster.  ’nuff said.
  • for the wild ones, drizzle with hot sauce – my current favorite is sriracha, however Frank’s Red Hot, Texas Pete, or good ole Tabasco would do too.
  • add in pepperoncini, oregano and feta cheese for a “greek” version of mac & cheese.

So…those are my thoughts.  Let me know your thoughts.

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Can you make a cheese sauce?

Really.  Do you know how?  If you say yes and you EVER create macaroni and cheese from a box, you should be ashamed of yourself.

There are two KEY components of a good cheese sauce:

  1. a whisk
  2. patience

If you know the breakdown of making a white sauce (is that beurre blanc?) then you have the knowledge of how to make a cheese sauce.  Don’t know that?  Here it is:

  • butter (it is the best ingredient for a cheese sauce….)
  • flour
  • milk

This is how I do it.  If I’m going to make 2 cups of cheese sauce (a very healthy pan of mac & cheese), I start with 2 cups of milk, 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour.  If I am going to make 2.5 cups of sauce, 2.5 cups of milk, 2.5 tbsp of butter, and 2.5 tbsp of flour.  Get the picture?

Melt the butter in the pan.  Sprinkle the flour on the butter, and stir.  Stir lightly until it’s combined.  Introducing, a roux.  Yes, you made one!  Congrats!  I usually boost the heat a bit and then cook for just past a minute…maybe a little longer depending on the color.  Light caramel.  That’s the color I look for.  Once it’s light caramel colored, I slowly pour in the milk, stopping to make sure I’ve whisked the lumps out.  No lumps here greatly increase the potential for lumpless sauce later.

And…whisk.  Whisk on medium to medium high heat.  By whisk, I don’t mean vigorously…just keep it moving.  This does two things.

  1. Again, minimizes the risk of lumps.  Ain’t no guarantee, but it’s a good helper.
  2. Allows you to see and feel the thickening.

It’s gonna take probably 20 minutes-ish…could be 15, could be 25 depending on how cold the milk was, and how warm the “fire” is.

Once you can tell it is thickening, watch for the boil.  It will thicken to it’s thickest during the boil.  I usually cut the heat off at this point unless it isn’t as thick as I expect.  I then continue whisking if it needs more boil-time.  At this point, however, do NOT walk away.  You will wind up with a boiled over milky sticky smelly mess if you ignore it for any time at all!

After the sauce is at it’s desired thickness, I add the cheese.  Usually, I admit, I’m lazy and add pre-shredded.  Mainly because I don’t have a shredder I like.  If you’re a purist, you can add small cheese cubes or hand shredded.  Because the white sauce is hot, it melts the cheese nicely.

Honestly, it’s that easy.

 

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What’s in a Resolution?

HNYOkay, so New Years resolutions are a few days past, but we all at least briefly ponder them as the new year begins, right?  You may not make them, but just in celebrating a new year starting, you’re kinda celebrating a new beginning, right?

I don’t typically make resolutions because the standard ones kinda bore me.  Lose weight, read more, get organized.  I have made them all.  And as resolutions typically fall…by February, they’re a distant memory.  But, this year, I had a few that were weighing heavily on me.  So, I made a “punch list”.  Here it is, and they’re not really in a proper order…just as I remember what they are (always a feat around here).

1.  Fear less.  A few times in the past two months, I’ve heard that the saying Fear Not occurs in some iteration 365 times in The Bible.  One for each day of the year.  Last year, there were a few periods of time I was crippled by fear.  It might have been just for a few hours in a day but that feeling is one I don’t ASK for.  On this particular topic, it’s best to remember that God did not put anything here in your path that you should fear.  Remember, He’s with you – so…if Our God is for us, who can stand against us?  Certainly not the evil one.  Therefore, when I’m feeling the entanglement of fear coming on (it’s tangible when it does…at least for me), I am going to remind myself…Jeremiah 29:11-13.  And, Philippians 4:13.  My God is my rock, my stronghold.  He is my Strong Tower.

2.  Health-out!  My odd way of saying, pay attention to what is going INTO my body.  More power greens.  More anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables.  More organic.  More nonGMO.  Water.  Water.  Water.  Less fish – even though I love my seafood, I overdid it at Christmas and I really don’t want to feel that way again! Y’know, I’ve always heard it said that we are made in God’s image…and I’m thinking that allowing his image to be messed up the way I have – just being overindulgent…I don’t think he would want that.  Of course, I read a couple of weeks ago that when we make excuses for overating like, “I have no willpower” we are lying to ourselves.  Again, Paul tells us in Philippians that “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (sorry for the repeat reference)

3.  Exercise.  Yes, while this does go with the above, it has it’s own number in the punch list.  Why?  Because I have to separate it due to the fact that I really don’t LIKE to exercise.  If I could be the stick figure, buffed out person without lifting a finger to work out, I would.  But, I’m 50 years old and that just ain’t my metabolism.  I have to work out.  So, instead of getting wider, getting older, and getting on cholesterol control meds, I am back working out at the gym.  Today was an off day, just an FYI.  I’m back at it tomorrow…night.  I want to exude being fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14)

4.  Read.  I haven’t shared this with many since it’s only day 16 and I’m not at the 21 days makes a habit thing yet…but, I’m on a plan to read The Bible in a year.  No, I didn’t start with Genesis … wait, I did start with Genesis but it’s a YouVersion app that provides you all the readings (7 per day) to get you through the whole thing.  I continue to revel in my Joyce Meyers devotional, and it has fed me greatly.  But, The Bible is one I didn’t think I’d be able to do.  So…I hesitatingly tell you all that is this year’s quest.  The best thing about the app is that it reminds me every day to read.  It pops up on my phone and all I have to do is click it.  Bam.

5.  Help others.  In this, I mean humans.  I have always tried to help cute needle-nosed canines and won’t stop that but…I am on a quest.  The quest includes settling into working with disadvantaged…fringe…people that don’t necessarily get included in the “normal” society.  Homeless women & children.  Teen moms (which lean very close to the prior one).  Any child that does not know where his or her next meal will come from.  It’s just wrong.  Kids shouldn’t know hunger.  And, the elderly – those who are alone.  No family to help them through the wonderful world of aging and sickness.  Those who don’t know to ask questions.  The, of course…those on this earth that are not able to speak up for themselves.  We have been tasked by God to take care of our brothers and sisters.  We do it so poorly.  I want to help there.

6. Be the best wife and daughter I can be.  I strive to do this every day and I’m best at seeing where I fail.  I look to my parents as role models of the perfect marriage…and I know I fall short of that frequently.  I want to be Jim’s biggest fan, strongest supporter, most avid listener and carer.  He is my rock, and I want to be his.

It’s such a long list.  I know I can’t do all of it 100% successfully.  I am not going to give up because it seems unachievable.  I am going to keep stretching, reaching, striving.  I will falter.  But, I will find my way.  I do have God with me.  And that is always a feeling of comfort and strength.

So, what’s in a resolution?  Me.  Supported by My God.  Steeped in my Faith.  Surrounded by my family and friends.

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2013 in review

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The 12 Days…

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