Half a Lifetime in Motherhood

 

As I approach my 34th birthday I am reflecting a lot on my life, on what I have accomplished, what I still want to accomplish, my family, my kids, life in general. And that’s when it hit me; I have been a mother for half my life. Half my life.

For those doing the math, let me help you, when I was 16 I was living in Kenya, I was in grade 11, I met a guy, an older guy from another school, he was a senior. So of course it was super cool to be dating an ‘older guy’ from another school. Well one thing lead to another, and I ended up pregnant. Just after my 17th birthday I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy (ok, 1 of the 3 most beautiful boys, because all my boys were of course the most beautiful ever. I’m not bias at all!).
When I was 16 and pregnant I had to start making choices I never dreamed I would have to do at that age. As my belly grew, my responsibilities grew as well. I made the choice to give my son up for adoption. You can read about that here.

Since that day in a friends basement bathroom when the stick showed two lines, my life and my choices have always had to factor in someone else. Now I have to factor in 4 kids and a husband.

For half my life I have been a mother. For half my life my heart has been walking outside my body. For half my life my decisions have been about other people. For half my life someone else, and a growing number of someone else’s, have been put first ahead of myself.

And do you know what I have learned from all this motherhood-ing (that is totally a word), is that I don’t know a damn thing about motherhood. Just when I think I got a handle on it the kids go ahead and grow up and things change.

I’m still trying to figure out how anyone can really call themselves a “parenting expert”.

I have given birth to 4 incredible humans. Four drastically different humans. Four people that are constantly changing, growing and evolving. Four humans that constantly surprise me, challenge me, push me to be a better person, show me what unconditional love is, push my patience to its breaking point, make me laugh, make me cry (happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, a lot of sleep deprived tears), and make me the proudest mother ever.

I can’t imagine my life any other way. I can’t imagine not being a mother.

Half my life has been spent navigating motherhood, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

~ Michelle

9 Foods that you should avoid at all costs if you want to open your arteries

When it comes to heart health, you may already know that eating well and avoiding junk food is a good way to start. But doing so can be more complicated than you think.

A good number of foods that you enjoy every day, even those that are otherwise healthy for you, could actually be doing a lot of damage to your heart. And that is why it is important to be aware of what you should avoid and why.

At NaijaNews36 we want you to always be well informed about what you need to have a happy and healthy heart, so we are sharing with you what types of foods you should avoid if you need to cleanse your arteries.

1. Red meat

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The red meat of which we are speaking is that which is red when it is raw, like beef or lamb. This is not the best option for your heart. One study claimed that people who consumed red meat daily had high levels of trimethylamine N-oxide, a chemical related to heart disease. Other researchers also found a connection between eating red meat regularly and being at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

2. Canned vegetables and soups

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Vegetables and canned soups seem to be a convenient way to add more vegetables to your daily diet, but they often contain too much added salt, especially if they come with sauces or broths. An excessive amount of salt increases the blood pressure , which reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart, and may even cause a heart attack. Many of the preservatives used in these canned products can be harmful. A popular additive for soups, monosodium glutamate (MSG), has been linked to heart palpitations .

3. Frozen food

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Frozen meals, especially dinners in front of the television, are convenient, cheap and often low in calories. However, many frozen foods have high levels of sodium, which is often used to flavor foods and as a preservative. People should eat about 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day, but many frozen dinners can contain half of that in a single meal.

4. Sausages

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Sausages that have been preserved or seasoned with added salt , such as salami, mortadella, or sausage, usually have too many saturated fats and can increase your cholesterol levels. In excess, these products can cause blood vessels to develop fatty deposits and an increased risk of heart disease. Although there are low-fat options, cured meats or sausages are generally not healthy for the heart because of their high salt levels.

5. Coffee cream

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Coffee creams often contain partially hydrogenated oils , a common source of trans fats that can increase cholesterol levels. Generally, if you do not like black coffee, milk is a healthier option. Adding milk to plants is usually a good alternative to coffee cream.

6. Baked products

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In general, desserts should be enjoyed in moderation, but baked goods, such as pies can be especially problematic because of their trans fats. A report found that there was a correlation positive between heart disease and trans fatty acids. Many baked goods are flavored with sugar , which can stress the heart if consumed in excess. Sugar in food can also contain glucose 6-phosphate, which can decrease the functions of the heart to the point of causing heart failure.

7. Ice cream

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Ice cream often contains high levels of cholesterol. Half a cup of vanilla ice cream contains more than 4 grams of saturated fat . This is more than a quarter of what adults should consume in a day, and richer flavors may have even more.

8. Fried foods

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In general, fried foods are bad for health because the frying process creates trans fats. A serving of 113 grams of fried chicken can have both cholesterol and 11 strips of bacon. On the contrary, a grilled chicken breast can be a good source of protein in a diet to lose weight.

9. Refreshment

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One study stated that regular consumption of soft drinks sweetened with sugar may increase the risk of heart disease. Even diet or soft drinks are not a better option. Other research claims that people who regularly consume artificially sweetened soft drinks have a higher risk of having a stroke and heart disease.

Bonus: how to know if your arteries are blocked

You can have arteries with obstruction since you were 20 years old . People experience all kinds of symptoms when their arteries are blocked, but there are some that are quite common.

  • People with blocked arteries may have chest pains, commonly referred to as angina.
  • Pain in the lower back can come from a reduced blood flow, which can even lead to painful hernias.
  • Studies show that people with chronic back pain are more likely to have blocked arteries.
  • Clogged arteries can also cause shortness of breath, which could eventually cause discomfort and fatigue.
  • According to one study , people with this symptom may be suffering from high-risk heart disease.

Which of these foods do you commonly enjoy? Do you know any substitute that can keep your heart healthy? Let us know in the comments!

#indiechallenge – First Time Ever (Peggy Seeger)

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The blurb

Born in New York City in 1935, Peggy Seeger enjoyed a childhood steeped in music and politics. Her father was the noted musicologist Charles Seeger; her mother, the modernist composer Ruth Crawford; and her brother Pete, the celebrated writer of protest songs.

After studying at Radcliffe College, in 1955 Peggy left to travel the world. It was in England that she met the man, some two decades older and with a wife and family, with whom she would share the next thirty-three years: the actor, playwright and songwriter Ewan MacColl. Together, Peggy and Ewan helped lay the foundations of the British folk revival, through the formative – and controversial – Critics Group and the landmark BBC Radio Ballads programmes. And as Ewan’s muse, Peggy inspired one of the twentieth century’s greatest love songs, ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’.

Peggy’s life comprises art and passion, family and separation, tragedy, celebration and the unexpected – and irresistible – force of love. It would by any standards be an extraordinary story, but what elevates her account is the beauty of the writing: it is clear-eyed and playful, luminous and melodic, fearless, funny and always truthful, from the first word to the last.

The publisher

Faber & Faber calls itself ‘one of the world’s great publishing houses’. It was founded in London 90 years ago. I’d associated it more with the highbrow end of the market and with poetry, but it also does things like the QI tie-in gift books.

How I got this book

Around my way, there’s a tradition of leaving unwanted items outside one’s front gate in case someone else likes the look of it and takes it away. I liked the look of this and took it away.

The bingo card

This could count towards: ‘An author from another country’; possibly ‘Biography’, though Seeger in fact recommends someone else’s biography of her to be read alongside this to fill in the gaps; ‘A press over 20 years old’; ‘Non-fiction’, and, despite the blurb’s strenuous attempt to ignore the fact, ‘LGBTQIA’.

My thoughts

I think Peggy Seeger is great. I saw her perform at Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago, and when I asked her to sign one of her CDs she complimented my hat. So there. Anyway, she’s a member of a great musical dynasty and she’s a great musical figure in her own right. In this book she looks back on a long life, with a complete absence of self-pity and an honesty that sometimes made me wince. There was much that resonated, including the thoughts on class, and the impulse to hope that keeps you writing in the face of looming political despair. It’s fascinating as history and as a reflection on the art of performing music and, most of all, as a portrait of the development of a person.

Penderitaan dan Pelepasan – Apa Sakit itu Salah?

Dalam beberapa ceramah, saya sering meminta hadirin mengangkat tangan jika mereka pernah jatuh sakit. Hampir semua orang mengangkat tangannya ( mereka yang tidak mengangkat tangannya bisa jadi sedang tertidur atau sedang tersesat dalam fantasi seksualnya!). Menurut saya, ini membuktikan bahwa jatuh sakit itu adalah lumrah. Pada kenyataannya, adalah aneh jika anda tidak pernah jatuh sakit dalam hidup anda. Jadi mengapa, tanya saya, saat ke dokter, Anda bilang,” Ada sesuatu yang tidak beres dengan saya, dok?”? Padahal, akan ada yang tidak beres jika anda tidak pernah sakit sama sekali. Jadi orang yang waras seharusnya bilang,” Saya beres-beres saja, Dok, saya sakit lagi nih!”

Kapan pun Anda menganggap penyakit sebagai sesuatu yang salah, Anda menambahkan ketegangan yang tak perlu, bahkan juga rasa bersalah, ke puncak kesengsaraan. Dalam novel abad ke-19 yang berjudul Erehwon, Samuel Butler membayangkan suatu masyarakat di mana penyakit dianggap sebagai suatu kejahatan dan orang yang sakit akan dipenjarakan. Pada sebuah bagian yang tak terlupakan dari buku tersebut, si terdakwa, yang tengah tersedu-sedu dan bersin-bersin di atas mimbar, dicaci-maki sebagai pembunuh berantai oleh sang hakim. Ini bukan kali pertama dia terpergok menderita flu oleh sang hakim. Lebih lanjut, itu semua adalah salahnya sendiri karena memakan makanan yang tidak sehat, kurang berolahraga, dan mengikuti gaya hidup yang tidak sehat. Dia dihukum penjara selama beberapa tahun.

Berapa banyak dari kita yang menjadi merasa bersalah manakala kita sakit?

Seorang rekan biksu telah menderita suatu penyakit tak dikenal selama beberapa tahun. Dia menghabiskan hari demi hari, minggu demi minggu, berbaring di ranjang sepanjang hari, terlalu lemah bahkan hanya untuk berjalan keluar kamar. Pihak wihara itu telah membiayai berbagai jenis pengobatan, baik medis maupun alternatif, dalam upaya menyembuhkannya, tetapi tampaknya tak ada yang berhasil. Ketika dia merasa sedikit baikan, dia berjalan terhuyung-huyung beberapa langkah, lalu tumbang lagi berminggu-minggu. Para anggota wihara sering berpikir bahwa dia akan segera meninggal.

Suatu hari, kepala wihara yang bijaksana mendapatkan ilham mengenai masalah ini. Jadi, dia pergi ke kamar biksu yang sakit itu. Biksu yang terbaring itu menatap kepala wihara dengan tatapan nanar pasrah.

“Saya datang ke sini,” kata kepalah wihara, “atas nama seluruh biarawan dan biarawati di wihara ini, juga seluruh umat penyantun kita. Atas nama seluruh orang yang peduli dan mengasihimu, saya datang untuk memberimu izin untuk mati. Kamu tidak harus sembuh.”

Mendengar kata-kata itu, si biksu sakit terisak. Dia telah berupaya keras untuk sembuh. Teman-temannya telah banyak membantu demi kesembuhannya, sehingga dia tidak mau mengecewakan mereka. Dia merasa begitu gagal, begitu bersalah, karena tak kunjung sembuh. Saat mendengar kata-kata sang kepala wihara, seketika dia merasa bebas untuk menjadi orang sakit, bahkan bebas untuk mati. Dia tidak perlu lagi berjuang demikian keras untuk menyenangkan teman-temannya, Kegelapan itu membuatnya menangis.

Menurut Anda, apa yang terjadi kemudian? Semenjak hari itu, kesehatannya mulai membaik.

Blog Tour Sign Up: The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen (Aug. 19th to Aug. 23rd) Genre: YA Fantasy @K_B_Andersen @RRBookTours1 #BookBloggers #YAFantasy #Books

Hey Bloggers!

I’m organizing a blog tour for The Devil’s Apprentice, a YA Fantasy by Kenneth B. Andersen, and I need bloggers to host. The tour will run from August 19th to the 23rd and review spots will take priority. Bonus? The author has promised the next two books in the series for bloggers who review!

Guys, this is a fun one! You should see all the 5 star reviews! Here’s mine if you would like to check it out! The book is available in all digital formats and there are two giveaways, a chance to win a signed copy for participating bloggers, and a international giveaway for your readers!

Sign up below!

The-Devil’s-Apprentice_lThe Devil’s Apprentice (The Great Devil War #1)

Publication Date: October 5th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think. – Kenneth B. Andersen

Goodreads

Amazon

About the Author

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I WAS BORN IN DENMARK ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER 1976 …

… and I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

About THE GREAT DEVIL WAR: The Great Devil War was published in Denmark from 2005-2016, beginning with The Devil’s Apprentice.

Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think.

Welcome to the other side!

Kenneth B. Andersen

 

Please email me at shanannigans.readsandreels@gmail.com to sign up!

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One armed cooking – more tips for the kitchen after shoulder surgery

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I’m back with another round of kitchen tips you may find useful if you’ve just had surgery on a shoulder or upper limb, have arthritis in your hands, wrists and elbows or weak arm muscles

I love food and cooking and always try to prepare a home cooked meal or snack whenever possible

With some careful planning prior to surgery a couple of years ago, I was able to prepare simple dishes even with one arm in a sling after a shoulder replacement

I’ve kept the tips and gadgets simple as I find that even though there are electrical appliances that can help you chop, mash and peel, they’re difficult to get apart and clean if you’re using one arm post surgery or have painful wrists and hands

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The first step to being independent in the kitchen is to invest in a few aids and devices that will help you open jars and cans, chop fruit and vegetables and make a cup of tea or coffee on your own

Above is a ring pull can opener, jar popper and a general device that opens a variety of items

Check out my other blog posts on kitchen tips and gadgets to see these devices in action (links below)

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The love affair continues with my Swedish Etac Fix Preparation Board which I still use on a daily basis

I feel it’s the most essential item to have in the kitchen if you have arthritis or have had upper limb surgery

Have a look at my blog post Floored by the Boards for more information on how to use the board and where you can purchase it

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Use utensils with a wide hand grip

Find the peeler that suits you best (I find the green vegetable peeler from Ikea really easy to use with as it has a wide grip)

If my hands are really painful, the red and white peeler that fits in the palm of my hand is the most comfortable to use

A grater with a wide hand grip is grate … oops sorry great to use for garlic, ginger and lemon rind

(you should be able to chop and grate most vegetables even with one arm if you have the chopping boards mentioned above)

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The above scoops are handy for scooping out vegetables, pasta and noodles from a pot

The whisk (used with a pumping motion) puts less stress on your wrists than a conventional whisk if you are making a dressing or an omelette

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I hope you’re not lifting heavy pots with scalding hot water to drain pasta or vegetables at the sink

Do what chefs do and scoop pasta out of the pasta water and pop it straight into your sauce

To empty water from a pot, wait until the water cools down then empty one cup at a time if you don’t have the strength to lift the pot

Fill up your pot or kettle the same way (I have a light weight plastic jug that I fill up at the sink then fill up a pot or kettle)

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If you love fresh parmesan on pasta as I do, grate some or buy it already grated and store it in the freezer so you can pop a spoonful on pasta any time

Before I had my shoulder surgery I had a friend help me grate parmesan into a tub so it was ready to go whenever I needed it

I also froze little tubs of gremolata (grated lemon rind and chopped parsley) to add to pasta dishes

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Invest in an electric can opener

It comes in handy if the the ring pull comes flying off a can you’re trying to open

I love this TouchGo can opener that I used it all the time after I had shoulder surgery

You can see it in action below in an Instagram post

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Decant oil or sauces into lightweight bottles that are easy to control with one hand or sore hands

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If you don’t have the energy or can’t chop or grind herbs, you can buy them already chopped for you in handy little tubes or jars

You can also purchase single serve herbs like coriander, garlic and ginger from the freezer section

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As far as serving up food goes, lightweight plates, bowls and mugs are the way to go

Consider using melamine, enamel or Japanese laquerware bowls and plates which do not break if you drop them or smash when washing up in the sink

I don’t have a dishwasher so it was very important that I had unbreakable bowls and plates after surgery

If you are having a flare or have just had surgery, consider having paper plates and cups on hand in the early stages of recovery so you don’t have to do any washing up

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If using paper plates concerns you, there are greener options available such as the Deeko BioPak range which uses sugarcane to manufacture plates and bowls so they’re tree and plastic free

I’ve spotted the Deeko range in my local IGA store and a new range called Modo in Coles

Click here for more information about BioPak and here for Modo

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Keep your freezer stocked with ready made meals that are easy to prepare if you’re having a flare or if you’ve just had surgery

If you’re making a stew or pasta sauce, make extra so you can freeze extra portions

Freeze a loaf of sliced bread so you can pull out a couple of pieces to toast at anytime and top with avocado or hummus as a light meal or snack (don’t forget to add chopped tomatoes)

Have some frozen vegetables handy for days when you can’t do any chopping at all

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A microwave is handy to warm up frozen meals and leftovers

I had never owned a microwave until I bought one just before I went in for a shoulder replacement a couple of years ago

I found it incredibly handy and used it to cook pasta, make fried rice, scrambled eggs, french toast and even mug cakes – all using one arm

I’ll have to do a post with some simple recipes you can prepare if one arm is in a sling

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A coffee pod machine enables you to make coffee easily if you have sore hands or can only use one arm

Look for unbreakable lightweight cups to serve your coffee in

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In Australia you can drop off Nespresso, Lor & Moccona aluminum coffee pods at recycling depots

Click here for information about recycling Nespresso pods and here for the TerraCycle  Lor/Moccona Capsules Recycling Programme

Lavazza aims to make their whole range compostable from September 2019

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If you take milk or plant milk with your tea and coffee, small containers are available which are easier to manage with sore hands or one arm (I have trouble picking up a litre of milk at the best of times)

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See my Instagram post below for a device given to me as a gift that makes hand washing cutlery easy if you are using one hand

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How do you carry a hot bowl with one arm?

Line a hard plastic plate with non slip grip liner so the bowl placed on top doesn’t slip around

It’s much easier to carry a bowl this way as your hand does not directly touch the hot bowl

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Eat fresh fruits and vegetables everyday especially if you are recovering from surgery

Purchase groceries online and have them delivered to your home

Buy fresh prepared meals from your local delicatessen if you don’t feel like cooking

If you live in Perth, most IGA stores prepare a variety of roast meats and vegetables and other meals daily at affordable prices (I usually get two meals from one serve)

I personally never use Uber Eats or other food delivery services as I prefer to support local restaurants by going to them, they can however be an option if you’re feeling hungry

 

As always I’d love to know what you think and if you have any tips you can pass on in the comments section below

Links

img_4041    Attack of the Orange Gadgets

IMG_1638     Floored by the Boards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empire of Sand Review

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

One thing I learned while taking this picture is a I need a more ornate knife/dagger.

Empire of Sand was one of those preorder I did that I am not sure what sold me initially on it, but I think it was the Mughal India and the magic system. And I am ever so glad that I preordered and bought.

I enjoyed this book SO much. Mehr isn’t the perfect strong female character. She has lived a sheltered life and despite having ordeals, those are minor compared to what is to come.

Because she is half Amrithi, she has been kept mostly in the dark about a lot of her heritage, to “blank” it out and to make sure she fits nicely in her father’s world. Sadly no one really bothered to explain much as to why this was a good thing and how this was a way to protect her (but I mean, adults do, do this and then there is politics and sometimes the less we know the safer we are in a way).

The world, or rather the Empire, is very well built and I could easily picture it in my head. And Mehr is a very real character. She has flaws, she has a temper (but not the “plot only” type of temper, but rather the kind that sometimes is triggered when you are tired or hangry, or just someone rubs you the wrong way, you know that kind, the one you regret soon enough), and she has a love for dancing. Oh and she has magic, but she’s just one of many that have magic.

Then she catches the eye of the Mara and well, she’s suddenly in a more sticky situation than what she thought wasn’t ideal life. I loved the concept of what an oath/promise means to the Amrithi, and I absolutely adored the relationship between Mehr and Amun was one of my favourite things. I kept cooing at them and just thinking that I wish there were romances as nice as this and wow was he a soft man inside and just aww. It is my favourite type of romance, what I call “love comes softly”.

I am a mess doing this review because I enjoyed this book so much. It is a delightful one in the style of Trudi Canavan, Robin Hobb, Robin McKinley and the rest of the wonderful female writers, and I just wanted to be part of that world (even if it is a harsh one).

The Daiva are also a wonderful element of the story as is all the lore that makes it so rich. I highly recommend this book.

(One caveat, do not come at it thinking it is a Western book and do not expect a YA book, despite the character’s age. This book explores topics in a way that isn’t exactly YA centric and is more an adult SFF book than a younger audince, this however doesn’t mean a teenager won’t enjoy it, more on how to approach it to avoid feeling out of sorts with it).

Xoxo, Amanda – A Little More Personal

*Every Wednesday, I will be posting either an excerpt or a page from one of my middle school diaries and reflecting on them as a (sort of) more mature human being. Names will be hidden to protect the person’s identity as well as their imminent embarrassment for my teenage perceptions of them.*

“My hair looked like crap today, along with the rest of me. Ah, what’s new?”

I laugh at myself for writing this, but it’s also kind of sad? Because here I was as a thirteen year old awkward human being and I was so hard on myself. I was incredibly insecure, but my diary – an inanimate object – was the only thing that knew about it. I used to write shit like this often. My diary knew aaaaall about my lack of self-confidence. This is just one of many instances.

Maybe I’m going on a bit of a tangent here, but I used to constantly ridicule myself. Granted it was in a comical sense, but I used that to disguise the fact that I did not like how I looked. Want me to tell you an embarrassing story? I have thousands, but this one dates back to my middle school days. I can’t exactly pinpoint the year, but I remember standing in my bathroom, staring at the mirror, and crying to my mom. Why on earth was I crying, do you ask?

Because I was a preteen girl trying to fit in with the rest of the girls in my grade, but I had black hairs growing on my upper lip. Black fucking hairs. A MUSTACHE. How is that even fair to a girl, especially one trying to survive the horrors of being a middle schooler, soon to be highschooler? I wanted to stay home from school because I was so mortified and upset because I knew I would be made fun of.

Being a girl sucks, dude.

The media teaches women that being beautiful requires a perfect body accompanied by perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect everything. I’ll be honest with you, before I lost sixty-something pounds, I used to camouflage my insecurities with heavy black makeup around my eyes and H-U-G-E hair. Okay, so my hair still has volume, but the only way I could deter the world from my chubby cheeks was with black eyeliner and a Jersey Shore hairdo.

It’s a bunch of bullshit.

Women have cellulite. Women have fat rolls. Women have shit hair days. Women get zits. WOMEN ARE FLAWED. But all it takes is one fucking person to call you fat to take all that confidence you built up and squash it like a bug. I’ve been there.

I was head over heels for a guy and he drunkenly told my mother that I wasn’t “skinny enough”. Fast forward x amount of years later and I now work my ass off at the gym and at eating healthy – let’s get something straight, that was not for him. Though ironically, he showed interest once I lost the weight. *insert dramatic eye roll* boy byyyeee. However, I still think about how I wasn’t skinny enough. And in my brain at the time, I felt I wasn’t good enough either.

How fucked up is that? Sure, I’ve had people tell me I’m beautiful, pretty, you name it. Gross, now I just sound like I’m being a conceited bitch, but that isn’t even it because surely I am no such thing. All it takes is one negative comment to turn the image of yourself into something else entirely. I’m still not totally secure with my body. I have fat rolls. I have cellulite. I have flab that I grab when I look in the mirror and spew profanities at. I work everyday to be healthier and more fit, but to truly 100% be comfortably and secure in my skin is still something I strive for. The thing is,

if a dude tells you that you need to drop some pounds, you do just that and drop his dumbass into the garbage and get yourself some ice cream.

A real man is going to love you for you. A genuine person is going to love you for you. I’m still learning that, but it’s important that we start to appreciate our bodies and everything that they do for us everyday. It’s important to recognize that as long as our hearts are beautiful, that beauty will shine brighter than anything else.

Of course, being healthy is important too. I have more energy, I don’t feel completely winded walking up a flight of stairs, I want to move move move. I would recommend a healthy lifestyle to anyone because it drastically changed my life. But I recommend doing it for you and because you want to feel more confident and sexy in your own skin. It takes a lot of willpower and self-control, but it is so worth it.

I got off topic, didn’t I? Life is confusing. I never know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, thanks for coming to my TED talk. Adios amigos.

10 Summer Meals your Grill is Begging You to Make.

The days are getting longer, and warmer. School is out. Summer is in the air. It’s time to fire up those grills, and get them a cookin! Here are 10 meals to make this summer that you won’t forget.

  1. Good ol fashion cookout: Throw on the brats, hot dogs and burgers. It ain’t summer until you start with a cookout. Try some grilled fruits as well, such as pineapple, and watermelon. Finish it off with some baked beans and potato salad, and you got your self the first essential summer meal.
  2. Steak and Mushroom Kabobs: load up skewers alternating Steak, and Mushrooms. Serve well done, or medium rare. Top with shredded Swiss cheese. You can also whip up some garlic potato foil packets, and serve with grilled asparagus to complete the feast.
  3. Skinny Grilled Eggplant Parmesan: Peel and slice Eggplant. Soak in Salt water over night, or for at least 3 hours if you are making the same day. While Eggplant is soaking, make a foil packet of tomatoes, and a few cloves of garlic. You can also roast in the oven. Once roasted, place tomatoes, garlic, basil and Italian seasoning with a teaspoon of olive oil and blend. Set aside. Grill eggplant. Top eggplant with homemade sauce, and cheese. Serve with toasted bread.
  4. Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken: Prepare your marinade. Combine Olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and lemon pepper seasoning. Marinate chicken for at least 3 hours, or over night. Slice a lemon. Top each piece of chicken with a lemon slice. Remove chicken from grill once internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with rice, and grilled veggies.
  5. Grilled Pork Chops and Vegetables: Slice up squash, zucchini, peppers, onions, and potatoes. Place in foil packets, and season with olive oil and Greek seasoning. Once cooked, top with your favorite crumbly cheese. Serve veggies and chops with corn on the cob to complete your meal.
  6. Pineapple BBQ Chicken: You can make these kabob style, or grill thighs, legs and breasts and serve with your favorite sauce, grilled pineapple and rice.
  7. Grilled Steak Fajitas: Grab your favorite flank steak, and slice up onions and peppers. Combine a few kinds for some fun color. Serve with warmed tortillas, beans, lime and parsley rice, mango salsa and sour cream!
  8. Overnight Smoked Pulled Pork: Find a shoulder, and put your favorite dry rub all over. Turn your grill on nice and low, add some wood chips and water for moisture and let it work its magic. 18 hours later, you’ll have an amazing melt in your mouth dinner! No sauce needed!
  9. Grilled Baby Back Ribs: Sloe bake a rack of ribs in the oven for 3 hours. Remove from oven, and pop on the grill to finish. Top with BBQ sauce, or leave plain and offer an assortment of flavors for dipping! Serve with grilled sweet potatoes.
  10. Grilled Salmon with Brussels Sprouts: Grab some cedar planks, and top it with Salmon. Top with teriyaki or balsamic glaze. Create a foil packet of Brussels, butter and soy sauce. Sprinkle feta and pomegranate seeds when finished.

No matter what you decide to grill, it will be delicious! There are so many ways to use your grill. You can grill many fruits, as well as make desserts! What is your favorite grilled meal? But first, can you help me settle the biggest grill debate? Gas or charcoal?

Happy Grilling!

Brrrr

Wow! 8 degrees this morning. Had to turn the furnace on to take the chill off. And, it looks to be threatening rain, so that’s good for the fire fighters…not so good for us. It did rain, off and on yesterday, but not enough to put out a fire and there was lightning happening, so likely more fires to deal with.

We managed to get on the road by 10:15…same time as our first start yesterday.

So, what season coincides with vacation season?…that’s right! Road construction season! We were on a scenic route, hiway 22 or the Cowboy Trail from Drayton Valley to Mayerthorpe but there were all kinds of signs about road construction and major delays so we moved further west to hiway 32 and the first thing we saw was a sign that the road was being paved and then there was a bridge repair with flagmen and a complete stop while the crew was setting up barriers. Can’t win!

The drive was uneventful, thankfully. We saw only roadkill today, although the road signs say that hiway 43 is the moose hiway. Some of the scenery is spectacular espcially driving down into the river valleys and over really high bridges. and we arrived at the Camp Tamarack campground around 4, after getting caught up in rush hour traffic on the main road coming into town.

Seems that there is a ton of activity further south on this road (hiway 40) as there was a continuous parade of heavy trucks coming north…right by the campground, which is full…of workers who seem to be here for the long haul! We stayed here last year and should have remembered that the road was busy and noisy. Fortunately, once all the workers have gone home for the day, it does get a bit quieter…but, then, there seems to be a motocross track somewhere nearby and a couple of trains through the night, and a plane took off around 5am…(I really thought the airport was further away). So, if Ron’s audits continue to bring us up here, we really need to find another site.

Ron struggled with the satellite setup before and after supper and finally got it right. Thankfully there is no hockey game tonight…and he doesn’t watch basketball!

The clouds are gathering, both in the sky and the ones made of mosquitoes, so after a quick walk around the campsite, we retired to watch some tv and then, to bed…long day today.

Today Is The 75th Anniversary Of D-Day…

Mary is no longer available for RV traveling, but we remain good friends.
Because we have 5,000+ postings, I’ve invited her to continue posting entries on this blog.
Sadly Mary is struggling with health issues. To see the latest about her situation, click here
To view past blogs, scroll to the bottom of this page and use the menu.
I’m currently in my 24th year of full-time RVing and my lifestyle is changing, For more info click here

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The motorhome is parked at Thousand Trails Thunderbird RV Resort in Monroe, Washington. I’m scheduled to depart here June 18th.

 

Today is a critical day in the history of our country and the world.

 

 

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

 

Here’s a brief video describing that day…

 

 

 

 

 

If you want more information, here’s a good link to view…

https://www.dday-overlord.com/en/d-day

 

I HOPE THAT YOU WILL PAUSE A MOMENT TO REFLECT THE MEANING OF IT ALL…

 

 

 

Forecast for today is partly sunny and 63 degrees.

Enjoying nice weather is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!

The red dot on the below map shows my approximate location in the State of Washington. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures with low humidity most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein

 

“Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.” –James Madison

 

 

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” —Mark Twain

2

My current travel rig is a 2006 Fleetwood 26′ Class A Motorhome and a towed 1986 Ford Bronco II, Eddie Bauer Model. This photo was taken in the desert at Slab City near Niland, California…

DSC040481b

On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!

Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.
http://youtu.be/FfZUzEB4rM8

If you would like to see my YouTube videos, click this link… http://www.youtube.com/user/JimJ1579/videos

If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…http://ramblinmanphotos.wordpress.com/

For more information about my books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

All original works copyrighted – Jim Jaillet -2019

A Crimson Shore 34.7 Anger Management

An ominous silence was followed by a gargantuan shaking that knocked them all off their feet–everyone except Zy’an. The monk, falling into a perfect stance, somehow rode it out as the others were scattered around the area like leaves in a wind storm. Iricah, who was separated briefly from her sickly brother, braced herself against the ghastly wall. Recoiling from the touch of it, she pushed the hair back out of her blood smeared face and  exclaimed, “What in the Great Realm was that?!”

“She is here,” answered her brother darkly. “I told you all.” His sad eyes passed from one to another, seeking some sort of understanding.  “Your efforts, though noble, are doomed. She knows you are here. She is coming for you all!”

Frank, stood, and grabbed his mace tightly. It had begun to glow again, and they all figured they knew why. The entity, the goddess as she was called by some, known as wrath, was said to be one of the traitors–an actual betrayer of mankind. If true, there was no greater hypocrite. Frank’s mace pulsated with a fierce brilliance as if to validate it even more.

Another quake rocked the tunnel, and then another that was so powerful the tunnel  twisted and turned. It was like standing in the hollow of a log that could move like a snake. “Well, tell her I’m coming for her then!” The cleric shouted to the ceiling and quaking walls. Frank’s eyes brightened with crimson fury. His horns, spiraling and  twisting outwards from his head, caught the light of his weapon and cast long shadows around him.

“And tell her Ket is coming with me!”

_______________________________________________

The walls of the hideous cavern began to shake so violently that they all continued to be knocked this way and that. Especially bad off was Frank, whose armor kept him from finding his balance.  It was terrible enough to move through this place of stacked and mutilated corpses. It was all they were capable of not to think about the cavern in such a way, but the shaking forced them to reach out to stay their balance. Or in Frank’s case, it knocked them into the horrible sides of the tunnel.

And then their stomachs fell, and they droped to the floor with the sensation. The tunnel, behind and all around them, twisted and turned in a way no passageway ever could. For it wasn’t a tunnel.

“It’s her!” Shouted Frank, pointing his mace in all directions around him. Another jolt hit, so he held it outwards, trying to use it like a trapeze artist would a balancing pole.  “It’s her incarnate! Wrath is this space.  She has come to be in this very form!”

“What do you mean Frank? How can that be?” Asked Iricah. She was a bundle of hair and bags and robes, holding all she held so dear, her brother especially, about her. “You are not making sense!” Then, she caught Gaelon’s red rimmed eyes.

“Sister, Frank is right. She has amassed more power than you could dare imagine. She is anger now, incarnate. She is power. This,” he pointed around him, “These once poor souls. This is her.”

“We must away!” Shouted Zy’an, ever the pragmatist. “Follow me if you value your lives!” He strode off, stabilizing himself this way and that, up and into the dark passageway. Behind him, like driftwood in the wake of a fast moving ship, the others bobbed in the undulating tube and swayed on their feet, or fell to their knees to try and stand once more. The tunnels around them were now moving in impossible ways. They each pulled at each other, grabbing to steady their feet, but they were only knocked over again and again.

________________________________________________

It was like watching a living thing come to life, and in some way Frank knew that’s exactly what was happening. But it wasn’t alive, and it wasn’t dead either. Frank knew, as he knew what Gaelon was. As he knew what all of these poor souls were imprisoned cruelly here in this terrible manner.  It is undead, he cried inside his mind. This entire massive structure, this series of tunnels that branched in strange ways. It’s her. Wrath is a colossus. She is as big as houses. These souls are her power!

Frank, always the slowest in matters of personal safety when running through terrible tunnels on these so-called adventures, was the last to stop. The others had dead ended. What Frank noticed first was the wind. Before looking up, a feeling of intense dread left him, as a literal breath of fresh air struck him in the face. He looked up as he had been running at a breakneck pace, and saw what at first looked like an opening in the cave!

A way out! thought Frank. He made a step towards it, but Thrak, who was standing firmly still,  reached out his arm and grabbed him. Frank stopped again. Thrak’s tongue licked his chops.

Just then, Frank felt his stomach drop again, and he noticed several things at once. First, the cavern mouth had a peculiar set of stalagtites and stalagmites. There was a ring of them, both tops and bottoms surrounded the perimeter of the cavern mouth.

The second thing Frank noticed quickly then was that the cavern, which he could feel shaking and swaying violently side to side and up and down, seemed at times to be facing the sky, and at others to be facing the sea. Then, as it all came to him, the view out of the cavern mouth was directly above a ship upon the sea, and the ship was centered now so that it felt as though the cave was right above it! In fact, it was a Celn ship, and even more specific than this, Frank could see it belonged to a small vessel which sailed near Genoran’s un-named flag ship.

Close and closer the ship was!

Then, the cavern entrance grew wider, and the stalagmites and stalagtites separated. A fierce howl came from the inside of the tunnel behind him, and the wind rushed in at him from the cavern mouth as well. It felt like being  in the middle of a shaking tempest. He looked around and saw Iricah, and Thrak and Zy’an holding to whatever vile thing they could, while the wind whipped their hair and clothing around their bodies. Past them, past the cavern mouth, the ship grew closer and closer still. He could see men and women on the ship and he could hear them yelling now. They were pointing at his direction! He fell to his knees, trying to hold on to a part of one of the bodies which formed the structure of this place.

“I don’t understand!” Thrak yelled. “How can this cave fly?!!!” He looked angry, not able to draw his axes, nor fight an enemy he couldn’t see.

“A dragon,” said Zy’an singly standing with perfect balance while everyone and everything around him moved as though the world itself had come alive. “Wrath has formed herself into a massive wyrm, like none that Gaia has ever seen! Look!”

Frank did. And he knew what was going to happen before it did, even as he was helpless to stop it. His armor plates began to stick together on his body as though they were attracted by some force. Even his mace was moving towards his shield and it took a brute strength to separate the two.

And then, all around him, he saw little sparks of light, that sizzled and fried the air, singing his skin. There was a power building in the very air. The ship was close now–they were right on top of it. He could see the men and women clearly. He knew some of them! There was no time to think.

“Wait!” He cried.

A blast of electrical energy in a giant ray sprang from the mouth of what he now knew wasn’t a cave at all. The bolt of bright blue lightning streaked towards the ship and struck it like a hurricane hitting landfall. The ship was obliterated in an instant. Planks, barrels, and men exploded outwards in all directions, leaving a hole in the center, where water quickly filled. Frank’s view left the ship quickly as he now realized that Zyan was right. This colossus he was now inside of flew over the water and made a turn that sent them tumbling around again.

“Quick!” Called Iricah. She was desperately trying to hold onto Gaelon. “She’s making another pass!”

“She’ll destroy the entire fleet. They’ll be defenseless to stop her,” said Zy’an. “Unless we do.”

“We have to do something before she comes back around! But what?”

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN IT’S OVER

That’s   anything.      What To Do When Anything Is Over.

__________________________________________________

 

Hey!  Got enough to do in your life?

CW 2

 

We’ve all experienced the end of something,  a certain period of time ends.

CW 13

Good or bad.   It’s over.    Your attention has been taken up with certain activities or issues, good or bad or “indifferent,”  but then it comes to an end.   And we find that Life still goes on.

 

CW 14

 

We can choose whether we go on, too.  Or not.

CW 7

 

But eventually  we have some biological urge to get on with things.  To “move on,” we say.

CW 17

How do we get started . . .  again?

What’s needed for a restart?

CW 18

Well, if it’s “company,”  overnight, out-of-state company,   there is much preparation,  then you oversee the “company,”  and then they leave.

Cooper was here!!!   My grandson from the High Sierras.    Here he is wearing the sweater I made him.

Cooper Sweater.jpg 380

(Modeling the sweater.  Being goofy.)   It’s the one with the red cardinal tweeting out the word  “Joie!”     Glad it fits him.

CW 8

It was a wonderful rather surprise visit from Daughter and Cooper.   Lots of fun –  I might blog our activities soon.  Constant activity, fun, laughter, noise.      Sure kept me busy for this past week.

And then it was over.

But more serious things, bad things can happen too.     And then they will over too.  Things will work out one way or the other, and then you clean up the loose ends:  Clean the house;  clean up the leftovers;  clean the carpeting (sometimes necessary!) ;  clean up the toys and all the other objects that have left out or moved around;  clean the car . . .

Oh, yes,  the car

CW 3

These photos today are from inside my car, inside a car wash.

CW 1

They wave you on in,   and somehow,  if you follow their wiggling fingers, right or left,  then your tires  connect to something — and you’re committed.

It’s going to be messy,  loud, wobbly, bewildering,  but you know it’s all for the scrubbing and the rubbing and the cleaning.

Why all this?  because after having company,  you clean.  After some issue in your life is over, there is “cleaning” to do.    After some period of time is ended,  before you can go on effectively,  you must clean up the debris:    organize your thoughts, remember,  reflect,  learn,  discard certain moments and  erroneous interpretations, learn anything you can from the experience. . .

. . . .   That’s the physical and the mental, and then if you’re human,  clean up the spiritual aspect:  give thanks, give thanks for the people you know,  the ones you’ve  just dealt with;  forgive yourself;  forgive any others, go to confession, if you must;    and commend everything you can think of to God’s care.

Then relax!   It’s over.

CW 20 end

It’s your turn to leave that period of self-reflection and restoration.   This is how you grow!    Life is a series of moments that are  Teaching Stations.    You experience, hopefully fearlessly facing the challenge, and then it’s over.

It’s behind you.    Time to resume your life, living in each present moment as it comes.

CW 22 clean car

 

I drove away and put that red-roofed Car Wash behind me . . .    Always remembering that newly beautiful blue car in the review mirror, ready to go !

Ugh!   I’m still cleaning up.

There’s  always  so much to do!

.

.

The Greatest Commandment

Conservatives and Republicans love to keep Jesus the Christ’s name in their mouths. For all the ambiguities and discrepancies in the Bible, Jesus was clear on one thing: Love your neighbor. There are many passages in the text that we could (and should) debate, including the origins of the text itself. But generally speaking, theists and atheists can agree that Jesus was a fan of the Golden Rule.

So can someone please tell me why Republicans, who have branded themselves the champions of religious freedom, are responsible for prosecuting Scott Daniel Warren for providing food, clothing, and shelter to migrants in Arizona? This is disgusting. A disgrace. A dreadful attack on good people who dare to defy Orange Julius Caesar. It’s not the first time it has happened, either.

We all saw this coming, but it is still infuriating. The only positive result of this current political climate is that the veil of decency has been incinerated. The violent racist, sexist, classist nature of this country cannot be hidden or denied. As the pile of this administration’s hateful antics grows, the moral authority of self-professed “Christian” political leaders shrivels. They cannot continue to chip away at the rights of people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and the poor under the guise of Christianity. They are indeed the wolves referenced in Matthew 7:15.

We reach a new low when we criminalize compassion. If you treat migrant neighbors as human beings, you are criminalized. What a world.

Dr. Barbara Ransby

I’m not being hyperbolic here. This is a country where people are facing prison time for giving water to people in need. Literally. This is a betrayal of basic human decency. Jesus himself made it plain because he knew y’all would do your best to corrupt his message. He gave his Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:35-40. I’m not getting into the atheist and agnostic views of verse 37 right now. The existence or nonexistence of God is not as politically relevant to me as our treatment of one another, especially our treatment of people in desperate situations. Verse 39 is the hook for me. It goes right along with Matthew 25:40. Jesus said, on more than one occasion, to help people who need it. So how is it that conservatives/Republicans are so determined to do the exact opposite? (A rhetorical question, of course. We all know how.)

When asked about the meaning of the Greatest Commandment, Jesus offered the parable of the Good Samaritan. If Scott Daniel Warren isn’t a good Samaritan, I don’t know who is. His legal troubles should not be ignored.

I am certainly not perfect. I know I have some gaps in empathy, but unlike your favorite political figures, I am not out here actively hurting people. I just don’t know what else to do to fight them. I am donating. I am making calls to elected officials. I am volunteering. I am tired. People in power are doing their best to make all of dystopian fiction a reality. Their supporters are sitting back in smug satisfaction, thanking God for a government that punishes people that provide water to frightened migrants in the desert.

*sigh* I’m not even mad that humans might not be here in 30 years. Mother Nature is tired of our shenanigans.

Six O’Clock Solution: A Libyan fish dish with heat

King Solomon’s Table (Knopf/Appetite by Random House, $47) is a remarkable book by Jewish culinary historian Joan Nathan — a comprehensive yet personal story of Jewish cuisine worldwide.

The pocket histories make this as much a fireside read as a cookbook. Some yarns involve Canada — for instance, Samuel de Champlain’s exporting of Jerusalem artichokes to Europe, and Liberal politician Clifford Sifton’s role in Romanian and Ukrainian settlement of the West.

Nathan, a veteran Jewish food writer from Washington, D.C., is the author of 11 earlier cookbooks. Photographer Gabriela Herman offers mouth-watering close-ups of many dishes.

Nathan traces this Libyan dish — one of more than 170 recipes in the book — to Mediterranean seafood restaurants, especially in Tripoli. A thick, hot, spicy sauce surrounds the fish as it simmers, and strips of red bell pepper decorate the dish. Serve with saffron rice or a colourful salad.

Arctic Char in Spicy Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, diced

7 to 8 garlic cloves, diced

3 heaping tablespoons (50 mL) tomato paste

1 tablespoon (15 mL) diced small hot red pepper (habanero or Scotch bonnet) or cayenne to taste

1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cumin

1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground caraway seeds

1 teaspoon (5 mL) sea salt

2 pounds (1 kg) Arctic char, grouper, tuna, whiting, yellowtail or bonito, in 8 pieces

1 roasted red pepper, in slivers

2 tablespoons (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy frying pan with cover. Sauté onion until softened and golden, then add garlic, tomato paste and hot pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for about one minute.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water until tomato paste dissolves. Then add cumin, caraway and salt. Simmer for several minutes until sauce thickens. Check flavour and add a little cayenne or harissa if not hot enough.

Bring heat down to low. Slip fish pieces into sauce so they are covered, adding a little more water if necessary to make more sauce. Simmer gently, covered, until fish is just cooked through, for no more than 12 minutes. Or transfer sauce to a wide baking dish, put fish skin side up on top of the sauce, and bake in oven preheated to 450 degrees F (230 C) for 10 minutes, then place under hot broiler for an additional two minutes.

Using spatulas, gently transfer fish and sauce to a heated serving platter. Lay red pepper slivers on top, and sprinkle with coriander and lemon juice.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

julianarmstrong1@gmail.com

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Uncle Tony

“I think food, culture, people, and landscape are all absolutely inseparable”—Anthony Bourdain

Ok, full disclosure, I don’t have an Uncle Tony.  For those that know me it an obvious nod to
the late Anthony Bourdain- a man who not only forever changed my relationship
with food and travel but was also instrumental in how I now experience those things.    Say what you will about the man, but for me
he unlocked something inside that has sent me on a decade long journey of
leaning that everything you want understand about someone’s culture can be
learned by submersing yourself in their food, music, and surroundings.  In short-how to be still, present and
quiet—how to receive the gift of knowledge. 
Throughout this BLOG, “Uncle Tony”, will be used to reference my
teachers.  Those with whom I have shared
a meal (some vicariously), heard their story, and have developed a deep
connection to not just the taste of the food but the experience, the
surroundings, the music, the conversation, the temperature, everything in that moment. 

Why?  For the last ten
years I have been on a very personal, introspective journey to not only know more
about myself but also my relationships–, how to create them, how to nurture
them, and most importantly how to learn from
them.  I have always felt I have a lot to
offer, but my ignorance (specifically with other races/cultures) has held me
back from making deep, meaningful connections. 
Fair warning, you are entering in the middle and you will see very early
on it’s messy, occasionally inappropriate, and wildly sporadic.  Basically a glorious, slow motion train wreck,
set to a great soundtrack.  But like
life, it’s a work in progress.

The Oyster—it was
late in the 1990’s, my then girlfriend (now wife) and I were on vacation in
Gulf Shores, AL. with her family.  Each
year, usually in February, her Uncle Steve would rent a condo for the month and
invite friends and family down for a few days. 
We were at the “oyster house” when the coupons came out for a free ½
dozen raw.  (Side note-I can hear the
family laughing as they read…. You see, Uncle Steve was known for getting a good deal. 
He had coupons for free oysters long after this particular restaurant had
stopped printing them.  Much to the restaurants
chagrin there was no expiration date so year after year this is how the meal
began.)

Standing, siblings Mike (father in law), Aunt Gail, and Uncle Steve.
Seated, Aunt Ellen and Oma Lilo

   When delivered to the table, in a stainless tray, on a bed of ice they just look like a slimy, gray mass, wrapped in a dirty shell.  Included was an innocuous container of horseradish, ketchup, lemon wedges, and some saltines. 

I remember looking around the packed dining room and seeing table after table gulping them down one after the other.  How could this be?  What was it that everyone enjoyed so? Even the people at my own table, downing oyster after oyster, did I know these people at all?  Not wanting to be the unadventurous 20 something, I built up my (liquid) courage, grabbed the smallest one on the plate and down the hatch.  It was cold, perfectly salted (naturally, from its own liquor), and firm yet somehow soft at the same time.  My mind immediately shifted from what I thought an oyster was to what it truly is-for me, glorious!  In that very moment, I learned two lessons that would forever change my life—never assume you know anything and who you experience things with can open your eyes to everything. 

I learned a lot at that table that night and the subsequent years that followed.  As I write this, I can see the dining room, hear the music, smell the ocean brine, and see and hear the people at the table with me that night.  Sadly some have since crossed over, but the experience we shared will remain with me forever.  Every time I’ve had an oyster since, I am immediately transported right back to that first time.  Not only to remember the taste, but the people had that shared the experience with me, and how those experiences shaped our relationship.  

Many years later, I had the opportunity to participate in my daughters first oyster experience (she was 4, it was cooked, char-grilled to be exact, raw is next, back off, all in good time) and I only hope our table created the same type of experience for her.  I get that most readers are like dude, you ate an oyster, what’s the big deal.  The deal is it was never just about the oyster.

Oyster’s ala Alabama
Gulf Coast

Ingredients:

Jimi Hendrix-Are you Experienced-Loud, very loud.

1 dozen fresh, ice cold, in shell, Apalachicola Oysters

Prepared horseradish

Ketchup

Lemon wedges

Saltines

Mix horseradish with ketchup and add squeeze of lemon

Open oysters, add dot of sauce, and enjoy! 

4 snacks Athenians grew up with (and you can still taste)

Ariston at Syntagma Square

Growing up in a big city like Athens, you carry with you all the tastes and the flavours that were significant in your childhood. You will always remember the first time your mother took you for shopping and after a long day, she treated you with a plate of warm “loukoumades” or a delicious piece of cheese pie. Since then, everytime you taste these “loukoumades” or this cheese pie, it is a small journey to the past.

Here are four places that many Athenians grew up with and they can still visit for a memory journey back in their childhood.

1. Ariston : ?his small bakery stands in the same place since 1910 and treats the people of Athens with its famous “kourou” cheese pie. There are times, especially in the morning, you have to wait in a queue to taste this always hot and fresh delicacy. The recipe came from Konstantinoupolis by its founder Dionysios Lompotesis and it is still a secret. Nowdays apart from the cheese pie, you can taste here 120 different pies with various tastes and flavours. (Voulis 10, Syntagma Square)

Mam at Stadiou Street

2. Mam : This is another place in Athens famous for its cheese pie. The small shop stands here since 1958 and serves its famous “sfoliata” (made with puff pastry) cheese pie to the hungry workers, clerks and passerbys. The taste is certified by the quality of the ingredients (the butter, the cheese, the eggs) who are all handpicked by the owners. There are two places nowdays downtown where you can buy their cheese pie, along with the others delicacies they prepare eveyday. (Pesmatzoglou & Stadiou / Panepistimiou 34 & Ippokratous, Athens)

Krinos at Aiolou Street

3. Krinos : This pastry shop was established in 1923 and was the first major patisserie in Athens with a sitting hall. It became famous for its “loukoumades”, a greek variation of the donuts served with honey or hot chocolate. The recipe and the taste is the same after all these years and the interior is preserved in its original state. Through the years, Krinos has become also well known for its “bougatsa” (pastry consisting of either semolina custard or cheese filling between layers of phyllo) and serves one of the best soft ice creams in the city. (Aiolou 87, Athens)

Loukoumades Ktistaki at Omonoia Square

4. Loukoumades Ktistaki : This small place is hidden in the streets around Omonoia Square but deserves every moment you will spend searching it. It makes only one thing : delicious small “loukoumades”, crunchy on the outside but soft and full of honey syrup on the inside. The Ktistaki family established their first shop in Chania in Crete and came to Athens during the 1950s to establish a new shop in the area around Omonoia Square, which was then the real heart of the city. It was transfered in its current location in 1997 and still treats Athenians with its unique “loukoumades”. Just don’t miss it. (Sokratous 59, Omonoia Square)

Feels like summer!

I had to work this weekend which meant the boys got a 4 day weekend!


FRIDAY
When I got home from work we spent some time outside because the weather was so nice!

F2EDD3B0-2F40-4F2A-9286-58E1CFAC957F

A college friend of mine stopped by for a quick visit which was cool. We had fun catching up a little before she had to go.

We had a relaxing evening and I went to bed early because I wasn’t feeling great and also had to work the next day.


SATURDAY
Joe had the boys home for a lazy morning while I was off to work.

After work I met them at my parent’s house for some swimming and play time with Sherrie who was visiting.

We spent the whole evening outside. My dad helped Liam golf and Owen wanted to try to.

I ended up taking Owen home before Joe and Liam to put him to bed and get myself ready for bed after an exhausting day.


SUNDAY
Joe took the boys to the cafe while I was at work. We were supposed to go to my nieces birthday after work but I was feeling not well at all and just needed to rest.

I again went to bed early hoping to feel better.


MONDAY
My weekend finally! We had a fun morning just hanging out.

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I was feeling a little better and took the boys to my work to meet my coworkers. Liam was shy but Owen soaked up all the attention.

Then we went home for lunch and nap time. I took a nap too. Then it was outside time!

I was able to get some cute pictures of the boys in their matching outfits.

Owen is such a free spirit and Liam is so focused. He loves shooting his bow.

Then it was dinner time, relax time, and the bed time.


TUESDAY
We did some coloring in the morning. I found a huge book of paper which the boys loved.

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Then, I last minute decided to take the boys to the zoo. I still wasn’t feeling the best but decided to go anyway.

The weather was beautiful and we had so much fun.

The animals are just so cool!

We even got fun treats and went on the merry-go-round (which Owen hated).

When we got home Joe had picked up a mini pool so we played in that until it started to rain.

The boys were both exhausted after a busy day so we had a relaxing evening snuggling on the couch before bed time.

The boys lucked out with a 4 day weekend! Hope your week is going well!

Bookish: The Seven Deadly Sins Book Tag!

Book Tag

Oh boy!

*rubs hands together with devilishly glee*

Cynic On Wings knows that I am a Naughty Person and so tagged me in this extremely fun book tag. Check out her equally Naughty Person answers here.

Let’s do this!

Greed.jpg

What is the most expensive book you own? Which is the least expensive?

If this question was ‘do you spend money binge buying books and if yes what’s the most you’ve spent in one go?’ I could answer it with ease.

As it turns out I don’t actually have a clue how to answer this question! I haven’t purchased any expensive books for myself although I tend to gift nice posh books to friends and family. I have received many nice posh books from friends and family so I would probably guess one of those would be the most expensive.

If I were to guess from those gifts I would say this one:-

American Gods

This bound and illustrated version of American Gods from The Folio Society is a book which no one is allowed to touch. Including me.

As for the least expensive? There was a second hand book sale I went to many years ago and I picked this book up for pennies (I still have this book because it’s oddly awesome).

cassell

GluttonyWhat book or books have you shamelessly devoured many times?

The reason I have American Gods as a special edition (and the reason I have it in multiple different versions/ editions) is because it is actually the book that I have re-read the most. For someone who ‘doesn’t do’ re-reads this makes it quite special to me.

The other book that I have re-read (or at least has parts that I’ve re-read) is The Hating Game because it’s just a cute read that cheers me up.

The Hating Game

LustWhat attributes do you find most attractive in your characters? 

You know who I adore? These two.

Katniss and Peeta.jpg

(Artist: Meru90)

The thing about Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games is that they are two very different people on the surface who are the same in terms of what they value/ their morals.

At the core of it they are both loving, caring people who want to do the right thing for the world they live in and who have a strong sense of self sacrifice and unyielding devotion to those they love. What’s not to like there?

What differentiates them is Katniss’ sugar and ice personality and stubborn determination but I also adore Peeta’s more overt cheerfulness and loyalty and quietly snarky sense of humour.

Envy.jpgWhat books would you most like to receive as a gift?

I wandered over to The Folio Society to have a look because they are just gorgeous and my heart is still hung up on this very special, very expensive edition of Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty.

cinderella.png

prideWhat book or books do you bring up when you want to sound like an intellectual reader? 

I’m not religious but I read The Bible when I was a teenager. It was out of curiosity and also because I wanted to make decisions for myself as to whether I wanted to follow the teachings and the only way I felt that I could make that decision was reading the source material.

It was a very interesting read. It may have swayed me to the opposite of its intention i.e. to not follow it’s teachings (one story in particular made me realise Christianity wasn’t for me) but I’m glad I read it and formed my own opinions.

Bible

Sloth.jpgWhat book or series have you neglected out of sheer laziness?

Pretty much anything by Patrick Rothfuss or Brandon Sanderson.

I’m gunna get round to them I swear.

 

Wrath.jpgWhat author do you have a love/hate relationship with? 

I don’t think I hate any author because I don’t know them personally but there’s a new writer on the block who is…. well…. rankling me a bit. That would be Emily A. Duncan, author of Wicked Saints.

wicked saints.jpg

Now I do have a Twitter (which is connected to me as a person and not me as a book blogger) and I do have a tendency to lurk like some nervous troll. I was intrigued by this above debut and so checked out the author on Twitter and Goodreads.

Did I like what I found? Not particularly.

I’m tempering my words here because although I am an opinionated so and so I don’t really like passing critique on an individual. I haven’t read her book (and have no inclination to read her book) so I can’t comment on her as a writer or her book content itself. What I know about the book is what I’ve got from other reviews.

I would turn away now if you adore the writer.

Are you turned away?

Final warning. I genuinely don’t want to upset fans.

Ahem.

One book that has got someone onto the NYT bestseller list (despite an extraordinarily large number of reviews calling it mediocre) does not a genius make. I agree – audiences do not need to be pandered to but if large swathes of people say X about Y then maybe, just maybe, the audience aren’t the brain dead sea monkey’s that the writer is implying they are. Maybe, again just maybe, the readers are interpreting the material just fine and the delivery of the story is not exactly the shining example of writing the writer thinks it is.

If someone is building their career with an online persona indicating that they are somehow the holy grail among YA authors than they better make sure that their book is unique and powerful and original. However, even if their book is unique and powerful and original it still doesn’t give them carte blanche to behave in a derogatory manner towards their readers, many of whom are teenagers.

I think success, praise and followers have contributed to a bit of a growing ego here but is that attitude going to result in longevity? There are so many other authors who have written fabulous pieces of work who are significantly more gracious and appreciative of their readers who have helped to make their work a success.

I usually can separate the piece of fiction from the creator but often the creator isn’t this obnoxious towards their readers.

I love the pictures of her cat though, so cuuuuute.

Breaker

There we have it! My sinny sin sins. I’m not going to tag anyone in this one because I am still trying to get organised re. my posts and tagging but if you feel like doing this one please do because it’s fun! If you do it please link to me because I’d love to read your answers.

Go for it my Naughty People!

Breaker

Ryan’s Go-To Burger Recipe with Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Now that grilling season is upon us, I wanted to share Ryan’s go-to burger recipe and my slow cooker caramelized onions recipe with you guys today! Ryan’s burger is an easy recipe that serves as the perfect basic burger to stand up to all of your favorite toppings! Paired with my favorite buttery slow cooker caramelized onions, this combination is a big-time burger win. Thank you to BJ’s Wholesale Club for sponsoring this post! 

For years, my idea of a decent burger looked like ground beef and lots of garlic salt. To be honest, I still think those two simple ingredients can yield a pretty darn delicious burger but clearly I had room for improvement. It didn’t take long for Ryan to take over all burger-making responsibilities in our relationship and over the years, he’s mastered the art of a great burger. Ryan’s one big Black Friday purchase this year was a new grill and he’s been jumping at the chance to put it to good use now that the weather is nice again so we’ve been doing a lot of grilling around here.

Ryan’s burger recipe isn’t anything fancy — far from it! — but the simple ingredients always result in the most deliciously juicy and flavorful burger. It’s a great basic burger recipe to stand up to all of your favorite toppings. Though he never measures anything, I hovered over his shoulder (not at all annoying, right?) and made him measure everything as he prepared a batch of burgers for our family so I could share a breakdown of his go-to burger recipe with you guys today.

But wait! There’s more! Though Ryan’s burger recipe is easy and tasty on its own, we’ve been tag-teaming the burger game a bit lately and I’ve been in charge of making caramelized onions to go with our burgers. There’s not much I love more than caramelized onions on burgers or hot dogs (or a lot of things, actually), and making them in the slow cooker has been a game-changer. They’re so incredibly sweet (without any added sugar) and buttery and I cannot get enough of them.

To make caramelized onions on the stove top, you pretty much have to hover over them for what feels like forever and stir them at regular intervals. I am much more of a set it and forget it kind of girl, so preparing a giant batch of caramelized onions in the slow cooker is much more my style. And it’s EASY you guys. So, so easy! We’re talking three ingredients and very little hands-on time.

I did another grocery delivery to our house from BJ’s Wholesale Club to make this recipe duo to photograph for you guys but, to be honest, most of the ingredients came out of our pantry and freezer because I previously stocked up on some of our summertime grilling essentials in bulk during my last BJ’s visit.

Buying bulk quantities has been a great way for me to save our family money since I can pick up a three-pack of grassfed ground beef and freeze two of the packs or grab a giant tub of organic coconut oil or organic maple syrup since our family goes through that stuff at record speed.

To make the burgers in this recipe, I just thawed a pack of the organic grass-fed ground beef I had stored away from BJ’s in our freezer and added spices and we were good to go! (I told you this recipe was easy!) For the caramelized onions, I added a bag of the Wellsley Farms organic onions to my BJ’s grocery delivery order in addition to the Wellsley Farms organic butter which is all kinds of creamy and delicious.

If you’re looking to host or attend a summertime cookout in the coming weeks, BJ’s is a great spot to pop in for a visit because they’re truly a one-stop shop for everything from outdoor decor and affordable fresh food (up to 25% less than other grocery stores) and even grills! The butchers at BJ’s will also cut fresh meat according to your specifications or re-cut and re-package any meats you’d like at no charge so you can get your grill on!

And the next time you’re planning to fire up the grill, please take a little time in the morning to prepare a batch of caramelized onions in your slow cooker. They go well with just about everything from the simple burger recipe I’m sharing with you below to brats, hot dogs and chicken thighs. You won’t regret it, I promise!!

And, as always, if you try either of these recipes, please let me know! Happy grilling, friends!

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

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/* Print view styles */

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font-size: 11px;
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}

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.tasty-recipes-print-view .tasty-recipes-source-link {
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}

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.tasty-recipes-print-view .tasty-recipes-entry-content .tasty-recipes-ingredients ol li,
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margin-bottom: 0;
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.tasty-recipes-print-view .tasty-recipes-entry-content .tasty-recipes-notes ol li {
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padding-bottom: 0;
}

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top: 0.1em;
}

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions


  • Author:
    Julie

  • Prep Time:
    5 min

  • Cook Time:
    10 hours

  • Total Time:
    10 hours 5 minutes

Description

Three ingredients + a slow cooker = Sweet and buttery caramelized onions without any time spent hovering over the stove


Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Wellsley Farms organic yellow onions
  • 3 tablespoons Wellsley Farms organic butter
  • Wellsley Farms pink Himalayan salt, to taste (optional)

Instructions

  1. Turn slow cooker on low.
  2. Peel and slice onions.
  3. Slice butter into thin pieces and rub the bottom of the slow cooker with a bit of the butter (it should begin to slightly melt) so the bottom of the slow cooker is coated in a thin layer of butter.
  4. Place the sliced onion on top of the butter and cover for 10-14 hours. If you are awake/around, feel free to periodically stir the onions, though this is not necessary. (Note: The time you decide the onions are done from 10-14 hours is really up to YOU, depending on how you like your onions. At the 10 hour mark, the onions will still have a slight bite to them and won’t be mushy. The longer they cook, the softer they become.)
  5. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove onions from the slow cooker and discard (or save!) any remaining juice. (The leftover onion juice makes a fantastic addition to soups. I never toss mine!) Enjoy the onions on top of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, etc. Store any remaining onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer for future use.

Ryan’s Go-To Burger Recipe

Print

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float: right; }

.tasty-recipes-print-button {
background-color: #666677;
display: inline-block;
padding-left: 1em;
padding-right: 1em;
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text-decoration: none; }

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.tasty-recipes-plug a {
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.tasty-recipes-plug a img {
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@media print {
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Ryan’s Go-To Burger Recipe


  • Author:
    Ryan

  • Prep Time:
    5 min

  • Cook Time:
    10 min

  • Total Time:
    15 minutes

  • Yield:
    4 burgers

Description

An easy burger recipe that serves as the perfect basic burger to stand up to all of your favorite toppings!


Ingredients

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until spices are evenly distributed. Shape beef into four burger patties.
  2. Place burgers on the grill over medium heat and grill for approximately 4-6 minutes before flipping and grilling for another 5 minutes or until the burgers reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
  3. Serve burgers on a fresh bun with desired toppings. Enjoy!

The post Ryan’s Go-To Burger Recipe with Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions appeared first on Peanut Butter Fingers.

from Health & Wellness https://www.pbfingers.com/ryans-go-to-burger-recipe-with-slow-cooker-caramelized-onions/

“History in Twenty Pictures”: Berlin’s Magdalenenstr. U-Bahn

“Mechanization” (Photo: author).

Many visitors travelling by subway to Berlin’s Stasi Museum in the Normanenstrasse may not know it, but their immersion into the ambiance of late-stage “real existing socialism” actually begins when they exit their train at the Magdalenenstrasse station. For it is here, that passengers are met by a series of 20 large scale paintings done in a neo-expressionist style: angular, often grim and only occasionally punctuated by a blast of bright colour. They aren’t “easy” images these 3 metre by 4 metre paintings on Meissen porcelain tile. They challenge and unsettle.

Those with a keen eye will find a tile at one end of the platform which identifies the works as being from the year 1986 and gives their title as “History in Twenty Images”. The artists are named (Harmut Hornung and Wolfgang Frankenstein) as is the commissioning institution (Berlin Magistrate’s Office).

While marginally enlightened by the information plaque, one is left asking oneself: how, pray tell, did art of this type – so distant from the bright futures, heroic poses and “positive” themes typically favoured by GDR authorities – find its way into the public realm anywhere in the East German capital, much less onto the walls of the subway station directly adjacent to the Stasi headquarters?!

Let’s take a couple of minutes to answer this question . . .

The works were part of efforts by Berlin authorities to brighten up eleven centrally-located subway stations in advance of the city’s 750th anniversary in 1987. As was befitting of a state in which little was left to chance, the theme of the artworks to grace each station were determined in advance. For Magdalenenstrasse, a station located on the march route of the annual Liebknecht-Luxemburg Demonstration, the theme was to be “The history of the Workers’ Movement”. In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung earlier this year (“Magdalenenstraße Das Geheimnis der Gemälde im U-Bahnhof der Stasi-Zentrale”, by Andreas Förster, April 4, 2019), artist Hartmut Hornung recalls, “No one wanted to take that on, it was such a ‘loaded’ subject.” But being a young artist, the 100,000 M honorarium was tempting, so Hornung approached his former art professor, Wolfgang Frankenstein, to see whether he might be open to collaboration on the project.

He was and the two, who shared an appreciation for more abstract, emotionally-engaging forms of artistic expression, developed a plan for the subway project. “Our approach to this theme was to address it without whitewashing it. We wanted to avoid the heroic, bold and lightweight view that the SED had of the Workers’ Movement and instead depict the misery, suffering, violence and terror that had gone together with the Communist Revolution.”

It wasn’t a recipe for success, but though Hornung may not have realized it at the time, the decision to approach his older professor, was the right one: “In retrospect,” Hornung offers, “Wolfgang Frankenstein’s involvement was key, because without him, these paintings would never have been created.”

Indeed, as collaborators went, Frankenstein offered exceptional political cover for a number of reasons. First, he had suffered considerable persecution during the Nazi period due to being the son of a Jewish father. Second, after settling in the West after World War II, he had chosen to emigrate to the GDR after publicly protesting West German remilitarization in 1951 had caused him to be largely shut out of the West German art scene. Finally, Frankenstein had an international profile as the Honorary Chair of UNESCO’s Association d’Art Plastique. That he’d been around the GDR art block more than a few times didn’t hurt either.

When it came time to present their vision to the award jury, Hornung remembers that Frankenstein knew just what to do. “He said, ‘Look, we’ll just do a couple of sketches which they won’t be able to make heads or tails of and they we’ll just tell them what they want to hear.” To the younger artist’s surprise it worked, but further hurdles remained. “We ended up in a real fight. When the art functionaries responsible for the project understood what it was we had in mind, they even offered us the full 100,000 Marks to step back from the commission, but we refused.”

“Hegel put right.”: an allusion to what Communists saw as the Right’s misunderstanding of the influential German thinker’s philosophy (Photo: author)

Conclusion
So what to make of this story? What does it tell us about the late-stage GDR? That such work could maneuver its way through “the system” to completion and public display seems to challenge commonly held assumption of how state socialism worked. Was this a symptom of the system’s decline? Or an indication that the tools of repression were no longer reliably effective? Or are we to understand this as a product of the loosening of controls, perhaps an example of some apparatchiks’ grassroots Glasnost?

Aoraki: 2,300 steps and counting

We love this story from Kooee Kookaburra – Check out more of her tales of adventure at: https://kookaburra9.blogspot.com/

View of the majestic

Apparently Aoraki is often visited but not seen. High mountains are often like this, clouded, shrouded and mysterious. After finally convincing the Husband to leave his beloved Australia, there was no way we could miss seeing the highest mountain of New Zealand, even if it meant glimpses as the snow laden clouds drew apart for a second.

Camp Cooking

That night we slept only after we became acclimated to the rumblings of glacial melt reverberating off rocky cliffs. When we woke from our restful sleep  under the shadow of Mueller Glacier, we were greeted by Aoraki standing proudly in sunshine and blue sky.

Aoraki

Not content to view this omniscient mount from the relative comforts of camp, we decided to go higher to take a look, and more to the point, 2,200 steps higher.

When one lives many years in a small N.S.W rural village, one of the best things about doing-the-tourist-thing is the wonderful people you meet as you all congregate in unity sharing the warming experience of being awestruck at the grandeur of the world. Well walking up those stairs at my pace provided me with ample time to enjoy this diverse bunch of mountain viewers. Now as humans are typically hilarious with all their comings and goings, I had ample to chuckle about (mind you, this includes me!).

When faced with an overwhelming challenge, my dear husband and my year 10 art teacher (thanks Mrs. Jones) taught me to break it down, so 100 steps and then reflection time (well gasping and crying time mostly, interspersed with amusement).

So we started out, me counting my 100 steps, the others racing annoyingly ahead. Feeling a bit deflated that the hubby had got fitter, I determinedly plodded on. Then a slightly younger English couple came quickly up behind me, obviously wanting to get past me, I cramped aside at the next bigger step and nodded politely when they provided encouraging words of “you can do it”. This was extremely irksome as they had not even broken into a sweat and we were up to 150 steps already, and the lady’s lipstick was still as fresh as an English rose. They bunched their gym toned legs, leaped up the next 2 steps and said see you at the top! Deflated as ever, I took a humble pill and leaned on those walking sticks for the next 50 steps until rest time. By the time I had reached 450 steps, the English couple were well out of my head, I had moved on to much more interesting humans. However,  at this time, the English couple appeared around the cliff corner, walking very slowly back down. Hi I said, (too jovially I thought!) and tried to congratulate them on going all that way and back before I was even half way up. They said they hadn’t gone much further and realised it was just too far. Then I really looked, the poor lady’s lipstick was smudged, her hair messed, and sweat dripped unabashedly onto her designer hike tea-shirt. Yeah, I said it is 2, 200 steps, we are only at 450. They hobbled past, leaning on each other. I swung my walking sticks into gear and positively pranced up the next 3 steps.

The next interesting tourists were a gaggle of young European women (couldn’t place the language). They ponytailed past me with a plastic bag filled with chips and beer, a couple of small sleeping bags, and with smiling accented English informed me that they were camping at Muellers Hut tonight. I was gobsmacked and could only pray they survived. We all had a chuckle back at the camp that night when we saw them slink back into camp, ponytails between their legs. For those, like me that are unaware of Mueller’s Hut, all good, there are warning signs everywhere about what type of equipment needed to stay at the mountaineers refuge. And by the pictures on the interpretive signs, “mountaineer” doesn’t include climbing up a hill and taking selfies for Instagram in your best shorts, shirt and fashion mountaineering boots!

Back to those stairs and after the half-way celebration, my enthusiasm was slackening when I met an old Dutch man. He was using a slower (yes, true) pace than I and his doting son was with him chatting happily away. I was told later by the husband and daughter that they had made it to Mueller Hut, had lunch and were on their way back down! Now that is the type of support that gets you through hard times, well done Dutch son.

My beginning career as a free photographer started about 3/4 the way up the stairs with the first of many Asians asking me to take the photo that the 2 meter selfie pole mustn’t have been able to get. I loved the way that these young Asian couples were still immaculately dressed and hair in place. I didn’t love the over use of the camera, especially because it involved me and interfered with my important work of counting. They gestured very politely for me to move up and down the steps to get just the right angle. This left me trying to add and minus the stairs that I went up and down, and with my oxygen deprived brain, I was sure I made mistakes. This was vindicated when I arrived at the top having counted 2,300 steps!

A young Aussie family of Mum, Dad, and two sons rushed past at about the 7/8th point. Wow, they were keen! Dad had nearly EVERYTHING on his back, Mum had everything else and boys had energy. I could see they were determined that no children were going to stop them from adventuring! Hey they said as they buzzed past. About 15 minutes later, one of he sons comes running full pace down the stairs. What the… oh, as he wafted past I realised, a toilet or perhaps shower, maybe even a hose was needed and no amount of tissues was going to help. About 10 minutes later, subdued flushed parents and other son came along, head down, gritting their teeth.

Finally, I made the top and sat with the family having the most picturesque picnic ever imagined, interrupted only intermittently by my unpaid employment as Asian photographer. I mean seriously, why did they only ask me?

It was exhilarating so worth the effort.

Back at camp, just on dusk, we watched 2 young couples with supermarket plastic bags (the thick ones!) and 1 tent that you open the bag and toss it and it sets up. We wondered where they could put that up before dark on the never ending stairs? What made it OK was that the clothes that the women had on would impede their journey and they would be forced back to camp safety. This satisfied our anxiety enough to enjoy the spectacle. The women had hijab on and you could see tiny beautiful slip on be-sparkled shoes under the black. These alone would force them back, and not too long after our musings of “what are they thinking?!?” we saw them safely back in their hired 4 W Drive and heading to their motel. 

We ate to the sound of climate change.

References

https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/aoraki-mount-cook-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/blue-lakes-and-tasman-glacier-walks/

How Yoga Helped With My Depression

backlit beach dawn dusk

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression when I was about sixteen years old, but truth be told, it was something I’d probably been dealing with since I was eleven. Basically, the doctor gave me a pill, recommended I see a therapist and sent me on my merry way, but in the long run this wasn’t helpful.

Before I say what I’m going to say, I want to make it abundantly clear that if you’re suffering from any kind of mental illness, please seek professional help. I only know what I know and I can only go from my own experience. When it comes to the healing process, nothing is one-size fits all, okay? Okay.

That being said, I hated medication. I think it’s one of those tools that definitely helped me in the moments that I needed it, but with any kind of medicine, there’s going to be some side effects. One pill helped my anxiety and depression, but it also neutralized all of my emotions. Another pill killed my sex drive. Medication is a journey too, but it wasn’t a journey that I wanted to take.

Eventually, after years of suffering on and off, I decided to try yoga after reading that it’s supposed to help. It sounded like some hippy, woo-woo bullshit, but I decided to give it a try before dipping to ‘I Can’t Leave My Bed’ status.

close up photography of fawn pug covered with brown cloth

A rare photo of me

Doing yoga was nice because it gave my brain something to focus on. I also started meditating more as part of the practice. Between the physical aspect of yoga and the mental aspect of meditation, the first couple months felt like one giant internal scream that lead to a lot of loud, outward cursing and crying. My yoga mat became baptized with my tears and broken in with my fist beating into it.

Lots of feeling stupid. Lots of shaking. Lots of soreness.

I can’t tell you why I didn’t quit the practice. Logically, you think I would have but I’m stubborn and have a masochistic streak a mile wide. Eventually though, the internal scream dulled and the clouds cleared. When you sit with your eyes closed enough, you tend to notice a theme of thoughts that swirl in your mind.

There are songs on repeat. There are embarrassing moments replayed. There are sweet memories. But eventually, there’s something that uncovers itself that gives a weird sense of clarity and peace. Then a little bit past that, you start to take that sense of peace with you.

adult attractive contemplating face

“Damn, my personal truth was hiding behind Mambo No. 5 this whole time…”

Don’t get me wrong, yoga didn’t cure me. However, yoga is a helpful tool that lets me recognize when an episode is coming along. It makes me more aware of my own thought processes and the habits that go with that. Instead of the internal scream I have this inner yogini that says, “Hey, you’re starting to do that thing where you’re isolating yourself. Talk to someone.”

Or, “Hey, feeling sad is cool in this moment. Let’s feel this and move on.”

Or, “You really are good enough. This is just a rough patch.”

Mental illness is a deceitful, lying bastard, but as someone who’s been at the battle for a good twenty years I just want this to be a beacon of hope. Yoga helped me and adds to my mental health tool box, but so does writing, so does therapy and in the past, so has medication.

Your healing might be painting. Or basketball. Or Mongolian throat singing.
As a yoga stan, I encourage everyone to give it a try. Whatever medium you choose, I hope you find that which brings you peace and healing on the road ahead. It takes diligence, but it’s possible.

And I promise you’re worth it.

24 Hours In Antwerp

The first time I  spent the night in Belgium was during a stopover at Antwerp on my way to a music festival. Before the trip I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited to explore.

 

Getting There

Getting to Antwerp from Amsterdam is super easy! It’s a direct train, which I prefer as it means once you have found your seat and gotten comfortable you won’t have to move until you’ve reached your destination. The train journey is two hours each way and €40 for the return trip per adult.

 

To Stay

As we were about to spend four nights camping, we wanted the night to be comfortable. We decided to stay at HotelO Kathedral. The location of this hotel is amazing! Walking distance to everything and at €90 per night, I would be happy to book this place again and recommend to anyone.

This was booked through Booking.com, don’t forget I have a discount code. To get 10% back when you book your next trip use this code: EXPLAU93 or follow this link: https://booking.com/s/81_2/explau93

 

Getting Around

We were able to walk everywhere in Antwerp, it’s a smaller city and the main train station is in the middle of everything. Very handy!

 

To Visit

Antwerp is a beautiful city to walk around, I loved seeing the Old Town and here you will also find the Grote Markt. The beautiful houses all in a row, they were also decorated with the Belgian colours to support their football team in the World Cup when we were there.

 

If you want a cute photo opportunity which is a little hidden, head to Vlaaikensgang (yes, I have no idea how to say this out loud). This will easily be one of the smallest lanes you can find, and it’s super photogenic. There’s a chair placed in the lane that just screams “sit down and take your photo here”.

 

Did you know there’s a castle in Antwerp? Now you do. Het Steen is a medieval fortress (which I prefer to call a castle) and is very close to the centre so we were able to walk there. It’s Antwerp’s oldest building and we loved seeing it.

There is also a long walking street leading away from the central train station lined with all the shops you would need, including chocolate shops too of course!

 

To Eat

Now when I think Belgium, I think Belgian waffles. I wanted to find a place that made fresh waffles for the order rather than pre-made waffles being warmed up. Desire De Lille opened in 1902, this was the place we chose to have waffles and it was amazing! It was beautifully decorated; we felt like we were stepping back in time and into waffle heaven. If we had more time, I would have gone back for seconds.

 

When I heard there was a shop in Antwerp specialising in donuts, I knew I had to visit! And I am so happy I did! Not only are Hoeked Donuts unique in shape, they are also delicious. I also loved the theming of this place, the bike with the square wheels out the front is so cute even though it would be impossible to ride.

 

A castle, waffles, donuts and photo opportunities, it’s easy to say that Antwerp is a a great city to visit. There’s lots to see and fun things to do. I was happy we decided to spend the night here and explore through the Old Town and eat waffles.

Any questions? Please let me know!

 

If you have enjoyed reading this and would like to see more photos and more day to day adventures, please follow my instagram account. Linked below or search for @explaurajayne.

Thank you for reading!

Laura xx

 

Doing this one thing will help you snag a man

My recent success with tricking a man into dating me for longer than three weeks has created a ripple of excitement in my social groups. Everyone keeps asking how we met. Some are just trying to make conversation, but others are on a quest for information. Information that will help give them clues about how they should go about entrapping a man.*

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Come to me my prettyyyyy

Never one to be restrained by the shackles of humility, I am assuming the responsibility to guide my single sistren towards the men of their dreams. Initially I was planning to put together a master list of all the sly techniques I used to rope in my boo,** but instead I think I will start with just one powerful tool.

She who intends to snag a man must first know a man. -C Gallo

That’s right. Men must be aware of your existence in order for them to succumb to your advances. The more men you know, the more likely you are to meet someone whom you actually like and who actually likes you.

Now, let us explore why you might not know any men. Off the top of my head, let us consider that 1) you are not involved in any activities, hobbies, or groups in which you would ever meet a man, and 2) Well.. no, I think point #1 pretty much covers it.

“C Gallo! Whatever doth thou mean?” Thou might be exclaiming. Well, I have noticed a theme among many women who are unhappily free of betrothment: their daily lives almost seem specifically designed to never intersect with a red-blooded*** male except by pure serendipity.

Si, my lovely senoritas. Working in human resources, getting your nails done, attending jewelry-making parties, and joining the local garden club is probably not going to open you up to many naturalistic opportunities to meet men. Sure, you may meet a few. Of those few, it is technically possible that a few of those will be straight. Of those, a few may be single AND remotely attractive. Technically. But then you’re left with 0.32 males, which not only puts you in a desperate position but is also mathematically awkward. So how to expand the mildewy pond of lackluster Jo-Jos into a sparkling pool of eligible baches?

I recommend the following: Engage in anything that men would have fun doing and involves interaction. Try swapping your night digging through a local boutique for a shooting session at the range. Instead of doing yoga, do kung-fu. Instead of planning ladies-only events, host a game night and invite boys. Join a coed kickball team. Go rock climbing. You get the idea!

A few caveats I must include –

  • I can’t guarantee you will find oodles of men who want to date  you immediately. You are likely to meet many menfolk who should be pals-only. That is not bad. Enjoy them! Guy friends are the best! Plus, knowing 10 men instead of 1 man (who is your best friend’s hubby) will increase your odds by 1000%.
  •  I understand you may be participating in a crochet convention because that is your natural interest. Moreover, maybe shooting guns offends your sensibilities, and you genuinely dislike doing anything more physically challenging than lifting your phone above your head for that perfect selfie angle. I’m not telling anyone to change their personality. But I would strongly urge you to not immediately rule out all activities that tend to be male-dominated purely because they are a little outside of your comfort zone or you fear you would be the only woman there. If you are … good! Less competition, less women to kill!
  •  I beg of you! Don’t only engage in an activity in order to meet men. You will come across thirsty. Do something that even if you haven’t met anyone eligible within 6 months, will give you a new skill or experience that sparks joy in your ticker. Best life, people, best life!

I have most definitely rocked your ballet socks right off. You can thank me later. For now, go forth and carpe hominis!

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— EDITORIAL NOTES —

* you don’t have to be *so* amused by this! Hurtful!

**I don’t feel comfortable sharing my black magic in this public forum.

***I’m absolutely certain this will rub someone the wrong way, but Ima say it. I’m talking about men who are unabashedly men. Men who can change a tire, squash a bug without crying, and will never steal your scarf to jazz up their outfit. You get the idea. If you don’t want a red blooded male, by all means stay the course!

Budapest – the city that can be discovered in 48 hours

If you’re looking for a city break, but you’ve got a budget to work with, Budapest is the ideal location for you!

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Budapest, the Hungarian Capital! (Image credit: Jorge Franganillo)

I recently visited this lovely city, from the 23rd of May, until the 26th. I can assure you, 3 nights, 2 days, is definitely all you need to fall in love with this Hungarian capital.

The city caters for just about everyone, stag do’s are a big thing in this location, but do not be put off. I visited with my boyfriend and it was a perfect break for romance, and fun, whether that be with a partner or friend!

The trip cost us about £300 each, this included our flights, hotel, transfers, spends, taxi rides and day trips whilst there!

One thing I would advise you to do, before booking, is look exactly what things you want to see and do whilst there, as we fell a bit short from this while booking, and stayed in ‘Buda’ which is the opposite part of the city in which we wanted to be in, which we found out after the first few hours!

The main attractions in Budapest are its thermal baths (there’s more than one), its famous ‘ruin bars’ (which are a must) and its beautiful architecture from its bridges, to its buildings.

Our hotel was ‘Danubius Flamenco Hotel’ and was located in Buda, which was a great price! The hotel was rather big, you could choose to have breakfast at an extra price, and also had a swimming pool, sauna etc, but we had no time to make the use of them! The only downfall to the hotel was the location as it was quite a walk from where we wanted to be, which ended up with us buying a lot of taxis.

The taxi company we used there was called ‘BOLT’ and averaged at about just over £10 to get to the baths, which was the other side of the capital!

On the first night we booked ourselves a table in the 360 bar, which overlooks the whole city, and is pretty extraordinary! The bar provides blankets to keep you nice and warm when it’s a bit breezy, which was definitely needed on the evening we visited! The drinks were well priced, at about £9 for pina colada’s and their own signature cocktails. You could also buy snacks and small meals for a decent price as well, which is just amazing for the view you had whilst up there!

The second day, which was a Friday included our visit to the thermal baths, and an evening meal at Tereza!

The weather on the Friday was rather cloudy, but very humid, which made it perfect short weather! We decided to get a taxi to our now favourite bridge, Liberty Bridge, and walk the rest of the way, which took us about an hour, but it was a lovely walk down the main streets, getting to see things we wouldn’t if we got a car journey.

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Liberty Bridge, one of the many bridges joining Buda to Pest! (Image credit: Olivia Davies)

We even got to see the ‘Central Market Hall’ on the way, which was full of unique gifts, and food stalls… A definite must go if you need something to remember this city by.

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Image Credit: Olivia Davies

When we got to the baths, I don’t know if it was me being simple, but the entrance was not clear, however, I found it in the end! We booked our trip through booking.com as we got discount, and the tickets office weren’t hard to find, but the only thing I would suggest, is me and Jordan were given cabins to change, which were about 20 numbers apart… We decided to just use the same one in the end!

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The most famous out of the thermal baths, Szechenyi bath! (Image credit: Olivia Davies)

But my gosh, the baths themselves are phenomenal! It started to rain a bit when we got in, but this added to the experience, outside was cold and rainy, but in the warm bath water it felt lovely! We spent about an hour in the outside baths alone, until heading inside where there was numerous hot and cold baths, alongside showers and saunas! In a few pools there was some dirt, and the smell varied in different rooms, but I understand this is a large touristic destination. I believe the baths are kept in the best possible condition and cleanliness for the amount of people that visit throughout the year.

In the evening, I left the organising to Jordan! He found a lovely quaint Mexican, called Tereza! It was definitely somewhere that I will remember, you could sit outside with a blanket, and the lights and setting was so romantic.

After this meal, that was the equivalent to around £12 each, we decided to walk all the way back to our hotel, it took around 40 minutes but was a lovely walk, especially at the night time.

On the last day it was all about the ZOO and day DRINKING! The zoo accepts student discount, but only if you have a valid student card, my Uni-days wasn’t enough proof, however, it still only came to about £16, and that was for the two of us. The weather on the Saturday was around 23 degrees, so it was a skirt and top kind of weather, and we also enjoyed a couple of beers at the zoo! Their animals were very active, from:

polar bears,

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Image Credit: Olivia Davies

elephants,

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Image Credit: Olivia Davies

and tigers!

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Image Credit: Olivia Davies

The zoo wasn’t very busy so we got to see everything in good time!

We then went on a mission to day drink! We tried to go back to the 360 bar, but this time you had to pay just under £10 to just get to the bar, so we decided against it, as we had a budget, and saw that money as 2 drinks…

We then found another bar that overlooked Budapest, ‘High Note SkyBar’, we managed to get a table, but it was under a roof, which got very hot very quick, and drinks were looking about £12 for one, so we found a little bar that sold homemade alcoholic drinks, which, believe me, you only needed one of…

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Sipping homemade alcohol (Image Credit: Olivia Davies)

Then it was on our way to the ruin bars, we were already a little bit tipsy, so we knew we wasn’t going to be out much longer…

We HAD to visit Szimpla Kert, and I recommend going, even if you’re not drinking, just to see how unique this bar really is. When we got there, market stalls were packing away but Jordan managed to buy a bracelet just in time, for about £10, bargain!

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The ruin bar, Szimpla Kert (Image Credit: Jordan Henry)

Another ruin bar that stood out to me was the ‘Red Ruin Bar’ which is based on communism. This bar was so different, and had this one theme running throughout. It’s amazing to see the difference in each bar, and they’re so unique you have to just see them!

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The communist ruin bar (Image Credit: Olivia Davies)

And that was really the whole of our trip! After our day drinking it was time to head back to the hotel, grab a Gyro for tea on the way, and head to bed, ready for our 4am transfer back to the airport.

City breaks are not a holiday, if you do them right, not one moment are you relaxing, sunbathing, every minute you are experiencing, planning, and seeing everything you can in the short space of time that you’ve given yourself. But, me personally, I wouldn’t have city breaks any other way. 48-72 hours to see a whole city, another culture, history, way of life, and I will always do these trips!

So to anybody wanting a cheap, city BREAK (even though you do not break) go to Budapest.

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Image Credit: Olivia Davies

Image credit:

Budapest Parliament Building – credit to Jorge Franganillo @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/franganillo/31391347911

The Seed

I thought last night,

with all my might

I will stop,

I won’t write.

I won’t rhyme

I will break

I need to stop

I need to take

time for me

that site can rest

but God put me

to the test.

 

This thought was put

into my head.

You need to write

get out of bed.

 

Some will read,

and sneer and say

She’s so annoying

look at her say

That she’s so happy

She’s so blessed

She loves God

and they jest

They poke fun

at Christian life

They scoff and guard

love their strife

 

YET, I get excited

that you feel

the way you do

‘Cause it is real

I planted a seed

don’t you see?

and that seed will grow

One day you’ll need

answers to

Something Big

Life is messy

you need to dig

Out of your hole

you dug yourself

When you said

I’ll do it myself.

 

You weren’t designed

to be that way

That’s an empty hole

you need to pray.

 

BUT, don’t believe now

NO, don’t do as I say!

You do like yours!

until that day,

That something puts you

right on your back

You have no answers

Cause logic will lack

only feelings will fill

That smarty-pants head

Jesus will come knocking

give comfort to dread.

 

One day you’ll see

the seed that I dropped

The same one you scoffed at

the one you said flopped

Will grow to a flower

that fills you with love

and you will be thankful

Look up above

give God your heart

Change your tomorrow

enjoy a fresh start.

 

So, my dear reader,

If you don’t believe

and if you are scoffing

I smile, reprieve

Cause I caused a feel

inside of your heart

Something that mattered

and now it will start

No matter how much

you cling to control

You can’t deny

the whisper of soul

It’s gently calling

and you can’t control

The way you were made

God designed us like Him

no matter how cold

no matter how dim

You claim your exterior

just has to be,

Inside you are longing

and one day you’ll see…

 

I promise one day

a choice you will make

and I pray that your choice

is one that will take

You up to heaven

and I’ll see you one day

I’ll give you a hug

and maybe you’ll say

Thanks for the seed

Thanks for the rhyme

Thanks for listening

Thanks for all time.


Dear Reader, I love you, and God loves you too.  I pray that if you scoff at me, at Christians and at the love of Jesus that you never forget this rhyme and how angry it made you.  The pendulum swing of angry is happy.   I pray that it makes you feel something so much that it burns a message in your mind, one you will remember one day when you need it most.

I pray that you are fortunate enough to feel a moment only Salvation can answer.  I pray one day that I get to meet you in Heaven and we get to enjoy peace that surpasses all understanding.

I pray.

I love you so much Dear Lord, Thank you God, for getting me out of bed today with this thought.  Thank you for telling me to stay strong, to follow your will and to obey no matter what.  I pray that this message is read by those that need it most.  I pray that you burn a feeling so deep in their minds that one day it gives them the answer to something powerful.  I pray that you allow these rhymes to be a seed that allows someone the ticket to Heaven and your eternal love and mercy.  Thank you so much for Salvation and for loving us, even when we have spent our whole lives not loving you.  Thank you for making it so easy, just a prayer, just a choice, to love you and ask for forgiveness and Salvation – In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Luke 13: 18-19

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

‘Kids’ Summer Bucket List

Hey Hey Friends!

Happy Summer!!  I don’t know who was more excited for the last day of school?  My kids or me??  LOL! So Summer is here so now what?  If you read this 10 simple ways to get organized before summer break then possibly you are ready. If you didn’t there’s still time to get it together.  Today’s post is all about my kid’s summer bucket list. It involves eating, seeing Movies, using expired Groupon’s #notkidding swimming, swimming and more swimming.

Every May I ask my kids what they want to do on summer break in addition to a family vacation and weekends at the lake house. We do this for 3 reasons… 1. They get excited to pick out fun things they want to do and look forward to 2. It gives them something to do instead of playing video games all day ?? 3. It helps us keep a schedule during the week. Here is the list:

Some are big and some are small.  It’s been 2 weeks and we have already started crossing some off the list.  They have already seen 2 movies – Aladdin and Godzilla. I cannot wait for Toy Story. It is my absolute favorite kid movie trilogy. My favorite is the 3rd when Andy went to college.  I literally balled at the end.  I was thrilled when they announced a 4th last year. I may just have to go opening day. I am that excited LOL!

Right now we are in the craziness of swim team for the rest of June with daily AM practices, some evenings and swim meets every Thursday night.

My kids are also doing CrossFit kids classes a few afternoons a week for June and July. Since I am home with them we don’t do camps as I am the camp otherwise know as Camp Rissland ?? I have to keep them moving otherwise they would play video games all day.

We will cross off the things that are ‘easier’ to accomplish this month and the others in July. We are not set on a family vacation this summer just yet. We may do a whole week at the lake house and save towards Universal studios this Fall since it’s a small fortune for our large family.

Do you have a kids summer bucket list? I’d love to hear your ideas!

The post ‘kids summer bucket list’ first appeared on Busy Fit Mom Life

How the Cosby Story Finally Went Viral — And Why It Took So Long

Nicole Weisensee Egan | An excerpt adapted from Chasing Cosby: The Downfall of America’s Dad | Seal Press | 14 minutes (3,614 words)

In October 2014 Bill Cosby was in the middle of a career resurgence. His biography by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker had just come out to rave reviews and was climbing the bestseller list. He had a comedy special coming up on Netflix and was in development with NBC to star in a family sitcom. He was about to embark on another comedy tour based on a special that had aired on Comedy Central the year before. The special, Far from Finished, was Cosby’s first stand-up TV special in three decades, and it attracted two million viewers.

It was as if the scandal in 2005 had never happened, as if fourteen women hadn’t accused him of heinous offenses. The book didn’t even mention Andrea Constand’s allegations, let alone her civil suit or any of the other accusers. And no one in the media was asking Whitaker or Cosby why.

The situation was clear: Cosby had successfully repaired what little damage there was to his reputation after Andrea’s case made the news. He slipped right back into his revered status as public moralist and children’s advocate, chalking up even more awards and honors, including his entrée into the NAACP’s Image Awards Hall of Fame in 2006 for being a “true humanitarian and role model.”

He’d written Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors with Alvin Pouissant, a book that took a “hard look” at the state of black America while offering advice on how to overcome the “deep-rooted” challenges of the poor, embodying the message of those controversial town halls.

He was also the recipient of Philadelphia’s prestigious Marian Anderson Award in 2010, given to prominent artists who achieved distinction through their humanitarian work. Prior recipients included Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Danny Glover. In announcing the award, then-Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter called Cosby “a comedian whose gentle humor . . . pioneered a path forward for African American artists.”

His accusers, meanwhile, were all but forgotten. Andrea finished massage school, purchased a loft in downtown Toronto, and began her career as a massage therapist. Tamara Green sold her seaside home and hid herself away on a little fruit farm she purchased in the hills outside San Diego, with just her dog and cat for company. Beth Ferrier began competing in triathlons and finally became a teacher, and Barbara Bowman went on to star in thirty TV commercials, including ones for McDonald’s and Holiday Inn.

*

But then came Hannibal Buress.

Buress was a comedian on the rise, and in October of 2014 he was on tour with a new national stand-up comedy show. After more than a dozen years as a comedian, he was finally starting to make it big. The thirty-one-year-old Chicago native started his career in New York City in 2006 with just $200 in his pocket, walking right into an open-mic night at a comedy club. He was so strapped for money that he was actually homeless for a while, sleeping on park benches and subways in between performing gigs after he wore out his welcome at his sister’s home.

But now he was performing in actual theaters, and although he hadn’t yet been booked in any large arenas, he’d come a long way in eight years. And comedy wasn’t his only gig; he was also a regular on Comedy Central’s Broad City and Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show. For a short time he wrote for blockbuster shows like Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock and played the memorable Officer Watkins alongside Seth Rogan and Zac Efron in the hit movie Neighbors. His laid back, cerebral routines earned him raves from GQ to the New York Times.

It was as if the scandal in 2005 had never happened, as if fourteen women hadn’t accused him of heinous offenses.

In 2014 Buress appeared in the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia and performed a routine he’d been doing off and on for months. In it he referenced Cosby’s controversial town halls, criticizing him for lecturing people about how to dress and behave when he had skeletons in his own closet.

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old-black-man persona that I hate,” Buress said. He went on:

He gets on TV, “Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the eighties! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.” Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple of notches . . .

I don’t know what I’m doing by telling you. I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. Dude’s image is a public Teflon image. I’ve done this bit on stage, and people think I’m making it up. . . . When you leave here, Google “Bill Cosby rape.” That shit has more results than “Hannibal Buress.”

Unbeknownst to Buress, sitting in the audience that evening was Dan McQuade, a contributing editor for Philadelphia magazine, who wrote blog posts for the magazine’s website. McQuade only went to the show that night because a friend had an extra ticket and offered it to him at the last minute. McQuade doesn’t quite remember why he decided to videotape Hannibal’s Cosby diatribe but thought he might have realized in the moment that anything said about Cosby in Philadelphia was worth a mention in his column.

“I just pulled my phone out and immediately hit record,” he later told the website Billy Penn. When Buress finished his Cosby bit, McQuade knew he had something. He wrote the piece, and it was posted online the following afternoon, a Friday, with the video he shot with his iPhone.

The headline: “Hannibal Buress on Bill Cosby: You’re a Rapist.”

McQuade’s story might easily have faded away, but Buzzfeed reporter Ariane Lange saw a post about it on Facebook.

“I noticed [Philadelphia magazine] hadn’t mentioned reaching out to Cosby or Buress, and I hadn’t seen the story anywhere, so it seemed worth aggregating with a request for comment,” she said. When she didn’t hear back from either camp, she posted her own story with a straightforward headline, similar to the one Phillymag.com used, that Monday.

Less than an hour later Gawker picked it up and posted a story.

The gossip website was in its heyday and was particularly interested in the angle on Cosby because it had just resurfaced the 2005 allegations in a piece they ran in February; that story also covered Dylan Farrow’s letter in the Times accusing her father, Woody Allen, of molesting her.

The February 2014 Gawker article ran under the headline, “Who Wants to Remember Bill Cosby’s Multiple Sex-Assault Accusations?” Gawker had speculated that there had been no public outcry about Cosby, even after it got national coverage in People in 2006, because “nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. It was too much to handle.”

Then Newsweek followed up, publishing interviews with Cosby accusers Tamara Green and Barbara Bowman. Slate jumped in with a piece pondering why no one cared. More likely, it said, it was because the allegations were a relic of the past, like Cosby himself.

Whatever the reason, the story didn’t pick up and take hold in February, just eight months earlier.

This time it did.

The online coverage spread so rapidly that even Buress himself was stunned.

“Boy, that escalated quickly,” he wrote on his Twitter feed less than four days after McQuade’s story and video were posted. “I mean, that really got out of hand fast.”

That same morning Howard Stern interviewed Buress on his radio show, and the shock jock made the most of the controversy to promote Hannibal’s appearance. “The Comedian Who Toppled Cosby Stops by to Talk Fame, Jokes and the Future,” was the headline on Stern’s website.

All the attention bemused Buress. He wasn’t trying to take down Cosby or start a discussion about rape, he said. “If I was going to do it, I would have did it on my own,” he said. “It was just something that I was doing at that venue right there. . . . I just read some stuff and researched . . . anybody can get that information.”

The scandal was about to get bigger — and an unlikely party fueled it. The British tabloid the Daily Mail — with one of the biggest readerships in the world — posted a story online around the same time Buress was wrapping up his interview with Stern, and it traveled the globe.

Buress mentioned the Cosby brouhaha again at the top of a performance in St. Louis on October 25. “I don’t know if you heard . . .” he told the crowd ironically.

He said there’d been some backlash with people asking how he could say such a thing about a pioneer like Cosby. “You can’t be a pioneer and a rapist?” he joked.

He added that he’d been accused of attacking Cosby to help his own career. “That’s not how you help your career,” he deadpanned.

Buress said he even texted his longtime buddy and fellow comedian Dave Chappelle to ask him for advice on how to handle the situation.

“He said Chappelle first told him it would be best to have a conversation with Cosby and squash it,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story said. “Then he said Chappelle watched the video and quickly told him not to call Cosby.” The video spoke for itself.

Cosby’s people were able to control the media. But they couldn’t control social media.

After that, Buress pretty much stopped talking about Cosby. He’d gotten hate mail and death threats — not everyone was happy with what he’d done. “It was just weird to see people talk shit about you,” he said. “I saw people I thought I was cool with bashing me online. People were writing me. It was a weird thing.”

Like it or not, what he’d unwittingly started couldn’t be stopped.

The Daily Mail took its coverage a step further and interviewed Barbara Bowman, who had just spoken to Newsweek in February after being out of the spotlight for years. This time she hoped people would listen to her. “I was drugged and raped by that man,” she told the tabloid. “He is a monster. . . . My hope is that others who have experienced sexual abuse will not be intimidated into silence by the famous, rich and powerful. If I can help one victim, then I’ve done my job.”

She told the same tale she’d told us at People in 2006, saying she feared that Cosby would soon be hitting the airwaves again in his new comedy, once again playing the quintessential family man. “Maybe he should also teach his fictitious TV family how to escape the talons of sexual predators,” she told the Daily Mail. “Bill used to tell me that he was my father figure and that I needed to trust him as a father, 100 percent. Then he’d drug me and attack me.”

Cosby was more than aware that momentum was gathering in the media and that his past was becoming present again. He postponed an appearance on The Queen Latifa Show, which the Washington Post noted in a story titled, “Is the World Starting to Turn Against Bill Cosby?”

The writer also made an interesting observation, noting that the allegations were nothing new. “Without intending to, Buress became a perfect example of the conundrum of male allyship: it wasn’t enough 13 different women accused Cosby of drugging, raping and violently assaulting them. It was only after a famous man, Buress, called him out that the possibility of Cosby becoming a television pariah became real.”

Barbara made the same point in an op-ed she penned for the Post a couple of weeks later titled, “Bill Cosby Raped Me. Why Did It Take 30 Years for People to Believe My Story?” In the essay she railed against all of those who refused to believe her. “As a teenager, I tried to convince myself I had imagined it,” she wrote. “I even tried to rationalize it: Bill Cosby was going to make me a star and this was part of the deal.” She told her agent, who did nothing, as well as an attorney, who accused her of making it up. She tried again when she granted interviews in 2006 with Philadelphia magazine, People, and, in February 2014, Newsweek. And still there was no public outcry.

Until Buress.

“While I am grateful for the new attention to Cosby’s crimes, I must ask my own questions: Why wasn’t I believed? Why didn’t I get the same reaction of shock and revulsion when I originally reported it? Why was I, a victim of sexual assault, further wronged by victim blaming when I came forward? The women victimized by Bill Cosby have been talking about his crimes for more than a decade. Why didn’t our stories go viral?”

I was wondering the same thing as I watched in astonishment as coverage unfolded and the tale exploded. I was pleased but confounded: it was a “déjà vu all over again” situation because there was absolutely nothing new to any of these claims. Our 2006 story was even available online. At the time I was wrapped up in another major story that was emotionally exhausting, and without something new to report, I had nothing new to add. But I still watched for new developments in the case.

And I thought about the industry in which I’d made my career. What puzzled me most was how the media would jump on a story one minute while having ignored it the previous one. What kind of profession was I immersed in when stories had no logical reasoning for unfolding?

It was one thing for the media to ignore Barbara’s story in 2006, but she had just done a Newsweek interview in February that was ignored as well. Now, just eight months later, she was a media darling.


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In the end I had to agree with Slate writer Amanda Hess, who had speculated that the phenomenon was a combination of three factors. One was the timing of the story, which coincided with Cosby’s new biography, a Netflix special, and an NBC deal. Another was that there was a video of Buress’s routine, which had quickly spread across social media. And the third was that Buress was a comedian.

As a comedian Buress could just flat-out call Cosby a rapist instead of hedging and using protective language like journalists did, Hess said. “And as depressing as it is, a person in Buress’ position is not saddled with the same rape myths that victims are,” she told the website Billy Penn. “There’s a widespread belief that when a woman accuses a man of rape, she just might be lying for some sort of personal gain. It’s a totally irrational conclusion, but it’s a sadly prevalent one. It’s harder to argue that Buress has anything to gain by taking on Cosby.”

I believe it’s also because Buress spoke about Cosby being a rapist so matter-of-factly — urging people to Google “Bill Cosby” and “rape” — that the allegations took on a new ring of truth for those in the audience and anyone viewing the video.

As for why the scandal fizzled in 2005 and exploded in 2014, chalk it up to social media and the internet for spreading the word and inciting a response. In 2005, when Facebook was still for college students; Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram did not yet exist; and most news websites were in their infancy, Cosby’s people were able to control the media. But they couldn’t control social media. And once the public has access to information themselves, they can quickly come to their own conclusions.

I couldn’t help but think, Where were all of you nine years ago?

Andrea’s lawyer Dolores Troiani agreed that social media made “trading up” — a term that both she and I had learned back in 2005, which in the world of national TV news refers to the shifty practice of turning down a story in exchange for another, better one — almost impossible. “If some [news] organization kills a story, some other one will pick it up, and they don’t have to be an organization,” she said. “They just have to have a computer.”

It was also an entire new, younger generation controlling the dialogue. They’d grown up learning about the signs of child sexual abuse in public schools. And they weren’t clinging to their image of Cosby as Dr. Huxtable because they had no idea who Dr. Huxtable was.

Many were also now working for the online news organizations that had sprung up since 2005 and were now driving the coverage, finally forcing the mainstream press to weigh in, whether they wanted to or not.

Cosby learned this for himself when his handlers tried to quell the growing scandal with a meme contest. Instead, they made it worse. The hashtag #CosbyMeme was launched on November 10, when Cosby posted a tweet inviting fans to meme him. The link led to a meme generator loaded with photos of Cosby mugging in various poses and sweaters on BillCosby.com — all wholesome, charming, dad-like visuals reminiscent of Cosby’s untarnished reputation.

Twitter followers responded with memes mocking him, focusing on the drugging and sexual assault allegations, including, “America’s Favorite Dad by Day, Serial Rapist by Night”; “My Two Favorite Things, Jello Pudding and Rape”; and “I Like My Women the Way I Like My Puddin’ Pops, Passed Out Cold.”

There were also followers who saw the contest as an opportunity to educate people about rape culture. One described it as evidence of “a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.” In his Twitter thread, he gave examples of behaviors associated with rape culture like “victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial or widespread rape. Or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape.”

A few hours after its launch Twitter users realized that Cosby’s social media team was removing the word “rape” from the memes. Not long afterward they deleted the original #CosbyMeme tweet and took down the meme generator, with the link now redirecting users to Cosby’s homepage.

*

The meme debacle did Cosby no favors, and after his team squelched the contest, he quickly canceled an upcoming appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

He didn’t cancel a previously scheduled interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition, however. It was to be a joint appearance with his wife, Camille, to discuss sixty-two pieces of African American art that Cosby and Camille had donated to an exhibit in Washington, DC. The Cosbys had built an impressive collection since they’d visited the Heritage Gallery in Los Angeles in 1967 and discovered the work of Charles White, an African American artist from Chicago, and they had agreed to loan some of that impressive collection to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on its fiftieth anniversary. It was widely viewed as one of the most valuable private collections of its kind in the world, and now the Cosbys were allowing the public to enjoy some of it as well.

But instead of focusing on the art, reporter Scott Simon asked Cosby about the various charges.

Cosby refused to answer.

The piece was so controversial that NPR’s ombudsman Scott Schumacher-Matos wrote a column a few days later about whether listeners thought it was unfair of Simon to ask Cosby about the allegations when the interview was supposed to be about the artwork. The number of responses he got was “overwhelming,” he wrote, revealing an interesting pattern that suggested a “generational divide” on the issue.

“Emailers, who presumably trend older, were mostly critical of Simon,” he wrote. “Some 400 Facebook posts were equally divided. All ages use Facebook, though its audience is growing grayer. The online commenters at the bottom of the web story sided mostly with Simon, but, meanwhile, what might be most telling is that so did the traffic on Twitter, which appears to have the youngest audience.”

*

I tracked down Tamara, who had been silent since her February interview with Newsweek.

It had been nearly ten years since we’d last spoken, but it felt like no time had passed as soon as I heard her voice. I felt this kinship with her. We had both been ridiculed in 2005 for trying to tell this story, and public thrashings, I discovered, can have a bonding effect. Only she could understand the incredulity I was feeling over how this case was exploding in the media. I couldn’t help but think, Where were all of you nine years ago? At the same time, though, I was glad the allegations were now getting the type of attention they deserved. And I was determined to claim the story once again from all of these Johnny-come-latelies.

Tamara hadn’t changed at all in the intervening years. Though I found out later she’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder, she was as feisty and quick witted as ever, the colorful phrases rolling off her tongue.

“He is in fact a sexual predator,” she said. “I don’t dispute the fact the man has done much good, but he is a flawed man. He’s not the fictional Dr. Huxtable or the Jell-O salesman. This is Bill Cosby who for years felt entitled because of his status as a celebrity and because for years he was above the law. And he’ll always be a small man because a great man would embrace his faults as well as his talents.”

She said she thought the scandal might go away for good if he would just admit what he did and apologize. “I keep thinking of two words — he needs to own it,” she said. “He needs to say, ‘I am a flawed character. I let stardom go to my head. I am an older and wiser man, and I want to apologize to the people that I have hurt.’ How hard can that be?”

Cosby said nothing.

* * *

Nicole Weisensee Egan has been the lead investigative journalist reporting on the Cosby case since 2005, first for the Philadelphia Daily News and then as a Senior Writer for PEOPLE magazine. She covered the trial for The Daily Beast and is already working on her second book. She lives in Royersford, PA.

Longreads Editor: Dana Snitzky

Source: http://bit.ly/2MwL5Ph

Bacon Manchego Cheese Burger

This bacon Manchego cheese burger made with freshly ground beef, Manchego, and Romesco sauce is everything you always wanted fusion food to be. In other words, brilliant, surprising, inspired, and so harmonious it’s as if the ingredients were fated in the stars to be together in this combination.

A fully loaded bacon Manchego cheese burger on a sesame bun.

LC Best. Burger. Ever. Note

Chances are you’ve not had a burger like this before. Not just because of the Spanish-inspired accoutrements, which result in it being, essentially, a bacon Manchego cheese burger, but because of the burger itself. See, the authors rely on a cut of meat called the chuck flap, which is a large section of rib meat with a lot of extremely beefy flavor. It’s essentially a particular kind of chuck. Four parts ground chuck to one part ground rib eye works just dandy in its place in the recipe below. (One of our dear and discerning recipe testers did the math for us, and it equates to 2.4 ounces ground rib eye and 9.6 ounces ground chuck. Besos, Robert!) Best. Burger. Ever. Olé!

Bacon Manchego Cheese Burger

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes 2 burgers
5/5 – 1 reviews

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IngredientsUSMetric

  • 12 ounces beef, preferably chuck flap* or another cut that’s 15% to 18% fat
  • 4 slices bacon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Two (1-ounce) slices young (aged just 3 to 6 months) Manchego cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 oz), at room temperature
  • 2 hamburger buns, preferably sesame seeded, split
  • 2 tablespoons Romesco Sauce
  • 1 cup arugula or mesclun (optional)
  • 12 to 16 slices Pickled Zucchini (optional)

Directions

  • 1. If the butcher didn’t grind the beef for you, work the cold meat in your food processor until finely ground and then immediately place it in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and process on medium speed for 1 minute.
  • 2. Shape the meat into 2 equal-size patties, each one about 6 ounces and, ideally, slightly broader than the buns. Salt and pepper both sides of the patties.
  • 3. In a medium cast iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until slightly crisp. Remove the bacon. Pour off all but 1 to 2 tablespoons bacon fat from the pan and crank the heat to medium-high.
  • 4. Cook the patties until they take on a nice char, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  • 5. Flip the patties and place first the bacon and then the cheese on the top of each burger. Cover the skillet and cook until the desired doneness, about 1 minute for medium-rare. If you prefer a less rare burger, simply cook another minute or two on each side.
  • 6. Meanwhile, butter the buns and place them, cut side down, in another skillet over medium-high heat until nicely toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • 7. Slather 1 tablespoon Romesco on the bottom half of each bun. Place the burger patties on top and garnish with greens and 6 to 8 slices Pickled Zucchini, if using. Place the top half of the bun on each stack of bacon cheeseburger spectacularness and demolish. Originally published April 1, 2014

*What You Need To Know About Ground Beef For Burgers

  • Chances are you’ve not had a burger like this before. Not just because of the Spanish-inspired accoutrements, which result in it being, essentially, a bacon Manchego cheese burger, but because of the burger itself. See, the authors rely on a cut of meat called the chuck flap, which is a large section of rib meat with a lot of extremely beefy flavor. It’s essentially a particular kind of chuck. Four parts ground chuck to one part ground rib eye works just dandy in its place in the recipe below. (One of our dear and discerning recipe testers did the math for us, and it equates to 2.4 ounces ground rib eye and 9.6 ounces ground chuck. Besos, Robert!) Best. Burger. Ever. Olé!
    Read more at http://bit.ly/2WN18fT

source https://leitesculinaria.com/94944/recipes-bacon-manchego-cheese-burger.html