Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Report--Carolyn Jessop's "Escape"

My goal this year is to read 50 books. I just finished #46: Escape.

Escape is the autobiographical story of Carolyn Jessop who was the fourth of twelve wives to Merrill Jessop--a leader in the Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints. Carolyn was married to Merrill for 17 years and had eight children with him. When she was 35-years-old, she took her eight children and escaped from the FLDS community in the dead of night.

Carolyn grew up in a polygamist family, and when she `consented' to marrying at 18 she was convinced she was doing the will of God. Her sect--under Warren Jeffs--became more and more fanatical and abusive to women and children until Carolyn determined her only hope for a normal life was to escape the society. Carolyn Jessop's story is, it's unreal, bizarre even. Reading it, I felt like I'd entered another time/space continuum. Surely this couldn't be happening in the United States??!! But, it is. Her plight, as well as that of hundreds of other women in the community, reminded me of other books I've read about women in Afghanistan enduring similar psychological and physical abuse under the Taliban. The sidebar stories in the book are equally fascinating. More than once my jaw dropped reading her first-hand account of daily life in the FLDS. Her stories of doing laundry, health care, jealousy among the wives, etc. are spellbinding.

Carolyn is the first woman to escape the FLDS and be granted custody of her children. Her testimony before Utah's Attorney General launched a state-wide investigation of Warren Jeffs' FLDS community. The investigation of Jeffs led to his arrest and conviction on two counts of being an accomplice to rape. Jeffs is currently serving two consecutive prison terms of five years to life.

Merrill Jessop is now the leader of the Zion Ranch in Texas that was raided a few months ago after authorities heard reports of alleged abuse of young girls. Jessop has more than 100 children and several more step-children.

American Idol puts the skids on former contestant's album

Remember Josiah Leming? No? Well, he was the American Idol contestant last year who was living in his car. He didn't make the top 24, but Simon liked him. Anyway, he's recorded an album. Unfortunately, the folks who produce AI threatened legal action if he releases it. Apparently, AI has all the contestants sign papers saying they'll only record with their producers. So sad, because Josiah's mama has terminal cancer and he wants her to be able to share in his success. Doesn't seem fair that if AI doesn't want poor Josiah, he can't go to a producer who does.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poor me, poor me, poor me

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe--4 point Greek Feta Chicken

Greek Feta Chicken
Serves 4
1 cup low-fat yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or 2/3 cup for 2 pounds chicken)
Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, oregano and black pepper in a large bowl. Cut the breasts into serving pieces and stir into the yogurt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place an oven rack just below the broiler and preheat the broiler. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Remove the chicken from the yogurt (discard what remains) and arrange smooth-side down on the foil, thicker pieces in the center where they’ll be closer to the heat. Broil the chicken for 6 minutes, then turn over. Sprinkle with feta and broil for another 5 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center shows juice that runs clear.

4 servings/4 points per serving

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend Recap--Sunday

Sunday night was Trunk or Treat at our church. What a grand time! Mr. C. and I dressed up as the Cleavers. Our pals John and Ken made a perfect Beaver and Wally. The truck looked awesome. We had a complete living room "set." A blazing fireplace, family photos on the wall, lamps, plants, you name it. Ward sat in a recliner and read the Sunday paper most of the time. I vacuumed the rug under his feet a lot. Beaver and Wally handed out candy to the kids who came to the door. Our friend Sally helped the kids at the lollipop tree. We were tickled pink to win the award for "Most Creative."

We have our winners!

Here are the four "pay it forward" winners: Lesli, Ed, Jenn and Shoe Addict. Send me your addresses (unless you know I have them).

Click on A little blog love to read about our contest.

Weekend Recap--Saturday night

Saturday night we had a dinner party. The table looked so pretty.I used my mother's crystal and my grandmother's Lenox china, because the leaf motif is perfect for fall.

I like folding these napkins so the details of the edging show.

Here's some of our guests before dinner. Wendy was laughing right before I took this picture, so I know she was having a good time even though she looks all serious here..

Our menu was beef tenderloin, creamy potato/leek casserole, spinach & pear salad with maple dressing, and berry bread pudding.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Recap--Friday

We go to lots and lots of Blues Hockey games through the season. We already had tickets for Friday night's game--before they announced Sarah Palin would be dropping the puck--so, no, we did not buy tickets just to see Sarah. But, I was anxious to see what kind of reception she'd get from the crowd.

First, it was a complete sell out and everyone was in their seats early to see Sarah. Second, I didn't hear a single boo from the crowd. Maybe I wasn't sitting in a booing section. Or, maybe midwesterners are just too polite to boo. Whatever. Third, she's really skinny.

Sarah and her family watched two periods of the game from the owners' suite. Here are some photos from Friday night:

Oh, by the way, it was a really horrible game. Manny Legace (our goalie) tripped on the Palin carpet and had to leave the game due to his `injury'. Plus, the Blues lost 4-0.

A little blog love

Look what my cousin Jennifer gave me!! I'm so excited. Click here for her blog Texas Wife & Mom.

The deal is I have to name four of my favorite blogs (so hard to choose). The first three people who respond back to me and promise to "pay it forward", will receive a gift. Love it.

So here are just four of my favorite blogs:

Love is Blonde: I love how she describes herself as "stradding a fine line between blonde bombshell and crazy cat lady." That's how I think of myself (except without the cats).

I Am Not My Hair: I love Kalisa's observations and writing. Our politics couldn't be farther apart, but her opinions are always well thought out and I respect her.

And then there's Lesli at Pretty Random Thoughts. Lesli and I have never met, but I think of her as a friend. I love her smiling face and the chipper little comments she leaves me. Plus, I grew up with two pug dogs and she has one named Noodles.

Finally, my pal Ed at It Happened in the Fall of 1956. Ed turned the big 7-0 this year and in honor of that blockbuster birthday he's doing 70 things he's never done before and taking us all along on the journey via his blog. We've been to state parks and poker tournaments and car races and kayaking and engineering a zoo train. Ed reminds me that it's great to try new things, take chances, and live life with gusto.

Read on and leave me some comments!

P.S. My favorite R-rated blog is most definitely Joey's Life or Something Like It. Read at your own risk--nothing is sacred.

Hands off my music

Remember when Bill Clinton and Al Gore won the election in 1992? They had their victory celebration in front of the capitol in Little Rock and Bill and Hill and Tipper and Al all danced around to Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow. It ruined that song for me. Forever.

This year I'm getting ahead of the curve and declaring these tunes off limits to Barack-star for his victory hoo haw:

Stairway to Heaven
Thunder Road
Love Me Tender
My Generation
Good Golly, Miss Molly
Bohemian Rhapsody
Hey Jude
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
We Will Rock You
When A Man Loves A Woman
Light My Fire
Good Vibrations

Did I miss anything? Do you want to add something? Let me know.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The unveiling

Here's my new haircut. Tell me what you think!

Friday, October 24, 2008

To all my girlfriends...will you come?

Last night when I was getting my hair cut, I suggested to the owner she should have a blow drying clinic. I want the professionals to teach me all their tricks and shortcuts. It's such a great idea, I'm thinking about hosting a blow drying clinic at my house. What do you think? Will you come? It's better than a tupperware party.

Field Trip

I'm so excited!! In just a few minutes I'm going to one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. Look out Crate and Barrel, here I come. We're having a dinner party tomorrow night and I just might need to pick up a few things to make it really special.

Maybe I'll buy the Zelda tablerunner...(mainly because I love the whole Zelda/F.Scott Fitzgerald love affair story)...

...or how about some copper pumpkins to put a little glitz & glamour into our party?

I'm definitely getting 3 of these to set baby pumpkins on:

And these little soapy things will be perfect for my guest bathroom:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hair Today

Yep. After much hemming and hawing. I finally got my hair cut. It's very sassy. Too sassy to show you tonight. That's for sure.

Related posts:
Hair Challenge
Choose A New Look

This is a joke, right?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The science of presidential polling

Bush vs. Gore October 2000

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe--6 point ground beef and noodle bake

Ground Beef & Noodle Bake
6 ounces uncooked medium egg noodles
1 pound ground round
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic -- minced
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce -- no salt-added
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12-oz carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 8-oz carton fat-free sour cream
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese -- divided (3 oz)
cooking spray

Cook noodles according to package directions omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside. Cook ground round and next 3 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain in a colander. Wipe drippings from skillet with a paper towel. Return meat mixture to skillet. Add tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Combine cottage cheese and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in meat mixture, noodles, and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Spoon noodle mixture into a 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Cover and chill casserole 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Remove casserole from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake, covered, at 350 º for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes.

8 servings 6 weight watcher's points/serving

Monday, October 20, 2008

Atlas Shrugged

51 years ago Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged. It’s a huge book—over a thousand pages. If you haven’t read it, you won’t have time to finish it before the election. Oh, but if you could…

Atlas Shrugged
is a morality play on the dangers of corporate welfarism, and the socialist mindset. Sound familiar? The book promotes the right of individuals to hold onto their own earned wealth and property. “Taxation is theft” resounds throughout Rand’s novel. The plot highlights the struggle of entrepreneurial producers against regulations and lobbyists favoring government intervention.

Rand’s entrepreneurs in Atlas Shrugged are high achievers with lofty principles. They are competitive, creative geniuses who create new products, and manage their businesses efficiently. They are not the evil robber barons—so often portrayed in today’s media. Atlas Shrugged explains that these folks’ risky and personally financially-dangerous decisions are what fuels economic progress. The novel’s protagonist Hank Reardon actually defends his capitalist philosophy in court by saying, “I refuse to apologize for my ability—I refuse to apologize for my success—I refuse to apologize for my money.” I say good for him.

Today the political environment is fostering class warfare. Politicians are constantly demonizing successful business leaders. The ones who take the leap of faith, risk it all, put their reputations, their financial well-being on the line for an idea, are no longer held up as examples of men and women using their talents, but rather as greedy, money-grubbing, capitalists (said with a sneer), ripping the public off with their golden parachutes, their cost-cutting, their quest to bring more to the bottom line.

51 years before today, Atlas Shrugged asked this timely question, `what would happen if the innovative entrepreneurs and businessmen--after decades of being vilified and regulated--started to disappear?’

Hmmmmm…imagine if under the weight of government’s meddlesome intrusion, all (or even some)of the free thinkers and innovators like Walt Disney, Warren Buffett, Sam Walton, Henry Ford, Ray Croc (McDonald’s), Russell Simmons, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (, August Busch, etc. etc. were squashed and squeezed to the point they said it’s just not worth the trouble any more and they went underground.

Basically, that’s the plot of Atlas Shrugged. One of the main characters, John Galt, is the inventor of a super motor that will revolutionize business. Are his efforts heralded as a huge success? Does he gain great notoriety for his invention? Great wealth? Is industry changed forever? Nope. When the company owners decide to run the factory, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", Galt convinces the world's top capitalists to go on strike against their increasingly socialistic government.

Ayn Rand describes a political system that mandates sacrificing for others. Now, before everyone writes a comment telling me that we all must sacrifice, please reread that last sentence. The key word there is “mandates”. Rand postulates that such mandates lead to a dysfunctional society of deadbeats and bleeding-heart do-gooders (she calls them "looters") who are corrupted by benefits and unearned income. How are the benefits and unearned income paid for? By taxing productive citizens, of course…and by extension, taxing the most productive, most successful citizens the most.

Particularly ironic in light of this month’s financial bailout of banks and other lending institutions, is Ayn Rand’s projection that America would eventually collapse under the weight of an increasing government takeover of the economy.

Read it. It’s so relevant and a subject so worth having a dialogue about.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe: 6 point stuffed chicken breasts

Brie & Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 teaspoon olive oil--divided
1 1/2 cups sliced onion--thinly sliced
2/3 cup dry white wine or chicken broth--divided
2 ounces Brie or Camembert cheese--rind removed and cut into small pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 - 4 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage OR 3/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
2 garlic cloves--minced
1 (10 1/2-ounce)can low-salt chicken broth
Sage sprigs (optional)

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add
sliced onion; sauté 30 minutes or until golden brown. Add sliced garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup wine; cook 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Spoon onion mixture into a bowl; let cool. Stir in Brie, salt, and pepper. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the onion mixture into each pocket. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from skillet. Set aside; keep warm. Add 1/3 cup wine, minced onion, sage, and minced garlic to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil, and cook 7 minutes or until reduced to 3/4 cup. Return chicken to skillet; cover and simmer 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve sauce with chicken. Garnish with fresh sage, if desired.

4 servings 6 weight watcher's points/serving

Say it ain't so, Joe

Not quite

It will probably happen, but as far as I know Joe Biden hasn't been declared Vice President yet. Disgraceful that this Vogue issue hits the newsstands in November. Maybe we could just save a lot of money on campaign ads and an actual election and officially crown Barack-star president now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe: 1 point toasted garlic bread

I love toasted garlic bread hot out of the oven with soup or pasta. Try this 1 point version.

Toasted Garlic Bread
2 slices of Sara Lee Delightful White Bread or Wonder Light White Bread
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1/4 tsp dried parsley
approx. 20 spritzes “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” 0 Calorie Butter Spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-fat cooking spray (Butter Flavored Pam or Olive Oil Flavored spray works well with this Weight Watchers recipe). Lay bread flat on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Lightly (very lightly), spray the bread with the non-stick cooking spray. Then, spritz each slice with approximately 10 squirts of the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Spray. Sprinkle salt, garlic powder and dried parsley evenly over each slice of bread. Toast in the oven until crispy and golden brown (approximately 10 minutes). Enjoy!

Serving size = 2 slices 1 Weight Watchers Point/serving

Thursday, October 16, 2008

19 days until the's a prediction

My prediction is that with 19 days left before the election the main stream media will start easing up on their criticism of John McCain and Sarah Palin. They don't want to jinx Barack-star's lead or have their criticism backfire and create a sympathy vote. They certainly don't want to have anything catastrophic happen on Election Day. I think Chris Matthews will stop calling McCain "troll like", and Palin "simple". Keith Olbermann will stop calling McCain "the worst person in America." Rachel Maddow will stop sneering and whining about the mobs attending McCain-Palin rallies. And folks like Representative John Lewis will stop crying "racist" everytime someone disagrees with them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today's Weight Watcher Recipe--2 point cheesy twice-baked potatoes

So easy. So cheesy.

Cheesy Twice-Baked Potatoes

2 Idaho potatoes, about 1 lb.
1/4 C. Fat-free Sour Cream
1/4 C. Crumbled Bleu Cheese
1 tsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Pierce potatoes with fork. Bake until tender, 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut potatoes lengthwise. With spoon, scoop out potato pulp, forming 4 shells. Place pulp in bowl; add sour cream, bleu cheese and parsley. With potato masher, blend until smooth. Smooth potato mixture into shells. Place on baking sheet and bake until heated through, 15 minutes

4 servings 2 weight watchers points/serving

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2nd Tuesday of the month

Yep. It's book club night for Mom and me. Tonight's discussion is about the book The Tortilla Curtain. Remember the movie Traffic? Well, this book reminded me of that movie...Parallel stories that are loosely inter-related. Some of the themes in the book are illegal immigration, materialism, disillusionism, environmental issues, NIMBY attitudes [not in my backyard], poverty, The American Dream, healthcare.

The Tortilla Curtain wasn't my favorite book, but it was well written and thought provoking. I'll look forward to the discussion.

[BTW, The Tortilla Curtain was supposed to have been made into a movie with Kevin Costner and Meg Ryan in 2005. I think that version of the movie was derailed, but another (yet to be cast) is scheduled for release in 2010.]