Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's 4 am. I've been up since 3. Not by choice. This has been happening every night for the last month, and I don't know why. On week days, it's a real problem because I have to get up at 6 and go to work. I don't have any problem going to sleep, it's staying there that seems to be impossible. At least today is Sunday, I'll be able to go back to bed and sleep eventually.

I'm tired. I know all the things you're suppose to do and not do to promote healthy sleep. My bedroom is cool. I keep to a bedtime routine. I don't eat within 3 hours of going to bed, because I do have GERD and it's bad, bad,bad to violate that rule. I don't drink anything other than a few sips of water after 6:30 pm and no caffeine past noon. No alcohol. I also have RLS, medication takes care of that but I'm still not sleeping through the night. I don't have pain issues.

It's dark in my bedroom. My husband uses a CPAP machine and still occasionally snores, so I always sleep with ear plugs. That's not the issue. I don't break any of the sleep rules and yet, somewhere between 2:30 and 3, I wake up. The hamster wheel in my brain is going overtime and all I want to do is sleep.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving for Pets

Wondering what do to with all those leftovers. Giving pets tablescraps isn't the best idea for the pet as there's generally way too much fat and salt in leftovers.

Here's a couple of ideas, approved by our vet at work.

Turkey Supreme (for cats)
Makes 4 servings
1 turkey breast, cooked and chopped fine
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup spinach, diced
1/2 cups green beans, diced
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
No-salt chicken broth
Combine turkey, carrots, spinach and green beans. Add rice and enough chicken broth to bind ingredients. Cool until mixture is lukewarm and serve.

Lazy Turkey Loaf (for dogs)
Makes 6 servings2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1 teaspoon garlic powder*
1 egg
1/2 cup quick-cook barley
1 cup quick-cook oats
4 ounces canned no-fat gravy
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl combine turkey, vegetables,garlic powder, egg, barley and oats. Mix thoroughly. Spoon into a greased loaf pan
and pat down meat mixture until level. Spread gravy on top of loaf and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool and cut into six even slices.
Store unused portions in refrigerator.
* Garlic powder in small amounts is not considered dangerous to dogs.

Black Friday

It's finally happened, a store employee has been killed in the annual insanity known as Black Friday. I've never understood the mass chaos of Black Friday. It's not like we live in a country where we must act like wild beasts to get the only loaf of bread in the market. Sure, the store may have limited quantities of the "it" item, but you'll surely find an acceptable alternative. Or wait a couple weeks for more inventory to arrive. Maybe you will pay another $5 for it, but you won't go giftless.

Maybe it's my past in retail management that makes me especially scornful of this Black Friday nonsense. Stores opening at 4 am, people acting like starved lunatics, media outlets hyping the mania. We should be ashamed of ourselves, for condoning and encouraging the retailers who incite and take advantage of the herd mentality.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Taste of Thanksgiving

We have a pretty normal Thanksgiving feast. This year, for the first time in about 8 years, it's just the Viking and me for dinner. I seem to not be able to cook in very small quantities, so we'll be having reruns for a while. It's all good.

I know there are people who don't care for cranberry sauce. Not me, I love the sweet tart cranberry taste. I prefer Cranberry Orange Relish, made with raw cranberries, over the cooked varities. I got my bag of berries out of the fridge this morning to make my relish to discover that Ocean Spray no longer puts that recipe on the bag. Thank goodness for the Internet. I've decided to share it here, so I'll never loose the recipe again!

So how about you - cooked or raw? C'mon, cook ( or actually don't cook ) along with me, it's super easy. You can do it.

Cranberry Orange Relish

You need 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries. Pick through them, removing any that are mushy, wrinked or just creepy looking. Rinse them off. You'll also need an orange, sugar and cardamom, which we'll get to a little later.

Cut the orange, rind and all, into 8 segments. You don't have to be fanatical about it, but try to get them pretty evenly sized. And yes, I really mean the rind... I promise it will not kill you. Really. Place 4 orange segments and about half of the raw cranberries into a food processor. If you don't have a super spiffy food processor, you can do with with an old fashioned food grater, but if I were you and I wanted to make this, I'd go splurge on a food processor....even the tiny little ones will do this job. You'll just have to work in smaller batches. Alternatively, you might as well sit down with the old food box grater and watch the parade while you shred your fingertips.

Ready to move on? I thought so. Pluse the blade several time until you have a medium textured gind going on. Actually, grind it as fine as you like it. I just prefer this size. And yes, you will have bits of visible orange peel that you can actually eat. Be brave. It's wonderfully fresh.

When the first half is processed, repeat with the remaining orange sections and cranberries. Move all the goodies into a bowl. As you can see, I am quite partial to this gigantic measuring cup.

Now we've got to add some sweetness to all this tarty goodness. The standard recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar. I really only use 2/3 cup sugar, but I like it tart. I was toying around with the idea of a little maple syrup at this point, but decided against it. Lemme know if you try it.

It's at this point that I go a little crazy and deviate from the traditional method of cranberry relish prep. Not only do I like it slightly more tart than sweet, I love a hint of spice. It really heightens the cranberry orange taste for me. So, if you're a wild woman too, now's the time to add from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of spice. I prefer cardamom but I think cinnamon or corriander would be nice too.

Now, just mix together, cover and refrigerate for several hours. If you plan better than I do and get this made the night before, not only do you get a gold star and the turkey leg, you'll get a mush more magical flavored cranberry orange relish. I didn't plan well this year, so we get the immature vintage. I still love it.

This recipe makes about 3 cups. It survives quite nicely for several meals. It's also an outstanding accompaniment for pork and chicken dishes. Plus, it's great mixed with cream cheese and spred on toast, or mixed into pound cake batter, pancakes... you get the picture.
Yummm... don't tell anyone but I like this better than the turkey!
P.S. I've heard rumors that some people like nuts in this relish. If that sound good to you, go for it. I think pecans might be best, but it's your relish; do what you like. Happy Thanksgiving.
Cranberry Orange Relish
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 orange
2/3 - 1 cup sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, cinnamon or corridaner.
Rinse and remove any spoiled cranberries. Cut the orange into 8 segments with the rind attached. Place half the cranberries and 4 orange wedges into a food processor. Pluse 4 or 5 times. Remove and process the remaining cranberries and oranges.
Place ground cranberries and oranges into a bowl. Mix with sugar and add the spice if you like that idea. Mix well, cover and refrigerate 6-12 hours. Best flavor develops when made the night before. Makes about 3 cups.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Word Wednesday

I love words. I love word games, crossword puzzles, hangman, Jeopardy, criss-cross puzzles, anagrams, scrabble ; you name it and I'm up for it.

In my job, there is some very specific vocabulary and I'm always learning new words. Joy! Often, when looking up a new technical word, I learn some new word that's totally not related but gets in my head anyway.

Starting today, I'm going to share my new words with you. Introducing New Word Wednesday!

Today's discovery:
Chick"a*bid`dy\, n. A chicken; a fowl; also, a trivial term of endearment for a child.syn. child, bud, chick, juvenile, kid, moppet

In short, a term of endearment for something that's just too darn cute for real words!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?

Do you think these ladies know how exceedingly dangerous it is to be strolling the highway at this time of year? Do you think they've ever given hunter Elmer Fudd a single thought? These ladies wander the roadway on my way to work. They have a nice little thicket they seem to live in and absolutely no fear of traffic. Apparently, they've not seen what can happen when turkeys go wandering where they shouldn't!
That reminds me, I need to go grocery shopping for our feast or offer a really tempting bribe to the Viking.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lights in the Dark

Holiday lights started appearing in town last week. It's been unseasonably warm and perhaps smart homeowners are taking advantage of decorating the roofline when it's 40 degrees instead of 20 degrees. At least that's what I thought until I spoke with my daughter and sister who both live in warmer southern states; they are seeing lights go up too. Christmas lights before Thanksgiving?

I think it's a reaction to all the bad financial news lately. I think we're all just so weary of the continual dismal future outlook, plunging financial markets and uncertianty over the future, that we're eager for some twinkling little lights to brighten our spirits. I know they've started to help my own.

I've been in a bit of a funk lately as we've gotten closer to Thanksgiving. I've been reliving this time last year with my father's surgery, our last Thanksgiving and moving forward to Christmas and his unexpected death. I'd been doing fine, then the tear jerker, happy family Christmas commercials started about 2 weeks ago and I took a nose dive.

Just as I was really starting to worry about myself, the lights started appearing. Now this may sound completely childish and superficial, but the sporadic lights and holiday decor have helped.

Bright lights shining against the deep twilight sky are just as beautiful as they'll be in a few weeks with snow partially covering them. Maybe even more so.

They bring me happiness and I have learned that happiness can not always be explained and never questioned; only enjoyed in the moment.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Ever notice how snoozing cats are almost as hypnotic as a small baby sleeping on your shoulder? This is Shadow. We rescued her from a warehouse where she'd be found. She was so timid that she spent almost all of the first 2 years we had her hiding under furniture. She didn't know what to make of other cats and the dogs we had at the time.

Moving to a different home opened her world. When everyone was unsettled, she was finally able to have a little courage and we could get to know her. One of our older cats decided to pick on her and when she almost died from a sneak attack, she became the "back of the house" cat. We had doors on our hallway and kitchen entrances, and we were able to block off the bedrooms. That wasn't the best solution, but it worked. I've since learned that in a group of cats it is not unusual for one to be the bully and one to be the pariah. Unfortunately, she's still quite timid and is physically a very small, almost kitten size cat.

The bully died before our next move. With that next move, Shadow really came into her own. Oh, there was another cat who decided to become the bully, but he wasn't as motivated as the first one. Bully 2 was a lot older. Plus, she was able to stick up for herself a bit more.

Now, she is completely at ease around the rest of the family and boy, does she have a lot to tell us. We've never had such a vocal cat as little Missy Shadow. Yak,yak,yak all day long...with the most annoyingly whining cat voice possible. She's now our constant companion, everywhere... like she's glued on! Oh, and sometimes, she's incredibly silly, sleeping with her tongue out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Posted by Picasa

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day is a day of remembering and saying Thank You to the men and women who protect our freedom. It's thanks to them that we have the right, as Americans, to be wrong, stupid, make bad choices and then start all over again. It's thanks to them that when the worst hits us, we can stand and bear the burden.

I am from a military family. At times, in my youth, my military focused upbringing made me uncomfortable with the pull of my generation to an anti-military stance. When friends from school became casualties of war, it was difficult to reconcile the sorrow of loss with the dedication to duty. I understood both.

Recently a discussion on what is patriotism has really made me give thought to this issue again. I'm still not entirely sure just where my understanding of patriotism is, as a philosophical stand, but I do know that my deep regard and respect for those who serve is not lessened by the questions in my mind.

It is because of them, the young men and women who serve , that I am allowed to question. I am allowed to discuss the unpopular. To the patriots in my family, to the one's I'll never meet.. Thank you for our freedom.