Sunday, November 30, 2008

One kind word

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in VietNam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said.. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary"

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists"

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

Remember, you reap what you sow. What you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Debt Free

I have been working on this unsuccessfully for YEARS.

but at least I am aware of just how bad it is.

Friday, November 28, 2008


TO: Amundsen Family Members, Klein Branch

FROM: Kat Amundsen, Chief Operating Officer

DATE: November 28, 2008

SUBJECT: The Financial Crisis

With the recent news on Wall Street, I have been hearing many concerns about our organization’s situation and wanted to take this opportunity to detail what we are doing from the top.

First, there will be no layoffs.

As you know, we are operating at a deficit this year, due to extraordinary Cub Scouts and Visitation expenses. It is important to note that this is unrelated to the general financial crisis, and these expenses are fully funded through school year 2008-9.

In terms of recurring revenue, our employers have indicated that they are committed to continuing at present levels on a monthly basis. However, they are also facing pressure, and, based on our discussions with them, we are budgeting for a significantly smaller increase in revenue compared to what we have seen in recent years.

At present, our greatest exposure is highly leveraged real estate debt used to purchase our primary residence. While related debt service is our largest recurring expense, the good news is that this is a fixed expense that will not increase until at least 2023. We believe our investment is fundamentally sound, and will achieve long-term growth while continuing to provide immediate benefits through use of the underlying assets, regardless of the current market.

Our extended family’s long history of continuous operation through difficult times–including the Great Depression–gives us the strength to navigate in the present climate. However, in light of the global financial situation, there are some measures we are taking to cut back expenses. We feel these measures are prudent to preserve cash flow in the face of uncertain growth and unfavorable credit prospects.

The most difficult budget issue is transportation, and we have not made any final decisions. As you know, our primary car is scheduled for replacement at the end of 2013, and we may decide to extend its service life. The reason we have not made a final decision is that repair costs required for this course of action are yet unknown. While this is potentially disappointing, keep in mind that our primary car still serves over 60% or our non-transit transportation needs. We committed to meeting those needs, and through a program of regular maintenance (that has not been cut), we have not had any unplanned downtime for a primary car in over 4 years. Additionally, thanks to successful strategic planning undertaken by the Board, we are uniquely situated for a suburban family to be able to utilize the fleet of personal transportation devices (bicycles) as a safe, cost-effective option.

In the Travel and Entertainment category, you will find that fewer requests to eat in restaurants will be approved, and requests for desserts in restaurants, particularly, will not be approved (unless they are included in the cost of a kid’s meal). If a meal is ordered, sharing is strongly encouraged. An additional benefit of this will be improved health. Netflix has been put on hold for 90 days, and we will reconsider that offering then; unopened red envelopes left on top of the TV indicate a lack of demand at present. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are subject to elimination as well. Executives, including myself, are being asked to purchase regular coffee in place of more expensive coffee drinks while traveling, and to utilize meals from our on-site food service provider whenever possible.

Charitable giving will continue, primarily to organizations to which we have supported on a regular annual basis, and new requests will be considered individually.

All major vacations, home improvements, and furniture purchases are temporarily put on hold, unless essential. Pre-approved food and clothing purchases can continue as needed and may be subject to increased budget scrutiny.

Lastly, note that we have no plans to add human resources. Requests for non-human resources (i.e., pets) may be considered in a future fiscal year.

The bottom line is that while the coming years may not be everything we want, we will stay together and have great stories to tell the grandkids.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kat's Turkey Dinner

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch pie shell, chilled for an hour if freshly made, defrosted for 10 minutes if frozen.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.
Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.

1 pkg. sugar free sparkling white grape Jello
1.5 c. hot water
2 c. cooked rice
20 lg. marshmallows, cut in pieces
1 (bag) frozen chopped pineapple
1 c. whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup chopped pecans pieces

Dissolve Jello in hot water, stir in frozen pineapple and rice. Chill until nearly set, then fold in marshmallows,nuts, and whipped cream. chill until dinner.

hard boil 8 eggs, chill overnight in shell
slice horizontally, scrape out yokes, set white aside in deviled egg platter
in bowl, mix, mustard, Tabasco sauce, miracle whip, pickle juice, sugar, an diced pickles and blend
refill whites and dust with paprika/chili powder blend

rinse and separate the skin from the breast and legs, chop off wings at the joint, and tuck in neck under flap, and rub under skin of bird with seasoning: lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, black pepper, sea salt, chili powder. if skin tears, pin up with bamboo skewer.
add 1 Tbl of flour to Reynolds turkey bag, shake, add turkey, stuff with quartered potatoes that have been seasoned with turkey seasoning mix, place in rectangular cake pan, vent top of bag, and bake for 3 - 4 hours at 350'F

peel and rinse 4 huge yams, cube and boil in just enough water to cover until fork tender. drain well.
combine: 1/2 bag mini marshmallows, 1 small can sweetened condensed milk, 1 small bag frozen pineapple chunks - chopped, 1 stick of butter, diced up, 1 cup brown sugar and fold in, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg. split into two bread pans, sprinkle with more marshmallows, bake for 15 minutes til marshmallows are golden.

thaw out left over bread butts, cut up and toast.
saute celery, onions, carrots and bell peppers, combine with toasted butts
drench with juice from turkey, add whole cranberry's and sage and seasonings.

3 Tbl butter melted in cast iron skillet on medium heat
dice up FINELY giblets, brown in butter with minced onion
add in 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, sautee' until onions are translucent, add 1/4 cup of turkey drippings, and
3 Tbl Flour, and wisk
add in 2 Cups of milk, continuously wisk, on low heat, simmer for 15 minutes, add milk to keep consistency smooth and garnish with three sliced hard boiled eggs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sofocating from Stress

today is a quiet day for me. I cleaned the house, did the dishes, wiped down the counters, scrubbed the fridge yesterday before restocking it.

taught the boys to make breakfast burritos (1 table spoon burger, browned, scrambled in two eggs, sprinkled some cheese and rolled up in a flour tortilla)
made all the beds, picked up all the dirty clothes, flushed all the toilets, and am
resting in bed. I read a little. I really need to finishing proofing a session from Saturday, to raise enough money to pay my sales tax to the state in January.

My heart is still beating erratically with the stress of shopping yesterday. Sverre gave me $200 for groceries. which for some reason, just didn't last like it should.
I went to Costco and got grapes, and hamburger, and laundry soap, crackers, and sugar, and that would have been fine, I am sure. but the laundry soap was not scent free, so I have to take it back. and I went to HEB and got a turkey, and they gave me a second 20 lb one for $5 and who turns that down, even if it is not organic? I threw it in the bottom of the freezer for a rainy day (January 2009 by my calculations) heehee I got three sacks of flour, we ran out and I HATE that feeling, and I got sweet potatoes, and flour tortillas, and milk, eggs, and cheese, along with some maraschino cherries, whipped cream, frozen pineapple, and pecan pie. I also got chocolate chips, and I used coupons up the whazoo, even had some for the yogurt. the bill for HEB was $175. which wouldn't have been so bad except the $175 that I spent at COSTCO (okay, I got some socks for the boys ($30) and some sleep pants for me ($25), and a Christmas present for Jason ($25) and Joan ($22) all of which I looked for at a second hand shop, but was unable to find what I needed used. so the groceries were $275 and HOLY CRAP, it all fit in my side by side and I shopped the sales and used my coupons and to advantage of where house shopping. so Sverre was irritated to say the least with me this morning and the difference has to come out of my business account, which sucks.

I did do a really kewl thing though, I found three King size pillow cases that I needed for my bed, at a second hand shop for $1 each and I used them to wrap the used books that I found earlier for the boys. pretty ingenious. I have not bought wrapping paper for a couple of years now, and I am thinking that pillowcases are the way to go. reduce, reuse, recycle. ever since my dad burned up his Blackhills gold wedding ring in the fire one Christmas, I have always hated throwing away wrapping paper, now I may do away with it all together!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Creamy Tater Soup

5 large potatoes, cubed them & with just enough water to cover, boiled them til tender.
in a caste iron pan I put in
3 Tbl butter, and
3 green onions cut up
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt,
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning and after the onions were tender, I added in
1/2 cup milk and
3 Tbl flour and whisked until smooth and then added in enough milk to make a liquid sauce. I drained the potatoes, and poured the sauce over and added
3 slices of American cheese and
1 cup of frozen peas and
3 cups of milk.

Friday, November 21, 2008

THAT DOCTOR was right...

UPDATE... Lean Meats and Leafy Green Vegetables... I Read a new book, it is about controlling your blood sugar and hypoglycemia. now since we have all been at this for awhile, we know what we can and can not do. what I did was increase my beans to increase my fiber and what I didnt know is that beans are a simple sugar. who would have freaking guessed that? I can eat a glazed raised donut and have no reaction, but I eat four cookies with pinto beans and oatmeal in them and my blood sugar went through the roof. LESSON LEARNED. not all good things are good for you.

as for the girl issues... Perimenopausee is an ugly ugly ugly beast. now while a hysterocomy may only be a bandaid on a broken leg, for now, it appears to be my only solution. irritability, mood swings and irregular periods JOY... I increased my flax seed and it has shown a marked improvement. I increased my progesterone and I made me mean as hell. ;-)

as for the initial reason for being here.. my weight has gone from 285 to 143 and now is at 157. I am watching my portions, watching my glucose, nibbling throughout the day on proteins and cutting out all milks and beans now. we shall see if I can find the right ****tail to get the weight off, the glucose down, and the hormones in check.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I do not know what is the fascination of comparing fuel prices around the nation. the lower it goes, the less likely we are to face the fact that we have other issues going on. I think that this is a lull that will lead to a false sense of security. I know that while the prices have dropped some, my grocery bill has continued to climb.

I went resale shopping and the same store that has the same donations, is charging $3.99 for a pair of children's jeans that were $1.99 just 14 months ago. VERY SAD. my jeans, that were $3.99 14 months ago are now $7.99 that is for a used pair of jeans. our economy is going insane.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All Flubbed Up

okay, so here is the gist:

about 18 months ago, I started getting some pelvic pain during intercourse... libedo decrease, went to the doctor. clueless. always the same old quick fix. oh it must be that you need more lubricant. no I do not. oh it must be that you need more foreplay. no I do not. oh it must be that you need a different angle. oh my no I do not.

I got a pap smear, I got a mamogram. I went to an OB/GYN and they are like, oh it is a cyst and you need a hysterectomy, and I am like, no i do not. I swear. I opted for naturopathy, for 6 months, no improvement. FINE. so I am scheduled for that in December. I really am worried that they will screw something up while they are working on me.

then I revisit all the other issues that my body is giving me.

hypoglycemia.. I swear, I am not makin this up. my doctor gave me a blood glucose meter and I measured. before I eat, it is 70 mg/dL, so I pop a little midget candy bar to get me out of bed, downstairs I had a little bowl of cheerios, it spiked to 175 mg/dL in 30 minutes, and I am shaking like a leaf, and then 1.5 hours later, it plumets to 40 mg/dL and I am on the floor sweating like a pig. I make it to the fridge and get one cheese stick and slowly start recovery.

so now I know that milk is out of the question, and I am borderline if I have rice milk instead, but I still get the shakes. so that brings me to the next issue. typically I can have an egg for breakfast, and another for lunch, but I have to eat every 2 - 3 hours or I get that shaky thing going on. so protein bars, banana, oatmeal / pinto bean bars are my snacks. naturally my butt is growing exponentially due to the increase of food, but at least my heart is not trying to explode.

fast forward to evening. if I do not nibble, and my blood sugar stays fairly normal, I am freezing like an eskimo in burmuda shorts. two sweaters, long sweat pants, socks, and thermal blanket and it is still 75'F here, if I eat some simple carbs, I buck my temperature up, and I just have to be careful that I do not over do it or under do it or see breakfast reaction.

so far no one else that I know that is 3+ year out is going through this, and my Family Practice Dr is clueless. I am 98% sure my Surgeon would say Lean Meats and Leafy Green vegetables in that Thailand accent which tells me that it is all my fault that I am feeling this way throughout the day.

so each day I carefully nibble, drink, get on the scale, nibble, drink, get off the scales, drink and nibble, scream at the scales and got to bed wishing that I never had to have sex again EVER.

I wish I could just take the scales out back and SHOOT THEM (I am +5 lbs over goal weight on a good day +11 lbs over goal weight on a really bad day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

PMS ****

Best PMS Question Ever

Q: How many women with PMS does it take to change a light Bulb?


ONLY ONE!!!! And do you know WHY? Because no one else in this fuck'n house knows HOW to change a fuck'n light bulb!
Don't even know that the fuck'n bulb is BURNED OUT!! They would sit in the dark for THREE fuck'n DAYS before they figured it out.
And, once they figured it out, they wouldn't be able to find the god damned light bulbs despite the fact that they've been in the SAME CABINET for the past 17 YEARS! But if they did, by some miracle of God, actually find them, 2 DAYS LATER, the fuck'n chair they dragged to stand on to change the STUPID light bulb would STILL BE IN THE SAME fuck'n SPOT!!!!! AND UNDERNEATH IT WOULD BE THE WRAPPER



I'm sorry.

What was the question?

Monday, November 10, 2008


the crust: ground almonds/ flour / butter / sugar
the cream: whipping cream / cream cheese / sugar
the top: guittard chocolate / corn starch / sugar / milk / eggs

Sunday, November 09, 2008

what irritates me

if the president were to be standing in line in front of me at the grocery store and strike up a conversation. What would I say?

I do not mind being poor. I am okay living within my means. I am okay with sacrifice. I believe that it makes us stronger. I am willing to pay $1/lb extra for organic beef than conventional. I am willing to pay 2x as much for organic bananas to stay healthy. I am willing to pay $5 a gallon of gas if it will force Hummers and Suburbans off the road. I am saddened that fuel is back down to under $2. We are not encouraging alternative resource development when we keep oil inexpensive.

I would be thrilled if the price of diesel were double, I think that it is worth it to me to not have the Semi Tractors on the road. SERIOUSLY. I think that Freight trucks are a HORRIBLE waste of resources and that we were completely ignorant to not maintaining our train infrastructure in this country. I do not advocate banning freight trucks all together, I think that by doubling the cost of diesel, and putting train tracks to every major city (population of 100K) and actually HAVING direct train service between cities is one answer. We deserve safer roads, and better access by train to the rest of the country.

I am okay paying more for food, if it is benefiting the farmers. I understand that for the $2.29 for flour tortillas, only $.29 is for the flour from the farmer, and $.10 is for the oil, and $1.00 is for the store and $1.00 is for the shipping companies. It is my own fault for not wanting to learn to make my own flour tortillas and if I did, like when I learned to make my own bread, that I could make it less expensively and healthier. So I am willing to accept responsibility for my own actions of not learning to make my own food.

what really just torques me off to no end is that I made a choice to live in a modest house and I made a choice to get a mortgage that was equal to my families annual salary and I made a choice to bake bread, not use a dryer for my clothes and shop resale and support community agriculture and I am still expected as a citizen to bail out banks that made mistakes and that use a few foreclosures as a cover story to drum up sympathy and support for an economic issue that is seriously not my fault and I am just furious. I seriously do not believe that these companies will pay it back. Bailing out the automakers is just wrong. Subsidize alternative fuel research, but make the surcharge for trucks and suv's so cost prohibitive that it is not even an option. I sacrifice by driving a civic hybrid, the smallest hybrid on the market and yes about twice a year I need a large utility vehicle to move large items. that is easily solved with a rental, but for the other 363 days of the year, a nice small 4 cylinder car is more than enough for a family of 4. I vote No to bailouts, Yes to retooling factories for american made vehicles with Ultra Low Emissions and alternative (Natural Gas / Electric) energy not biofuels.

My own daughter who is also completely overwhelmed with the repercussions because she is married to a marine who is preparing to go to Afghanistan and while he knew that was a real possibility when he enlisted 13 months ago, and we are okay with that risk an know that it is his duty. It is just not right that they do not make enough money to buy diapers and keep the cell phone on while living on base in California. We OWE their family more than that. She only has $75 a week to feed her family of 3 and that really doesn't cover diapers and wipes. It is just wrong that I can not help her and that she can not help herself. Our military deserve better pay.

My other daughter had a good job, but her job was outsourced (direct tv customer support) and now she has no insurance and she had an emergency appendectomy, she has been paying off that medical bill $50 a month for 4 years and is still paying. She lives 8 miles from town, is driving a 1989 Chrysler car and is applying for a $6.75 / hour job in a state that the minimum is $7.15/hr but it will give her 40 hours a week, and at $7.15 she is only getting 20 hours a week. It is just wrong that I can not help her and that she can not help herself. Our poor deserve affordable health care and fair wages.

My third daughter has autism and she is a junior in school, what is her life going to be like with cut backs in programs and medical? I do not know, but I do know that we would have to make some sacrifices and give up those programs if we are ever going to get out of debt as a country, but to say no to her needs and then bail out a flipping CEO with MILLIONS in the bank is WRONG on so many levels. No the goverment doesnt owe my daughter anything, but if they can afford to waste money on foreign aid, which I DO NOT SUPPORT then they can damn well reprioritize and TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN FIRST. .2% is still .2% when we are personally paying a hellofa lot more in interest in loans to china.

wish list: Honda Civic Natural Gas car.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The 10 purposes of Cub Scouting are:

1. Character Development
2. Spiritual Growth
3. Good Citizenship
4. Sportsmanship and Fitness
5. Family Understanding
6. Respectful Relationships
7. Personal Achievement
8. Friendly Service
9. Fun and Adventure
10. Preparation for Boy Scouts

Thursday, November 06, 2008

1/2 Price Gas

Gas has still not gotten down to were it needs to be, but it is there.

How can I get my needs met?

Who Represents Me?
Texas U.S. Senators
Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2934
South East Office
5300 Memorial Drive, Suite 980
Houston, TX 77007
Phone: 713-572-3337

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4304
Phone: 202-224-5922
1919 Smith Street, Suite 800
Houston, Texas 77002
Phone: 713-653-3456

Texas U.S. Representative
Congressional District 10
Congressman Michael T. McCaul
Phone: (202) 225-2401
District Office:
990 Village Square, Suite B
Tomball, TX 77375
Phone: (281) 255-8372
Senate District 7- Senator Dan Patrick
Capitol Office: CAP 3S.3
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0107
Capitol Address:
P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
District Address:
11451 Katy Fwy, Suite 209
Houston TX 77079
Phone: (713) 464-0282

House District 126 - Representative Patricia Harless
Capitol Office: EXT E2.402
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0496
Capitol Address: P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
District Address: 6605 Cypresswood Drive, #240
Spring TX 77379
Phone: (281) 376-4114

Texas State Board of Education Member
SBOE District 6--Mrs. Terri Leo
23516 TWIN OAKS DR., RR#5
Phone: (281) 257-0836

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election - the day after, where do we go from here?

WOW! Had McCain conducted himself the past 9 months the way he did on SNL and during his concession speech I would have stayed GOP. Instead, I voted my heart, and my heart looks at my budget and my heart says the only people that are getting rich are not the GOP and the Dem's but the damn bankers.

I went to college to make a difference, and while I am paying off my student loan, I do not feel that I have made a difference. As a family, we have conscientiously shaved every pork barrel spending off our budget. We changed our home phone plan to shave off $35 a month, we do not even have a metro line. We changed our internet provider to shave off $15 a month, we do not have cable tv. We watch the basic channels over the air using an antennae instead of wasting money on dish or cable. We do not subscribe to newspaper or magazine, getting our of news and information from the internet. I do not wear designer clothes, most of my clothes are from the clearance wrack or from the local resale shops that benefit women's shelters. I do not live in a pretentious home, it was worth $95,000 12 years ago and while it has modestly appreciated in value, not as much as the tax assessors swear that it has. What value that has increased was paid for with each repair bill from Allison, Rita and Ike. I do not live frivolously, I still feel that I am living barely above poverty line.

I have been downshifting over several years now, a painful slow process since my husband would like for me to move much at a much quicker pace. However, he would also like for me to adopt the 1970's ideal of a two income family which I do not ascribe to. I am not a feminist, which he may have thought that I was when we got together, my bad. I do believe that I am a valuable part of our environment, that I contribute significantly to our community and therefore our society. I do think that my 'work' inside and outside of the home is valuable, but I do not think that my personality is conducive to a 9-5 job that brings in $50K a year. I fill a niche of early childhood photographer because I have a gift with the precocious under 4 year olds.

I am so frustrated, I hang my clothes out on a line in the back yard to save $25 a month on my power bill, I use Energy Star appliances to reduce my demand on the grid. I unplug and turn off what is not being used, including the toaster and coffee maker. I turn off the thermostat more often than not, even during Hurricane Ike, we opened windows and let the air circulate and we were comfortable. We have conserved our power usage to between 2500 and 5000 Kw a month. We are on the Wind Plan with Reliant Energy utilities. We have completely switched over every light to CFL. I think that Pikens Boone is on the right track, I think there should be more wind and solar power generated in our own back yard and I TOTALLY think that we should have a solar panel on our house, I just wish that the government would give us a 1.9% 10 year loan to do it. ;) I am still trying to find an incentive program that would pay for 1/2 the installation of a system (currently only 30% up to $2K). WHY is there not more financial incentive to help home owners help themselves?

I drive very very little (less than 7,000 miles a year in a Hybrid). I rarely leave the house with less than three errands and then I make a circuit so that I drive the least amount of miles. While my husband does not drive at all, but pedals every day to work; rain or shine, heat and cold. I keep my car for years (odometer over 115,000 miles so that I am not abusing the resources of our planet. WHY do we not have Plug In Electric and home refueling Natural Gas cars locally available?

When I shop, and I do weekly, much to my chagrin and my husband's dismay, I do utilize coupons on those vendors that I already support and I bring my green bags. I love the canvas one from Whole Foods the best. Why is there always a funny look when I hand the cashier my green bag instead of using the white plastic one?

I have reduced the trips through the drive through to less than once a month, Sonic has a 2-4 pm smoothie happy hour that we indulge in once in a while.

While I think that there is some words of wisdom in 'year supply', I do not advocate just storing anything and everything on someones arbitrary list. my mom told me once that if your kids won't eat it, it isn't a bargain (I am sure that was a Kraft Mac n Cheese slogan) but it is true. So I do store 1 year of wheat, 1 year of oats, and 1 year of beans. I do have a grinder, I do rotate my supply regularly so I do know that the food that I store I will actually eat in the coming months. I grind my own wheat and oats for home made bread that I bake daily for my family. My children take a homemade lunch from home everyday at school. I do cook from basic ingredients and I do not buy prepackaged, premixed ingredients. Even down to bread, instant pudding, pancake mix, cake and cookies, I make my own. (Why is it so hard to get the local grocer to stock ORGANIC products and keep them in stock? HEB has been out of Organic Valley Strawberry milks since Hurricane Ike.. that was 2 months ago.) I feel like I am making the sacrifice of reduced consumption and yet, I am still overwhelmed of my expenses each month for food. In November 2007 I bought 10 whole wheat flour tortillas from my HEB for $1.69 and by March they were $2.29 and are still there even though fuel prices have dropped back down to less than $2 a gallon.

I support organic farming to protect the health of my family and my neighbor's family from silent spring. Not just Industrial Organic farming, but Organic FAMILY farming. I abhor factory farming. We support Organic Valley which is a cooperative of 665 individual family organic farms, I just wish that they were within 100 miles of my home. I support Community Supported Agriculture so that I can keep my community financially healthy. WHY do I feel like a tie-dye organic cotton & wool sock with Birkenstock wearing hippie in a sea of Nike wearing Tahoe Driving Executive Soccer Moms?

I support local business's and am avoiding the big box stores. Stores that I believe should be required by building code to be install solar panels on 75% of their roof to contribute to the community power grid instead of draining it before they even get a building permit.

I buy at resale and utilize craig's list and freecycle. I recently joined The Compact, trying to go beyond recycling and break away from consumerism. I respect people who recycle, re-use and, generally, keep good stuff from going to waste and filling up our already over-full Texas garbage dumps. GARAGE SALES RULE. I support and promote Play n Trade and GameStop in our community as well. When I do buy new, I choose packages that I know will go in one of my recycle bins.

I sort my trash, for curbside recycling: I have a bin for 1&2 plastics, tin, aluminum. For my local neighborhood I have a bin for paper. For Westpark recycling, I have a bin for glass, one for batteries. By the time I am done with my sorting, I have one 13 gallon bag of trash a week for a family of 4. WHY do I have to go all the way to westpark for glass / and #3-5 & 7 plastic? It is
30.5 mi – about 48 mins (up to 1 hour 30 mins in traffic)! Why can't we incorporate this type of recycle collection during the hazardous waste collection days?

I do run a HUGE box of paper each week to the recycle bin in the parking lot of my grocery store because of the post office and school, I have opted out of as much junk mail as I can, but it just keeps coming. I read all my newspapers online: Chronicle, CNN, Washington Post, Houston Press, BBC, Missoulian, and LA Times eliminating the waste of trees. We have a library card and instead of buying new books we borrow from the library, the fantastic thing about the Harris County Library is that I can go online, search all the library books in the county, and ask for the one that I want to be sent to my local branch, I get an email when it is ready, so that I am not wasting fuel waiting for it to come in and it is set aside in a location in the foyer so that I do not have to do through the stacks to find it. Very convenient. If it is not at the library, we go to 1/2 Price Books that is 5 miles away and look there. While my husband is very green, he still prefers a new book so his vendor of choice is, which is substantially better than the local Barnes n Noble chain store and they deliver food that our local stores will not make room for on the shelf. Why do advertisers insist that I have to dispose of their advertising that I didn't want in the first place?

we have added 4 new trees to our yard in 12 years, that is in addition to the existing 8 already here. We send the kids to school on the bus instead of adding them to the car rider line, we would LOVE to let them pedal to school but that is the most hazardous method for them, this is the least pedestrian friendly neighborhood in Houston. Which is in itself sad. We live in a place that the children are not safe to leave the subdivision, but have to in order to get a free public education. We are not safe walking / pedaling to the grocery store that is only 1.8 miles away, so we have to take a car, not by choice, but by necessity of survival. So while we as a family are happy to make sacrifices for our environment our community is not prepared to provide for our safety with bike lanes, pedestrian sidewalks, pedestrian bridge over a 4 lane parkway that runs through our neighborhood, or pedestrian sidewalks to get to the school. It is not a matter of real estate, there are 'open areas' along the bayou and there are 'right of way' over pipe and gas lines, there are ditches along the road so that we could have a walkable community. But we do not have a walkable community mentality and while they told me 4 years ago that I was insane to demand organic products in my local HEB, now it is a reality and a viable one for their economic survival.

I decided that with our economy the way it is , I am making changes. buying less individual snacks and baking homemade cookies with pinto beans. then I found some ideas on the Whole Foods Blog to reduce, reuse, recycle for the holidays. so this year, I will make homemade 'cloth bags' for wrapping presents, most of which could be homemade, I am not that far along with my holiday preparations.

So tell me what more can I do? and why am I alone in my efforts to keep our economy healthy, our community healthy, my family healthy, and my person healthy?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted

Pulled out of the house at 7:45 am. 15 minutes from parking lot through voting machine and back to car!!! I do not know what all the fuss is about... but I pulled in the parking lot and there were about 15 cars. I was #2 in the A-F line and while there were a lot of choices on the ballots to get through, I was done in 15 minutes (by 8:15 am). My coffee didn't even have time to cool off. It took me longer to find out that HEB was out of Organic Valley strawberry milk (individual servings) and out of Central Market Whole Wheat Spaghetti and out of Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips. I was out and done grocery shopping and back home by 9:30 am.

now about me: Migraine from hell.. in the room with the window's blacked out and drinking lots of fluids and waiting for it to pass.

learning to make homemade from scratch Chocolate pudding and White pepper gravy:

This is going into the WHATSIT? (CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE) that I am making this week.

Silky Chocolate Pudding
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used good quality semisweet chocolate chips; use 70% bittersweet if you want more of a dark chocolate kick)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

this is going into the SHEPHERDS PIE This week: (using left over burger from Taco Tuesday)

White Pepper Gravy:
2 cups water
2/3 cups dry milk powder
1/3-cup flour
1/2-teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of poultry seasoning

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why Palin Terrifies me

why not palin?

hunting... hunting: hell yes, from any form of vehicle, hell no

shopping.. new appropriate wardrobe, hell yes, one that was more than my husband makes in 18 months, hell no

book banning.. theoretical? not only no but hell no

pro life.. should all babies live, yes, but should you or anyone decide for me, hell no your not feeding and supporting this child, special needs or othewise, so no, I choose

foreign affairs.. clueless

energy... drill baby drill... short sighted and clueless, stay out of anwar

Nukes.. guess she is too young to know about chernobyl and 3 mile island

clean coal or any coal... TWO WORDS: BLACK LUNG (coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) or anthracosis) (confirmation of complete and total ignorance)

Finance Fustercluck... this kills me.. completely clueless perspective

Ultimately the pitbull attack persona were what killed it for me. I totally respect assertive but I hate agressive.

terroristic attacks... much more about what Obama might do than what McCain will do was just too combative in my opinion

victim pay for rape kit.. I have one word for you and it starts with a "C"

anti gay.. I swear... gay is not our business and should not be 'regulated'

Opposed protections for salmon from mining contamination... OMG!!

Sell previous governor's jet on eBay--it's impractical.

Supports ending D.C.'s 32-year-old ban on handguns... do not need a hand gun to kill a moose.

Energy is a foundation of national security... sounds like dick "haliburton' cheney

Popularity hurt by Troopergate and at-home per-diem.. unethical