Thursday, December 16, 2010

A commercial break

I participate a program called Vocalpoint.  They occasionally send products for me to try.  The latest is Dove Ultimate Deodorant.  It smelled too strong when I opened it it, but it's just right when used.  It has a light, fresh scent.  It seems to be working better than my usual brand. 

The good news for you is that they sent some samples & 1.50 off coupons to be shared with my friends.  So post a comment below to win a prize.  If there are more comments than items, I'll draw from a hat.

Dove Ultimate go fresh Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant, Cool Essentials, 2.6-Ounce (Pack of 4) 

Monday, December 13, 2010

In Honor of Pumpkins

I'm not really a fan of pumpkins.  At Halloween, they are messy to carve up & end up rotting before they get thrown away.  The texture of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie gives me the willies.  But, in the enjoyable series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, the protagonist Mma Ramotswe is always cooking up pumpkin.  I guess it's a staple in Botswana, where the book is centered.  (See bottom for a link to the book.)

So, when Farmer Barb gave us some pumpkins, I was willing to give it a go.  An internet search brought up a recipe for a pumpkin stuffed with bread, cheese, and bacon.  You can never go wrong with bread, cheese or bacon. As usual, I was missing several ingredients, but had the big three, so I figured I could improvise the rest.

The prep work didn't take too long once I scooped out the pumpkin guts.  Then the pumpkin sat in the oven for two hours while I mostly ignored it.  The results were delicious, the perfect blend of flavors.  I'm keeping this recipe in my fall collection.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
(as I made it)

  • 4 pumpkins (the largest was cantaloupe sized, the smallest was softball sized) cleaned out and liberally sprinkled inside with salt & pepper.  Place on a shallow baking dish sprayed with PAM.  Reserve the pumpkin lids.

Mix in a bowl:
  • 1/2 box of Stove top stuffing, dry (why I have 1/2 box left over is beyond me.)
  • 2-3 dry pieces of bread
  • 2/3 of a lb of pre-cooked bacon that I had hid deep in the freezer so the kids wouldn't eat it.
  • 1/3 lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated.
  • 1/3 lb Swiss cheese, mold removed & discarded, the remainder grated.
  • 2 tsp chives, freshly cut from my sad looking chive plant in the window
  • 1 heaping Tbsp diced garlic (from a refrigerated bottle.  If you don't use the refrigerated stuff, you are really missing out.)
Stuff that mixture into the pumpkin shells.   They should be relatively full.

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup leftover heavy cream that is going to expire tomorrow
  • a generous sprinkling of nutmeg
Pour that over the mix in the pumpkin shells.   You don't want the stuffing to be swimming, but you do want it fairly moist.

Pop the pumpkin lids back on the pumpkin houses, then bake for 90 minutes at 350.  When the stove alarm goes off, but before the fire alarm goes off, check doneness by poking the pumpkins with a fork.  When the pumpkin is soft, it's time to eat.  It took closer to two hours to finish cooking.  But, I started checking at 90 minutes.  I also took the top off so the stuffing could brown up a little and any excess moisture could steam off.  Next time, I think I'll top it with a bit of swiss cheese at the end.  It took longer for the larger pumpkins to finish.  I just pulled the smaller ones out a bit earlier.

You can, of course, serve this at a fancy meal, giving each person one beautiful pumpkin on a plate.  Or, you can serve slices.  The stuffing firms up nicely and the combination is pretty.  But, I found it easiest to just scrape the inside of the pumpkin and serve the mess together in a bowl.

This recipe has lots of variation.  You can find the original with ideas at Sweet Or Savory: Stuff, Bake And Devour A Pumpkin

You can find the book(s) at B'ham library The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  or at Amazon through the link below.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So, Who Really was at Jesus' Birth?

Despite my earlier blogs, we all know that Barbie and St. Nick weren't in attendance at Christ's birth.  We can also realistically figure that the wise men didn't actually pay their visit until later.  We know the shepherds arrived at the stable after the birth.  And, we know that angels sang.  Finally, we can assume, but we don't know, that Joseph was there.

Have you noticed that the only women in creches are Mary and maybe an angel or two?  I never thought about it until  after I had my own babies, and it seems a little weird.

Granted, I did deliver my wild child with just my darling husband to catch her.  But, that wasn't planned.  Oh, right, Mary probably didn't plan on having her baby in a stable, away from home.  Still, in a city as full as Bethlehem was, surely there was a woman to be with her during her labor.  Or, maybe the fact that she was in a stable, probably the only private place available, also signifies that she & Joseph were alone.

On the other hand, there are stories of the inn keeper's wife helping Mary.  And, historical art does show women in attendance at the birth.  Of course, these don't really mean anything, but they are fun to see.   

It's perfectly possible that Mary gave birth alone.  But, I think that a loving Father would want her to have the comfort and reassurance of an experienced woman there with her.

We'll never know, in this life, who was with Mary, but we can have the assurance that Mary had the support that she needed.  I wish all laboring and birthing women could have that same care.

So, who do you imagine was in attendance at Christ's birth?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Everything's fine. Really?

Today, my daughter said, "We're supposed to pretend that nothing is wrong."  I was silent.  How had she learned this lesson already?  What have I done to teach her that?

But, it's true.  One of the social "rules" is that we are supposed to pretend that there's nothing wrong, or at least not anything serious.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat in a church meeting consisting of only women.  The topic of the day was pornography.  We politely discussed ways to keep pornography out of our homes and the reasons that pornography is bad.  Again, I was silent.  How many of those women are being directly impacted by pornography?  Statistically, quite a few.  But, no one would make the discussion personal.

We want everyone to think our lives are just fine.  To admit that there are problems beyond mildly naughty children, dirty diapers, and lots of laundry is like admitting that we are failing.  Living the gospel is supposed to make us happy.  If we aren't happy, we must be doing something wrong.

Well...maybe.  Maybe we're doing something wrong.  But, on the other hand, it may just be that trials come in to everyone's lives.  People carry all sorts of secret pain - hidden illness, sorrow due to the acts of others, regret for our own actions, simple everyday stresses. Saying that they often aren't pretty is an understatement. 

We need the support of others to get through this life.  We need to all become kind, loving, non-judgmental women helping each other and lifting each other through our trials, self-made or not.

I don't know how to do this, but I'm going to try to figure it out.  In the meantime, you may not want to ask me, "How are you doing?" unless you really want to know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Strange Visitors at the Manger

Barbies and the Baby Jesus: A History of the Nativity Set

So, as I continued on my quest for Christmas art, I ran across this picture.  Certainly a beautiful piece of art.  But, notice who came to help Mary and is standing just behind her.  Yep, it's Barbie.  (Barbie, the Midwife?)

So now we have Santa and Barbie at the stable.  It's getting kind of full in there.

But, what Mark Hart says in his blog strikes home for me.  He says, "... I want my children to put themselves into the story. It is essential that they see the birth of Christ as meaningful and fundamentally important in their own lives. And as sons and daughters of God, you and I need to remember the same thing."

If having Barbie and Santa in the creche helps my children see themselves worshiping there as well, that's not a bad thing. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa at the Manger

While looking for Christmas art, I ran across a display of Santa kneeling at Christ's manger.  I've seen it before and haven't really thought about it.  Interestingly, it does have some controversy.  Is this a symbol of commercialism and secularism creeping into the religious holiday?  Is it commercialism bowing to and recognizing the religious?  Or is it simply a way to blend the secular and religious to get more commercial sales?  Whatever, I won't be adding a Santa to our creche.  It's difficult enough to keep Santa from overpowering the religious significance of Christmas.