Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bloodmoney Trailer

Something tells me this film will not be mentioned at the Oscars.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recipe Swap Thursday (er, Friday): Oatmeal-Bran Muffins

Therese at The Musings of a Mom hosts a recipe swap on her blog every week. I have a backlog of recipes that I want to share, so I've decided to join in!

My favorite cookbook is this one:
My copy is so well-used that the pages are falling out. Because of my youngest son's food allergies, I am always taking recipes that I find in here and in other places, and adapting them to accommodate him and to suit my family's tastes.

Here's a recipe from p. 67 of the above-pictured book that I can't live without. I've been having trouble today with Blogger's bold type and italics functions, (and it keeps deleting the pictures I've added--good thing y'all can't hear me cursing) so bear with me. I will post the recipe as it appears in the book, and add my own adaptations as well.

Oatmeal-Bran Muffins

3/4 cup shreds of wheat bran cereal (the recipe suggests Bran Buds; I use All-Bran)
3/4 cup regular oats, uncooked (I use the Quick-cooking kind)
1 1/4 cup milk (I usually use powdered soy milk mix and water; I have also used rice milk in a pinch)
1 large egg (I use 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T water)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins (We skip the raisins and add chocolate chips instead. YUMMM!)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine egg, oil, and raisins; stir into bran mixture.* Combine flour and remaining 3 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Add bran mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately. Yield: 1 1/2 dozen.

*If using chocolate chips, I suggest adding the egg and oil to the bran mixture and stirring in the chocolate chips last, after everything else is mixed together.

I made these earlier this week, and they were half gone within 30 minutes of taking them out of the oven.
I can pack them in the kids' lunchboxes for dessert, and I don't mind if they eat them for breakfast!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Facts from Reliable Sources: Who's Telling the Truth?

There is so much information about Obamacare out there in Media Land, it's hard to make heads or tails about what the facts really are. Have you looked at HR3200? Holy Cow, it makes my eyes cross just trying to read one sentence. Like most citizens, I'm relying on people who know much more about it than I to interpret what is written in the bill. (Incidentally, there are several different versions of the plan; the others are still in committee, and from what I understand, still being written.) Some say that abortion is absolutely NOT covered in the plan, and others insist that it IS, and it will be MANDATED; abortions will therefore increase dramtically, and be paid for by We The People. Some are concerned that under the Obama health plan, care will be rationed, and that the elderly and people with disabilities will be given the short end of the stick. Is euthanasia about to become an essential part of health care? People on the side of Obamacare say this is a ludicrous. It sounds crazy to me, and I hope and pray that people who are crying foul on that point, including Sarah Palin, are indeed making a mountain out of a molehill.

Whom should I believe? The White House put up a web page to explain some of the "myths" about health reform. (Oh, I'm sorry; I can't call it that anymore. It's health INSURANCE reform.) Interestingly, abortion is not addressed at all. Are they avoiding the issue? The videos and explainations are admittedly reassuring, and there is NO QUESTION that our current health system needs some major changes. This "reality check" by the White House certainly makes that clear. Many people I know cannot afford health insurance. Too many doctors order unnecessary tests to avoid being sued for malpractice. Too often insurance companies get greedy and refuse to cover services their clients need (not to mention charging high premiums for minimal coverage). Something must be done.

As a pro-lifer, I pay close attention when well known and trusted pro-life leaders like Father Frank Pavone and Congressman Chris Smith express their concern that Obama's health care plan is being used to quietly sneak in the controversial Freedom of Choice Act. For all we knew, this bill mandating abortion on demand was abandoned when concerned Americans rightfully opposed it. Today I found this fact sheet from National Right to Life that explains in detail how abortion fits into health reform. I've already bookmarked it on my computer, and hopefully it will help me when I need to explain my concerns to friends and acquaintances who support the bill and don't see any problems with it with regards to abortion. (Is it just me, or are most people who support Obamacare pro-choice?) put up this mythbuster in response to what the health care reformers are assuring us--that abortion isn't covered in the plan and that taxpayers will not be forced to fund abortions.

I've emailed my senators and congressman twice. I'm planning to call their offices as well, as soon as I've figured out what to say. I'll mull it over in my mind and write it down over the weekend, and hopefully I'll be brave enough to pick up the phone on Monday. (My irrational fear is that when I call the local office of my representative in Congress, he will be the one who answers the phone!! How crazy is that? And he's pro-life, too!) Please pray that I will have the courage to voice my concerns about this legislation, something I've been silent about for too long. Meanwhile, I'll pray for you and all concerned Americans to do the same. Maybe I'll take another look at that bill, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Happy Sunday! I hope you've all had a blessed week. Jennifer over at My Chocolate Heart is the creator of this little series. Be sure to check it out; she's got some amazing praises this week, and much to be thankful for. I have many thins to thank God for, too!

1. Praise God for my wonderful in-laws, who brought our oldest son into their home this past week. He will have those wonderful memories his whole life. Thank you!

2. Praise God that the almost-teenage boy is growing up to be a polite and compassionate young man, and takes joy in time spent with his grandparents.

3. Praise God for my husband, who has been with me fourteen years now. Thanks for sticking with me!

4. Praise God for my parents, who taught me about the Lord, and who I'm looking forward to seeing again in a few weeks!

5. Praise God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It's not always easy to go, but "I absolve you from your sins" are some of the most beautiful words to hear.

6. Praise God for frogs, toads, lizards, and snakes. Our youngest son has spent countless joyful hours observing them, catching them, and talking to them. Oh, and turtles, too.

7. Praise God for fresh tomatoes!

8. Praise God for the pool. The weather in my part of Virginia is brutal in August, and it's particularly hot this week. I'll be there at 3 pm; I hope to see you there. (You know who you are, mwaa haa haa...)

9. That reminded me of another one: Praise God for the waterpark!! I'm glad I had a chance to go down a few water slides with my mother-in-law yesterday! And my husband and kids as well, of course. :) That was a great day.

Have a great week, and don't forget to praise God every day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Exploring Yellowstone, Part Three: He maketh me hike up tall mountains and leadeth me beside still waters (and boiling geysers and springs)

On Thursday, I was looking forward to arriving at Lake Yellowstone Hotel; not only because we all desperately needed a shower after being out in the backcountry for four days, but also because I worked there one summer as a housekeeper during college. Other than a few improvements to the parking area and the addition of a snack bar by the lobby, not much had changed since then. One thing that I did not remember from my college days were all the bugs! Out in the backcountry, we had brought along bug spray, but it was the low-Deet variety designed for kids. We missed our Deep Woods Off, and that was the first thing we bought when we got to the general store. As we walked along the road between the hotel and Yellowstone Lake, we had to dodge swarms of gnats that were so thick you could hear them buzzing. I don't think I have ever heard gnats buzz before! Lake Yellowstone is beautiful, though, and in some ways it feels like home for me.
This is how thick the bugs were, and I think these gnats were bigger than the ones in Virginia.

We wanted to make sure our kids saw some of Yellowstone's geysers and hot springs, so on Friday we drove to Old Faithful. We explored the elegant Old Faithful Inn for a little while, and headed outside to view Yellowstone's most famous feature, Old Faithful Geyser. We didn't have to wait long before the eruption, and the kids were excited to see it. Afterward we took a stroll along the boardwalks to admire some of the other geysers and hot springs in the area. We strolled throuhg the Old Faithful area, and made sure we arrived at Daisy Geyser in time for it to erupt. By this time the kids (especially the youngest) were starting to get a little whiny, but when the geyser erupted they were very impressed! After lunch on the porch of the Old Faithful General Store, where we got to watch a mother bird (some kind of swallow, I think) flying in and out of a nest full of babies, we headed north to the Lower Geyser Basin to see the Fountain Paint Pots. This is an area of bubbling mud that looks pinkish in color; in the spring, the mud is more watery from snowmelt, and as the summer goes on it starts to dry up and the mud gets thicker. It looks like a pool of bubbling pink paint. This was my husband's favorite feature in the park when his parents brought him here as a kid; I'm not sure our boys were as awestruck as he was. ("THIS is your favorite thing in Yellowstone? Seriously??") Next stop was Midway Geyser Basin, home of the dormant but still bubbling Excelsior Geyser and the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic Spring. The kids were getting tired and their awe of geysers and hot springs was beginning to wane, so we made our way back to Lake, stopping briefly at the continental divide where there is a shallow pond full of lily pads called Isa Lake. I had been past this on the road several times in years past, but never stopped to see it up close. It's an interesting spot, because it sits right on the continental divide. We spotted a salamander as it darted under a lily pad, and watched a little eel swimming around as well. (Someday I'll blog about my youngest son's love of critters of all shapes and sizes. He didn't want to get back in the truck to go have dinner.)

Old Faithful, always faithful!

The boys really liked Spasmodic Geyser.

Daisy Geyser

We had fun watching this family while we had our lunch.

Fountain Paint Pots--blub, blub...

They say Excelsior Geyser dumps 4,000 gallons of water into the Firehole River every minute.

Isa Lake, on the Continental Divide.

On Saturday, we took a morning hike on Elephant Back Mountain, where we had a gorgeous view of Lake Yellowstone. This is a trail I hiked many times during my summer in Yellowstone, because it's very close to Lake Village. It's a great one to take with kids, too, because even though parts of the trail are a little steep, it's only about a three-mile loop. (Hopefully when we come to Yellowstone again we'll be able to tackle some bigger mountains. I've done Avalanche Peak and Mount Washburn, and both are strenuous but well worth it. I can't wait! )

The flat part of Elephant Back trail (that's our youngest running ahead)

Ok, it's not THAT's our ten-year-old's creative photography!

a red squirrel we spotted on the trail

Yellowstone Lake from the top of Elephant Back Mountain. You can see Lake Lodge on the left and Lake Hotel near the middle.

After lunch we drove a few miles north to the Mud Volcano area. This is another park feature I have driven past many times, but never stopped to look at. It's an area full of what look like boiling muddy lakes, some of which are churning violently and some gently sizzling. I'm glad we stopped to see it, because it was more interesting than I expected, and even beautiful in its own way. If you ever visit Yellowstone, be sure to check it out!

They call this Dragon's Mouth

Churning Caldron. All the thermal features smell like rotten eggs; this might be the stinkiest one in Yellowstone. Still, even the kids agreed that it was way cool! (well, way hot)

One of many bison we encountered on our vacation. This one seemed to be contemplating a mud bath.

One of several sizzling muddy ponds

Sunday was our last day in Yellowstone. After I took a few farewell photos of the lake in the morning, we had breakfast and went over to Lake Lodge for Sunday Mass in the recreation hall. This was where I spent many hours as an employee watching movies and basketball games, not to mention some serious partying; it was great to return here to worship the Lord. I still wasn't Catholic back then, and as a convert it was even more special to be celebrating the Eucharist here, with a view of the lake through the windows. After lunch we made our way back to Gardiner, stopping along the way to check out the Canyon Visitor's Center, and a brief stop to admire the unusual rock formations just south of Mammoth. As we were exiting the park through the Roosevelt Gate, my ten-year-old lamented that we might not ever return.

"Don't worry," I said. "We'll definitely be coming back." Next summer, though, we might just be camping in the backyard.

Goodbye, Yellowstone Lake

This guy was checking me out. The bugs are still thick, even at 7:30 am!

They call these rocks The Hoodoos

This was quite a long post, and if you're still reading it, THANK YOU for sticking with it until the end!!
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