Wednesday, October 1, 2014


There was a story this morning about a hunter who accidentally shot a 6-day old infant. The child will live, but will be blind as the bullet missed its brain but went through the occipital area of the skull. There will be an investigation to see of the hunter used proper procedures. But the hunter was licensed and legally able to have that gun.

Stories like this make me wonder of anyone else thinks this is insanity. It is just me or are people not concerned about gun safety? Gun owners seem outraged when people question their right to own, gun violence opponents don't want guns around, and people who don't care start to care when their family is affected. Is this crazy or what?

This country has the highest number of gun owners and the most number of gun shootings. No one seems to think this is wrong or that a change is needed. At least that is my sense. Am I out in left field about this? I sure hope so. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Making Wine

My husband came across an article in our local paper which featured three local wineries. One of them talked about having volunteers come in and help with the harvest, so he signed us up to go. Despite the hot weather, hard work, and sunburn, we had a great time. 

There were about 20 volunteers and we picked for almost three hours and got a lot of grapes. I am not sure, but I think the woman told us it was a half a ton, but it could have been more. There were lots of yellow jackets flying around, but they were more interested in the grapes than us.

As a thank you for picking , we were given a wonderful lunch, a t-shirt, and a bottle, each, of wine. We have not broken into them, but we had a sampling of some at the winery afterwards and they were very good. The winery is located in Douglassville, and they have a website.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fresh Coffee

Over the last weekend I happened to catch a Ted video done by Asher Yarin from Bali talking about coffee ( It was quite inspiring and I learned a lot about one of my favorite drinks. I then went online and purchased a pound of green coffee beans, which came mid week.

This weekend, I had the chance to do my first roast. It was very simple. All it did was take a pie plate, put a cup of beans in it and set it on the stove. I cooked them, stirring the whole time, until they were a dark brown color, let them cool and out them in a jar. They should rest for about 24 hours and then they can be ground and brewed. The coffee was very good, but the first batch was a little weak because I had forgotten the beans to ground ratio from when we used to grind beans a while ago.

If you have a chance give it a try. There is nothing like a really fresh cup of coffee, hot and black. Even thougbit takes a while to do it, I am kind of hooked.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Technology Failure

First of all, my apologies for not posting until now. Life has intervened.  But I digress. As you may know, last year I purchased a table made by Samsung which is made to compete with the iPad. It costs almost the same, has a few more features that I like, and was working well until just recently. I am not sure what is wrong, but I think I have to do a factory reset. It was becoming so sluggish it is unusable.

My job as a council member afforded the ability to use an iPad because it was loaned to me for the length of my term. All I can say is wow, this thing rocks. It is fast, responsive and the resolution is beautiful. I was trying to put off buying Apple products because of all the hype but quite honestly I am sold. I may almost break down and get an iPhone when my contract is up on my phone. Not sure I am going to get a Mac to replace my laptop, but maybe...

It is very refreshing to work on something that works the way it is supposed to. The things it says it is supposed to do, it does, and the technology is incredible. There is not too much that disappoints with this thing. It is frankly a better product than the Samsung, and if you are considering a tablet, the iPad is the way to go.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Home Grown

I had the utmost satisfaction tonight making dinner. Most of the things I prepared were from my garden. It hasn't been the greatest this year, in comparisons to other years, but I do have one, and I made roasted beets with carrots and garlic (all from my garden), pasta with pesto (the basil and garlic were homegrown), and quinoa tabbuloeh with cucumbers from my garden and tomatoes from my neighbors garden, filled me with such glee.

I harvested some onions and squash also, but didn't use them tonight. The squash is from seeds I saved from last year. Despite the fact the resulting vegetable looks somewhat alien, I think it will taste alright. I have tomatoes, but they have not ripened yet. I also have eggplant, well I did have eggplant, but some squirrel or ground hog grabbed the two golf sized fruit right off the stalk.

I just love having really local, fresh produce, that came from my own back yard. It is so satisfying that I can grow something, harvest it, and prepare it for my family. I feel as if I am honoring my roots as this is what my ancestors would have done every night. What a great feeling.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I got the results of my bloodwork back from this new doctor I am seeing and they were really interesting. Apparently I have something called Leaky Gut Syndrome, among other things, which could be the reason I am having all kinds of digestive problems and weight issues. The bloodwork showed that I have several low level food allergies which were a little surprising.

Mt mother has had food allergies all her life and for a long while I thought I didn't have to worry about it. However as I have gotten older, at a point where the body starts to decline if you don't really pay attention to it, they have reared their ugly heads and begun to cause me issues. Like her, I have a sensitivity to wheat, gluten, and dairy. Interestingly enough string beans ranked very high - weird.

So my doctor suggested I cut all of that out for a month and see what happens. I am having a good time trying all kinds of substitutions in some if the recipes I use, and finding new ones, so there is a positive on that. But cutting out wheat and cheese is a big challenge for me. She is also going to start me on two new supplements and feels pretty confident things will begin to reverse themselves. I am glad she has confidence here, because I am a little doubtful. But we shall see. As my stepfather used to say, "we can only go up from here".w

Friday, May 9, 2014

Food Justice

I attended a presentation of some Temple students who had done a study on sustainable food practices in Norristown last night. First of all I am really happy they chose Norristown to study, regardless of the reasons, it confirmed some things for me but I also learned some things.

One of our biggest issues, which holds us back on many levels, is the poverty rate of our community. In regard to food justice, the demographics prevent a good quality grocery store from opening in the 'burb. We do have a store, but it is not a god quality store and offers very little, if no, organic produce. However I was excited to know that we have several bodegas who do sell fresh produce. In addition, there is a CSA and a few community gardens which can help out. It is a matter if education to make sure they are recognized by the public.

The students offered some great suggestions, and at some point they will present their findings at a Council meeting. One recommendation is the creation of a food policy council where members of the community as well as government representatives can coordinate everything that is going on in the town. I have read really good things about other communities who have them and would be excited to have one of our own. I foresee many good things happening in the area of food justice for our town if we take the recommendations and act on them.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


The other day I was talked into entering a garden contest. The judging is going to be in July and I am all excited. I usually don't think my garden is much of anything. It pleases me and yes, sometimes I blog about it but entering a contest is usually nothing I would think about. I don't think it is really that good. 
It took the picture below the other day before the I spoke to the person.  I showed it to the person who was asking me to enter. She apparent thought is was good enough and said I should enter. Now I am all worried about what needs to be done. There is a lot on my mind and. I have been going through it slowly. I also ordered some plants online and hope they are situated enough when the time comes. It is two months after all.
I have also enlisted the help of my husband, which actually helps because he always needs a kick in the pants to finish anything. He has been working steadily on the rain barrel collection system since this weekend so maybe that's helping. I think it will be finished soon. So wish me luck!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recycled Art

I went to an art show the other day. It was sponsored by the DEP and Waste Management amd featured thebwork of Norristown Area School District children who had been involved in a project to make art out of trash. More specifically art from recycled items. It was fascinating, a d this picture is of one of my favorites. It is made from water bottles that were colored and then cut up to spiral and then attached to the panel. I love its bright, yet suble, coloring.

I think it is great that an art project like this is done. I hope it showed the kids that everything doesn't have to be thrown away, but can be useful in another way. We are such a disposable nation and are paying for it with the existance of land fills and increased pollution to the planet. Some of the kids said tney were doing projects at home because of this experience.

I know a simple project like this is not going to change the world, bjt it can have an impact. When the children learn that things you buy can have another life it puts a thougt into thier heads to spark their creativity. I hope it also sparks their thinking as to how we can create things that do not make trash, but that has value in and of itself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

From Blah to Fab

 I had a great time this weekend sprucing up my yard and one of the things I did was to paint some patio chairs that were looking old and outdated. I think I was inspired by a posting on Facebook of someone who had done something similar. I think they turned out great.
I used spray paint that said it adhered to plastic which I think is important. Regular spray paint I think will run, but this didn't. It stayed where I put it. First I washed them carefully with a scrub brush and a sponge with a scrubber side with just regular dish washing soap. Then I let them dry in the sun. Then I sprayed. 
I think they make a great impact to my patio and really make it something special and unusual. I will be curious to see how long the paint will last, but a friend told me about two seasons. I did get extra paint so a little touch up later shouldn't be a problem.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sustainable Agriculture

Last night, a fellow council member and I attended a sustainable agriculture workshop. It was held at the senior center and sponsored by Temple University. The students there are undertaking a study about how a community can improve sustainability and picked Norristown. On one hand. I was thrilled that they picked us, and on the other hand. I was sad they picked us.

I met some very interesting people who are very interested in making Norristown better and it was good to be in a room with kindred spirits. These people understood that access to fresh produce and a variety of good quality food is important to the health of the community. However it is frustrating to note that there was not a large showing.

There are some places where people can get fresh produce, but it may not be organically grown produce, and they are few. We discussed things like CSAs (of which there is one really close), community gardens, education opportunities, and getting children involved. The students will go back and do their analysis and come back to us with suggestions. I will post when that

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Little Fightening

Last night I attended a viewing of GMO OMG. I came home more disturbed about this country than ever. The powerful people at Monsanto, along with other chemical companies, are not only destroying our health but our environment all in the name of money. I am not surprised, necessarily, but shocked at the gall.

If you have an opportunity to see it, please do. I did not stay for the panel discussion but I am sure it was interesting. There were several people there who are doing what they can making sure we are educated, informed consumers and know that our food items have GMOs in them by labeling them. This is something that Monsanto and the other do not want. They interviewed a European scientist who said that they have been labeling for a while and no one wants the GMO stuff. All we are asking for is the choice and the knowledge that we are putting quality - or not quality - food in our bodies. What could be wrong with that?

I'll tell you what's wrong. The more educated a consumer we are, the less likely we are going to purchase their product  and the poorer they will be. I am sorry, I am all for the rights of workers, but companies who make this stuff are criminals in my book, and all they are doing is making their employees accessories to the crime.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Winter Garden

Over the weekend I started my first piece of yard work for the season. We had a tree fall just before winter hit and had not had the chance to stack the wood better.  I love this time of year when you can see the new plants poking their heads above the sol to make an appearance for the new season. It is so exciting to push aside some brown dead leaf and se something green. It makes you aware of the circle of life.

After working for about two hours I then sat back and surveyed the property. There are a few things that I definately want to get, plant-wise as well as otherwise. I would like to get a piece of sculpture for the new tranquility garden, and of course this year I will be needing to lay down the flat stones and get to planting the creeping thyme or other fragrant plant between them. 

I am getting very excited for the start of planting season. I do have some things started in my little basement greenhouse with the grow lights. I swear the neighbors must think there is some funny business going on down there. But there really isn't unless eggplant and veggies are illegal. Spring is here even though snow happened yesterday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Global Climate Change

I follow a vegan cook named Christina Pirello. I have blogged about her before and shared recipes with several people. I am truly inspired by her story; curing herself of cancer after following a vegan diet. It truly points to the fact that we are what we eat and what we eat impacts us and our surroundings.

Her March newsletter went so far as to talk of this global climate change we are experiencing and the fact that even though we are currently shivering through a very snowy and cold winter, our earth is getting warmer. You see as the atmosphere contains more greenhouse gases, some areas are getting wetter and others drier.

While it is hard for us individually to change the use of fossil fuels, there is one thing we can do and that is to eat less meat. I did read elsewhere that raising cattle, and even poultry to some extent, does contribute to methane gas production and that there are more heads of cattle now than ever. Makes sense to me and one reason why I am going to stick to eating less, or even no, meat. Not only is it good for my health, it is good for the planet.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day

I had a snow day as the place where I am working now closed because of the snow and the dangerous roads this morning.  At first it was a two hour delay and then it closed.  This is the second time since I have been working that it has happened.  The first time (Monday), I was actually sick and was going to call in and then got the call so it was actually a good thing.  Today, I am better but it is nice to be able to take it easy and continue to rest.

I kind of liked having a snow day today because there were some house things that needed to get done, but I am a little sick of the snow now and am anxious for spring.  I looked at the forecast and it says that starting this weekend, we have another storm system coming our way.  Some people have indicated that it is a big one and we are due for either 3 or 30 inches.  That's right, 30.  I don't know if it is a scare thing or real, but it could be.  More snow days.

Snow removal is getting to be a full time occupation.  Our municipality is short on salt as is many others.  There was an accident at a salt mine and OSHA shut the place down for four days, so that results in the salt delivery being late and we are low. I hope that we will get the tonnage we are due shortly in time for this upcoming deluge if that is indeed the case.  Next week looks like snow and frozen mix forecast nearly every day. Global warming?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Ceasefire PA

I had the opportunity to attend a house party the other night given by a friend of mine. The topic of conversation was about HB 1010 and the SB 1010 corresponding bill, which is all about background checks. They are looking for additional cosponsors so that it can get out of committee. It currently has 50 and they are looking for 63. Very close.

At the meeting were two gun owners who spke about their feelings on the bill as well as the changes to the NRA since they have been owners. It was very interesting to hear their input as I have always been hearing most gun  owners are so against any bill aimed toward gun violence prevention. According to one owner, the agency has changed from one that was very concerned about gun safety to basically a lobbying organization that pushes against any legislation that even mentions the word gun at all.

This bill is so important toward prevention especially to make sure background checks are done for the purchase of long guns, which is the weapon of choice in domestic abuse situations, according to CeasefirePA. Now anyone can purchase a long gun without a check which seems to be a bad thing. Please check with your legislator to make sure they are supporting this important bill.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Garden Started!

Started my garden today.  I am using my little greenhouse that I purchased a few years back (this picture is from back then).  The gardening app told me that it was time to start the celery.  I also started some lettuce, parsley, basil, kale, and spinach so that I could have those on hand for salads growing inside.  I really should have started them earlier, so that I would have the stuff to eat, but I didn't think of it.

Gardening is such a great way to help with gratification, sustainability, and satisfaction. It is also a way to help get rid of the winter blues when the weather is so horrible so much of the time.  By growing things inside, you have something that takes a little of your attention and know that spring is coming soon and there will be a time for you to get the outside gardening started.

I am really psyched this year for some reason.  I have my garden fence up, the beds are waiting there for me, and I have big plans for the outside.  Starting these little seedlings inside means that those plans are just a little closer to becoming a reality. As one of the people I follow on YouTube says: keep on growing!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Keep Jobs Here

It is a pleasure to deal with a company that is true to their advertising.  Yesterday I had to rent a car because my car is in the shop. We don't know how long it will be there and I have a lot of appointments this week, so I had to rent a car.  I called Enterprise because they pick you up and I didn't have a ride to get to a rental place.  It was the most pain free experience I have had.  First they were polite on the phone, second they were reliable and did what they said they would.

So often any more, I have issues with dealing with companies, especially those who outsource their phone services.  I really hate talking to some of their representatives as many times I just can't understand what they are saying.  And it's not just technical call centers, which you would expect.  Yesterday my husband had to call someplace and the call was routed to India.  The rep was pretty understandable, but they took away an American job and I just don't want to deal with companies that do that.  I try to boycott them as much as possible.

I think if we all did that, we could do a little fighting with our dollars.  Don't buy from a company that outsources to a foreign country. If we withheld money here and there, maybe big business would get the word and starting thinking that they should hire Americans.  It may reduce our unemployment a little and strengthen our economy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Adventures in Cooking

So today I experimented in making my own sushi.  There are a ton of videos on the web on how to do it and all the materials are at the grocery store, it is just a matter of getting everything and trying it.

Technically, it is really easy, but as most things you see on YouTube, it is harder than it seems.  My biggest issue was the rolling and every one I did came out a little lopsided with the fillings pushing themselves toward the side rather than staying in the middle.  But I guess with anything, with practice it should get better.

My first attempt at a filling was avocado, roasted red pepper, and cucumber.  With the sushi rice and the wasabi sauce and ginger it tasted quite good.   I made the mistake of getting the sauce rather than the paste, but the taste is still there, albeit a little subdued.  The other thing I found is that the sticky rice is really sticky and sticks to the pot.  I do not have a rice cooker and I wasn't going to buy one just for this, so I did it on the stove top.  It really makes quite a mess and is hard to clean up.  I might try experimenting with this a little as I saw it can be steamed.  Anyway, it was tasty and I will definitely add this to my repertoire.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Progress

My husband, after weeks of nagging, has finally gotten moving again on the bathroom.  This is what was under the rug that the previous owners had put down in the bathroom.  We ripped up the rug yesterday and tomorrow a contractor friend of his is coming in to give him suggestions on laying the tile floor.  I just hope he doesn't stop again for two years like the last time he started.  He has no excuse really as we already have the tile and the grout, which was purchased two years ago when we started the project.

I love my husband, but he can be very slow on projects around the house. He is perfectionist and if he doesn't know quite how to finish something he won't do anything on the project until he has figured it out. It took him about 5 years to finish the master bedroom because he got stuck on the closet door.  I try not to nag, but sometimes I get very angry that things are in various stages of repair all over the house.  I am quite the opposite.  Even if I don't know how to do something, I jump right in and try it.  I would rather finish the project than have it hanging over my head.  But the quality on my jobs suffers I am afraid.

Owning a home is an adventure every day.  If it is not a major project then there are small little things like cleaning that have to be done.  But just like work, it gets in the way of what we would rather be doing.  But I guess that is why work is a four letter word! Seriously, I am very glad that things seem to be getting underway again and we are moving forward.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Breakfast Tostado

The other day I received my copy of Vegetarian Times and on the cover was a yummy looking dish called Black Bean with Kiwi Salsa Tostado.  

When I looked at the recipe there were no instructions on making one's own shell.  The recipe called for a pre-made one.  So I went in search of instructions on how to make them.  The last time I had attempted making tostados from scratch, the shell came out either burnt or limp.

I found one blog entry which suggested baking them after coating the surfaces with oil at 400 degrees.  They came out very nicely and offered the inspiration for this recipe. My husband, my greatest fan when it comes to eating my food, raved so much and basically pestered me to post this recipe. So I did them over today so that I could record the steps as I made them.  Yesterday I had leftover beans, which I didn't have today so that's why I made them optional.  If you use a very thin layer, there is a slightly different, richer taste.  I think I prefer using them, but either way, they are quite tasty.

Serves two.

2 corn tortillas
Olive oil
1 tsp butter
2 eggs, scrambled
Re-fried beans (optional)
1 tbs salsa
2 tbs chopped parsley or cilantro
2 tsp finely diced red onion
2 tsp sour cream
2 tsp grated Manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the tortillas on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil on one side, and then using a brush cover the surface with the oil. Turn the tortillas over and do the same on the other side. Bake.

Mix the eggs in a small dish and melt the butter in the skillet. Cook the eggs, scramble style, and then cover and keep warm. When the tortillas have bubbles on the surface, check the underside. If they are golden brown, flip them over and bake a little while longer until both sides are brown and slightly crispy.

Assemble the tostadas: If using, put a thin layer of the beans on the tortilla. Divide the eggs between the tortillas and top with parsley or cilantro, diced onions, salsa, and sour cream. Sprinkle the cheese on the top and serve.