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Monday, August 31, 2015

Fun with Henna

Tools of the trade: a spray bottle filled with lemon juice sealant, and my henna cone



For the first time in some weeks, I did a henna tattoo. Normally, I reserve doing this particular activity for Sunday as it's a leisurely hobby. But, the baby was being demanding and by the time she got to sleep, it was too late for me to henna myself (cuz that's parenthood!).

So, while she took her mid-morning nap the following Monday, I took some time to myself to do a freehand henna tattoo of a peacock on my thigh. I did it completely off the cuff, so if it looks kinda random, it is.

Technically, it's upside down. But, it's practice so I don't really care

After I sprayed on my sealant. I think I put on a bit too much...

And then while playing, the baby kicked the design and smeared it. Guess it wasn't as dry as I thought


I make my own henna paste. The recipe I use is not too different from that of the henna I color my hair with (see here for that post), but with the addition of lavender essential oil and sugar for enhanced stain and staying power, respectively. As for the applicator, I use cellophane chip bags cut down to my preferred size and rolled into cones. I've seen cellophane squares sold on henna vendors sites specifically for cone rolling, but I'd rather use chip bags cuz I find the cellophane squares expensive. Also, with chip bags, I can buy them with food stamps so it's a better value for me (eat the chips, and use the bags for cone rolling). I started out using bottles, but cones are more traditional and more cost effective in the long run.

The sealant spray, however, is a completely new endeavor. Traditionally, I always used paper tape to seal my henna designs (something I learned from my friend who taught me the art of hennaing). However, having to always buy paper tape from the drugstore or dollar store tends to get a bit costly after a while. So, I decided to experiment with making a sealant spray. After I found a recipe to make sealant spray in a Facebook henna group I belong to, I made the spray using lemon juice and sugar, plus a bit of water to get the consistency of the sealant to a fine mist when sprayed.

This particular hobby of mine is one I've done on and off for years as I could afford to. This is why my work looks so amateurish. But, hennaing is an exercise in skill, technique, and patience. A cursory search on Google or Pinterest will yield all sorts of amazing images of henna tattoos. One day, I aspire to join those ranks too.

A Day at the Swap Meet

This past Saturday, we decided to finally take a trip we'd been planning to do for a while, but hadn't been able to accomplish (mostly due to weather, but other stuff played a part too). It was time to introduce our baby to a Tucson classic, the Tanque Verde Swap Meet.

From the large koi pond near the entrance

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a swap meet basically is a giant open-air yard sale where people bring stuff to sell for cheap. Another name for a swap meet is "flea market", perhaps a more familiar term. Anyone can do it, and all that's needed to reserve a spot is a $15.00 sellers permit which is purchased at the entrance.

Sign high up reads "Yard sale with us! $15", while the stands in the foreground sell kettle corn and Sonora dogs


After parking not in the zoo of a lot, but across the street in the industrial park, we made our way to the entrance. It was a busy Saturday, with plenty of families enjoying the evening.

I made the mistake of parking in the parking lot the first time I drove here. Never again...

Play area for kids near the entrance


Our first stop was to a discount book seller. My hubby insisted on going in there not only because he is a bibliophile, but he is on a never-ending quest to find a Douay-Rheims Catholic bible in hard copy. He insists on getting one that's NOT Challonaire or Haydock annotated, but the original without any "protestant" translations (and he uses a line from the Gospel of Matthew as his litmus test). It bugs me when he does that because my husband HAS a Douay-Rheims bible in soft copy, and for someone who hates paper (most of his literature is in PDF form anyway), this is one paper book he wants to acquire at all cost.

While we've purchased bibles from this particular vendor in the past, she did not have his elusive bible. Much to my delight, however, were the Little Golden Books she had available for sale. As a child, I had many of these books, with their distinctive gold spines and memorable characters. I no longer have the books of my youth, but I remembered some of the titles, so I was able to buy a bunch of them for the baby. My hubby also had a number of Little Golden Books when he was a kid too, and he encouraged me to buy as many as I could. Though she's a bit young now, there will be no shortage of books for our child to read.

So help us God, there is no reason why our child should become illiterate


After the book vendor, we just walked around, seeing what people had for sale. Since I had the baby stroller, I couldn't go into the displays to see the wares more closely due to the stroller being bulky.

Funny signs for sale


Most of the stuff was just junk, but occasionally something interesting caught my eye. I was tickled to death to see how much counterfeit makeup was on sale. I've been wanting the Naked eyeshadow palettes for some time and the ones being sold at the swap meet were significantly cheaper than buying them directly from Urban Decay website. They were some pretty good knockoffs too; if I didn't spend so much time on beauty and makeup blogs, I might not have known that Urban Decay was putting out palettes like Naked 5 and 6 with the US Capitol building emblazoned on it (hint: THOSE WERE FAKE!!). There were also some pretty dubious MAC eyeshadow palettes too. As much as I love makeup (eyeshadow in particular) and cheap prices, there are some things I'd rather buy through reputable channels than risk something grisly happening cuz I bought a knockoff.

There are a few established vendors at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet. They're largely Mexican establishments selling everything from jewelry to leather goods and shoes, to religious items, clothes, toys, and cell phones. Some, mostly owned by whites or in a few cases, Blacks, sell weapons (mostly knives) and incense or knick-knacks. An Indian family owned a large stretch of lots that sold clothes, carpets, bedding, and toys. Meeting that particular family proved to be quite fortuidous, as the first time I went to the Swap Meet was while I was in college, and I was wearing a sari I'd just purchased from a costume shop. One of the proprietors of that stretch of shops, seeing my outfit, told me where I could find a top for the sari when I mentioned that I was looking for one. He also gave good deals on Catholic-themed clothing featuring saints and Lady Guadalupe t-shirts. I wear the Lady Guadalupe t-shirts he sold me to church every Sunday.

As for the big highlight of the night, it had to have been when my husband encountered a "Good Ol' Boy" selling Confederate memorabilia. Since that one cracker in South Carolina shot up a Black church in May, Confederate flags have been all but banned. The toothless vendor emphasized how hard it was to get Confederate memorabilia nowadays, but happily sold a flag and "Forget Hell" license plate to my husband. Being a born-and-bred Southerner, Confederate memorabilia is something my hubby wanted to have as a reminder of home.

Whenever we go to the Swap Meet, I always try and get an elote. An elote is a type of Mexican street food that is made with corn, mayonnaise, sea salt, lime juice, and topped with dried cheese. Elotes can be served as an intact corn-on-the-cob, or as a coctel (in a cup). It's fine on its own, but I always add a hearty dollup of chamoy (a multipurpose Mexican hot sauce that goes with fruit as well as other dishes) and some chili flakes to give it some flavor.

Elote. It's like a corn soup


As I enjoyed my elote treat, we sat at some picnic tables and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Swap Meet.

The "supermoon"


Finally, it was time to go home. The baby enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Swap Meet too, but she was worn out by the trip.

The playground

Saying bye-bye to the fishies in the koi pond

Exit sign


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Picture of the Day

Man at work

Recently, our ancient and leaky bathtub faucet went to faucet heaven after corrosion finally destroyed the seals in the hot/cold handles. Since we live in a trailer, RV plumbing is both readily available where we live, and quite affordable too. The latter part is important because while we probably could have replaced the seals, that job would have been more costly and trouble than it was worth. So, we shopped carefully and ordered a new faucet for the bathroom. My hubby spent the evening installing the new faucet and making sure nothing leaked. No longer will we have to gorilla the handles when finished bathing.

As difficult as a financially impoverished existence is, it can be quite an instructive way to live. Since calling a repair person is not affordable, one has to learn how to fix things not only by themselves, but if parts are not readily available, what are acceptable substitutes.

I'm very grateful to have my husband in this regard. He's my handyman and my McGyver. It's a shame so much repair know-how is gone. Our disposable society has rendered us infantile.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Melancholia

Tonight the ghosts of the past
Swim 'round in my head like a whirlpool
A life gone by and miscast
Fallen, disregarded, and cruel.

What began with such promise and riches
On to whom dreams and ambitions were pinned
Stay on the path and in leashes
Lest you become the Other and chagrined.

The fall from high up is hard
But the writing on the wall is clear
This old life, you must discard
An illusion, sustained by the financier.

To keep these creatures of comfort
One must work day and night
Hard work, no less, must assert
Your privilege, in a society Darwinite.

Good bye, middle class home and lifestyle
Good bye, luxuries of wealth
Good bye, existence juvenile
Good bye, retirement and health

I knew what I was getting myself into
When I walked away from it all
Disappointment, difficulty, make-do
Were sure to make trouble and stall

Charity is a two-way street
In both giving and recieving
Bottom-feeder, tick, deadbeat
Liberator, clever one, always scheming

Oh Melancholia, cruel mistress
Why do you trouble me now?
To remind you of illusions dangerous
And your freedom to preserve and endow

On Guns

On 8/26/15, in a style that rivaled something out of a Hollywood movie, a disgruntled former newscaster went postal and murdered two of his ex-coworkers before killing himself. Just after he'd shot and killed reporter Allison Parker and her camera man, Adam Ward, Vester Flanagan II faxed his manifesto to ABC news in New York, posted his confession on social media, and then turned the gun on himself.

Could easily be a scene from a movie or videogame if it wasn't real life. Image from here


As we enter the "why" phase that precedes any tragic event, one big issue looms like a pink-polka dot elephant in the room: guns.

This year has been a particularly bloody year for mass shootings in America. In May, a South Carolina cracker shot a bunch of people in a Black church in Charleston. Prior to that, there were a bunch of people shot in movie theaters. School shootings happened too. The list continues.

The common denominator in all these tragedies-individuals who have no business even dealing with weapons, getting a hold of a gun and using it to murder people.

Naturally, this brings up the topic of guns in America. As many know, America loves its guns. The Second Amendment of our Constitution protects individual gun ownership by calling for a "well-regulated militia", which isn't possible without gun ownership. At the state level, gun laws are variable and range from open carry (Arizona, Texas) to all but outlawed (Illinois).

With such patchwork state gun laws in existence, the safeguards that exist also vary widely from state to state as well. Here in Arizona, you can buy guns without having to undergo a background check (restricted to private sales and gun shows, while gun shops still require background checks), whereas in my home state of Illinois, the amount of paperwork and licensing requirements are so onerous that it's a pain in the ass to even bother acquiring a gun. Lobbying groups, like the notorious National Rifle Association, don't help matters by buying politicians and stoking fears of "liberals" taking away peoples guns for one end or another whenever the subject of gun control comes up.

'Murica!


I'm no "liberal" (in fact, I'm a Pinko/Magenta Catholic), but even I know not everyone should have a gun. Even if you arm the general population to the teeth, it's not going to stop mass shootings from happening.  We'll just wind up with a militarized society that's a powder keg waiting to explode in a hail of bullets and blood.

But I'm not against gun ownership. As many beefs as I have with America and the way my country is run, I realize that the right to own a firearm is one that not many other nations share. I just believe that before you own a gun, you should have to undergo at least some safety training and be subjected to a thorough background check before purchase. Some individuals should also have a psychiatric evaluation done in addition to the standard background check before being allowed to own a gun if there is something that pops up in the background check that warrants it. I'm in favor of reasonable safeguards. I don't like the idea of banning guns because they do serve useful purposes, like self-defense and hunting. Remember, a gun is an inanimate object; a human holding it is what makes it deadly.

Of course, changing the culture around guns from one of seeing *insert preferred Other (immigrants, Moslems, etc)* crawling out of the walls to one of rationality isn't easy. Guns are a hugely profitable industry, and one that is very well politically connected from the NRA to the military-industrial complex. These people get their rocks off from seeing more mass shootings happen cuz then they can increase profits off the tragedy (arming both sides means more money in their pockets!), rather than support modest changes that would help reduce the likelihood of guns winding up in the wrong hands.The Ammosexual Agenda, if you will.

Stay safe out there. And may the victims of America's gun culture find peace at last

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Steel Reserve Blk Berry



On a recent trip to the grocery store to get some food and pull money off my debit card to pay for the car insurance (yes, this is what happens when you're too poor to get a proper bank account), I decided to take a trip back to my beer drinking roots and get a can or 40oz bottle of Steel Reserve.

Unfortunately, the store was out of cans and charged way too much for the 40s. So, I got a 24-oz can of Blk Berry, Steel Reserve's blackberry-flavored malt beverage. After all, as my husband likes to say, "science must be served!" And since food stamps don't cover alcohol (another reminder of America's psychotic relationship with alcohol), this cheap can of "beer" was the perfect item to pull the insurance money off with.

Nice to see you, old friend


A few days later, after stating he was going to find a paper bag to put over his head to hide his shame that I love drinking such garbage, my husband poured my blackberry "beer" into my favorite frosted beer glass. True to its name, it looked and tasted like blackberry juice.

If I hadn't seen it coming out of the can, it could easily be mistaken for some sparkling juicy juice

It is so sweet, I could hardly taste the alcohol at first. But, that came through as a faint aftertaste at the end. I actually thought it tasted pretty good with the way the flavors came together. Colorwise, it's a dark purple and when held up to a light, one can pick out a bit of gold/light brown hue too. Like a lager, it goes down pretty smoothly with hardly any bitterness. The can states that it's 8% alcohol by volume, so it's pretty potent. There will be a buzz afterward.

The secret to this drink's success is that Steel Reserve brews their beers with some corn syrup. Corn, as we know, produces ethanol and results in a smoother tasting beer with a higher alcohol content.

This particular blend of Steel Reserve is a total party beer. House party, college party, birthday party, party party. It's really easy to get shitfaced drunk on this one. Talk about life of the party...keep it away from the kids.

Cheap, smooth, and potent. It's easy to see why I fell in love with this brand from the first sip and still consider it a vice to occasionally indulge in.

As always, please enjoy all adult beverages responsibly

Breaking Bad, Home Edition

Today, my wonderful hubby decided to surprise me with a treat: homemade root beer!

He bought the root beer extract (he'd tried to find Zatarain's, but the store didn't carry it) and dry ice. My husband then proceeded to make the root beer, mostly according to the package directions, but using water carbonated with the dry ice instead of soda water as the directions called for.


Dry ice in water

So far, so good

Just about ready to bottle up


But what happened next was both a spectacular display of physics, and something to make Walter White and Jesse Eisenberg jealous.

After he poured the finished root beer into my beer growler for storage (which also contained dry ice to maintain carbonation), the pressure from the carbon dioxide in the dry ice caused the root beer to explode, the force of which shattered a glass on the counter top. The only reason my growler hadn't turned into a root beer and carbon dioxide-filled bomb was cuz my husband, seeing how the root beer was rapidly bubbling up in the growler, quickly took the cap off just in time to see his creation blow.

Oops...


I actually had not witnessed the explosion. I was in the bedroom, playing with the baby, when I heard a loud BANG! My first thought was that my growler had exploded. My husband reassured me that it hadn't, but called me into the kitchen to survey the damage.

There was root beer EVERYWHERE. It was on the floor in the kitchen with the broken glass, the ceiling, the counter, and the root beer even made it all the way up into the living room! The work area and server were splashed with sugary brown root beer, as were our shoes and the front door. My husband spent the rest of the morning cleaning up the fallout and vacuuming up the broken glass.

The aftermath


Miraculously, the growler survived. Its cap went missing (if it hasn't been blown into another dimension, I suspect it's under the fridge or between the counter and the fridge), but the vessel remained intact. My husband, though, cut his hand. How it happened remains a mystery, but I suspect it was from flying bits of dry ice.

I refused to drink what was left of the root beer since the remaining glass was covered in blood from my husband's hand. After bandaging his hand, my hubby wiped down the glass, drank the remaining root beer, and said it was tasty.

The costliest glass of root beer in the world


As it turned out, the critical error was not letting the carbon dioxide vent before sealing the bottle. My husband resolves to try again, but hopefully with less explosive results next time.

No matter what, "science MUST be served!"


And I'm still searching for my growler cap...

*Update 8/28-I found the cap! It was somewhere clean on the other side of the living room. The Doctor was kind enough to drop it off as the TARDIS buzzed by during the night. Hope it helped defeat whatever villain he had to deal with next.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

15 Milliseconds of Fame

Andy Warhol predicted that one day, everyone in the world will be famous for 15 minutes. Whether he was correct remains to be seen but, for my part, I will post my 15 milliseconds of fame!

Last month, I responded to an open Facebook call put out by a local newscaster. She was looking for people to interview on the subject of the Jesuits and Pope Francis, in light of the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the US. She wanted to know what, if any, connections the subject had to the Jesuit religious order, and what their opinion of having a Jesuit pope would be.

The interview itself was conducted on the grounds of the University of Arizona's Newman Center, the Catholic hub of the school. It was pretty straightforward and the newscaster was professionally friendly. For once, I didn't feel intimidated by the fact that I was going to be on camera.

In addition to the link to my interview, I will also embed the article and video accompanying it. If you're anything like me, why waste energy clicking on the link when you can watch and read it already. FYI, I appear at 1:29 in the video.

URL: http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/29875690/jesuits-influence-felt-in-tucson-for-centuries#.Vd0lcRj-Ng8.facebook

Jesuits' influence felt in Tucson for centuries

Posted: Aug 25, 2015 9:57 AM MST Updated: Aug 25, 2015 10:08 AM MST

Tucson News Now

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Many in Tucson have driven down Kino Parkway more than a few times, but most may not know the road is named after one of the most well-known Jesuits.

It is named for Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a man whose legacy lives on to this day.

"He encapsulated what it meant to be a Jesuit," Brother Guy Consolmagno said.

A statue in Tucson celebrates the intellectual explorer from Europe, who daringly ventured to this part of the world some 300 years ago and founded what is now our historic Mission San Xavier del Bac.

"The Jesuits' particular spirituality is one of the intellectual apostolate, we run a lot of schools, we run a lot of universities, and it's to be engaged in the world," Consolmagno said.

Some of the country's most well-known universities were founded by Jesuits: Georgetown, Gonzaga and Xavier.

Yes, the same Xavier where Sean Miller coached before becoming a Wildcat.
So, how does that translate into what kind of Pope is currently leading the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit to become pope.

"Having been a teacher as a Jesuit, he knows how to say the words that will connect to people and remind them what's important," Consolmagno said.
Pope Francis, who is set to visit America in September, has made helping the poor a focus of his work.

"I think it makes the pope a lot more relatable," Tamara Morris said.
Morris said she and her family attend church regularly. She said she found her faith through the on-campus Newman Catholic Center, while attending the University of Arizona.

Tamara especially admires Pope Francis for his commitment to the less-fortunate.

"I'm all for helping the oppressed, the poor, the marginalized," Morris said.

In addition to serving the poor and crusading for higher education, another hallmark of the Jesuits is that they don't seek higher positions of power. Jesuits take a pledge not to become a bishop and move up the ranks of the church leadership. This is one of the things that make Pope Francis so unique.

In 1992, Pope Francis, who was then Father Bergoglio, was named bishop at the insistence of higher-ups. He gained a reputation for his humility, and social justice work, and eventually rose to the head of the church.

"It means that in having a Jesuit, you've got someone who you know wasn't angling to be Pope, he wasn't playing the political game for that, rather, he's just doing it out of love for the church," Consolmagno said.

That dedication is felt by many - all the way from Vatican City to the Old Pueblo.

"Tucson's an old town, and it actually has a history with the Jesuits, too, so it's like, hey, he's one of ours," Morris said.
Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Cat, Pest

Tonight while eating dinner, I caught my cat, Pest, doing this:

"Eater of Grass"


Actually, he was licking the salad dressing off of the lettuce.

While he forgets he's a cat about 90% of the time and is frequently annoying as all hell (hence his name, Pest), he'll still be my baby forever. Hubby and I raised him and his siblings by hand after their mommy died, and Pest is one of the few in that unfortunate litter that made it to adulthood. He's my survivor, and the one I practiced my mommy skills on in preparation for parenthood.

I love you, Pest. Even if you are a K-A-T-T, not a C-A-T.

Feuding with Fundies

Today's post was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend on Facebook this morning as I was eating breakfast. My friend, who lives in India, recently entered into an online relationship with a woman here in the US.  After congratulating him on the happy news, I asked my friend a few questions about his new girlfriend to get an idea of what she was like. He explained to me that while she lives at home with her parents and is a freelance DJ on the weekends, there's a feud going on between her and her parents because her parents are fundamentalist Christians while she is an atheist.

When one thinks of the word "fundamentalist", at least here in America, two specific images come to mind: one of a howling preacher standing in front of a congregation, waving around a Bible and admonishing his congregants to be "saved" or burn in hell; and the other of Moslem terrorists posing for pictures while brandishing a Koran in one hand and weapons in the other.

Dubs and Osama-two sides of the same coin


To understand these seemingly contradictory images, one must first know what "fundamentalism" means. Linguistically, the term "fundamentalist" is based on the root word "fundament", which means "foundation". In each of these two images, the preacher and the terrorist, the individuals believe that what they are doing is the correct way to practice their religions because their respective sacred scriptures say certain things which are to be followed, word for word.

This is where the trouble starts. Because fundamentalists believe that THEIR way is the "right" way, it causes all sorts of problems in society at large.

If you look beyond the linguistic definition of "fundament", you'll also see it refers to an anus; more crudely, the ass hole.

Pastor Robert Tilton, also known as "The Farting Preacher", appropriately enough

Ultimately, the fundamentalist is an asshole.

By its very nature, fundamentalism of any stripe (from the religious to the secular) puts ignorance up on a pedestal and says "this is what you must aspire to be. Anything outside our sacred texts is sinful!" It's one thing to be able to cite the preferred religious/secular texts backwards, forwards, up and down; but it doesn't mean shit if it renders you incapable of functioning within society at large.

That is ultimately the big beef I have with fundamentalism. Because of the ignorance that results from being exposed to such an insular world, the thumper essentially spits in God's face by telling Him "Your creation is not good enough for me! Therefore, it's not worth learning about!" Religious fundamentalists deny themselves knowledge of sciences, history, philosophy, and even knowledge of other sects of their own faith, much less other faiths. Secular fundamentalists deny themselves knowledge of religious traditions and practices, as well as humanities; the "why" aspects of life.

Do yourself a favor. Don't be a thumper. Don't be an asshole

Monday, August 24, 2015

Schadenfreude and Scandal

Since my return to blogging last month, I've made it a point not to immediately comment on a major news story until later on when all the initial rabbling is passed and the frothing at the mouth has been reduced to a drool.

And the raging carpet chewing has subsided as well


But, I can't help but tune into my inner schadenfreude at the Ashley Madison hack that's been going on. How ironic is it that a website meant for cheaters to anonymously hook up got busted and now has their shit out all over the internet for everyone to see!

I figured that government officials would have profiles on Ashley Madison cuz, well, they're government officials! What else completes them like having a piece of ass on the side? But I was just rolling over with laughter when I heard the infamous Josh Duggar had some profiles on the sight too.

To understand why I was so amused to see that a purported "family values" and "pro-traditional marriage" man like Josh Duggar had an account on Ashley Madison, it's because I have very little tolerance for sanctimonious, bah-bul thumping assholes like his sort. Those kinds of people might well have "hypocrite" tattooed on their forehead. And when their hypocrisy is exposed, I just grab my beer and popcorn and watch the fall from grace commence.

You gonna share that popcorn, Mikey?

There are two big lessons to be gained from watching the Ashley Madison scandal:
  1. Do not cheat on your spouse (goes without saying, but it's amazing how many people don't get this)
  2. If you're gonna cheat, don't be dumb enough to PAY for a profile on a cheating website. You WILL get caught, one way or another. 
Even the most diligently-covered adulterer can never completely hide their tracks; someone sees a credit card statement or gets a notice bounced to the wrong email, a website hack happens, the adulterer slips up and tells the spouse outright, or the spouse finds out the truth on their own. And if you've been spending your hard-earned money on this shit instead of putting it towards covering the needs of your family, well, you deserve whatever bad shit's coming. The infidelity is bad enough, but putting your family finances at stake to support that vice is inexcusable.

Before he was called to take over teaching a class at the Mt. Angel Benedictine Abbey in Oregon, my favorite priest from the other church my husband and I split time at warned us about schadenfreude. The Catholic Church teaches that to take pleasure in another's misfortune is a form of pride, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

I know I shouldn't laugh at Josh Duggar's fall from grace. But when you know something about how bah-bul thumpers operate and the mindset they carry, when one of them slips and causes a scandal, one can't help but feel vindicated. We saw that trainwreck coming a mile before it happened.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Protesting Planned Parenthood

Today was the big nationwide protest against the infamous abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. While I've been fairly quiet about the controversial videos released which proport to show Planned Parenthood executives and staff engaging in illegal activities (organ trafficking, infanticide, etc), know this: I am, and will always be, pro-life. My pregnancy and subsequent birth served to reinforce and enhance that which I had been taught regarding the sanctity of life, both in AND out of the womb.

A card my hubby picked up from the registration table. If you don't respect life in utero, you'll view it as worthless outside of the womb too.


It's one thing to see a picture of an ultrasound baby on a poster or hold a plastic fetus at various stages of development. But it's also something totally different to actually see the fetus wiggling and floating around in utero, real-time in front of your eyes and instinctively know "wow. That's mine. I made that."

It would be one thing if Planned Parenthood actually did what it claimed to do and offered STD testing and treatment, counseling, women's health care, etc. But it doesn't. Abortion is ALL that Planned Parenthood does, and the dishonesty put forth by that organization is an injustice to women everywhere. That has always been my beef with Planned Parenthood, even when I did not have the vocabulary to articulate it in the way I wanted to.

While I am largely in favor of crisis pregnancy centers as a means of giving women an alternative to murdering their offspring in utero, I've gotten away from blindly supporting them like I used to. When I got pregnant, I went to a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) not because I wanted an abortion, but because I was a low-income individual seeking to get low-cost prenatal care. I was hoping a CPC could assist me with that.


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Garden

I just wanted to share with you a picture of my husband's pride and joy, the garden.

Fuck you, Pinterest. This garden actually works!


Looks can be deceiving, as what at first glance resembles a weedy patch of plant matter has yielded actual fresh, healthy food! In this garden, we have aloe vera (left), onions, basil (behind the pot), rosemary and thyme (between the basil and tomato plant), tomatoes (what's climbed up the fence), and yerba buena (Mexican herb similar to spearmint, right in front of the tomato plants). My husband keeps the garden watered by directing the hose into that pot (which doubles as a water dish for the kitties) and has it set to drip out of the pot and into the soil.

The recent heavy rains have caused an explosion in the amount of Bermuda Grass that's taken over our yard. My husband does his best to keep it from growing in the garden as much as possible by cutting and pulling out what he can. The recent heavy rains also caused one of the tomato plants to die by way of root rot. We're working to save the remaining plant by giving it some Miracle-Gro and cutting back on the amount of water it receives.

Come fall, though, we're gonna have some bodacious spaghetti sauce. With a bit of care, tomatoes and basil grow very well out here in spite of the caliche soil. I do hope that other tomato plant survives, cuz our tomatoes taste so much better than the stuff from the store.

We'll just have to wait and see

A Short Review of Beer: Barrio Blonde

After a recent excursion to church, I stopped by my favorite gas station to refill my growler and try something new. The last time we were there, I'd picked out Goose Island's Summertime Ale. This time, my husband got to pick the beer. He picked out Barrio Blonde, which was something he wanted to try the last time we were there.

Barrio Brewing Company is a local, Tucson-based brewery. Appropriately enough, "barrio" means "neighborhood" in Spanish. Blonde is just one of the 12 beers served at its flagship restaurant on 16th St. and Toole Ave, with the brewery's website describing it as "A good starter beer for those who have only tried the mass-produced suds. The blonde is a light, crisp beer with a slight malt flavor and just enough Czechoslovakian Saaz hops to balance the malt sweetness."


My favorite beer mug, with Blonde


Upon opening the growler and pouring myself a glass, the first thing that stood out was how much "blonde" was an appropriate name for this sort of beer. It has a beautiful golden color and not much of a head either, which was kinda funny cuz when the attendant at the gas station was filling up the growler, the head bubbled out of the growler and all over the counter. Guess it must have lost some carbonation since this attendant didn't tape the cap to seal the growler like the last one did...

Taste wise, it's alot closer to a more typical beer as opposed to the fruity, citrusy Summertime Ale. Thanks to my priming with Steel Reserve, I tasted the malt right off and was pleased with the quality of the hops. True to its description, it's reminiscent of some of the more mainstream brews, but less pissy tasting. It's not a bad light beer. The alcohol content is pretty low too, around 5% or so. I found it paired well with chili and pork, but I can see it going alright with a salad. Something with spinach, in particular.

Same glass and beer, different lighting and angle. Still pretty pale


For more information about Barrio Brewing Company, check out their website here. As always, please enjoy responsibly

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bold Hair Day

I took a break for a few days to take care of something I'd been meaning to do for a while: my hair.

Yarn twists


Since my hair tends to get dry and brittle, I've experimented on and off with protective hair styling, like twists and braids, as a means of preserving and encouraging growth. While typically reserved for People of Color, my experience with protective styling is that for Caucasian hair like mine, protective styling is something that's more work than it's worth. While it's bound up in twists and braids, I certainly don't have to waste time or energy combing my hair and keeping it clean is pretty minimal too, the amount of labor involved in the installation is hard to justify the benefits. It's also kind of hard to do stuff like yarn twists with Caucasian hair because our hair tends to have alot of slippage, so the yarn doesn't hold its place well.

Occasionally, I get the itch to do something with my hair, especially now that the weather has become pretty hot and dry at the end of summer. So, out came the yarn.

Black yarn for the base color, hot pink yarn for the highlights. Both skeins were the size of that pink one before I undertook this little project. Yarn extension hairdos require alot of yarn


And then I'm reminded why I rarely do these sorts of hairdos. With the yarn extension twists I did this time, it took me two days to install them, partly because my natural hair is pretty long (it comes just above waist level) and my extensions have to be longer to compensate, and partly cuz no matter how fast I try and be, I always wind up working slow.


Unfortunately, my arms aren't long enough to show the true scale, but I can sit on the ends of my extensions if I wanted to


The good thing is, these will last about 6-8 weeks. I also put a special leave-in conditioner made from coconut oil in each twist, and finished the job off with an olive oil spray to seal in the conditioning for extra moisture. It does feel a little heavy on my head, but not so much as to restrict movement of my head and neck muscles. I did get a tension headache from having to do these twists though, so for anyone out there wanting to attempt these, do so at your own risk. But, for a little while at least, my hair is out of my face and my scalp is more exposed for better aeration.

Also, to any People of Color who might come across this blog, please do not take offense to the sight of me, a White woman, wearing a typically Black hairdo. I did this more for practical reasons than style reasons, and do not wish to disrespect anyone. Unlike Kylie Jenner and her cornrows, I do not appreciate, or wish to engage in, cultural appropriation of any sort.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Picture of the Day

Saw this on my Facebook feed and thought it was far too funny to pass up



Thus, your daily dose of humor

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Goose Island Summertime Ale



Recently, a local gas station not far from where we go to church installed a tap inside the convenience mart with about 8 different brews of beer. For a $5.00 deposit on a half-liter growler, one could fill up on their choice of brew and just pay the cost of the beer.

Since I'd been wanting beer for some time after I gave birth (so long as certain precautions are taken, it's perfectly fine to drink while breastfeeding), I figured I'd tap into these new brews to expand my beer universe and get away from the cheap but potent malted crap my palate had previously been primed to prior to getting pregnant (hello, Steel Reserve).

Being a native of Chicago, I decided to fill up my growler with the Summertime Ale brewed by the Goose Island Beer Co., which is also based in Chicago. I'd known about Goose Island's beers for years as they were a common sight in the grocery store liquor isles when I lived in Illinois, but I could never have tried their beer due to being underage at the time of residency. It pleased me to see that they shipped nationwide, so now that I'm over 21, I could enjoy their brew without having to travel back to Illinois or risk breaking the law for ordering and having it shipped here.

After the baby had her final feed for the day and was put to bed, my husband poured me a frosty glass of my new brew. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had a sweet, almost citrus-like taste upon hitting the palate. The alcohol content was about 5% or somewhere thereabouts, so unless you're a complete novice to beer drinking, it's not going to give you much of a buzz.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the Summertime Ale did not have much of a bitter aftertaste that's common to beers. I'm particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of beers, which was the main reason I avoided drinking them and preferred the malted garbage instead. This unusual aversion is most likely due to encounters in my early 20s with pisswater like Coors and Bud Light.

The smooth taste of this ale is more reminiscent of a lager than a regular ale, so it's got a pretty good dose of hops in the batch.

Overall, its color was a golden/amber sort of color and it had a decently foamy head. True to anything relating to summer, this beer is light, refreshing, and can pair decently with anything ranging from salads to BBQ.

For more information on the brewery, it's history, and the varieties of beer it brews and seasonally releases, check out their website at www.gooseisland.com

It goes without saying but, as always, please enjoy responsibly

Will Someone PLEASE Turn off the Oven?!

Like the title of this post suggests, it's been hot as hell outside.

Being a desert dweller, having lived in this state since 2008, you would think I'd have gotten used to this hot climate by now. For each year that I've lived here, I've gotten better at adapting to the hot, dry climate, but even then, I don't think I will ever 100% get used to it. Everytime I try, something happens that exceeds my tolerance (like humidity!).

So like any sensible person, I adapt my habits. Any excursions for groceries or other stuff must be done either at sundown or in the very early morning. Since I'm not an early riser (despite my baby waking up at 6:30 AM on the dot every morning wanting to eat and then PLAY!), our outings are restricted to after sundown. While it sometimes sucks from the grocery shopping standpoint cuz the day's sales have typically cleared out anything worthwhile, gas and comfort-wise, I find it more tolerable. For the times we do have to go out during the day (mostly to church), we try to make use of whatever shaded parking spots we can find and limit our time out of a cooled environment as much as possible. Just common-sense stuff.

Hopefully soon, we here in the desert will get one final monsoon storm or two in these last few weeks of summer. The humidity from these storms makes things uncomfortably sticky, but it cools things off for a little while. Plus, you get cool pictures, like this one taken just north of Tucson

Taken in Marana, a cotton suburb north of Tucson, AZ. Picture found here


Come on, Autumn! I'm tired of this heat!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Feast of the Assumption

Happy Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary everyone!

Mary ascending into Heaven at the end of her Earthly life (pic found here)


Hope you all remembered to go to church, and if possible, brought herbs for your priest to bless.

That particular custom is one that I've only recently learned about. Apparently, bringing herbs (both for culinary and medicinal use) was a tradition that only fell out of favor with the advent of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. I might never have known about the herb blessing, had it not been mentioned in the emailed bulletin of the local Latin Mass church here in town that my husband and I attend every other week or so. The things you learn!

I brought my Mother's Milk tea to be blessed, and my husband brought a big fistful of basil from the garden. It made the car smell good on our way up there.

Enjoy your Sunday, folks!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Henna Hair (Tutorial Included)

Sorry I haven't written for a few days. I've been busy with the baby, and the weather here has been terrible. We've been having a monsoon thunderstorm, sometimes with rains that would make a dried turd float away for the past few days. And the lightning displays! There have been some impressive pictures floating around the internet of the monsoon lightning storms.

Due to the weather, I had to hold off on hennaing my hair. To make the paste and apply it is easy enough, but washing it off requires getting in the tub and holding my head under the faucet to rinse the paste off. It's not safe to do that with lightning crackling outside your window!

But earlier in the week, there was a break in the storms and I was finally able to make my henna paste.

I'd encountered henna for the first time when I was in high school. My two best friends were sisters whose family was of Indian descent, and they introduced me to the stuff, but it was another friend who I would meet here in Arizona who really taught me all the specifics of henna and its practical applications.

First of all, what is henna?

Henna is a paste made from the dried leaves of the henna plant, which is native to India and Pakistan, but can be found growing in the Middle East and North Africa. When harvested, the leaves are dried and then ground to make a fine green powder, which is then mixed with lemon juice or water, sugar, special essential oils (referred to amongst henna artists as "terps", thanks to certain alcohol components in the oils), and left to sit for a time to let the liquids break down the cellulose in the dried leaves and release the dye. After the dye is released, the paste is given a final stir and then squirted into cellophane or mylar cones for application on the body in intricate patterns, a practice known as mendhi. Natural henna produces a stain on skin ranging from light orange to brown to deep red, depending on location and body chemistry. Unscrupulous henna companies will often mix chemicals into their pastes to give an artificially dark stain or longer shelf life.

In addition to body art, henna has long been used to color and treat hair and nails. It's a natural antiseptic and fungicide, and makes an excellent conditioner. Like on skin, henna will stain hair and nails orange-red. How deep the stain gets varies based on color of hair (if applying in hair), how long its left on, and if there are any additives to the henna (indigo and cassia can be added to henna to darken or lighten the resulting color of hair. They will not work on nails). My natural hair is light brown, so when I henna my hair, it turns a deep mahogany red (see pix below).

My roots

What color it becomes with henna


So now that you know what henna is, where can you get it and how can you make the paste?

I buy my henna online. I use body art quality (BAQ) henna, as it is the most pure and safest sort of powder. My preferred source is Henna Lounge, as I've found her powder (both for hair and body art) to be of excellent quality. If you are unable to shop online, you can look to see if local Indian grocery stores carry henna powders, but they tend to be stale or chemical-laden. I will provide links to a few henna suppliers as well as some further general info at the end of this post.

To make and apply henna hair paste, you're gonna need a few things

I use that ice cream tub for mixing both hair and body art henna

  • a non-reactive mixing bowl of some sort (I use a plastic ice cream tub)
  • a 100g bag of dried henna powder 
    My preferred brand of henna. The package is a bit dirty cuz one of my body art cones leaked

    What henna looks like once the foil pouch is removed
  • lemon juice
  • gloves
  • plastic bag grocery bag (not pictured)
  • time
Step one: Open henna bag and pour into mixing vessel

Better shot of color

My cat, Pest, just HAD to check out what I was doing before I shooed him away. Don't let your pets (or yourself) eat henna. It's not good to ingest.


Step two: Add lemon juice, and mix with your gloved hands until the paste is uniformly dark (no light green powder patches) and is the consistency of thick mashed potatoes



It'll look and smell kinda gross, but this is the consistency you're looking for


Step three: Cover paste with plastic bag, and seal with lid if your vessel comes with one (like an ice cream tub) for added protection against oxidation.

Press down on the plastic bag to get all the air out. If you're not using a lid, you're ok

All sealed up


Step four: Place in warm spot, wait 4-24 hours, test spot occasionally. You'll want a stain that's bright orange

If it's nighttime when I make my paste, I put it on my dresser. Otherwise, I put it outside in the sun

Good to go. Time will vary depending on temperature (warmer=faster dye release)


Step five: Remove plastic cover, mix the paste again to redistribute the released dye (if you like your paste a bit thinner, add more liquid till the paste's consistency is like yogurt), and apply to hair like a leave-in conditioner.

Dye is now released

You can see the difference between the released brownish dye layer, and the green goopy plant matter underneath

Make sure you get all the way down to the scalp. You can also put vaseline around your hairline to prevent stains from the paste on your face


Step six: Cover hair with plastic, wrap head with towel or a hat to seal in body heat

You can use plastic wrap, but if you're poor and/or ghetto (like me!), plastic grocery store bags will suffice

Let set for at least 4 hours, but I recommend overnight for best results


Step seven: Rinse out the paste. Shampoo and condition as usual. Note: it may take a few rinses and shampooings before the water runs completely clear when you wash your hair

Step eight: Let hair air dry. Try not to wash it for a few days (like 2-3 days max) so that the henna will oxidize and darken. It'll be shiny and feel stronger/thicker in the meantime too

A day's worth of oxidation. It smells better too-more earthy, less gross


And, you're done!

Is hennaing hair time consuming? It can be. If you make it fresh like I do, it is time consuming. But, you can make the paste ahead of time and freeze it, thawing out only what you plan to use.

As for how much henna is enough, 100g is sufficient for most hair lengths (short-medium, or long but thinner hair) and touchups. 200g (two of those 100g packages in the pictures above) is sufficient for long hair (like for an initial color job or significant amount of roots between dye jobs). Use 300g or more for longer and/or thicker hair

I henna my hair every few months, when my roots start becoming really obvious. My hair does not grow very fast, so it buys me time between colorings. While I don't typically do this, I have used body art henna cones that lost their staining power in a pinch. Even if the color doesn't take, the conditioning properties are still there, which is the main reason I use henna in my hair in the first place. And because it's natural with no added chemicals, I was able to safely henna my hair all throughout my pregnancy and now as a nursing mother.

Thank you for reading this tutorial. I hope you find it useful and easy to understand

For more information:

Where to buy:
http://hennaguru.com/
http://hennacaravan.com/shop/hair.html
http://www.mehandi.com/shop/hairhenna.html

General information:
http://www.mehandi.com/shop/hennahairbook/index.html (Free downloadable PDFs filled with useful information about henna and hair. No need to download anything special to read them, just click on the links and read in the browser)