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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Picture of the Day


My daughter loves playing with the newspapers. This sort of play gives her some exercise and distraction for a bit. My mother-in-law says that my husband loved newspapers as an infant. He was especially fond of chewing on them. I am certainly glad that lead-based inks were phased out long ago and grocery fliers/newspapers now are printed with more environmentally friendly inks instead.

And in a related note, perhaps because of her resemblance to her father, random strangers will frequently mistake my daughter for a boy! This happens even when she is wearing girl clothes, anytime we're out in public! My husband theorizes that in addition to her resemblance to him, our daughter is a large and active child for her age. While she is big for being a 4 month old, her mistaken gender is an interesting (albeit annoying!) observation. What does this say about us as a society where a clearly female child is initially judged as male? Has it become more socially acceptable for males to be dressed in typically feminine colors (pink, purple, etc)? Or has our society become so rigidly sexist that even baby girls (or baby boys, for that matter) who don't fit EXACTLY into the rigidly-defined "norm" become a nuclear-level mindfuck to anyone who encounters them?

This is a strange time we live in, ladies and gentlemen. It's gonna get stranger yet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Day at the Doctor's

This weekend, my husband had a frightful incident. A nocturnal emission revealed that his semen was full of blood. Some preliminary internet research pointed to an infection caused by his prolonged abstinence and resulting fluid buildup. After sitting on the phone for nearly a half hour with the clinic scheduler where the doctor's office is located, we finally got him an appointment for today.

It had been a while since either my husband or myself had been to this clinic. The last time we were there was early 2014 where my husband became ill with pneumonia and the clinic had misdiagnosed him, resulting in a trip to the emergency room and several hits of lifesaving antibiotics over the course of several days. But since there is a branch of this clinic operating near our home where our daughter's excellent pediatrician is, and my husband was due to see his PCP (primary care physician) for a yearly checkup anyway, it was time to give the clinic a second chance.

I was amazed by how much they had expanded their building. The money they got as part of Obamacare went into expanding their services and major upgrades to their infrastructure. The new section of the building, where his doctor's office was moved to was spacious, clean, and the WiFi was strong. My one gripe about it was that social media sites were blocked, so I couldn't spend time on Facebook like I usually do, or Instagram, for that matter. But, Youtube still worked! Some sanity restored!

Pretty well sums up the American view of medical practicioners

For a doctor's visit, today's appointment was fairly fast. The nurse practitioner examined my husband, ordered some tests to be done, and gave him a script for some antibiotics. She also ordered an abdominal ultrasound for my husband to check for anomalies, and a hepatic panel since he was due for one too. To top it off, we both got flu shots (and my shot spot is still sore!). But, in doing so, the nurse's assistant saw that I had been a patient at one time in this clinic but under a different doctor and scheduled me for a wellness checkup later that day. I wasn't expecting that, but since a family friend in the area needed some work done on her computer, I agreed to the appointment since we wouldn't be far away.

We returned to the clinic after fixing our friend's computer and hanging out with her family, and after filling out all the paperwork, I was seen by my new doctor. She was polite, lively, and intelligent. She gave me a clean bill of health, but the staff seemed to have forgotten about us because I had to flag down a nurse to hand me my discharge papers.

By this point, I was really tired from being out all day. My husband and the baby were worn out too, so off to our nice home to sleep.

And that was how I spent my long day. Good night world, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Eclipse

Happy Monday everyone!

As many of you are probably aware, especially if you live in North America like I do, there was a lunar eclipse last night. While lunar eclipses are somewhat rare, they are not uncommon astronomical phenomena. As such, this particular lunar eclipse stood out because it coincided with a "supermoon", where the moon is at its closest point to earth during orbit.

Like many people all across Arizona and the North American continent (including Canada, where a photographer friend of mine snapped some pix of the eclipse outside his home in Toronto), I grabbed my camera and headed outside to watch the eclipse and take pictures. We were fortunate here in Southern Arizona to have clear skies, as many parts of the US were covered in clouds which obscured the show.

I took a ton of pictures and some video, but ultimately, my cellphone camera proved to have positively horrid resolution. It made getting a good, accurate picture impossible. I'll post the best ones out of the bunch, but they're not photographer quality.

Contrary to certain apocalyptic prophesies, the world did not end when the earth passed between the moon and the sun. A little knowledge of orbits and time can predict within reasonable degrees of accuracy when eclipses will occur, and the next time a supermoon eclipse like this is slated to appear is in 18 years.

The moon rose eclipsed

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It was pretty well covered at this point. I used the night photo setting on my cellphone to get this pic

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The eclipse was over pretty fast

We brought the baby out to watch the eclipse too. She'll be a teenager the next time one of these rolls around
Hope you enjoyed the pictures. As much as cellphone cameras have improved within the last couple years, they're still not as good as regular digital cameras. My digital camera wasn't working, so cellphone it had to be.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Musings

This week was our week to go to the Latin Mass church and while I'm not fond of a certain cabal of senile delinquents who inhabit its pews every Sunday, we do have friends there that my husband and I like to see regularly and that makes visits there bearable. It was also in this church that my husband and I met and had our daughter baptized in, so we like to keep a regular presence there for her to know what the old Mass was like.

Beating all your expectations and then some! Pic found here

Without a doubt, the Lord rewarded our attendance this week with a stirring sermon where Canon Bill gave a scholarly subtle verbal bitchslapping to the right-wing neocon elements in his parish. He reminded us all to read our Catechisms and use that as the filter by which to chart our actions, not the charter of the NRA (he used gun control as his example) or Republican Party. No doubt, there's been some grumblings about Pope Francis' visit to the US which gave cause to be the subject of this weeks homily. Even if not from the parish itself, many "traditional Catholic" websites and blogs (a number of which I suspect are run by infiltrators of one fascist stripe or another) have all but taken to calling the Holy Father a heretic for his attention to the poor and marginalized and not on their pet issues (such as promoting the Latin Mass). Ironically, if these fools should familiarize themselves with Church history, they'd see God making good out of bad decisions and leaders (see: Pope Alexander VI and Columbus). While I may gripe about Canon Bill needing to read off a script for Sunday sermons (unlike my favorite Carmelites at the other church who compose their sermons on the spot), I was especially proud of him today.

After church, we joined a longtime friend of ours for Sunday brunch at our favorite Waffle House. We've been going there pretty regularly for a while, and the staff all knows us. Everyone has their favorite places and this is one of ours.

Tonight is the big lunar eclipse! I'll make sure to get a picture or two for tomorrow's post.

Hope you all had a good Sunday, and have a blessed week ahead!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Negra Modelo

Though its owned by Anheuser-Busch, Modelo (the largest brewery in Mexico and brewer of Negra Modelo) still keeps their operation homegrown. Pic found here

After finishing up my Stella Artois, it was time to get a new buffer beer. Buffer beers are the store-bought mainstream beers that I consume in between fill ups of my growler. Stella Artois had been my previous one, but this past weekend had me hankering for something a bit closer to home. I had my answer after a trip to one of our regularly frequented Mexican grocery stores revealed that they had Negra Modelo on sale.

It may surprise you to learn that Mexico is one of the largest brewers of beer in the world (I believe it ranks second or third in terms of production). While Mexico has always had its homegrown alcoholic beverages (pulque, tequila, etc) and a bit of localized domestic brewing since the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors, beer brewing really came of age in the 19th Century with German immigrants from Bavaria who arrived to work in the mines in northern Mexico. These miners discovered that the water there was identical in quality to the water they used back home to make their beer. Thus, a new industry was born.

Negra Modelo (Spanish for "Black Model", likely for its dark color) is not the first Mexican beer I've consumed. That distinction goes to Corona, which I found positively disgusting the first (and only!) time I drank it. No amount of lime juice could take away the pissy flavor of that beer. My husband, after supporting my displeasure at Corona, recommended Negra Modelo as his preferred Mexican beer.

I admit, the first time I drank Negra Modelo, I did not like it. It was too bitter for my novice palette. But time, variety, and persistence have paid off and I was ready to reapproach Negra Modelo with a new perspective.

According to the website of the Crown Imports, a US-based importer of foreign beers, Negra Modelo is characterized as "made with filtered water, malted barley, hops, rice and exceptional yeast varieties, which give way to the balanced flavor and remarkably smooth taste you can only find in a Negra Modelo. Hints of caramel sweetness and dark chocolate balance out this smooth, medium bodied beer."

My take: I smell and taste the malt (and it smells wonderful too!), it's still a bit on the bitter side for my liking, but I do detect just a tiny bit of sweetness if I let the beer sit in my mouth for a bit. It goes down pretty smoothly too. While technically Negra Modelo is a lager, it's a dark lager thanks to the roasted malt (the roasting process is called Munich Dunkel, which involved slow-roasting malts in the style of south German dark beer). It's definitely better this time around than when I tried it for the first time three years ago. At 5.5% ABV, there is a slight buzz, but it does not last long.

My trusty beer mug modeling Negra Modelo, back-lit by my computer screen. That dark mass in the mug is the lime floating around inside

While I'm a die-hard purist and normally avoid adulterating my beers in any way, shape or form, I do recommend adding some lime juice to Negra Modelo. I find that half a lime adds just enough zip to edge off the bitterness but not overwhelm the taste of the beer. Traditionally, Mexican beer drinkers would add lime in addition to chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, clamato (tomato-clam juice), seafood, fruit, salt, etc. to their beers, depending on region and personal preference. I don't particularly care for clamato as I find the tomato flavor overwhelming, but if you don't mind pretending you're drinking a hard tomato juice, by all means add it.

One thing to be said about Negra Modelo is that it's a fairly good all-purpose beer. It went well with everything from seafood gumbo to sandwiches. That sort of one-size-fits-all practicality is hard to pull off and it's something I value in beer. Previously, that all-purpose void was filled by Steel Reserve but since I've gotten away from drinking that shit, my other quest (aside from finding a good IPA) is to find a good quality all-purpose beer.

For more on the history of beer brewing in Mexico and the brands its produced, check out Wikipedia or this site for information.

As always, please enjoy responsibly

Friday, September 25, 2015

Manicure, or not to Manicure

Hi everyone!

Check out this cool nail tutorial I stumbled upon on Youtube.

It may surprise some of you to learn that I've never ever had my nails professionally done, not even for a special occasion. Growing up, I thought getting manicures and nail jobs were frivolous activities because even though cost was not an issue, I did alot of hard manual labor around the house that would have made long acrylic nails impractical (try mowing the lawn and cutting hedges with the kind of claws seen in that video!). I did not begrudge anyone who had their nails done, but it was not something I could see myself with due to my lifestyle.

I'm older now, and while I have given some thought to the prospect of getting my nails done for like my birthday or something like that, it's a financial expense that's a bit much for me. Being the sort of rugged individualist that I am, I'd try doing acrylic nails by myself. The paint-like quality of the acrylics I've seen in these tutorial videos doesn't appear to be terribly difficult to master and there are no shortage of beauty supply shops in town where tips, powders, and nail art can be purchased. But even that little endeavor is not feasible because not only is the cost of materials and equipment too high, but an expose by the New York Times on sweatshop nail salons described how the children born to nail technicians suffered birth defects as a result of their exposure to the chemicals their mothers worked with in the salons. I'm not done having kids yet, and I'm not gonna risk poisoning them for the sake of vanity.

On second thought, I'll just stick to hennaing my nails. At least I control what goes into the paste and because it stains my nails, I won't have to worry about the baby swallowing something toxic when she sticks my finger in her mouth to chew on.

Again, I don't begrudge anyone who has professionally sculpted nails. For some of us ladies, it's a little luxury that helps make life in these difficult times a bit more bearable. But just like in times past, I don't see myself ever having manicured nails because it doesn't fit into my lifestyle. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday

It's that time of the week!

Me with my favorite pink bandanna and Desert Storm windbreaker, and my brother looking like a hitman
This is my brother and I at Alcatraz Island in 2012. My uncle took us to San Francisco, CA that year for our annual family vacation (my parents did not come, so these vacations were some one-on-one time that we could spend with our uncle). Sadly, this would be the last family vacation I would go on with them. My overall family situation severely deteriorated and I would leave a few months after this photo was taken (my computer dates this photo to August 14, 2012).

Family vacations were a special time for my brother and I. Since our uncle was not married or had children and he made quite alot of money as an optical engineer, we basically became like "his kids". We enjoyed it when our uncle would come to visit us from Indiana and he too liked to spend lots of time with us. Vacations with him were a way for us to see the places that my parents would never set foot in either for cost constraints or other reasons. This annual tradition began in 2007, when my mom finally allowed my uncle to take myself and my brother to New York City, something we'd wanted to do for years. I have many fond memories of my vacations with my uncle.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Family Visit

Today, two special individuals came to visit us. My parents and grandmother flew in from Illinois to Arizona because my dad had a seminar to go to, and while he was taking his classes for the day, my mom and grandma traveled down to southern Arizona to see us.

While most people would be thrilled to have their families come by for a visit, I am not one of them. I do not have the best relationship with my family due to both religious and lifestyle reasons. Those two factors would plunge me into a terrible feud with the family and things came to an explosive head in 2012 which resulted in me leaving my family so that nobody would die as a result of the feud. I returned to Arizona that year for a fresh start and have been trying to both reconcile with my family, yet keep them away at a safe distance to preserve all our sanities. I can never thank my husband enough for his role in creating a stalemate of sorts.

When they arrived, my grandma and my mom immediately were won over by the baby. They played with and tickled her, and baby responded with giggles and smiles. They were surprised by how big she is and how much she is growing. My grandma also baked her famous waffle cookies and brought us a tray full of them for nibblies.

The day was relatively drama free compared to previous visits. We went to lunch at a nearby steakhouse, and then went shopping. We bought some much needed items for both us and the baby. There were a few flareups, but things are improving. I even had my mom hold the baby for a bit while we were at the store cuz the baby was getting fussy from being in her car seat all afternoon.

This was her first trip to a real sit-down restaurant that wasn't fast food or Waffle House

Finally, we returned home, took a few pictures, and said our good byes to my mom and grandma. They may come back one more time before they return to Illinois on Sunday. I do hope my dad can make it with them that time. I would like for him to meet his granddaughter, and since he genuinely loves kids, I think she'll like him back in return.

Standing proudly, 4 generations of the Milanovic family

And that was how I spent my day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Welcome to America!

As has been all over the news today, Pope Francis arrived in the US for his first ever visit.

Like many Catholics, I was eagerly awaiting his visit to my home country. From being interviewed about his arrival to the weekly prayers at Mass, having the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics come for a visit is no small affair. I especially look forward to His Holiness speaking to the US Congress, as the Holy Father is not afraid of speaking truth to power.

For all those presidential candidates who claim to be "Catholic". Pic found here

Interestingly enough, it was only in recent decades that Popes ever visited America. Previous presidential administrations stretching all the way back to the Founding Fathers expressed open hostility towards the Pope and the idea of a PAPIST ever setting foot in the White House would have set those presidents into carpet-chewing rage. The late Gore Vidal alluded to those sentiments in some of his historical works published during his lifetime. I believe it was Pope St. John Paul II who was the first Pope to visit the US and that was during the Reagan years, thus ending the long papal drought in DC.

If His Holiness should somehow find his way to my little corner of the internet, I would like to take this moment to say welcome to America, Holy Father. The United States may be a blight on the world, but only God can make good out of evil. I will pray that you use whatever influence you have to make that so.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Picture of the Day

Say cheese!


What better way to spend a rainy day (thanks, last minute monsoon!) than by playing and taking selfies with your baby?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

DIY Art Table

Happy Sunday! Hope your respective favorite teams won their games today.

I found this picture while cruising through my Facebook feed this evening.

Ain't that cute! Pic found here

Though it'll still be a while before the baby is old enough to yield a marker and paper, this will be a handy DIY project to keep in mind when that time comes. We'll also be renovating and fixing up our trailer as needed, so cabinet doors won't be hard to acquire. We may also have one out in the shed somewhere too.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Barrio IPA

Beer time! We returned from the gas station this past week with my growler full of a new beer to try: Barrio IPA

IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and this is another creation of the Barrio Brewing Company (see my reviews of some of their other beers here and here). Always happy to support a local business, the brewery's website describes their IPA as "[b]rewed just like the original from Burton upon Trent. This style calls for a high hop rate combined with an elevated alcohol content because it was brewed to survive the journey from England to Bombay as rations for British troops. Huge amounts of two row pale malt with an addition of a few specialty malts provide a nice mouth feel buried under copious additions of Columbus hops. This beer is big but finishes clean."

Admittedly, I'm not much of an ale fan. I find them to be too bitter for my taste (the bitterness of hops are what turned me off of beer for a long time). But, I will drink ales to try them since I'm seeking to expand my beer palate and learn what brews work with what foods. A good IPA is something I've been on a quest to try and find ever since a former blogging buddy recommended them as his favorite beer a few years ago (he was actually a home brewer on the side).

A steaming bowl of Emile Zatarain's Dirty Rice for dinner seemed like a good occasion to try this new brew, so my hubby put our beer mugs to use.

As expected, this is a bitter brew. You can really taste the hops in this IPA, as the aftertaste is sharp. It has a nice smell though, and a head that is just the right consistency. This IPA is a nut-brown color, which is actually darker than a proper IPA (those are just a tad lighter). Since ales have a higher alcohol content than my preferred lagers, there is a slight buzz after consuming (ABV is somewhere between 5-6%). But true to it's description, there's not much of an aftertaste that lingers in your mouth. It does finish clean.


As for what foods pair well with Barrio IPA, fish seemed to work well (catfish, in particular), as well as anything acidic, like pickles (which I discovered actually takes the bitterness out of the ale pretty well!). The Dirty Rice we had with the initial tasting, not so much.

One interesting side effect of the IPA-my milk production ratcheted up noticeably. When she wakes up for her morning feed, the baby certainly appreciates the beer I had with dinner after she went to bed (by morning, the alcohol has completely metabolized so it's not in the milk to present a threat to her). Nursing mommies, take note!

For more on the Barrio Brewing Company, check out their website.

As always, please enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Hi everyone!

A little something for #TBT

This photograph was taken in 2008, just before I'd left my home state of Illinois to go to college in Arizona. That hideous pillow in my hands was created by one of my dad's patients (he was a tailor and made that pillow as a down payment until his check came in).

I have no idea what happened to that pillow after this picture was taken. I think we wound up donating it to Salvation Army or something like that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Republican Debate, Round 2

Against my better judgement, I decided to watch the second Republican debate this evening. CNN had it streaming live on their website, so I poured myself a tall frosty glass of beer and loaded up the browser window.

This will be my official image for anything having to do with Republican presidential candidates

There was not enough beer in the world for me to deal with this debacle. This shitshow was an insult to anyone with a functioning brain cell in their head. It was all the usual blat-blat, right-wing fascist talking points with some invocations to St. Ronald Reagan (in whose presidential library this clown caravan was held). And even the ones like John Kasich and Chris Christie, who showed some tiny semblance of humanity (Kasich with Medicare and Christie with a slightly more comprehensive view of "pro-life") can't help but be overshadowed by the other turds on the stage. It just served to highlight their own sanctimonious hypocrisy.

I'm convinced that Donald Trump's whole deal with declaring himself a presidential candidate is just to troll the Republican Party. His campaign run will either publically tear down the facade on our plutocracy when Jeb Bush gets nominated, however the books have to be cooked to get that result; or send the Republican Party going down in flames when he does get nominated. My husband thinks that Trump is pulling a Ross Perot to split the vote and ensure whoever the Republican nominee is doesn't win.

Whatever the way, the end result is clear: say hello to President Hillary Clinton.

I've never been so glad that I shredded my Republican voter card when I returned to Arizona.

Shrimp Boil Heaven

Greetings everyone! Hope your day has been good.

A few weeks ago, one of our regularly frequented Mexican grocery stores had shrimp on sale $2.50/lb. They came in 5lb boxes, and we got 2 of them. I was pleased because I'd been wanting shrimp for a while, but none of the stores (American or Mexican) had them for a reasonable price, despite us being so close to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. So when the sale came, we got some!

After putting one of the boxes out to thaw yesterday morning, my hubby went and got a package of Mexican seafood boil seasoning and a tin of Old Bay seafood boil. He'd been wanting Zatarain's seafood boil, which is what he traditionally uses for this sort of purpose, but the store didn't have any in stock. This morning, after the box of shrimp had thawed completely, he poured them into the pot with the water and seasoning mixes and set it all to boil for a bit.

The results were absolutely divine! The shrimp was a perfect pink color, and when we had a bowl of them for lunch, they were tender and sweet from having absorbed the spices. They just about melted in my mouth.

For a real down-home boil, I would have added potatoes, corn and other vegetables. But, for that we'd need something like a large tamale pot

This batch of shrimp will make for one bodacious gumbo, and whatever else we decide to make with them (I've got a hankering for shrimp and grits). There's nothing like down-home cooking to make the mouth water and fill the tummy up right.

Always be thankful for the little good things along the way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Special Delivery

Today, the delivery driver arrived with a package from my mom. I'd been alerted to this a few weeks ago when my mom emailed me letting me know that my grandmother had purchased some goodies for the baby and was going to mail them to me.

So when the box finally arrived, I was anxious to see what was inside.

I tried to lay everything as flat as I could. Not easy when you're holding a baby in one arm!

Prebaka (Serbian for "great-grandmother") was generous! These are mostly toddler size (the romper, the purple dress, and the Disney jammies), whereas the two-piece sets in the back are 9 and 18 month sizes, respectively. The bib and bows were the best part. I'm gonna have one stylish kid!

Aside from the goodies, the only other thing in the package was a copy of jury summons that arrived for me at my family's home. Apparently, the State of Illinois hasn't gotten the memo that I've moved to Arizona and have not lived in Illinois since 2012. Oops! Fortunately, I don't think this will be much of an issue and can be resolved with a simple phone call sometime before the end of the week (the summons date isn't until the end of September, so I have plenty of time).

Hope you all had a good day. Stay blessed!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Trip to The Doctor

Today, we had to take the baby to the doctor's office. It wasn't for anything serious, just her regularly-scheduled checkup. Since she is now 4 months old, it was also time for another round of vaccines.

After checking in, we waited for our turn in the waiting room. While we waited, the baby became restless in her stroller and since I'd forgotten to pack a blanket to lay on the chair for her to play on, I used the newspaper I'd taken to read as a cover. It was then that I discovered that newspaper makes a great DIY toy for a curious baby.

The hipsters call this "upcycling"

In fact, the baby was so into playing with and chomping on the newspaper that she didn't want to let go of it when we were called. So, with her in one arm and maneuvering her stroller one-handed, I followed the nurse to the exam room to get her vitals recorded.

My husband predicted that based on a recent weighing, she'd weigh in at around 15.5 lbs. So when she actually was weighed, the figure came in at over 16lbs, and my hubby was quite surprised cuz that figure blew the linear model he'd designed to track her weight gain clean out of the water. She also measured in a little over 2 ft long, which we both were surprised about. I knew she was growing, as she'd literally just outgrown her size-2 diapers, but I was surprised to see how much she'd grown since the last appointment.

Our doctor was absolutely delighted to see her progress. Her weight and growth put her in the top 94th percentile, and her development is rapidly progressing. Baby can now sit up with assistance, and control her head movements. She also rolls regularly and is working on standing up. The doctor advised that when she reaches 5 mos to start introducing her to solid food. I was a little surprised to hear that, as I'd always been told that 6 mos is the starting point for solids. The doctor explained that recent studies showed that the way we currently approach solid feeding for babies makes them more susceptible to developing food allergies and that the earlier you start feeding, the less likely they are to develop allergies. Weaning will be an interesting time, cuz I don't want to give up breastfeeding too soon (I want to shoot for at least a year or so). I don't think the baby would appreciate being cut off from the titty too soon either.

Finally, the vaccines came. Baby got her second round of DTaP, IPV, and rotovirus shots. She was not pleased about getting poked. Like last time, her shot spots were sore after a few hours and she was crying for about 20 minutes before a dose of kiddie acetaminophen helped make the discomfort go away. After that, she played a bit with some newspapers before going to sleep.

Nothing like using your imagination to keep yourself entertained

As painful as it is to see my child screaming and crying after getting her vaccine shots, I know she is given them to keep her healthy. Unlike anti-vaxxers, I don't see vaccines as the tools of the devil and would rather deal with a few hours discomfort than risk my child dying from a treatable disease because I took herd immunity for granted. Yes, shots suck. But getting sick and dying sucks worse.

Today was a good day, and getting the clean bill of health from the doctor's made things even better.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Stella Artois

Unfortunately, the freezer was too packed for me to frost my favorite beer mug. So, I drank it out of the bottle instead! Pic found here

A few weeks back, I purchased a six-pack of Stella Artois to sample after a former boss named it as her favorite beer and recommended it. I've been slowly consuming it in between fill-ups of my growler, and now it's time for a review.

Stella Artois is a light, lager brew from Belgian brewery that's been in operation since 1366, according to the company's website and the little history blurb on its bottles. It's certainly one of the more storied import beers I've tried.

Its beautiful golden color is evident even through the green-colored bottles containing it. The head is nice and bubbly, but not too dense. I was not terribly impressed with the taste of it, though. It's smooth going down, but I thought it was too light and watery. I'm sure there are subtleties in taste or texture that I'm too new to detect which make it palatable, but overall, it just wasn't my type of beer. And at 5% alcohol by volume, I didn't even get a buzz. Guess my hard-stuff foundation has resulted in dull tastebuds and a high tolerance.

For starters, I suppose it'd be alright. Bland, mild-tasting brews like this are a good introduction to beer drinking because they're not terribly bitter and low enough in alcohol so that you don't get fucked up; also, a step up from the commercial American swill. Like most lagers, Stella Artois goes well with meat dishes (chicken or pork seem to work well in particular), but it's not much of an all-purpose beer.

That being said, I have seen that Stella Artois also makes an apple beer called "Cidre". I will give that one a try and review it once fall comes and apple beer become more appealing (and cheaper!).

For more of Stella Artois, check out their website.

As always, please enjoy responsibly.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11-A Tribute

14 years ago, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, causing them to collapse and result in a massive loss of life. Later on in the morning, a plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC, where the US Military is headquartered. Finally, a plane that was headed for the White House was diverted and crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after the passengers mutinied and took over the plane. While everyone on board those respective flights lost their lives, the Pennsylvania plane stands out because it failed to reach its designated target.

Though theories abound about who (or what) was behind the devastating attacks, one thing remains certain. On 9/11, America as we knew it ceased to exist. What was previously a republic barely held up by democratic means became a full-fledged fascist plutocracy of the likes seen only in the Third World. George Bush would plunge America into two very costly wars, and oversee a decline in both American prestige and power, domestically and abroad.

I was only 11 years old when 9/11 happened and it made my future, however bright it might have been, ever so much darker.

I made this video a couple of years ago with the intention of uploading it to Youtube for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Though it never made it onto Youtube then, I decided to upload and show it to you here and now.

May the innocent souls who perished as a result of these diabolical actions rest in peace.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Slavery in the "Free Market"

Over the weekend, a friend of mine emailed me an article written by the friend of a friend, and it has gone viral among my network of friends. The article, written by an Israeli living in Jerusalem, is a well-written scathing critique about how the "free market" inevitably enslaves all those who participate in it in one form or another.

It's too long for me to post here, so I will link to it. But there was one quote that stood out from the whole piece.

We should take birth, life and death as they come, as was done by our ancestors. If we won’t stop this plague now, we shall see our children and grandchildren stripped for organ transplants to the rich bankers who want to live forever, if not bought and sold for the amusement of gay couples. We shall see children being manufactured and mass-produced for transplants, for war, for labour, as Aldous Huxley prophesied in his too-prescient book. God’s plans can be overridden only at a huge cost, a cost that will dwarf the override of Obama’s Iran Treaty.
This brought to mind a conversation my friend and I were having. My friend mentioned that while he was looking for a new job, he came across the website of a facility in Scottsdale (a wealthy suburb of Phoenix, AZ) that cryogenically froze dead people. That was not a typo-the same cryogenic freezing that you see in the movies is what this facility did (in the desert, no less!). I told him how weird I thought it was that people would want to freeze themselves in the hope of being resurrected in the future. Even with freezing to hold off the rot, you'd have to get a new brain, new nerves, basically be reprogrammed cuz if you were to be revived a millenium from now, you couldn't cope with what the world then would be like. My friend responded by saying that this sort of set up, where you could be wealthy enough to have yourself frozen and then have the failing parts changed out like a computer, is a recipe for damnation. Like fundamentalism, this utilitarian mentality spits in God's face because it tells Him "the souls You have created are not worthy of my acknowledgment! They aren't even worth life unless they have something materially to contribute."

Read the rest of this excellent piece here. It's well worth your time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Thrill of the Save

It's no surprise that when you live on a fixed income, it's important to save every penny you can. This is especially important when it comes to food. Since we get food stamps, this means careful budgeting and shopping so as to stretch our allotment as far as we can.

And you CAN use coupons with food stamps! Pic found here

Yesterday, with our food stamp allotment topped up, we went to our closest Safeway to go get some stuff. Since Tuesday is the last day for the weekly sales, there are a whole bunch of "clear-out-the-crap" sales which can be scored (Wednesdays are when the new weekly sales fliers are released). And  score did we! Fresh tomatoes on the vine (we're trying to resurrect the plant in the garden, which drowned in a monsoon storm and has temporarily halted our homegrown tomato supply), ground beef (20% is our preferred fat content cuz it doesn't have to be drained), coffee creamer, plenty of pop, and some breakfast stuff. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't any ice cream on sale, as the last time we'd gone there was a fire sale for our favorite brand, Blue Bunny, and the whole freezer shelf was pretty well cleared out. Guess that was only for the Labor Day weekend.

Well, when it came time to check out, the tab was well over $150. But because my husband had his Safeway card, the grocery savings from using that card dropped the total by about half. It was probably the biggest savings we'd ever done in one trip (our savings usually average around $20-$30), and it felt good.

Now, to take some of those savings and find some Blue Bunny on sale...I wanna get at least one more tub before the cooler weather arrives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fun with Tesla Coils

Last night, while cruising around on Youtube, I stumbled across videos featuring "singing" Tesla Coils. Basically, these are Tesla Coils synced up to music, their charges zapping to the beats.

This video was the first one I'd seen with the singing coils. The House of the Rising Sun is a good song to play on any medium.

Another one that I liked. I thought it was the most spot-on of all the singing coil videos I'd seen

As a faithful Whovian, I just had to include one with the Doctor!

When my kids are old enough, my hubby and I are gonna teach them how to build Tesla Coils. If the grid in our area can handle it, maybe we can make music with our Tesla Coils too!

Monday, September 7, 2015



The title of today's post is a combination of the words "apostolate" and "apostasy", two subjects that came to my attention recently and deserve to be addressed.

Defined, so I don't have to write it out. Pic found here

In the Catholic world, apostolates are groups run by either lay people or religious and are dedicated to spreading a particular Catholic message to the world. They may have names like Latin Mass Society, Tradition-Family-Property, or Church Militant, each dedicated to spreading the Catholic message in a world that needs it. Apostolates may also be informal, like a particularly well-versed member of the parish advocating for the Faith to his fellow parishioners. While many apostolates are legit and do wonders for helping to both evangelize the unbelievers and reaffirm the faith of the flock, there are a number of apostolates out there that at first glance might seem orthodox, but a little digging reveals something else. And it's for that "something else" that I will not link to any of the apostolates I mention in this post.

About a week ago, a close friend of the family emailed my husband a link to an apostolate in Ohio called Holy Love. The subject of the link was that the bishop was cracking down on this particular apostolate, and that "Jesus was unhappy about it". I will not link to the website of this apostolate because I believe it to be dubious at best, heretical at worst. I came to that conclusion after taking a look around the apostolate's website and found that they claim Jesus and Mary make regular apparitions at the property this apostolate is located on. There was also a schedule of upcoming events that showed the apparitions slated to appear at certain times.

My reason for doubting the veracity of these appearances stems from what I'd been taught in Catechism class. The Austrian priest who taught me my Catechism explained that the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the Saints do make appearances when they're needed, to whoever needs them and wherever that may be. What they do NOT do, however, is make scheduled appearances the way musicians do at rock concerts or what have you. Anybody who claims otherwise is either deluded or demonic.

I let this trip down the internet wormhole pass and went about life as usual, until Sunday when a friend's innocuous Facebook status about biscuits resulted in a person doing the internet equivalent of a bible-thumper howling about sin with their comment. The commenter, when finished yelling about the state of spiritual warfare, then linked to this website called the St. Michael World Apostolate.

Karl Malden was not a thumper. He just played one. I would have been very sad if he was. Pic found here

This particular outfit claims to promote the message of Our Lady of Fatima, but reading through the website raised a number of red flags. For one, there was the whole "commies crawling out of the walls!" mentality and Russophobia invoked when describing the aftermath of Vatican II up till the present day. I found such blather insulting due to both my Russian heritage and my knowledge of history. Unfortunately, this ignorant fascist mindset is a sadly common feature of Fatimaistas (devotees of Our Lady of Fatima) and their various associations. The big one, however, was the obsession with the year 1972.

In 1972, Pope Paul VI made his famous remark that "the smoke of Satan had entered the Vatican". The site claimed that in that year, the pope was deposed and Satan incarnate sat on the Chair of Peter using a body double. In addition to that load of nonsense, the site featured an obviously doctored photo that their reputed "seer" interpreted as confirming that the Antichrist had indeed arrived on Earth in 1972.

It's crackpots like these apostolates mentioned that set my bullshit detector on high alert whenever someone mentions the name of an apostolate and how "spot-on" or "righteous" they are. Granted some are more crackpot than others, but spotting the bullshit never fails to set my blood boiling. THESE sorts of outfits are how good people of good faith get set out on a wrong and dangerous path. THIS is how people lose faith and become apostates. THIS kind of bullshit gives Catholicism a bad name. And these crackpots NEED to be cracked down on so that they don't cause more damage and drive more souls away!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Night BBQ

The BBQ Queen has done her duty tonight!

Pork chops cut like ribs, and chicken

After whipping up two batches of my favorite Ginger-Lime Marinade (the batch for the pork chops was gonna have sugar. I used a 1/2 cup of light brown sugar instead of my preferred dark brown sugar cuz that was all we had available) and my usual overnight soak, they grilled up tasty and tender.

Two things:

  1. I never would have guessed that the skin would be the hardest part of separating chicken quarters (the bones weren't that bad, and I was able to do the job without resorting to using a saw!)
  2. It's hard as hell to cook a chicken leg all the way through. The thigh will cook fine, but the drumstick will be pink at the bone. Or, the drumstick will be fine, and the thigh will be pink in a couple spots. This is why I seldom buy raw chicken and prefer to buy it already prepared.
But in spite of the hassles with the chicken, the pork chops turned out marvelous. Juicy, flavorful, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I take great pride in my marinades, so it pleases me to see how great it worked. The 1/2 cup of light brown sugar helped enhance the taste of the pork without making it too sweet.

Have a blessed Sunday and a safe Labor Day!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Barrio Rojo

Another two weeks passed, another trip to the gas station to fill up the growler. After surviving a root beer explosion, I was in need of some liquid cereal to keep the hubby out of mischief.

There was a surprisingly long line at the draft counter, but when our turn came, we selected the next tap up the line from last trip's selection, Barrio Blonde. This time, we got Barrio Rojo.

Another creation of the local Barrio Brewing Company, Rojo (Spanish for "red") bills itself as a Scottish-style ale with less hops and more malt in the brew. According to the brewery's website, "[w]e took our time to caramelize the brewing sugars to create a low bitterness, sweet beer with notes of caramel brown sugar and cinnamon." Intrigued by this description, I had to try some.

True to its name, the beer that came out of the growler was a deep red, almost brown color. It reminded me strongly of a stout. There was also a gorgeous head on the beer too, which I have to thank the attendant at the gas station for since she actually sealed the growler's cap with electrical tape just after she filled it up. I knew it was gonna be heady too as I was watching the foam pour out all over the counter as she filled the growler up.

I tried to get a picture of the color, but my flash is too bright to do it justice

My hubby's beer. A better shot of the color, but still not as good as in real life

As for the taste, I was pleased to note that it was not terribly bitter. It definitely had more body quality than the Blonde, but I would not call it sweet. It's malty, but not something sugary. In fact, I couldn't detect any of the brown sugar and cinnamon advertised in the description. The Goose Island Summertime Ale I'd had a few weeks back was sweeter than this brew. I wouldn't go so far as to call it false advertising, but I guess my tastebuds aren't primed for subtlety. Like most beers, it has an alcohol level of around 5%, so the buzz is very minimal.

My husband, on the other hand, was very pleased with the quality of the beer, going so far as to call the Blonde we had last time "pisswater". He even put away the Clamato he'd planned to add as a flavor enhancer. Despite it's stouty appearance, the mash for Rojo was not toasted and for that I am grateful.

Since we had ribs for dinner, I found that the beer actually worked nicely with the tangy BBQ sauce they'd been slathered in. The flavors complemented each other well. Down in the pork layer of the ribs, past the sauce, the beer cut down on the natural saltiness of pork. It's a good pork beer, I'll give the brewers credit for that.

Overall, I guess I'm pretty disappointed by Rojo. I was expecting something sweet, and it let me down.

As always, please enjoy all adult beverages responsibly.

Friday, September 4, 2015


A photo posted by Tamara Tamtam Morris (@tr0u8ad0ur_520) on

I'm working on improving my photography skills. A picture can make or break a subject, and I always want to post the best pix I can take. This is going to be a fun and interesting journey, as I have no formal training in photography and the best camera in the house is my smartphone. Show me what you got, Google!

An Ode to Skinny Brows

I'm not in any way a fashionista. I could care less about what is deemed "fashionable" on display on runways in New York, Paris, etc. This mostly holds true for makeup and beauty trends as well. When it comes to beauty, I try to keep up as much as my income and energy allow, which is not very much.

But no matter what, there is one thing I absolutely refuse to conform to current trends.

My eyebrows.

I have very thin, some would call, severely overplucked eyebrows. And I like to keep them that way.

Growing up, I had thick eyebrows that were flat and manly. They had no real shape to them and got my glasses greasy every time I frowned. Since no woman in my home provided any incentive for me to have them professionally shaped, I took it upon myself to do something about it when I was in high school and old enough to start figuring out what makeup was. An old eyeliner pencil, some tweezers, and some time in front of a mirror provided the foundation for the look I now bear. At the time, I credited some inspiration to Pam Anderson, who I thought rocked the skinny brows.

Me, age 18. I do not have any pictures on my computer of me younger than this

Once I moved out here to Arizona, my super-thin brows took on more refining and inspiration from chola girls I would see on the bus from time to time. This meant drawing on my eyebrows with pencils so as to give them shape and definition.

Before I figured out what blending was, haha #blendingfail

Style trends nowadays call for fuller brows. Ones that aren't so thin and "artificial" looking.

To this I say, screw you, trend forecasters! I spent just about all my teenage years with man-brows, and I will NOT yield one hair towards going back to those days. I don't look good in anything other than skinny brows, and I will tweeze the hell out of my brows to keep them that way.

Admittedly, full brows are not for every one. Same goes for skinny brows. What works for one doesn't always work for the other. But it just irks me to no end to see models and celebrities with eyebrows that I think look more appropriate on men (see: Kylie Jenner, the Kardashian klan).

Skinny brow wearers of the world, you are not alone! It's totally cool to give mainstream beauty the middle finger. You don't have to follow the flow to look beautiful. I certainly don't, therefore, I don't feel beholden to such trends like "fuller" eyebrows.

Like Fleetwood Mac sang, "you can go your own way"

Thursday, September 3, 2015

E-Z Chili

Regardless of what time of the year it is, chili is a staple meal in our home. It's cheap, delicious to eat, and doesn't heat up the house more than usual.

Goes great with cornbread!

It's pretty easy to make it, too. Here's what you'll need:

2 packets of chili seasoning
2 lbs of ground beef
2 cans of chili tomatoes (like Rotel)
A few fresh chopped tomatoes (optional)
A handful of chopped green onions (optional)
1 large chopped chili pepper (like Hatch chilies; optional)
2 cans of red beans
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic

First dice the garlic and onion, throw into either a deep skillet or a metal pot with a bit of oil, and let fry for a bit. Then, add the ground beef and brown. After the beef has browned, throw in the chili seasoning. Add in the chili tomatoes and the cans of beans, let simmer for a bit. Finally, throw in the chopped tomatoes, chili pepper, and green onions. Let the chili stew for about 30 min or so to blend the flavors. Serve and enjoy.

  • Extra chili powder can be added for additional spice if the seasoning packet is too mild. However, I recommend using fresh chilies whenever possible (Hatch chilies are in season right now!)
  • If chili tomatoes are not available, you can purchase canned diced tomatoes and canned green chilies separately, then combine
  • I recommend using 80% lean ground beef so that you don't have to drain the fat (keeping the fat adds more flavor to the chili). Anything less than 80% lean will require draining, do that before adding the seasoning.
  • For a richer chili, use beef chuck roast (like what would be used to make tamales) and slow cook it separately before adding to the chili.
  • You can use any onion available, but I recommend using either purple or yellow onions. I like the way they make the chili taste.
  • Cast-iron cookware is highly recommended for making this dish 
  • Black beans are acceptable for chili, but I recommend red beans. They taste better than black beans
  • Mix with scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast with a kick!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Why I became a Pinko. Image found here

Take a moment to thank the labor unions who pushed for living wages, reasonable work hours, better working conditions, and who are fighting their damndest to stop the common man from sliding back into slavery again.