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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween, the day we are all allowed to dress up in costumes, party, and gorge on candy.

Like the vast majority of my neighbors, I did not go trick or treating. The baby is still too little to appreciate trick or treating, but my neighborhood is largely Mexican and with trick or treating being a largely American custom, it's just not a common practice down there (Mexicans, however, have something better-sugar skulls, sweet bread, and altars set up in memory of deceased family members!). It also doesn't help that just about every lot in the park has a fence of some sort up and some kind of dog(s) behind them. A barking, snarling dog or two makes it kinda hard to go up to someone's door and say trick or treat.

But, we did celebrate in our own little way! Some months back, my husband's cousin sent us a care package from her home in southern Louisiana. In addition to some classic Cajun/NOLA goodies, she sent a pumpkin outfit! We broke out the pumpkin outfit for this afternoon's outing to church.

Growing out of the blankets on the bed was...a pumpkin baby!


While some claim that supernatural activity (especially the evil kind) reaches its apex on Halloween, we had a rather fortuitous encounter with one of our Carmelite padres when we went to the other church for Confession. We were getting ready to leave and go home when we saw him crossing the parking lot on his way back from the bakery across the street with a few boxes of doughnuts. He was not wearing his habit, so I didn't recognize him at first, but his distinctive hair and eyeglasses gave him away. He offered us some of the doughnuts and while I admittedly don't care much for doughnuts, I was not about to turn down free food. My husband took it as a sign of approval from God for time spent in good penance and not causing mischief while going door-to-door for candy.

And that was how I spent my Saturday. Hope you had a safe and happy Halloween, and I can't wait to score some half-off Halloween candy tomorrow. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Angry Orchard Hard Cider Crisp Apple

Due to lack of funds in the monthly budget (thanks, blown out tire!), I won't be making a trip to the gas station to get my growler refilled. So, for this week's beer review, I'll stick with a selection from a recently purchased mix-n-match six-pack from a local grocery chain. The evenings have finally gotten cool enough for me to crack open one of the four apple beers from that purchase!

It looks just like apple juice! Pic found here


Since it was the easiest bottle to reach in the fridge, I pulled out Angry Orchard Hard Cider Crisp Apple. I'd seen this brand in the grocery stores and I wanted to try it, but it wasn't quite cold enough for fall yet. Now with opportunity just outside the walls, I popped the top off of the bottle and took a sip.

The big thing that stood out the moment the cider hit my palette was how much it tasted like apple cider vinegar. There was no mistaking the taste of apple in the beer, nor its smell when I sniffed the open bottle. It was definitely more sour than I anticipated, having been accustomed to hoppy, grain-based beers. Colorwise, it looks just like carbonated apple juice! At 5% ABV, it might well be apple juice, in my opinion. A little research on the brewery's website revealed that a combination of sour and sweet apples plus wine yeast were used in the creation of this cider, which accounts for the bold taste. Interestingly enough, it began to taste better as the cider warmed up to room temperature! Unlike most brews, this one is better served warm.

My husband took a sip and told me it tasted just like the home-brewed apple jack a former girlfriend used to make in the fall. He thought at first the beer might have gone bad but after tasting it to compare to her fresh jack, he pronounced it ok.

Since this is the first time I've ever consumed apple beer, I find it to be rather strange tasting yet pleasantly refreshing. It's definitely not bitter, which is a huge plus in my book. That being said, I probably wouldn't pair this drink with anything other than pork (pork and apples go well together), or a dessert of some sort. In other words, something sweet would be a good pair with Angry Orchard. I would also be careful drinking this because you don't taste the alcohol very much, so it's especially easy to get shitfaced on hard cider. That being said, Angry Orchard puts out other varieties of cider, and if I should come across them, I'd be happy to sample these other brews from the Ohio-based brewery.

For more on Angry Orchard and the other varieties of cider they brew, check out their website.

As always, please drink responsibly.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Winter is Coming

A happy Thursday to all of you!

This storm actually produced hail in parts of town!


It has turned cold and rainy again here in beautiful Arizona! Now that November is almost here, the weather will finally start to cool off as it properly should.

My husband is making oatmeal cookies in the kitchen. This is something he always does when it's cold. Aside from his voracious appetite for oats (he could seriously rival a horse on how much oatmeal he eats), the heat from the oven will warm up the trailer for a bit as well as give it a nice smell. Warm cookies fresh out of the oven are always a yummy treat on cold evenings like this.

Stay warm out there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Republican Debate, Round 3

In what was a fortuitous bit of programming and availability, I was unable to watch the shit show known as the Republican debate. My liver rejoiced at this bit of news, since the beer stayed in the fridge and my trusty mug stayed in the freezer.

Pennywise the Donald, my official image for anything having to do with Republicans this election season


In a classic display of capitalist hubris, CNBC, the network tasked with airing the clown show would not carry a live stream of the debate for anyone who didn't have a paying TV package. Upon reading this, I breathed a sigh of relief and loaded the ESPN radio browser so that I could listen to the World Series. While I am a White Sox fan and the Royals are our division rivals, I hate everything from New York with a passion-especially their sports teams! Also, with the exception of the chaotic year of 2012, I have not missed a World Series since 2003 and plan to keep that tradition going for as long as possible.

Go Royals! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Horror of Reality

Halloween is just a few days away! In addition to pumpkin spice-everything and costumes, the scary stories are coming out on forum boards and comment sections.

While some pieces of creepypasta are pretty scary, some of the scariest stories are the ones based in real life.

One of the most frightening tales I encountered was the story of Blanche Monnier.

1901 photograph of Blanche, when she was discovered. Viewer discretion advised. Pic found here


According to the narrative of the day, Blanche Monnier was the daughter of a locally prominent family in Poitiers, France. Described as beautiful, she fell in love with a lawyer in town who was quite a bit older than she was. Her mother disapproved of the relationship and decided that the best way to end it would be to imprison her daughter in an upstairs bedroom until she agreed to end the relationship. Blanche would remain in that room for 25 years. She was seldom fed and due to the windows being covered and sealed, she would not see the light of day for the duration of her imprisonment. When asked about her daughter who had disappeared rather suddenly from the public view, Blanche's mother claimed that her daughter had eloped with someone else. Blanche's brother, Marcel, who was also a lawyer, gave strict orders for the servants never to tell anyone about what really happened to Blanche. As for the lawyer who started this whole ordeal? He died about ten years after Blanche's imprisonment. No one had ever bothered to tell her. She was essentially forgotten by the family.

Blanche's imprisonment would end when the Attorney General in Paris received an anonymous letter tipping him off to the existence of a woman trapped in a room and covered in filth in the Monnier family home. He sent a force down to Poitiers to investigate the claim and despite the family's obstructionist tactics, the police entered the home and discovered Blanche in her bedroom prison. Sure enough, she was very emaciated (it is said she weighed only 55 lbs), covered in filth, and the bedroom was covered in squalor. She was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment, while her brother and mother were arrested and taken to jail. To this day, no one knows who sent the letter that alerted the authorities to her plight.

The family went to trial and Marcel was sentenced to fifteen months in prison for being an accomplice. Blanche's mother, the mastermind, died suddenly after her arrest and did not stand trial. Marcel appealed his sentence, claiming that he did not harm his sister and that she could have escaped her locked prison at anytime by stating she would end her relationship with that lawyer. Incredibly, the judge agreed and threw out Marcel Monnier's prison sentence.

While one would hope for a happy ending for Blanche, her end was as tragic as her life. While she would regain her weight and physical health, she could not cope with the world around her after having been isolated for so long. Blanche died in an insane asylum, twelve years after her rescue.

Sometimes, real life is scarier than any horror story ever written.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Picture of the Day

Cuteness attack!


That Princess Leia-style blanket on the baby's head was actually inspired by a Hong Kong based beauty vlogger who made a similar headwrap for her son and herself using a towel. That headwrap is known as a Sheep Head wrap from Korea, and it is used in the sauna or bath. It was too cute not to try, even though it ended up looking more like the headdress of a member of the Sisters of Charity.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pablum Pootums

Happy Sunday, dear readers!

Yesterday, the baby had another feeding of oatmeal pablum! After her first taste of the stuff this week, we took a few extra precautions this time around so as to keep the mess as minimal as possible.

YOU MONSTERS! HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME WEAR A BIB!


I suggested adulterating one of the baby bottles I'd received in a baby care package from a friend before I gave birth to specifically be a pablum bottle. These are a fairly common way of feeding the mushy cereals mixed with breastmilk or formula to babies. However, my daughter absolutely hated the baby bottle and refused to drink her milk from it (she didn't like the hard rubber nipple) when she was still within the first few weeks of life. Now that she's older, I figured we could reintroduce her to the bottle again but for mushy pablum instead of pumped milk. This was mostly for the purpose of keeping the meal mess minimal.

Daddy feeding the baby her pablum bottle


My husband did make a bigger hole in the nipple for the pablum, but she didn't care much for the nipple. So, out came the spoon.

She likes the spoon better

I love being messy!



After enough mess, we tried the bottle again, and this time she took it and consumed most of the pablum. What little was left, I ate so as not to waste it.

Of course, it did not take long for this pablum-induced food coma to set in.

Zzzzzzz


Ah, the joys of parenthood.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Art of My Ancestors

Here's something you don't see everyday.

Svarog (similar to Jupiter)


I stumbled across this link to an article showcasing paintings of Slavic pagan gods and mythology by a fairly reknowned Russian artist named Boris Olshansky.

As someone who is of Slavic ancestry (Serbian on mom's side, Russian on my dad's side), I was particularly pleased about the content of these paintings. It was only within the last two years or so that I discovered Slavic paganism and have begun to learn about it as I go along. Due to its proximity, elements of Nordic and Greco-Roman religions left their mark on Slavic paganism with each of the respective religions' pantheons sharing deities of similar rank and characteristics.

Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom (mythology)


While I had some passing familiarity with Slavic mythology from my late grandmother, I was largely ignorant of my ancestors pre-Christian culture. I suppose, however, that was not deliberate. Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to my peoples and that led to the suppression of the old pagan ways (though not entirely, as some contemporary Christian customs still retain pagan origins like Serbian badnjace (oak Yule logs) and vencici (grass wreaths woven at Pentecost)). With suppression comes ignorance, and I honestly believe my family didn't know the old ways better because that sort of information wasn't available to them. Also, the stigma surrounding pagan beliefs would have prevented them from sharing what they knew as well.

While I am a Catholic, I feel like I would be doing myself a huge disservice if I didn't take the time to become familiar with my ancestors' pagan past. I have no intention of becoming a pagan, but it is important for me to know this part of my ancestral past. After all, you cannot know yourself unless you know where you've come from.

Latter-day interpretation of Jesus and the Moneychangers


All artwork on this entry is by Boris Olshansky and is from this link.

A Short Review of Beer: Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest

Another growler refill, another new brew to review!

One of the original microbreweries in America, based out of Chino, CA. Pic found here


I'd spotted this brew the last time I was at the tap counter, but decided to try the Hefeweizen instead. The gas station I fill my growler at always has some varieties of beer from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, especially their pale ale, which my husband detests passionately. But the Oktoberfest brew, being a seasonal one, caught my eye and so I had to try it. After last trip's disappointing brew, California beers were in need of some redemption.

According to my husband, Oktoberfest brews tend to be bottom-barrel, where everything settles so they've got extra body. He refers to this sort of beer as "boch" (pron. "bock"). According to the Sierra Nevada website, their Oktoberfest beer is "deep golden in color and rich with complex malt flavor from the use of traditional German Steffi barley."

My take: it was definitely better than hefeweizen! I didn't understand the more formal scientific notations regarding gravity, bitterness, etc that I saw on the website, but my uneducated mind deems it an acceptable beer. It definitely has body and a nice wheat taste. It's not too bitter, which I was pleased to note and has a pretty golden color to top it off. Unlike my husband who likes to pour clamato into his beers, I found this beer palatable enough to not need any adulteration.

As for what foods pair well with Oktoberfest, both the website and myself can concur that pork is the best dish. I especially enjoyed how the flavors of the beer and my ginger-lime marinated pork chops mingled in my mouth at dinner. The bitterness complemented the tangy, slightly sweet flavor left behind by the marinate.

California beer, you're back in my good graces again.

For more information about the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and their other varieties of beer, check out their website here.

As always, please drink responsibly.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sticky Little Fingers

Greetings!

Ever since he found a whole cache of concerts and rare footage of his favorite band, The Rolling Stones, my husband has their music playing on the computer daily. I don't mind, as it is a welcome break from the Mexican ranchero music I hear my neighbors playing.

This got me thinking, while it will still be a while before the baby's first birthday, what should we get her? My husband and I decided to start a tradition where for our children's first birthday, they will get an article of clothing featuring one of our favorite classic rock bands (both American and British). Screw "Rockabye Baby"! Who needs creepy British nursery rhymes, when you can get better music sung by creepy British rock stars instead!

How appropriate for a toddler. Pic found here


While perusing the internet for a suitable garment, my husband saw the onesie above and decided that when the time came, he would get that specific one. The caption "sticky lil fingers" is a reference to the Stones' Sticky Fingers album.

Why rock band clothes?

Why not?

After all, the family that rocks together, rolls together!

Never stop rocking, even if you wind up in a wheelchair. Pic found here

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Picture of the Day

Cold weather has made another appearance here in southern Arizona! As such, it was time to break out the heavier clothes for the next few days.

This was her first time wearing any sort of heavy clothing!


The baby's outfit for the day was a hoodie with pink pants layered over one of the bulk onesies we bought some weeks back and topped off with little socks. She definitely was warm in this ensemble. I try not to overdress (or underdress) the baby, as we live in a generally warm climate. However, with today's temperature being in the 60s, it was time to layer up.

Fall has finally arrived. I hope the weather is decent where you live, dear reader.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A New Milestone

Greetings, dear readers!

Today I am both pleased and saddened to report that the baby had her first official feeding of solids. I made her some oatmeal pablum using some finely ground oatmeal cereal and breastmilk.

The first taste. She liked it!

That spoon in my hand is the same spoon my hubby was fed with when he was an infant. His mom sent us some baby utensils for Christmas

She only ate about half of the pablum in the bowl. Her tummy filled up fast. I'm gonna need to find a high chair for the baby soon so I'll have an easier time feeding her instead of holding her on my lap.


I'm happy that she has made this milestone because she's ahead of the development curve. The baby had skills of more developed children at a much younger age. Seeing this, our pediatrician recommended that we start feeding her solid food at five months as opposed to the six month average.

However, this happy moment is bittersweet. Yes, my baby is growing up (always too fast for my liking), but I don't want to give up breastfeeding her yet because she can now eat solid food. I feel like the bond between her and I is strengthened the more I nurse her. I know I can't nurse her forever, but I want to shoot for at least a year and if possible, have her decide when she wants to be weaned.

I suppose I couldn't have picked a better day for the baby to have her first meal of solid food. My menstruation has resumed after a little over a year of not happening due to pregnancy and then breastfeeding once I gave birth. I suspected I was close to getting it because my face began to break out in acne like I used to before I became pregnant. Another reminder of fleeting infancy, as well as thinking about when to start trying for the next baby.

Treasure your children, dear readers. They really do grow up fast.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Picture of the Day

A most vigorous chomp!


About a week ago, my mom sent a care package which included that chompy toy for the baby. It's become her favorite chompy. The company that made it was Nuby, and I must say, I'm quite pleased with the quality of their products. My daughter's disgraced godfather bought her a teething toy by the same company a while back, and she likes playing with it when we're out. They're both easy to grasp and effective at soothing sore teething gums.

I love being a mom. There is something fulfilling about watching my child grow from a tiny helpless infant into a boisterous child who is curious about the world and everything in it. I only hope that I don't become a helicopter parent and render her completely unequipped to deal with the world at large when it comes time for her to leave me and make her own way in life. I also hope that I can accept her for who she is and not someone she should be, a very painful lesson still resonating with me today.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

O Fortuna

Greetings! I hope your weekend went well.

A most serendipitous encounter occurred yesterday.

On Saturdays, my husband and I like to go to Confession. This most underrated Sacrament is something we try to partake in weekly, though I start to feel the Devil gnaw at me if I go more than two weeks between Confessions. We used to go to the Cathedral to do that, as there was a Nigerian priest I was rather fond of who was a competent confessor. However, we stopped going there because the Cathedral is horribly understaffed. Since we frequent the other church which is staffed by righteous Carmelites, we started going there for Confession instead and are pleased with the quality of our Carmelite confessors.

Yesterday was like any other Saturday. We went to our other church for Confession, arriving just as a wedding finished and the guests were leaving to go and celebrate. As we entered the church, we spotted Canon Bill and his novitiate assistant in the Confession line! It was a bit surprising to see how our separate church spheres had crossed, but it was also a stark reminder that priests need Confession too.

Yeah, funny how that works. Pic found here


As I walked towards the line to take my place, the person exiting the confessional was none other than our friend who we encountered on Thursday at the Cathedral! She reported that the exorcism of her friend was successful, but she told me something that made my jaw drop. On Friday, she and another friend took their possessed friend to the diocesan exorcist's office for another go after Thursday's attempt was unsuccessful. After undergoing the ritual, the possessed friend was delivered from the demon's grasp at the same time our tire blew out on the way to the grocery store! Our friend inquired if we were alright because, as she explained, even though I fulfilled her prayer request with something off the cuff for the success of the exorcism, my intercession pissed the demon off mightily and it was gonna get me for my help in its eviction. Coincidence or not, this revelation is making me rethink the blowout. There was no denying that the tire was worn and off balance, but for it to go as it did makes me wonder if the demon didn't just poke a hole in one of the weak spots as it whizzed past me on its way back to Hell...

After Confession and Penance, I got to thinking about the day's fateful encounters. I took it as a sign to keep up our current arrangement of alternating between the Latin Mass church and the other church. My husband agreed. We get the best of both the ancient and modern worlds with this setup. The Latin Mass gives us the old Mass, but the other church gives us more authentically traditional Catholicism. Before we went our separate ways, I advised the novitiate accompanying Canon Bill to familiarize himself with the Carmelites and their church. My husband advised the same to the priest. Canon Bill's predecessor held the Carmelites in high esteem, an assessment my hubby and I agreed with. Both men would do well to keep that opinion in mind.

And that was how I spent my Saturday.

**Note: The title to this post, O Fortuna, means "Oh Fortune". It was inspired by this song

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Dos Equis Ambar

Another week, another beer to try.

A local favorite. Pic found here


Having finished Negra Modelo, it was time to move on to another buffer beer. A sale at one of our regularly frequented Mexican grocery stores featured another classic Mexican brew to sample, Dos Equis Ambar. Unlike Negra Modelo which is brewed by Grupo Modelo, the largest brewer in Mexico, Dos Equis is brewed by its lone rival, Ceveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma.

Like many Mexican beers, Dos Equis was a product of German immigration in the 19th Century (in this case, a specific immigrant named Wilhelm Hasse). Dos Equis was brewed specifically to celebrate the coming of the 20th Century ("dos equis" means "two Xs", a reference to the Roman Numerals XX on the bottle to denote the coming century). It was so popular that it remains in production to the present day.

Ambar ("amber") is the original brew of the Dos Equis label. According to the label's website, Ambar is "A robust, classic Vienna-style lager with a full body. A beer with brawn from Germany, swagger from Mexico, and the finest North American pale and roasted malts. An amber-colored refreshment that’s adventurous enough to be distinctly flavorful. "

Silly commercials aside, my overall impression of this beer was positive. True to the description, there is plenty of body and it leaves a pleasant taste in my mouth. In fact, the aftertaste brings to mind a loaf of decent bread. And because it's a lager, it's not very bitter which is something I like. With a 4.7% ABV, there is not much of a buzz either. The golden orange color is quite pretty too. "Amber" certainly is an appropriate name for this brew. While it's not primo beer, this is a huge improvement over Corona and even outranks its sister brew, Negra Modelo. I didn't even have to adulterate Ambar with any lime juice to make it palatable!

As for food pairings, Dos Equis Ambar goes well with fish and something sour. Foods with tomato sauce or pickle relish fare particularly well with this beer, but I'm pleased to note that Dos Equis Ambar does pull its weight as a general, all-purpose beer. From tacos to burgers to salad, Ambar goes down smoothly with all of them. Provided that I don't find something better, I may have found a suitable replacement for my all-purpose beer void that Steel Reserve once filled.

For more information on Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma and the labels it covers (including Dos Equis), check out their website (in Spanish) or their Wikipedia page (English)

As always, please drink responsibly

The Blowout

Greetings, dear readers!

We had a rather alarming incident happen today while we were on our way to go grocery shopping. As we were making our way down the street with the rest of the start-of-rush-hour traffic, we got another flat tire. Fortunately, there was a nearby business subdivision for us to pull into to get out of traffic and deal with the problem.

Man at work


Once we parked, I took the baby out of her carseat and went outside to survey the damage. Sure enough, the drivers side tire had blown out. This occurred just one week after the back drivers side tire went flat. Thankfully on Monday, my husband bought a spare, although it bothered us mightily to have to deploy it so soon.

See the tear on the bottom of the tire, right through the whitewall?


After the damaged tire was removed, I saw what had caused the blow out. About a year and a half ago, we had a flat happen to us not far from a tire store chain. We had no choice but to go there because the bicycle tire spare that came with the car disintegrated as we pulled into the parking lot. The attendants at the tire store, either through sheer incompetence or on purpose, never balanced the drivers side front tire (this made the car rattle and shake every time we hit 55 mph on the highway). The unbalanced tire caused the inside tread to wear down irregularly and ultimately caused the blowout. It also served as a reminder to count our blessings because had we been traveling on the highway instead of on the local streets when this happened, it could have been a deadly way to make the 10:00 news.

Tire balance. This popped out of the damaged tire when my husband took it off. It's normally attached to the rim to provide stability.


Tipping point, or devilish meddling in light of a friend's prayer request for the success of her friend's exorcism yesterday? I'm inclined to think of the former after seeing the damage on the tire. While I would like to pursue legal action against the tire chain for neglecting to balance the tire, thus setting us up for a potentially dangerous situation and costly repairs, I don't know if I have any of the purchase paperwork or if the statute of limitations has passed for filing a claim. On second thought, I don't know if I even have a case. I may just be ranting.

Have a safe weekend

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Taquero

Greetings!

Here's something to make your mouth water:

Support your local establishments. This torta (top) and taco plate were from a nearby taqueria


http://www.buzzfeed.com/norbertobriceno/tacos-tacos-tacooooos?utm_term=.hbqm7pNNR

In English, a "taquero" is someone who makes tacos. They can be found in food trucks or taco stands and are renowned for whipping up delicious down-home food. Here in Arizona, taqueros and their ventures are dime a dozen. Their tacos are a great fill for cheap (often less than $1!).

My time here in Arizona has spoiled me. Why should I patronize chains like Taco Bell and Chipotle when there are places nearby where I can get REAL Mexican food? That right there is an incentive to keep me here in Arizona for the foreseeable future. I've become accustomed to spice and would hate to move someplace where what passes for Mexican food is bland and corporatized.

Enjoy the article, and thank your local taqueros for the delicious work they do.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Big Bad Bill

Here's a fun bit of music for your enjoyment.



Yes, that is the very same Van Halen of "Jump" fame. Aside from the unexpectedly catchy tune, it may surprise you to learn that Eddie and Alex's father, Jan Van Halen, made an appearance playing the clarinet in the background. Mr. Van Halen was a classically trained musician, and it pleases many a fan of the band to see that his sons learned well from their daddy.

As for the song's title, the first thing that came to my mind was THIS Bill!

Bill the Cat of Berkeley Breathed's most famous (and recently resurrected!) cartoon, Bloom County. Pic found here


Good night world. See you in the morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Democrat Debate

Happy Tuesday, dear readers.

Like thousands of other households across the US, I loaded up my browser window to CNN and watched the Democrat debate tonight. Unlike the previous Republican ones, I was actually looking forward to this debate. The beer stayed in the fridge and my trusty mug rested comfortably in the freezer for another time.

#FeeltheBern. Pic found here


I must say, compared with the nutters in the Republican party, the Democrats have kept their sanity mostly* intact. Hillary handled herself well and Bernie did a great job keeping the working class on the subject. Lincoln Chafee, a candidate I didn't even know was running, was soft but his answer on National Security was right in line (a warrant is required for any communications tapping). The most interesting overlooked candidate was Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland and Celtic rock star. Based on his performance, I think he'd be a decent Secretary of State. Jim Webb, the final candidate on the stage, is just a Republican infitrator.

As we watched the debate on my computer, my husband remarked that we're looking at Hillary's cabinet. She'll be the inevitable nominee, with Bernie as her veep. As for the rest of the candidates on the stage, she'll find other places for them in her cabinet.

Normally, I stay as far away from politics as I can. But, my husband vowed that should another Republican come into power in 2016, we'll pack up our family and leave the US for good. He suffered terribly under the Bush regime and doesn't want to repeat that experience now that he has a family to care for. This prospect forces me to pay attention to who is doing what and saying what in power. I've learned not to put my faith in politicians, but this proud Pinko will cheer for Bernie Sanders. He's saying the right stuff and will swing Hillary ever so slightly left. As recently as 2008, I could never even IMAGINE myself saying something like that. But, 2012 was a pivotal year and it forced me to grow up and see the world for what it was.

Go Bernie! Give 'em hell!

*Mostly, being relative to the general American political atmosphere. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are heavily backed by big money corporations and Wall Street, and when the Democrats had the majority in both the House and Senate, they still couldn't get what needed to be done accomplished (Obamacare was probably the lone exception). American politics have gone very right since the 1980s, with the Democrats being less right wing than the openly fascist Republicans.

Monday, October 12, 2015

DIY Beauty

Greetings!

I am about to embark on an experiment: homemade makeup

During my family's recent visit here to Arizona, my grandmother implored me to start dressing better and putting on makeup whenever I leave the house. As a rule, unless there is an especially compelling reason for me not to do so, I wear whatever not-smelly/dingy clothes I can dig out of the wearables crate. However, I conceded that on Sundays in particular, I should at least make a half-ass attempt to look better than just pants and my favorite Lady Guadalupe tshirt (especially when it's our week to go to the Latin Mass church).

In addition to dressing better, I also realized that I need to step up my makeup game. I like wearing eyeshadows and do when I have the time and energy, but I almost never wear foundation, concealer, or blush. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I've had those respective items on my face (three times, if anyone wants specifics). It's a combination of being lazy, having oily/sensitive skin, and poverty. Also, foundation tended to feel heavy on my face, though I suspect that was the result of wearing the wrong type of foundation (powders were not as heavy, but mineral-based foundations were the lightest). Whatever I wore, my skin did not appreciate it and would result in breakouts. My skin is also hard to classify (I think I'm technically "fair", but my face color is different from my wrist color which is different from my chest color, etc), which makes shopping for the right foundation color a pain in the ass.

In my quest to find something that worked, I cruised some cosmetic shopping sites I have bookmarked to see if there was anything remarkable. A few stood out, but again, the cost was higher than I'd like. I wondered if it was possible to make cosmetics, so I consulted the oracle known as Google to find out.

As it turned out, yes I can! And since most were made from food products, I was super pleased cuz food stamps can buy them (some of the more specialty items like spirulina or cocoa butter might not clear, but spices and starch bases (arrowroot and cornstarch were the two most common bases I found) will)! And if they suck as cosmetics, they can be utilized as food like they were intended to.

I cruised around some of these DIY cosmetic sites to find an easy recipe that would utilize what I had. While I have a poor opinion of the granola sorts who frequent and run these DIY health and beauty products sites, I was willing to give homemade makeup a try and see how it worked out. Maybe now my long-sought goal of finding the perfect foundation shade could be tackled! I'm all for customization and I'm trying to get away from putting unnecessary chemicals on my skin now that I have a baby to care for.

Today, I put my experiment to the test and made some homemade foundation. My ingredients and approximate amounts used were as follows:

My base. I used 1 Tbsp

About 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg

5/8 tsp of the curry powder (I probably wouldn't use this, but we didn't have plain tumeric) and 1 tsp of cocoa powder. That 1/8 tsp spoon was my measuring and mixing tool

 After mixing everything together, here are the results:

Finished product

Swatch test. Close enough!

Before

After

The verdict: not bad for a first time sample batch. As a powder itself, the coverage is pretty light. I wasn't looking for anything heavy since my skin is generally pretty clear, but I would probably use this as a setting powder. I can see it blowing away the second I step outside the door. But now that I have an approximate recipe, I can see about making it again and adding something to make it stick. I also didn't have any sort of moisturizer on my face (it was just my end-of-day face grease!), so maybe that might also play a role in helping my makeup stick. As an aside, it smells really good too! Even after I washed it off and put on some of my fresh-made aloe vera gel, I still smell the spices.

Putting my mason jars to use. Aloe vera gel on top, foundation on the bottom


Overall, I'd say I'm pretty pleased with the result. Mission accomplished!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Rosary Rally

It's the weekend! Time for the fun to begin.

My family and I attended a Rosary Rally today at our Latin Mass church. I wasn't especially keen on going to this event due to the apostolate that sponsored it, America Needs Fatima. America Needs Fatima is a subsidiary of Tradition Family Property, a group I mentioned in a previous post about sleazy apostolates. My reasons for despising America Needs Fatima and, specifically, its root organization Tradition Family Property will be the subject of a future post. My husband convinced me to go since some of our church friends would be there and we could fellowship with them.

Like the Planned Parenthood rally I attended last month, it was dreadfully hot and sunny outside. The cool weather we had at the beginning of the week disappeared and it's back to summer again. The rally itself was pretty uneventful. We stood outside the gate of the church, recited the Rosary, and then left to go our separate ways. My husband and I did hang around to chat with our friends, just as he promised.

I got sunburned in addition to being roasted


After the rally, I'd planned to check out a new outlet mall in Marana which was the subject of a big hoopla the day it opened due to the jobs it would bring. However, my plan was thwarted after one of the tires on our car went flat. Thank goodness my husband bought a good spare tire some months back, but now we have to get another one. I refuse to leave the city limits, or ride on the highway without a spare tire in reserve cuz if another one of our tires goes flat, I don't want to be stranded somewhere. Fortunately, there are lots of tire shops on my side of town. It won't be a huge expense or hassle to get one.

And that was how I spent my Saturday. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sweet Friday

Happy Friday!

It was a whirlwind day today. First, I had to drag my sleepy ass to the doctor's office cuz my husband had his ultrasound and liver biopsy scheduled after last weeks visit for bloody semen. The technician took some pictures and told my husband he'd get a call with the results. While my husband was examined, I hung out in the lobby with the baby, watching all the mommies with their babies going in and out.

With that little errand finished, we decided to take advantage of the relatively cool morning air and do some shopping. After running to Dollar General to get cheap cat food, it was off to Target. When they were here, my grandma gave me a gift card for $25 for Target that one of her friends got for the baby shower she threw. Thankfully, there's a Target not far from where we live, so we decided to go. That gift card bought some clothes, which we're not exactly running out of, but this behbeh is growing way too fast. At 4, almost 5 months, she's almost outgrown her 6-month size clothes!

A cute kitty cat dress from the clearance rack that we just HAD to get for her, being the cat lovers that we are! While it's sized as being 18 months, I think she'll fit into it now with plenty of wiggle room. Of note, it's a Little Golden Book brand (specifically, "The Shy Little Kitten")

Bulk pack of onesies (there were five in the package). These are probably the most useful article of baby clothes in existence. These are 12 month sizes, which she also can wear now cuz Gerber (which was the brand of these onesies) runs small on her


In addition to clothes, I was once again reminded of what a racket the baby industry is. Since the baby is going to outgrow her carrier soon, it's time to start looking for an upright car seat or booster seat. Car seats, as parents know, are not cheap. What makes them even more of a pain in the ass is that they've got the full force of the law behind them, as children who are not properly restrained in a moving vehicle can result in stiff penalties for parents. Seeing that these seats held children up to 100lbs, I was outraged as I had stopped sitting in car or booster seats by time I'd started preschool, and I sure was less than 100lbs then! Granted, I was always big for my age, which probably saved my mom alot of traffic tickets. Also, there's a 20 year gap between me being in preschool and now, which is alot of time for research and crash tests. Car seats may be a justifiable racket, but they're still a racket any way you look at them.

After Target, we took a quick trip to Food City to get some groceries, and ended our venture with lunch at Panda Express. I'd suggested the place to my husband because on this day in 2011, we met at St. Gianna Oratory, the Latin Mass church in Tucson, AZ. This day would change both our lives forever, though neither of us would know it for several months. A small treat like Panda was a celebration of that happy day. After giving in to a major food coma, I was also reminded why we seldom eat out. I've never had food coma from my husband's meals.

And that was my day. Tune in tomorrow for more adventures!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fire at ICK Chicago

Heartbreaking. Pic found here


Yesterday, while cruising through my newsfeed on Facebook, a number of Catholic groups I follow posted some news stories about the Institute of Christ the King National Shrine in Chicago sustaining serious damage following a fire. I was quite sad to see this bit of news for a number of reasons.

My connection to the Institute of Christ the King (abbreviated as ICK) stems from its branch in Tucson, AZ where I attended my first Latin Mass (and, by proxy, met my husband), was catechized and formally received into the Catholic faith. I was quite fond of the founding canon (their term for priests), Richard von Menshengen, and have come to accept his successor, Canon William "Bill" Avis. Through Canon Richard, I met a number of the other ICK priests, including the order's founder, Monseigneur Gilles Wach. It was also from Canon Richard that I learned of the US headquarters of the order in Chicago, my home town.

Exterior of ICK Chicago, September 16, 2012


It was during a short, disastrous stint in Illinois during the end of summer 2012 that I was privileged to visit ICK Chicago, as I have taken to calling the order's US HQ, twice. Though I was attending there under less than optimal circumstances (the family feud which I would flee to Arizona to escape from by the end of September was almost at its breaking point by this time), I could see that the church was going to be beautiful once the renovations done up to that point were completed. I was also blessed that I got to see in person the famous Infant Jesus statue from Spain, which was made in the 18th century.

Interior of ICK Chicago, September 2, 2012. Their famous Infant Jesus statue is perched on top of the altar in the middle of this picture.


Due to my history with the order, I've been following the story of the ICK Chicago fire and from the news reports I've read, the official cause was listed as accidental when a pile of varnished rags "spontaneously" ignited (one report I read stated that the rags were put next to some plastic that began smoldering), destroying the roof and sanctuary. While I want to believe the Chicago Fire Dept's official judgement on the matter, I have a hard time believing that a pile of flammable rags would just ignite by themselves. And even if that one report was correct in that rags were placed next to some plastic that began smoldering, HOW DID THE PLASTIC START SMOLDERING?!

The rector of ICK Chicago and the ICK's provincial superior, Canon Matthew Talarico (who I've also been blessed to meet on a few occasions), holding the fire damaged Infant Jesus statue. His hand with the orb (see here for original) was gone, but the rest of the statue survived. Pic found here 


Until I read of concrete evidence pointing to this fire being accidental, I seriously think it was caused by arson though I have no idea what the motive (if any) could have been. The neighborhood ICK Chicago is located in is poor and Black, as is most of the South Side of Chicago, though it was starting to be gentrified as of 2012 when I was last there. I think there was a hit put out on this church, just because of it being there and the demographic it attracted (wealthy suburbanites i.e mostly white people). My husband thinks it was arson to collect on insurance money, but I don't buy that. The war zone that has become the South Side of Chicago can, and does, claim more than human lives.

If you have the means to, please visit the gofundme page that the ICK has set up to repair the damages from the fire. I normally wouldn't put out a crowdfunding call, but the ICK holds a special place in my heart because if I hadn't been to one of their churches, my life never would have changed for the better.

Please keep the ICK in your prayers. They may change your life for the better too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Daily Deliciousness

Greetings, dear readers!

Last night, after discovering a new recipe for cornbread, my wonderful husband set about in the kitchen to work his magic for dinner.


Homemade buttermilk cornbread topped with bacon and E-Z Chili


And here is the chef proudly showing off his work.

The man behind the meals


While I may not have the best relationship with my family, I am forever grateful to them for helping my husband and I buy this trailer to live in and raise our children. Something as simple as having a working oven was an all but distant memory until we moved in here. Now that we've upgraded from a precariously-balanced toaster oven to a real one, even I who seldom cooks will get a chance to try my hand at baking!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rainy Day Fun

Fall has finally arrived in Arizona! It came late in the morning with a storm, but we finally get cooler temperatures for a while.

I shot a brief video of this storm, but Blogger wouldn't upload it due to size constraints. My late father-in-law would call this a "turd floater"


The flooded street

For the first time ever, I had to dress the baby in long sleeves and long pants! Like mommy, she's a lazy fashionista

During a break in the storm, we went outside to survey the damage. There wasn't any except for flooding, thank goodness, but there was something else waiting to be seen at the neighbors.

In addition to mom and dad, there are nine zooting pinchable pit bull pups in that yard. It was so cute seeing them all out with their little tails wagging and playful chomps!


There is no rainy day here without a selfie.

Copycat faces


The second round of the storm brought some small hail crashing down, but that was as ferocious as it got. What passed for the third round was some wind and a brief shower. There is some more rain expected during the night, but all remains quiet for now.

Welcome Autumn! It's good to see you here.