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Monday, November 30, 2015

Life With Addiction

This is a topic that may be sensitive for some readers.

As I have alluded in past posts, my husband is a recovering opiate addict. While he experimented with drugs during his youth and early adulthood, he emerged relatively unscathed but with an appreciation for the effects chemical substances have on the body. It wasn't until his late 30s-early 40s that he became addicted to opiates. Contrary to the narrative pushed by the powers that be about addiction, my husband did not become addicted from recreational use. It was a result of health issues which left him in constant pain and unable to function without the relief of opiates. It didn't help that his family had a history of depressant abuse. When he lost his job for political reasons, his health insurance ended and he could not afford prescription opiates. He then turned to heroin to ease his pain. After a few years of using heroin, my husband finally enrolled in a methadone treatment program because it was covered by Medicaid and he was eligible for it.

It was not an easy transition for him. At the time, my husband was homeless, suffering health issues unrelated to his addiction, and using a combination of cocaine and cheap vodka to function because he had difficulty adjusting to the methadone lethargy ("haze", as he calls it). Since we're close to Mexico, drugs are cheap and of decent quality. Unlike many junkies, my husband did not turn to crime to get the money he needed to buy drugs. If he got a computer job, a monetary donation from someone or even selling something, he would use that. He occasionally continued to use heroin when he could not get to the clinic, and it wasn't until 2007 that my husband finally got used to the methadone enough that he could stop doing the drugs and commit himself full-time to the treatment program. The medically-supervised withdrawal period he had to undergo to enter into the clinic's treatment program was also rough on him, but he survived. He has not used an illicit substance since 2007.

This is my husband in 2004. He'd just become a full-blown opiate addict at this point
Before I met him, I looked down on anyone who used drugs as my middle-class upbringing dictated that I should. I'd been taught that drug addicts were the shit of the earth and that they deserved whatever misfortunes were handed to them because of their condition.

Meeting my husband changed all of that.

When I first met him in the church courtyard that fateful Sunday morning in October of 2011, with his scraggly appearance and grimy white netbook, my husband made it clear what his condition was. By the time of our meeting, his days of using drugs were behind him and he was clean for four years at that point. He was quite open with me about his opiate addiction, and showed no shame whatsoever about it. He made it a point to not be ashamed because, as he saw it, addiction was not a moral failing or some other sanctimonious belief. He saw it as a sickness, similar to diabetes, differing only in the legality of the substance being injected. That analogy forever changed my perception of the nature of addiction. If we go by the definition of an addiction being a physical dependence upon a chemical substance for the purpose of functioning normally, then the diabetic suddenly has alot more in common with the socially unacceptable junkie than they might be comfortable admitting.

His 50th birthday, 2012. He never thought he'd live that long


To this day, my husband still remains in his methadone program. He has been with this particular clinic for ten years now, and is quite satisfied with the treatment provided. Given that he's now in his fifties, my husband speculates that he might never get off methadone simply due to his age. We've been slowly working his dose down, but it's not easy. Methadone, contrary to what the US Government tells people, is slow acting and is actually more dangerous to wean off of. The only reason the government authorized its use is because methadone is regulated. Unlike heroin where you're taking a gamble every time you shoot up (even if you know the dealer), you know the exact strength and purity of your methadone dose.

Even though he is in recovery, my husband is still technically classified as an addict. He depends on the methadone to keep the chronic pain at bay. If he was to quit cold-turkey now, the withdrawal would kill him. This is why we have to incrementally lower his dose, weaning him off in baby steps. We have had some success too. My husband's dose has been lowered by 30mg in the four years we've known each other and been together. I would like for him to eventually not need the stuff, mostly for the sake of our children. My husband too would like to one day be totally clean. Given our proximity to Mexico, while most people here in my part of Arizona wouldn't care about drug use, getting completely off methadone would certainly lessen the stigma of having a drug addict for a father that our children would carry if we were to leave here and move elsewhere.

Will our child suffer because of her dad? Only time will tell


As it is, methadone comes with its own pitfalls. It's slow acting and will cause a "crash" (energy drop) a few hours after ingesting, only to pass about 20 minutes later. There is also a chronic lethargy that comes with being on methadone, which can make daily tasks harder to accomplish. Provided you stay with the program, one could argue that having to go to the clinic to meet with the counselor/case worker and re-up on the supply or go for the daily dosing is a pitfall in and of itself since one has to make accommodations for time and travel. Being a controlled substance, methadone has to be administered under medical supervision. As such, it also serves as a liquid ball and chain, making moves to other states or cities significantly more complicated since a new clinic must be found and patient relationship established. While methadone is a federally approved means of treatment and thus discrimination against someone who uses methadone for treatment purposes is illegal, it still can happen and methadone users can be at a disadvantage for finding gainful employment. One person might be afflicted, but the addiction touches everyone around them.

But, even with opiate addiction, life goes on as normally as it can. When he is able to get employment, my husband will go to work. He also does the honey-dos around the house as any man can when he gets around to it. We go places and do things as a normal family does, just with the noted exception that my husband has to take a chemical-smelling, dark pink liquid twice a day. Now that we have a child, my husband keeps the methadone locked up in a safe place so she can't get to it. Parents who own firearms or household chemicals do a similar thing.

Addiction is not just for Others. It can affect anyone and impact their families regardless of race, class, or background. I am sharing my experience with addiction to put a human face on a sickness that is horribly misunderstood and misconstrued by those with an agenda to push. Obviously, there are others out there whose experiences with addiction have been worse or better than mine. Addiction is multifaceted and the sooner it is recognized as such, the better work can be done to raise awareness and develop more effective treatments to combat it. Like everyone else who has an addict in the family, I did not seek it, but became an advocate for the addicted because I see how much suffering comes with this illness. Like AIDS patients in the 80s, addicts should not be treated as second-class citizens because of the circumstances that got them to where they are now.

If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, please don't hesitate to reach out for help. Here are some links you may find helpful.
http://www.recovery.org/topics/addiction-recovery-helplines/
http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Line for the Coconut

Happy Sunday, dear readers!

A few weeks back, I posted an entry about trying coconut oil as a conditioner. Today, I'm posting an update.

While it has been only a few weeks since I started using coconut oil in my hair, I'm pleased to report that I'm already seeing small but noticeable results. My hair is shinier and my ends are definitely less dry. There is also noticeably less breakage when I brush my hair, though it's not gone completely.

From the top. My roots have never looked better

Look at that shine!

It feels stronger too


As recommended by the article referenced in the original post, I try to grease up my hair and massage my scalp the day before I'm due to wash it. Unfortunately, being a parent means I don't always have the time or energy to do that. So as a compromise, I grease up and massage my hair and scalp earlier on in the day and then wash my hair out at night so that the oil has at least eight hours to do its work. I do tie my hair up in a knot on my head and go about my day's doings after I finish applying the coconut oil. When I wash it out later that night, my hair is noticeably easier to comb and smoother the next day when dry.

Of course it's gonna look greasy! It's oil!

Out of my face and baby's grasp


Like a proper scientist, I kept my controls the same: frequency of washings (twice a week), shampoo/conditioner brand (Pantene Pro-V Repair and Protect), amount of each used during wash (a handful). I was initially reluctant to try this experiment since I associated coconut oil with granolas who I despise for reasons of class and education. Based on what I've seen in this short timespan, I will concede to them the benefit of coconut oil as a hair conditioner.

As an aside, I've also been using coconut oil as a moisturizer for my face. I put on a small amount every night (unless I forget, which is has happened a few times) before I go to bed and wash it off in the morning when I wake up. I'm pleased to report that my skin is looking better for it. I was a little reluctant to try this routine because my skin is naturally oily (which is a big reason why I shied away from commercial moisturizers), but I decided to try the coconut oil for a month and see how my skin looked afterwards. Since it's only been a month, there's not much of a dramatic difference. But, I notice that my face is a bit less greasy by the end of the day and I haven't had any serious breakouts like I used to (just a couple of zits in a patch near my mouth which always seems to break out at least once a month).

Tl;dr, coconut oil is a keeper, even if its use is promoted by upper-class hippies.

PS-The title of this post was inspired by this song

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How to Make a Box of Stuffing Edible

It's the weekend! I hope you all aren't sick of turkey yet.

When we got the turkey this past Tuesday, we also got a huge box of stuffing. I'd planned to make the stuffing on Thursday, but just did not have the time.

When it comes to turkey stuffing, I'm not crazy about it. I never understood why people would shove bread up a bird's ass when cooking it. Maybe the fact that my grandparents were immigrants spared me from some of the more peculiar aspects of American cooking, since I did not eat stuffing until I was in college and even then it was at a McCormick & Schmick's restaurant in Phoenix.

The way I see it, stuffing straight out of the box is a disgusting side dish. Cardboard and gut glue are the first two words that come to mind when I see stuffing made as-is without any additives. While stuffing can be made from scratch, it's too much work for what it's worth. Also, I would rather not throw away a donated item of food. Seeking to avoid those two nouns, here is my recipe for making an otherwise gross dish edible.

Bon apetit


Edible Stuffing Recipe

1 12 oz. box of stuffing mix
1 Medium yellow onion
3 Cloves of garlic
4 Stems of celery
1 Medium carrot
1 Apple
1 Roll of Jimmy Dean ground sausage, sage flavored
1 12 oz. can of chicken broth
1/2 jar (about 6 oz.) of gravy
Water as needed
Diced turkey breast (1 cup minimum, use more if desired)
Cornbread chunks (optional)

Dice the onion and garlic, chop the celery, and shred the carrot and apple first. Then, in a large skillet, begin browning the sausage. Add in the onion and garlic, then the celery. Add the carrot and apple last. Pour in the chicken broth, then add the stuffing mix. Throw in diced turkey and cornbread (if using), stir and let simmer for a bit. Stir until breadcrumbs in the stuffing mix absorb the broth, add water if needed. Remove from heat, add gravy, serve.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fuck Black Friday

Greetings, dear readers.

Today is Black Friday, otherwise known as the start of the Christmas shopping season and the high holy day of consumerism. Though the name of this uniquely American holiday is of obscure origin, Black Friday is marked by people lining up outside of stores in the wee early hours of the morning and stampeding in as soon as the doors open to score goodies. It's a day marked by outrageous images and videos of fights over toys, clothes and electronics, police arrests and the occasional hospital trip or death caused by shoppers high on the adrenaline rush.

Rocky got it right. Pic found here


But for my family, we will have none of that nonsense.

As the crudely-worded title of this post implies, I have nothing but contempt for Black Friday. The reason is simple-people lose their minds over it! It's like a giant pig fest with people swarming the stores and malls, going into debt buying things they or their families may not need or ever use. It's stupid, and to risk an arrest record over it is even MORE stupid!

I admit, in times past, I too engaged in Black Friday shopping. I never could wake up at 2AM and go camp outside of Best Buy to score DVDs or whatever, preferring to sleep instead. It would usually be around noon or so when my brother and I would head on over to the mall and shop. We never went crazy with our expedition, but we did buy stuff.

Scenes from Black Friday 2011. My favorite Sephora eyeshadow palette

The one time I've ever owned (and probably will ever own) MAC makeup. This was a smoky eye set.


As my socioeconomic status plunged following my college graduation and entrance into the work world, I began to appreciate why someone like my husband despised the materialism embraced by the middle class and sought to distance himself as far away from it as he could. Does my despising of Black Friday and the crass materialism associated with it have a class aspect to it? Absolutely! Because I lack the income to go shopping on such days, I see it for the contrived farce that it is. Even when I had money, I thought Black Friday was stupid. Poverty has merely reinforced that observation.

I should clarify that I do not scorn Black Friday shoppers who exercise control over their behaviors and spending. Just the wild ones have caught my ire.

So in spite of the ads and calls to shop on Black Friday, my family and I stayed home. I would rather save money and give my child the gifts of time and experience instead of toys which she'll lose interest in after an hour or so. Materialism is a god most unworthy of a sacrifice.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey Day

Happy Turkey Day to all my American readers. Yes, I call it Turkey Day instead of Thanksgiving because I refuse to recognize a holiday that marks the start of a bona-fide genocide. Besides, as a Catholic, I know of two Thanksgiving celebrations that happened here in the US BEFORE the Pilgrims ever set foot on Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. They don't teach you that in school now, do they.

Her first Turkey Day. I was never crazy about sweet potatoes, but she seemed to like them, in addition to making a mess with them


While the rest of the country gorged on turkey, engaged in family feuds, watched football and participated in the high holy day of consumerism known as Black Friday, I stayed home and cleaned house. Since my hubby would be at work till God-knows-when (a temp-emp agency got him this job), I wanted to surprise him with a cleaner home when he got back. I'm not, nor have I ever been, a clean freak. But, I figured it would be a nice surprise for him to arrive to a home that was more orderly than when he left it.

I have a little monkey on my back!


Unfortunately, I could only do so much housework. Though I was carrying the baby in her papoose on my back, I had to take regular breaks cuz my back was hurting. I'd planned to clean the whole trailer from top to bottom, but settled on washing the mountain of dishes and vacuuming. I didn't even get the stuffing done like I'd planned, but on his break, my husband called and told me not to worry about it cuz he'd score some Jimmy Dean sausage. I'd been researching stuffing recipes online and found one that was appealing, but called for ground sausage which we did not have.

We did have some of the turkey we spent hours roasting and slow-cooking all night. I'm proud to say that my marinade did the trick and made it tasty. The hickory and pecan chips helped too.

And that was how I spent my Turkey Day. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Coonass Turkey 'Roids

Thanks be to St. Joseph, my husband has work tomorrow after almost three years of unsuccessfully searching for employment. With this revelation, prepping the turkey had to happen sooner than anticipated.

Unfortunately, the Tony Chachere injection mix was used up, so I decided to break out my marinate skills and make something else.

I found a recipe from a Louisiana website for different types of marinates. I selected the Cajun marinate, but made some modifications based on what we had available. I'll post my version below, which I'll call the Coonass Turkey 'Roids in honor of my husband's ancestral roots in southeast Louisiana, and the steroids used by bodybuilders to bulk up.

I tasted and adjusted the seasonings as desired


Coonass Turkey 'Roids

1 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of crab boil concentrate
1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
2 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tsp Trappey's Red Devil hot sauce
1 Tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a fairly large bowl (like a deep cereal bowl), stir well. Make sure no lumps from the powdered seasonings remain.

To use, simply stick the needle of the syringe into the marinade and pull the plunger up to draw the liquid into the chamber. Stab loaded syringe into desired part of turkey and juice that bad boy up.

What the syringe wouldn't pick up, I poured on the turkey. Waste not, want not.


My hubby rigged up the smoker outside in the yard while I made the marinade, so the turkey right now is getting a good dose of pecan and hickory flavored smoke before being finished off in the oven. We're not letting last year's disaster happen if we can avoid it!

Tomorrow, we get to feast on our creation. I'm looking forward to this!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Turkey

Greetings!

Today, we got a turkey!

And some other goodies too!

Normally, turkey is not something we eat. My husband hates turkey with a passion and I'm not crazy about it either. Come Thanksgiving, when the stores are pushing turkeys left and right, my husband and I normally look forward to preparing gumbo. This has been an annual tradition even before we were married.

But, thanks be to our good friends at the Latin Mass church's St. Vincent de Paul program, we were given a free turkey and all kinds of fixin's. These were donated by a wealthier parish in the diocese, and since we're a family in need, we weren't gonna turn down free goodies no matter who they came from!

After chatting with some of our acquaintances in the program for a bit, we went home. Last year, we used an ice chest filled with water to thaw the turkey outside in the yard. This year, because we have a bigger home, my hubby has the turkey thawing in the bathtub. I'm not sure how much it weighs, but it's heavier than the baby, and she weighs in at 20 lbs! It'll probably be ready by tomorrow night or Thursday morning.

Just chillin' in the tub. All that's missing are some candles, wine, and some kind of digital entertainment


Last year, my hubby decided to smoke our donated turkey. We bought some hickory chips and he rigged up a smoker in the backyard using our mini BBQ grill and a pounded-out swamp cooler vent. We juiced up the turkey with some Tony Chachere injection mix and popped it in the smoker to cook. The smoking went fine up until midnight when a sample tasted quite good, but, at some point during the night, the wind shifted and wound up vulcanizing the turkey. We managed to salvage most of it, but about 1/3 of the bird was pretty much charcoal.

The impromptu smoker

Oops...


This year, we have an actual oven to bake the turkey with, so hopefully a charcoal turkey doesn't make an appearance this time again. We've got plenty of Tony Chachere too, so that will help make this bird edible. Hubby will still make gumbo from the leftovers, which he did last year and it was quite good. Thank goodness we have a food processor. The baby is definitely gonna have some of this.

Turkey Day, here we come!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Picture of the Day

Happy Monday everyone!

Here is your daily dose of cuteness.

A fruit filled chompy toy


We bought some bananas recently. Neither my husband nor I care much for bananas, but they're an ideal baby food. Needless to say, the baby was a little monkey and enjoyed her banana piece very much.

As an added bonus, I FINALLY got around to doing some henna! I'd been meaning to do some for my birthday, but never got around to it. With my wedding anniversary just past, now seemed like a good time to do it.




For my anniversary, I did something a little special:

I tried to do an old-school IBM computer


I am such a nerd. Well, that happens when you marry someone who works with computers!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Papa Murphy's Pizza: A Review

Happy Sunday everyone!

Last week, a coupon arrived in my email inbox Buy One Get One half-off for pizza from a place called Papa Murphy's. For those who may not be familiar, Papa Murphy's is a pizza chain where they prepare the pizza, but then give it to you to take home and bake yourself. I'd seen this chain in a few places around town for years, but thought it was rather odd that a pizza chain would make a pizza that you had to finish baking at home. I thought that defeated the purpose of a pizza chain, since anyone who orders pizza expects it to be cooked already when one goes to pick it up or when the delivery driver arrives at their home.

But when I looked closer at the coupon, I saw that Papa Murphy's took food stamps. And that's when everything clicked.

In the state of Arizona, food stamp recipients cannot purchase hot foods with their EBT cards. Poor-shaming aside, it has more to do with taxes since hot food is taxed differently than cold foods. Cold foods aren't taxed, whereas hot foods are (the justification being that the hot foods require taxable fuel to prepare). I'm not sure how other states have their food stamp programs arranged, but this is how it is set up in Arizona.

So with the coupon in hand, and some very good recommendations from a Facebook friend who is a regular at her local Papa Murphy's in Kansas, I decided to give this place a try.

The closest Papa Murphy's pizza joint to my home is located near a Super Walmart. So after we went to Super Walmart to get some needed essentials, I had my husband wait with the baby in the car while I went to get the pizzas. I selected a Chicago-Style stuffed pizza and a Papa's All Meat pizza. The cashier queued in my order, and the food stamps went through without a problem. The total came to $25 for the two pizzas. However, the cashier made a mistake. She'd queued in family size for the stuffed pizza when I'd requested a large. Due to the method of payment being EBT, she couldn't refund me the difference, so she let me take a side home for free as compensation. The side cooler contained two different types of cheesy bread, a few varieties of salad, cookie dough and dessert pizzas. I knew that whatever I got I was gonna have to eat myself cuz my husband wasn't gonna touch them. He hates melted cheese, in addition to milk chocolate with a passion. I took the cheesy bread. It was small and I wasn't up to eating bunny food either.

The line preparers finished the pizzas. I was surprised by how large they were. I knew I didn't have a pizza pan big enough to hold them, but fortunately, they came with baking pans that could be used once for the job and then disposed of. My cashier finished up the visit by going over the cooking directions and sending me on my way. The baby was fussing for me by time I got back with the pizzas. My husband, in addition to being relieved to see me return, was pleased at my freebie.

After we got home from an emergency computer visit to our family friend's home, my husband put the All Meat pizza into the oven, sticking the stuffed pizza into the fridge. Since it was evening, the weather outside was cool and so was our home. The running oven warmed things right up. When the pizza was done, my hubby took it out and cut it up for us to eat.

This is a large. It runs 14", normal price $14. It is quite large, as my 12" pizza pan couldn't fit the pizza.


I was genuinely impressed by the quality of it. It tasted great and with the coupon I had, it only came out to $7 for a large. That was better than even grocery store pizza! As for the cheesy bread, it was not atrocious compared to some other cheesy breads I've had. I'm not crazy about cheesy bread, but this was one of the better ones cuz they didn't skimp on the garlic.

A few days later, we baked up the stuffed pizza. Unfortunately, this pizza was just about too big for the oven and the bottom got scorched up because the pan was kind of folded in to fit.

The bottom got scorched. My husband, after getting confused at what he was looking at, said that he thought I'd gotten a giant calzone! Given how big it was, I think this is the family size (16", $18)


I was not terribly impressed by the "Chicago style" pizza. Sure it was tasty, but as a native of Chicago, it was NOTHING like what I had back home. Chicago pizzas are typically thick, deep dish and made with lots of meat and cheese. There was plenty of meat, but not as much cheese. And the vegetables (tomato, green onion, and onion) were a bit sparse too. My husband hated it. He likened this pizza to a giant calzone. He threw some of his favorite ham slices onto it before he would eat it.

There are other varieties of pizza that Papa Murphy's does. They also do pan pizza and thin crust, which my husband was pleased to hear. He prefers thin crust as opposed to the thick, bready crusts that I prefer.

Overall, I would say I'm generally pleased with Papa Murphy's Pizza. The fact that they take food stamps is a HUGE plus, and their coupons offer some decent deals. I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future, although after eating pizza all week, I'm pizza'd out for the month! Maybe next month would be a good time to try something new.

For more on Papa Murphy's and their nearest location to you, check out their website here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Anniversary

Happy Saturday everyone!

Today is my anniversary. On this day in 2013, my husband and I said our vows in front of God Almighty and legitimized our union in His eyes.

I wore a sari for my wedding dress. I bought it with the express purpose of wearing it to weddings, baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations and I do not regret it one bit


This was actually our church wedding. We had a civil wedding in 2012 for legal reasons, but agreed not to consummate the marriage until after our church ceremony. This is a bit unusual because in America, religious marriages are legally recognized and it's not necessary to have both civil and religious ceremonies for a wedding as is the norm in other countries. The only reason we did it this way was because my family was causing trouble for me as a result of a feud and we needed to get married fast for legal reasons. The priest at the Latin Mass church I met hubby at and who I wanted to marry us refused to do so for selfish reasons. He outright told my husband (then fiance) how he would not marry us because of the age difference and lack of income my husband brought in to support a family, and that he wouldn't risk losing donations from the moneyed senile delinquents who might disapprove of his decision to marry us. I will forever hold that against him because his refusal to marry us put hubby and I in an occasion for sin that was totally unnecessary, and could have been avoided with a quiet, low-key ceremony that no one of moneyed importance need know.

But, in a way, perhaps it was better that things worked out this way. Now that we were legally bound, hubby and I could sort of breathe and relax a bit. Our status as civilly married got us exiled from the Latin Mass church where all this drama went down, and so I got to know the diocese better from spending time at the different churches, and in due course, we found a priest who would marry us. This good priest was the one who was instrumental in helping my husband come back to the Catholic faith, and he was more than happy to marry us. We had a small wedding, inviting only a few close friends. Hubby's family could not attend for various reasons of health and income, and I refused to invite mine due to that ongoing feud. We didn't want anyone who might cause trouble showing up.

His grandmother's rosary. It's over 100 years old


Thanks be to God, I had probably the most stress-free wedding anyone could ever ask for. Since it was a small one, we held the party at the house in the trailer park we lived in. My hubby was the manager of the park, and got along well with the neighbors so they basically pitched in for our reception. We compiled a short playlist of music, though the house resident had her radio playing as well, and we just had a great time. If I should marry again after my hubby passes away, I'll keep this one in mind. Small and stress-free is the way to be!

We had two wedding cakes. This one was carrot cake 
And the other was German Chocolate. Both cakes said "Tamara *heart* Jerry"

In addition to being our anniversary date, it was also our day to go to Confession. We had another fortuitous encounter with Canon Bill and his assistant at the other church, waiting to get scrubbed by the good Carmelites. Our visit was even more blessed when a lady in the Confession line allowed us to go in front of her since the baby had begun to make noise. Upon completing our penance, we left to go home. My hubby took the encounter as a sign of approval from God, since earlier in the week, a woman gave him money in exchange for a blessed scapular. My husband gave the money to Canon Bill as a donation, since the Catholic Church deems exchanging money for sacred items a sin known as Simony.

And that was how I spent my Saturday

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Visit to the Police Station

This is a followup to a previous post.

Today, I had to go to the police station.

As I alluded to in Bad Birthday, I have been the victim of a reshipping scam. After contacting local law enforcement, they advised me to cease all contact with the scammers and reject any packages that came. I have been diligently watching out for and chasing off delivery trucks when they arrive to my home with packages that I have no record of ordering nor do I know who is the sender.

Well yesterday, while we were out running errands and making an emergency computer call, our well-meaning but idiot neighbor saw one of the delivery trucks making a delivery and signed off on a package he thought was for me as he was passing by our gate. He gave it to us when we got home, which was later that evening. After telling him off, we took the package inside and put it in a safe place to hand over to the police.

Me telling off my neighbor. By the time I was done, he understood that he was never to sign off on any packages for us


Since we'd arrived home too late to call the police non-emergency number, we contacted them this morning to ask what should be done about this package in our custody. The individual on the phone advised us to bring it in as soon as we could. I then also printed off the emails I'd received from the scam company, the tracking info about the package, as well as source info about the message showing it being suspicious.

I was surprised to see that the police station was closer than I thought. As we pulled into the visitor parking lot, I told both my husband and the baby that I hope this is the last time I have to set foot in a police station. I went inside with the package and explained my situation to the officer working at the front desk. He took the package and my printout evidence, advising us to continue our regimen of ghosting the scammers.

The trip was shorter and less unpleasant than I thought it would be. I still hope I should never have to set foot in a police station again, but it was good to know where it was just in case.

Fortunately, we ended the outing with a trip to the grocery store for some needed essentials. We also got a few jars of baby food, mostly for size for when it's time to feed baby.

Me at feeding time


And that was my day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Indian Earworm: Idhi Oka Nandanavanam

Greetings!

I came across this trippy video on Facebook this morning while I was checking my feed.


This gawdy '80s+seemingly acid trip-inspired video proved to be quite the earworm. It's from a Telugu-language South Indian film called Adavi Donga. From what I could parse from the grammatically-mangled Wikipedia entry, the movie is about a man who is orphaned as an infant and raised by wild animals in the jungle; an Indian version of The Jungle Book as it were. Unfortunately, I could not locate an English translation of the lyrics to this song. It might make sense if one could actually know what the song is actually about! Indian music videos aren't necessarily presented in context with the scene, even if the song is related to the scene.

Of note, the lead actor of the film and the lone human male in the video, Chiranjeevi, would follow the path of many entertainers and venture into politics. He was an MP for the state of Andhra Pradesh in the Indian National Congress (similar to our Senators here in the US). Chiranjeevi also served in the Indian Ministry of Tourism until 2014. Chiranjeevi still remains active in Tollywood (Telugu language) media.

Have fun watching this bit of Tollywood fun. And if there are any Telugu speakers who come across this blog, would you please be so kind as to leave a translation of the lyrics to this song in the comments? I would appreciate that very much.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Paw-Paw Biscuits

Last night, my husband made a special treat: Paw-Paw biscuits!

Paw-Paw biscuits were the biscuits his grandfather ("Paw-Paw") would make when my husband was a child. In my husband's family, it was customary for the men to learn how to cook since they would be called upon to prepare fresh hunting kills for eating. The women would do the day-to-day cooking, while the men handled the big stuff or special stuff (gator, deer, etc).

While Paw-Paw traditionally made his biscuits from scratch, later on in life as age and sickness got to him, he switched over to premade mixes. In the recipe below, I will be using a premade mix.

Let's get started!


Paw-Paw Biscuits

3 cups of premade biscuit or pancake mix (I recommend Pioneer brand, as that was Paw-Paw's preferred brand and tastes closest to what he actually made)
1 cup of buttermilk
Butter
Lard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the mix with buttermilk. Knead the dough until all lumps are gone.

Grease a flat metal sheet (a proper baking sheet or a pizza pan works fine) with lard and plop the dough onto the sheet. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough in a grid pattern. Place in the oven. Bake for 9 minutes. Coat top of dough with butter and lard, place back in oven for 3 more minutes. Top should be golden.

To serve, cut through the valleys made by the pizza cutter and add a small pat of butter. Enjoy with fried chicken, sausage gravy, or jam.

Note: You can roll the dough flat and use a cup as a cutter if you so choose, but the grid-cut style displayed above was Paw-Paw's signature style.

Enjoy the biscuits!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Doctor Visit

 Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a safe and happy weekend.

Today was another regularly-scheduled visit to the doctor. It was time for the baby's 6-month checkup and to receive her next set of vaccines. It was also a timely visit, since the baby seemed to have come down with a cold. For the past week or so, she had been wheezing, in addition to coughing and sneezing more than usual. She did not have a fever or appear to have any other difficulty breathing or eating, though.

I'm on to you, mommy. I know this game and I don't like it!


In a twist on our usual visit regimen, the pediatrician did not see us right away. Instead, his resident came to check the baby out. When I inquired about her wheezing, the resident checked her lungs and said he couldn't hear any congestion. He guessed it was likely some post nasal drip or a possible allergy, but couldn't be sure. He looked over the rest of the baby, her vitals, and pronounced her good to go. The pediatrician came in shortly afterward to see her, and was delighted by her progress. He too confirmed no congestion in her lungs, suggesting it was likely a combination of the cold weather change and vocalization. He was especially proud to see how well she could sit up on her own and how good her core balance was for her age. Now that she's six months old, he advised that we begin giving her some water since she is now old enough to handle it. I remembered hearing that at the hospital when I gave birth, something my mother couldn't believe as she had been instructed to supplement breastmilk with water when I was born. He then ordered up her vaccines and we left shortly thereafter. The baby, of course, did not appreciate being poked. However, this time, she wasn't as sore in her injection sites as she was last time.

Since the weather is getting colder, I suggested to my husband that after the doctor's appointment, we go to check out Goodwill and see if they had a baby coat in stock. There was a Goodwill not far from us and we wouldn't be fighting traffic, so my hubby agreed. When we got there, unfortunately, the Goodwill was set up in a way that made finding baby clothes impossible. It was laid out with bins filled with clothing and other stuff in absolutely no order whatsoever, so there were sheets and blankets mixed in with clothes and shoes. We got lucky and found the baby some blue jeans and a few other big-size clothes, but we could not find a coat despite digging through several bins of mishmashed items. I likened it to a hoarder's paradise. While we have plenty of sweatshirts and blankets for her, even in Arizona, it's a good idea to have at least one coat cuz it does get cold out here. Fortunately, secondhand stores are dime a dozen here, so if no luck at one location, there are others to check out too.

And that was how I spent my Monday

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why I Despise "America Needs Fatima" and "Tradition Family Property"

Hello again, dear readers.

Some months back, my husband, daughter, and I attended a Rosary Rally held at our Latin Mass church. The rally was sponsored by a group called "America Needs Fatima". As I alluded in that post, I am not very fond of America Needs Fatima (or ANF, as it will be abbreviated). Today, I will explain why.

My first encounter with ANF and its parent organization, Tradition Family Property (abbreviated as TFP), came during my senior year of college. I was quite involved with the University of Arizona Students for Life chapter, and my friend (who I shall refer to as Altar Boy for reasons of anonymity) received a mailer from ANF. While I had been going to the Latin Mass church for a few months at this point (and it was there that I met Altar Boy) and while I had some familiarity with the different Marian apparitions, the various apostolates that claim Her as their patroness were totally new to me. Altar Boy encouraged me to sign up, since they sent out free publications (prayer books, political books, etc) from time to time and were politically conservative. It appealed to me instantly, since at the time I was still a Tea Party conservative. I filled out the subscription card and mailed it in the next day, though I should have known something was up when I began receiving materials from them with my name misspelled on the label, even though it had been clearly written out on the card. Not all their materials were worthless, though. In their welcome packet, I received a picture of St. Michael the Archangel, which I pinned to the wall in my bedroom where my "shrine" was. I still have that picture somewhere.

My bedroom Shrine, April 2012. That picture of Our Lady of Fatima by the top-right corner of the TV screen was also from ANF

Some more additions to my shrine. Unfortunately, these two images are the only pictures I have of my shrine.


As my conversion to the Catholic faith grew, I learned more about Our Lady of Fatima and the predictions She made during Her appearances to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco. I found the prophecies interesting, but did not pay them much attention. My knowledge of history told me that communism as a political force was dead. But even more so, I was turned off by the blatant Russophobia associated with many Fatimaistas (devotees of Our Lady of Fatima). I am of Russian heritage and carry some natural pride in that.

During that fateful year of 2012, I stopped focusing on religion and politics and focused instead on my survival. I stopped reading the articles ANF would post on their website, as well as the calls to action from TFP in my email. This break was crucial to my subsequent disillusionment with ANF. What really soured me on ANF and TFP was when Altar Boy sent me a link to a website he came across detailing how TFP was essentially a fascist Brazilian cult. They may have started out with good intentions as an apostolate dedicated to preserving traditional Catholic values in the face of the Vatican II conclave which instituted many changes in the Church, but they devolved into a cult of personality surrounding their Brazilian founder, the late Dr. Plineo Correira de Oliveria, and his mother. In their anti-communist zeal, TFP and their affiliates, by proxy, militantly allied themselves with the bourgeois values of private property and capitalism. Such a move might have been politically expedient, but it automatically put them at odds with people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder like myself, who see the dark side of capitalism daily and face limited opportunities to ascend.

Ultimately, the fact that they are bourgeois is why I resent them. Jesus had many a thing to say about wealth and the corrupting influence money has on individuals, none of it good. And the sad thing is, while ANF and TFP may promote issues that have an authentically Catholic ring (sanctity of life, etc), the fact remains that they throw their money and weight around at right-wing causes that in the long run actually hurt the Church (see: Kim Davis debacle). Starting with Pope Leo XIII, numerous popes have condemned Americanism with its ruthless individualism, capitalism, and protestant work ethic as being incompatible with Catholicism. Organizations like TFP and ANF fly in the face of those condemnations by cloaking these causes in the veil of the Church, as if to imply that the Church approves of income inequality and fascism! One might easily think that TFP is a front for infiltrating the Church so as to turn it into something unrecognizable.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I despise America Needs Fatima and it's parent affiliate, Tradition Family Property.

The Oil Change

After yesterdays tire changing endeavor, I received another lesson in basic automotive maintenance today: how to change the oil.

Since it's getting colder, we needed a heavier motor oil. We got a 5-qt jug of 5W-30 to replace the summer blend of 10W-30 that my hubby put in just before I gave birth in the spring. I had watched him do that job, and now I wanted to do it myself under his supervision.

After getting the necessary items (oil, fuel filter, drain pan, wrenches, mat to lay down on, jacks) and opening the hood, I jacked the car up and put the safety jacks underneath the frame so that if for whatever reason the car slipped off the main jack, 4000+ lbs of steel death wouldn't come crashing down on me. Unfortunately, staring at and imagining 4000+ lbs of car crushing me was all I could think of as I lay down on the mat searching for the oil pan. My hubby offered to do it, but I told him no. I needed to face this fear or else I would be forever beholden to someone else for the purpose of changing the oil. My hubby got down with me and pointed out where the pan was, and where the bolt plug was too. He started the bolt and told me to unscrew it, but to be careful not to lose the bolt in the oily deluge that came pouring out into the drain pan. I carefully unscrewed the bolt, trying to keep my hand as far out of the way of the oil drip as I could. Though we had been home for about an hour by this point, I wasn't sure how hot the oil would be and I didn't want to find out by burning my hand. Fortunately, the oil was warm, but not hot and I triumphantly cheered as I pulled out the bolt and held it high for my husband to see. He was watching the baby as she played on a blanket in the grass, and told me the baby was imitating my victorious cheer.

Me, holding up the oily plug like a pro. Pic found here


After taking a few minutes break to let the oil finish draining, it was time to change the fuel filter. My hubby acquired a strap wrench for the purpose of loosening the filter. I had never used such a tool before, and my husband gave me a crash course in using it. However, when I tried to use it on the old filter, I could not get the wrench to grip the old filter! It didn't help that the filter is positioned at an odd angle, so it's kinda hard to get to. My hubby gave me a rag to try and loosen it, which I tried, but just could not unscrew the old filter. With daylight fading, my hubby told me to go tend the baby as she had begun to fuss and that he would finish the job. I was disappointed, but the baby was fussing for me. As for the gorilla-ed oil filter, he managed to unscrew the damn thing with his bare hands. Again, he has muscles, I don't.

I was not going to handle the baby with dirty oil-covered hands, so after washing them a few times with the laundry soap we use to launder diapers, I went back outside to tend to her. By this time, some of our neighbors were passing by and upon seeing me with the baby, they just had to come over and see her. Pretty soon, a small crowd of nanas (Mexican grandmothers) had gathered at the gate to see the baby and play with her. My husband ended up finishing the oil change by pouring in the new motor oil and topping up the fluids.

Despite my disappointment at not being able to complete the oil change, my hubby promised me the next time the oil needed changing, he would have me do it from start to finish under his supervision. As I told some of the neighbors who passed by and saw me under the car, I had to learn how to change the oil cuz like changing a tire, it's costly to be beholden to someone else to do it. Likewise, it will likely fall on me to instruct our children in basic auto maintenance when they're old enough. It's not "dirty work", it's empowerment by taking one more step towards self-sufficiency.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Tire

Today was a big day for me.

Why?

I changed a tire for the first time in my life.

Earlier this week, my husband bought a spare tire for the car. Today, he wanted to change out the front passenger-side tire so that the new tire would go on there and the old tire would be relegated to spare duty. It was high time I learned some basic auto maintenance, so I offered to change the tire with my hubby's supervision.

First, I jacked the car up some, but loosening the lugnuts required some help because they had been bolted on by impact wrenches at the tire shop we purchased it from. Good thing my husband has muscles. I then maxed out the jack, took off the lugnuts, and popped off the tire.


Jacking up the car


That wood underneath the jack was to keep the jack from sinking into the mud


I'd planned on changing the oil, but it was too late for that
After replacing the tire, I oiled the bolts, tightened the lugnuts, and set the car down before cleaning up and calling it a day.

Almost there!


While they might not look it, tires are incredibly heavy. Holding the tires at 4 and 8 helped make positioning them easier on the spoke.


I felt pretty good about this little job. To know how to do something yourself (like basic car maintenance) is very empowering. That way, you're not beholden to someone or something expensive like roadside assistance or car mechanics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bad Birthday

Today is my birthday. While today should have otherwise been a day of celebration, it was anything but that.

Recently, I received an email seeking a prospective quality control analyst for a work from home position. The job description explained that I would be receiving packages at my home, opening them up and submitting reports via an online portal to the company, and then using a prepaid shipping label to send the package out to another location. I was admittedly suspicious, however I googled the name of the company (Saratoga QCA) with the express purpose of finding out if it was fraudulent. When the initial google search turned up nothing out of the ordinary, I accepted the job, filled out the paperwork, and submitted info to begin receiving packages for analysis. I received, and sent out one, on Friday, thinking nothing of it.

But in what may have been a technical difficulty of divine intervention, I could not access the online portal where I would check for messages and packages being sent out this morning when I turned on the computer. I kept getting a DNS error, and this happened across multiple devices. I checked the network settings on my computer and on the router, even going so far as to reboot the router. Still the same result. I attempted to email the individual with whom I had been corresponding about this position to ask what needed to be done since the portal was inaccessible, but a red flag popped up when I saw that email bounce. A phone call to the number provided on the application revealed a disconnected number. But what made my stomach drop was when I googled Saratoga QCA again to find their website for other contact information, and the website was gone. In its place was a scam alert forum advising people that Saratoga QCA was a reshipping scam website, trafficking in stolen or otherwise fraudulently obtained goods. Checking the IP addresses of the portal URL and the alert sites confirmed their being fraudulent.

Instead of accompanying my husband to the mall where he had gone to fill out a job application and getting a free birthday makeover at Sephora, I spent all morning contacting local law enforcement agencies, as well as filling out an online crime complaint with the FBI. I had my husband check our joint account for any suspicious activity because I gave that account information to the company for direct deposit payment. He confirmed no suspicious activity in the account. I did have him alert the bank to put fraud alerts on the account just in case. Unfortunately, because I did not lose any money to this outfit, there was not much that the police department could do. They just advised me to keep an eye on my accounts and credit reports and contact them if anything suspicious happens. They also advised me to reject any shipments of packages and cease contact with anyone claiming to be from Saratoga QCA immediately. I have kept all correspondence, invoices, and shipping labels from this outfit as evidence in case I have to produce it for the authorities.

To find out you've been the victim of a scam always sucks. But when you find out you've been a victim ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, it's even worse! I suppose I shouldn't beat myself up too much. I did research this outfit beforehand, and found nothing indicating fraud. They certainly were quite sophisticated in their presentation.

My husband, bless his heart, tried to make my day a bit brighter. He bought me a birthday cake.

My German Chocolate birthday cake. My hubby had the bakery inscribe on it "Happy Birthday Honey Bunny". It's an inside joke


One year older, ever more wise. Be careful out there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Republican Debate, Round 4

With great reluctance, I watched the shitshow known as the Republican debate. It's been their umpteenth debate this year, which is appropriate cuz they have to weed out the worst clowns of the bunch. I loaded up my browser window to the Fox Business website, poured myself a tall frosty glass of beer, and sat down to watch.

Republicans, always lurking, ready to steal your soul


As I expected, it was a shitshow. The moderators did as good a job as Fox anchors could, bringing up issues on the economy. Trump the Chump was his feisty New York self and Ted Cruz had no idea what he was talking about. Rubio was his usual dumb-fuck self, and Kasich was the best sounding one on the stage, even beating out Ben Carson who should have stuck to the operating room, not a political stage. Everyone talked, but no one had any answers-just like Republicans are wont to do.

Why did I torture myself with this clown cavalcade? Mostly to stay informed of the other side. If you don't know your enemy, you can't fight them effectively. Plus, I bought a fresh bottle of Captain Morgan 100-proof rum for my birthday tomorrow. I needed to break it in with a shot, in addition to my usual beer.

Good night everyone! See you all tomorrow

Coconut Oil Conditioning

Greetings!

This morning while the baby had her morning nap, I decided to embark on an experiment-coconut oil conditioner.

Some months back, I stumbled across an article through one of my regularly frequented websites about Indian beauty treatments. Though I am not of Indian descent, I have a long standing love of India, its people, and its culture. Intrigued by the coconut oil treatment mentioned in the article, I decided to give it a try. A few weeks back, I bought a jar of coconut oil and have been using it as a facial moisturizer before bed. For the coconut oil I designated for hair care, I used an old leave-in conditioner tub which I filled about a 1/4 inch deep.

Now, I slathered the entire contents of the tub into my hair. I massaged the scalp and layered on the coconut oil on my dried out ends. I then gathered up my hair and tied it into a bun on top of my head.

I smell like a pina colada


Suffice to say, I'm pretty sure I put in too much coconut oil. I realized this when I began to feel the oil dripping down my neck and face. Note to self for future use: a little goes a long way when it comes to coconut oil. I guess my naturally-greasy face will be super moisturized from this conditioner.

Tomorrow morning, I will wash all this oil out of my hair and see how it feels. The woman in the article mentioned that her hair felt very soft after the conditioning treatment. I'd like to see how my experience compares.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Robert

Happy Sunday, dear readers. I hope your favorite football teams have won their respective games.

It was our week to go to the Latin Mass church as per our usual arrangement and upon entering the church, we took our seats at the end of the pew. While going over the announcements, Canon Bill mentioned that from November 1-9, if you went to a cemetery and prayed for a deceased person, a plenary indulgence would be granted to the intercessor and 500 souls would be released from Purgatory. Hubby and I immediately turned to each other, as we both had the same man in mind. We would be paying his grave a visit after Mass.

The deceased man we would be visiting in the cemetery was my hubby's late best friend, most faithful student, and most trusted dope dealer. His name was Robert Contreras and while I never met this illustrious individual, I have him to thank for my subsequent marriage and family.

Robert Casimiro Contreras. Husband, father, student, dealer, friend, and matchmaker from beyond the grave

Robert and my hubby met through my husband's tutoring business at the University of Arizona, and they became good friends. They sold weed and other drugs to students at the school, did all kinds of fun and/or crazy stuff together, and utilized a wide social network for their needs. I've encountered some of this remaining network through Robert's family and some of my hubby's other friends or other establishments. In fact, our daughter's disgraced godfather was the longtime childhood friend of Robert Contreras. They had, quite literally, grown up next door to each other.

In 2001, Robert was diagnosed with cancer. It was Hodgkins Lymphoma, and the only reason it was even discovered was because Robert had gone hiking on Mt. Lemmon with his family and came down with giardia from drinking dirty water up there. Robert would undergo treatment for the cancer, and in 2003, it was declared in remission. But, as cancers are wont to do, the lymphoma came roaring back with a vengeance in September of 2007 and by November of that year, Robert was dead. This all happened the year before I came to Tucson.

Old friends reunited once again. Taken in January, 2015


By the time of Robert's death, my hubby had made a full reversion to the Catholic Church after being an apostate for over 30 years. Despite being homeless, in treatment for opiate addiction, and battling serious health issues, he visited and tried to be with his friend as much as he could. My hubby went to the Wake at a local funeral home, where he was shocked by the horrible job the mortician did of embalming Robert, his actual Requiem Mass at the church the Contreras family belonged to, and then finally the burial. After Robert was buried, my hubby saw his late friend's daughters mourning and how they had come together to see their father off. It made my hubby really miss how he never had a family of his own.

The death of this man was the rebirth of another


What happened next is the stuff of legends. My hubby knelt at Robert's freshly-dug grave and prayed to the Virgin Mary for a wife. As for the kind of wife, my hubby asked for a young, virgin, Catholic Yugoslav if it would be both good for his soul and in keeping with God's Will. Hubby, upon realizing the tall order he'd put in for Our Lord, quickly dismissed the prayer and would forget about it until 2011 when he met me that fateful Sunday morning at Holy Family Catholic Church. We would not cement our relationship until Easter weekend, 2012, and have our civil wedding later that year in November.

The first time hubby and I ever visited Robert's grave together was on January 17, 2015. We'd been participating in the annual March for Life and while the rest of the crowd was marching up to the cemetery, we decided to drive up there so we could be there early and look for Robert's grave. Our daughter's disgraced godfather had been up there about a year earlier, and gave us the general idea of where the grave was. There was no headstone on it, he said, just a marker. Eagerly anticipating the trip, I purchased a vigil candle and a Black and Mild, Robert's favorite cigar to smoke, the previous day so we could leave them at the grave. When we arrived, we walked around the general vicinity but could not find Robert's grave. We then went into the office to ask where it was and the cemetery director personally took us to the grave. It was the first time in years that my hubby had been at his old friend's grave. Parked near the plot were some police SUVs, tasked with providing security for the finishing ceremonies at the cemetery. Given Robert's background, it was hilariously ironic to see where the officers chose to park their cars. Hubby reminisced a bit about the bad old days he had with Robert but assured me that when Robert died, so did the old bad life my hubby had lived before we met. We said some prayers, and left our offerings near the marker. I also took some pictures of the grave and some of the surrounding area so that the next time we visited, we would be able to find Robert's grave again.

Our offerings. Taken January 17, 2015


With Canon Bill's reminder to pray for the deceased in the cemetery, we headed straight over there after Mass. We almost missed the grave because someone else had parked in front of it. But using the pictures I'd taken in January, we were able to locate the grave again. Unfortunately, with money being tight, we didn't get him a candle or Black and Mild. We did say some prayers at the grave, just as Canon Bill reminded us to. It was indeed a fortuitous day to pray for Robert, since it was on this day in 2007 that he died. Last week at our other church, my hubby was inspired to enter Robert's name into the Book of the Dead so that a Mass could be said for him. Canon Bill's announcement confirmed that Robert was in need of prayers. If God allows it, dead people can directly petition the living for prayers. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was asking us on behalf of Robert Contreras to pray for him.

The baby meets the man who made her existence possible. We also brought some water to clean off the dust on the marker


And that was how I spent my Sunday

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Short Review of Beer: Strongbow Gold Apple

It's a cold night, so time to crack open another one of my apple beers!

Of note, this is actually an import cider from England! Pic found here


Today's selection was Strongbow Golden Apple hard cider. Like last week's Angry Orchard, Strongbow was another brand I regularly saw in the grocery store liquor aisle and wanted to try. Strongbow, its very name inspires the mental image of Robin Hood shooting an apple on top of someone's head with his arrow but was actually the name of an elf hero in one of the epics by the great J.R.R Tolkein, looked interesting to try. With the grocery store featuring a mix-n-match six pack sale, I just had to sample some.

Upon drinking my first sip, I was pleasantly surprised by how sweet it was! There was a bit of a sour aftertaste, but it was much sweeter than the vinegar-tasting Angry Orchard. Looking at the label, however, I understood why. In addition to apple juice concentrate, it was pumped with glucose syrup. It was like a high-class Steel Reserve without the buzz that comes from a high alcohol content beverage.

Believe it or not, Gold Apple goes well with oatmeal cookies. The cinnamon in the oatmeal cookies complements the apple juice taste. I suppose this cider could pair well with pork too, given that pork and apples go well together.

Overall, I was fairly pleased with Strongbow Gold Apple hard cider. I will definitely be buying this brand again in the future.

For more on Strongbow and the other varieties of cider it brews, check out their website here. Maybe it's just my browser, but be prepared to enter your birthdate to confirm your age every time you click a tab on the site to explore it. It's not a terribly user friendly site.

As always, please drink responsibly.