Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Polls

I don't know why Florida has such trouble with elections.

Yesterday I had to drive all over the place just so I could vote in Florida's primary elections. (See, we decided to hold our primaries early, which caused the democratic party to withdraw delegates from our state PLUS the candidates couldn't do much campaigning here. I don't know what that means, but it seems to me that preventing voters from getting as much information as possible is just not the smartest move in the world.)

Anyways. It was my fault that I didn't send in my change of address to get a new voter registration card in time. The day before the election, I called the elections office to find out where I was allowed to vote. Could I vote in my new precinct, or would I have to drive three towns over to go to my OLD precinct? No one answered the phone there. After awhile I was prompted to "press 1 to leave a voicemail." So I did. I left a message, but no one called me back.

I decided first to go to my *new* precinct, which is just around the corner from where I live. I got Lance all ready to go, attached his kid leash to him so he wouldn't run off, walked into the precinct, explained my situation, and was told I couldn't vote there, that I had to go to the other precinct where I was registered.

I was a little annoyed, but I understand that rules are rules. Later in the day, I went to the old precinct. They were very confused over there. I explained what happened at the new precinct, showed both my voter card and my driver's license, and then I found myself surrounded by 6 elections officials who all had a different idea what I should do. People were waving pieces of paper in my face, some of them telling me to take this paper to the new precinct, and then someone else would promptly yank it out of my hand saying it wasn't necessary. (This happened about 4 times.) I just stood there with a bewildered expression on my face. Finally, I said, "I JUST WANT TO VOTE!"

Someone finally took me over to a voting booth where I was able to cast my vote.

It was crazy.

And they wonder why people don't turn out to vote. They make it such a hassle!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Guinevere's Chicken Enchiladas

Some of my best recipes have been ones that I have stolen from some of you, dear blog-friends!

So I'm going to share one of my recipes. This is a recipe for Chicken Enchiladas that has become a staple in my house. It's one that has enough flavor for Hubby (he grew up in South Africa and they cook with much more spices and flavorings than the average American. He finds much of our food bland, so when I find a recipe that he doesn't have to add anything to, I consider it a success!!) PLUS Lance likes the chicken mixture. He still only has 4 teeth, so instead of wrapping it up in a tortilla, I just set aside some of the meat mixture, plop it down on his high chair tray, and let him have at it. He loves it. Here ya go!

Chicken Enchiladas
(I modified this recipe from the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray. The original recipes calls for the tortillas to be dipped in the sauce, but I can't stand a soggy tortilla, so I put the sauce in the meat mixture and just drizzled a little sauce over the tops of the enchiladas before baking.) I also removed the jalapeño peppers because last time I chopped jalapeños, I ended up with nasty burns on my fingertips. A few drops of hot pepper sauce would work well if you just really love the flavor of the jalapeños!) You can find the original recipe here.

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (I prefer red onion for this dish.)
3 tbsp flour
1 29-oz can tomato sauce (use whatever you like when you make pizza or spaghetti!)
1 tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
2-lb rotisserie chicken, meat shredded
(Last time I made this recipe, I just boiled 3 chicken breasts, then chopped them up finely. Another time I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot, and just pulled the meat off the bones. As long as you have basically a whole chicken's worth of meat, any way you want to cook it will be fine.)
about 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped.
(These are sold in cans. I found them in the "ethnic foods" aisle of my grocery store. It is VERY IMPORTANT to cut open the chili and scrape out the seeds, because the seeds are where the heat "lives." Remember, Lance loved this recipe, so they're not TOO hot!)
12 6-inch flour tortillas

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add 2/3 of the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups water and the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chilis and salt, bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. In large bowl, mix the cooked shredded chicken, 2/3 of the cheese and 2/3 of the sauce.

Fill each tortilla with chicken mixture, roll up and transfer (seam side down) to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce, cheese, and onions.

Broil until golden, 5-7 minutes. (If your chicken was cold when you made the meat mixture, turn off the broiler and leave in the oven for a few more minutes until heated through.)

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you decide to make it, let me know how it turned out for you!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Midnight Rant

I can't sleep. Grr.

It's not because of Lance. He's sound asleep.

It's not because Hubby is snoring. He's not.

It's because I drank caffeine with my dinner tonight. Not a lot of it, mind you. Just a kid-sized soft drink (Diet Coke specifically) from Boston Market on our way home from church tonight. I thought it would be harmless.

Nope!

I broke my own rule. I know that if I consume caffeine past 4 p.m. that I will have a miserable time getting to sleep without additional chemical assistance. (By which I mean Benadryl.) I don't like taking Benadryl just to get to sleep. I don't think God designed our bodies to absorb all these chemicals all the time. (I'm not anti-cold medicine when I need it, of course.)

But ya see, I haven't had a Diet Coke for several days. I'm trying to wean myself off of the stuff because I know it's not healthy. But when we went to pick up our dinner and ordered Lance a kid's meal, it came with a drink and I didn't want to waste it! We knew we would be giving Lance milk at home with his dinner. We didn't order drinks for ourselves for the same reason. The kid's meal just comes with it. I can't help it if the people who plan the meal combos decide to put a drink with a kid's meal but not with an adult meal!

So it's their fault.

Can you sue someone for sleep deprivation?

Hee hee. Before you know it, the soda cups will have this warning label printed on them:

WARNING: If you use this cup to consume caffeine in the late afternoon/early evening, it is possible you will have trouble falling asleep. By purchasing this beverage, you agree to hold (Name of Our Restaurant) and its affiliates, parent companies, and subsidiaries harmless for any damages or losses suffered due to sleep deprivation. Any disputes arising in this matter will be adjudicated according to the laws of the state of (Name of Your State or Province If You Are One of My Canadian Readers).

LOLOLOLOLOL

I crack myself up sometimes.

Sleep deprivation encourages hilarity, I suppose.

Maybe I should be a comedian.

Maybe I should forget going back to school and start a career as a comedian.

So I wonder if I can get That Restaurant to pay off my student loans since I won't be needing my degree to be a comedian.

Because it's Their Fault that their menu planners include a drink with a kid's meal and not with the adult meal, and thus I am awake at 1 am contemplating becoming a comedian.

Now we have to edit the warning label as follows:

ADDITIONALY, the consumption of caffeine at a late hour may also cause you to doubt the course of your future. By purchasing and drinking this beverage, you agree that you will not hold (Name of Our Restaurant) responsible for any debts incurred while pursuing your education, which you no longer need because you're going to become a comedian.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And Now Let's Break for Adulthood

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.

I had lunch with a friend a few days ago. (That's not the miraculous part. In fact, it's a fairly commonplace occurrence between me and this particular friend!) This friend also has a young baby.

We actually had an adult conversation that did not involve poopy diapers, naptimes, what new foods our children have eaten and their newest accomplishments. (Although Lance recently ate the chicken mixture I made for enchiladas the other night, which was seasoned with chili powder, cumin, and even had some chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. And did I mention that Lance can say a few new words, and he will remain sitting in the bathtub when asked to do so?)

We discussed politics. We discussed stuff happening at our church. We bounced ideas off each other for a girls-only camping trip. We threw around words and phrases like "demographics" and "standardized testing" and "environmental policies."

We debated whether or not it was the place of government to enforce moral issues. We tried to decide which was more important: does the leader of the free world need to share our religion and ethical ideas, or can those be set aside in favor of things like the economy, education, and national security? (Because to me it seems like there is not a candidate that matches me both in religious/ethical ideas and all the other stuff. Please correct me if I'm wrong!)

We didn't really come to any conclusions, but let me just tell you it was nice to use words with more than two syllables on a regular basis!

Of course we're having this discussion in between singing silly songs to our kids to keep them quiet and happy and rescuing bits of food that were "liberated" from our children's plates onto the floor.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I watched the Republican presidential debate on television last night. It was very educational! I want to encourage all of my U.S. readers to get yourselves informed about the presidential candidates and the issues facing our nation today. A few days ago I posted about how I was woefully unprepared regarding current politics. I've been doing some reading, been watching the news and most recently, the debate, and I now feel pretty caught up. After watching the debate, I found myself changing my mind about some things. As the candidates explained the ramifications of particular decisions, it helped to open my eyes.

Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or something else entirely, it is so important to be a well-informed voter.

I can recall hearing a statistic that more people tuned in to watch the American Idol finale than turned out to vote in a recent election. That saddened me. (I was one of those people at the time, I'm sad to say. It was pure laziness on my part.)

Enough of my political soapbox. I don't intend for this blog to become a political forum by any means. It's just a current interest of mine, so you may see a post here and there regarding something of a political nature! I also don't want to alienate anyone. I know that people have lots of different ideas regarding politics and the running of the country, and I certainly don't want any bad blood here. Feel free to share your ideas (nicely, please!) because the only way to learn about the political scene is to really get into it, to ask questions, and learn from others.

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Adventures in Baking (Or, "My Failed Attempt at Domesticity")

I laugh at myself a lot.

Particularly yesterday.

See, I have some friends. Some wonderful friends whom I adore and admire. I attempted to imitate one of them.

This particular friend (We'll call her "Ivy") often takes it into her head to bake something from scratch for no particular reason. Sometimes it's just to do something nice for her husband (whom rumor has it adores dessert,) and sometimes it's just because she feels like it.

About a week ago, I had the pleasure of partaking in one of her delectable chocolate cupcakes, made from scratch from Ghiradelli cocoa. (It was divine. Heaven in a cupcake.) I also stood and watched her make icing from scratch. Perfection. Pure, unadulterated, perfection.

I love this friend so much I decided once again to copy her. (Ivy hon, I'm sorry. I just can't help it! You are my role model.)

I baked a cake.

I have not baked a cake in years. I'm the one who goes to the grocery store bakery and buys a cake there, and then only for special occasions.

While perusing my pantry for items needed to make dinner, I found a boxed cake mix. I have no idea why it was in there. (They must have been two for one or something like that. Hubby made a cake awhile back, so maybe that's where it came from.) So I decided that I would bake a cake. Just because I felt like it.

Mistake #1: Using the wrong bakeware.

I have a Pampered Chef stoneware baking dish. It's fantastic and I use it for all sorts of things. Lasagna, chicken, casseroles, pretty much for anything one would use a standard sized baking dish. When I attempted to remove the cake from the pan and place it on a wire rack, it made a big, gigantic mess. The stoneware is very porous, so even though I used cooking spray, the cake stuck. I tried to unstick it from the sides using a knife and that served to loosen it just enough for half of the cake to come tumbling out of the pan. I then proceeded to use a spatula to loosen the other half of the cake from the pan. It came out in crumbled bits.

(At least the crumbled bits of cake still tasted great!)

Mistake #2: Trying to make icing from scratch.

I phoned my dear friend Ivy and asked her to tell me how to make icing. She told me, I followed her directions precisely, and I ended up with a gooey, lumpy, drippy, mess.

(At least the gooey, lumpy, drippy mess still tasted great!)

I do not blame Ivy for this. I must have skipped an important step, or set the mixer to the wrong speed, or added the ingredients in the wrong order. (So maybe I didn't follow her directions precisely...) Or Perhaps Ivy assumed I knew a thing or two about baking, so she left out something obvious that anyone else who had ever baked a cake in their lives would know. (Have you ever played that game where you tell someone how to make a peanut butter sandwich? You say, "put the peanut butter on the bread" and the person picks up the jar of peanut butter, and sets the jar down on the whole loaf of bread? I need specifics here.) Again Ivy, not your fault, babe.

A few moments ago, I trashed the cake. I should have photographed it for you all to gawk and point fingers at, but I'm not quite that willing to undergo that kind of humiliation. You'll just have to use your imaginations.

Lessons learned?

Use a plain old baking dish.

Buy a tub of store-bought icing.

Or, just go to the grocery store bakery and buy a cake.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thanks, Brento, for reminding me about the website that you posted about and I commented on regarding the presidential candidates.

The Minnesota Public Radio website has a section called "Select-A-Candidate" in which you can take a quiz to determine which candidate most closely aligns with your views, and you can also see each candidate's answers to the same questions. Click on "candidate positions" to see where each candidate stands. (No, I do not think each candidate took the quiz, but their answers were taken from various debates and public statements they have made. Very often, they will link to the candidate's own websites, in which you can delve in more deeply to see where they stand on each issue.)

I find the site to be very objective and informational. For anyone who is a little confused about who is who and what they stand for, this is a great place to begin!

Thanks Brent!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Politically Ingnorant

I should really be ashamed of myself. I haven't updated my voter registration in several years. My current voter card lists the address of our very first apartment when we got married three years ago. (That was three addresses and a couple of counties ago.) Yikes!

I was equally embarrassed when I realized that Florida's primary elections are being held later this month and I didn't have a clue who the candidates were other than Hillary and Obama, let alone the Republican party!

SO...this morning I purchased a newspaper. (You know, where they print out all the news stories for you so you don't have to do it yourself!) I spent a couple of hours happily thumbing through it.

There's a whole lot going on in this world that I had no idea about.

Like an art festival a few miles from here, an airstrike over Gaza, a local grant to provide restaurants with equipment that will reduce their use of water and electricity, reasons why I should (and should not) say "yes to Amendment 1!" and most importantly to me, information on the presidential candidates.

Last night I obtained the paperwork necessary to update my voter registration.

(Why is it you can renew your driver's license online, make payments for everything online, but you can't register to vote online?)

Anyhoo. Now that I know I will once again be a participating member in the government of our country, I decided I needed to educate myself about what is going on.

I'm WAAAAYYYY behind.

So I'm starting with baby steps. I read the feature in the paper that listed each candidate's strengths and weaknesses. The article gave a website for further election information, so I've been digging through that for awhile.

I feel much more informed now.

After 2 hours of reading up on election info, I can say with total confidence that for the moment, I am going to support John McCain.

That could change. It could easily change.

Because I am only 2 hours into my presidential education.

Thoughts, anyone?? Is there a website with objective information about each candidate and where they stand on issues?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's Official.

It's Official.

The application has been submitted.

Childcare has been confirmed.

I WILL be returning to school this fall!!! In December, I will finally, finally, have my bachelor's degree in elementary education.

Such a weight off my shoulders. All this time being one semester away from graduating. So close, yet so far. When looking for a part-time job earlier last year, my lack of a degree was a significant hindrance. No matter that the coursework had been completed. No matter that the state's certification tests had been passed.

I didn't have the piece of paper from a university that said I was qualified to be a teacher, so nobody thought I was.

I'll show them.

Ha.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why?

I don't get people sometimes.

Why do people assume that because I choose to stay at home with my son that I must be a poor, uneducated, drudge of some kind?

It doesn't matter to them that I am one semester away from earning my college degree. I may as well have dropped out of high school.

I look very young, so they assume I "got knocked up" and am now burdened with the trials of raising a child. They don't know how much I longed for a baby, how much I prayed to be a mother. They don't understand the encompassing love that I have for this small person.

Which is why I am grateful for all of you! You are very special women to me. I get you and you get me. We all understand what it is like to love a child. We don't think of it as a terrible sacrifice to spend time raising our children. We are intelligent, well-read, and we all have an excellent grasp of the English language as shown in our ability to construct (for the most part) grammatically correct sentences with correctly spelled words (thank you spell-check!) which people find interesting to read.

I'm just in a funk today I guess. It's a bit of a blustery, gray day and I didn't get enough sleep last night, so I'm savoring a crabby mood.

I really should get some housework done, but I'm not going to. I'm going to take a nap.

Ta-ta.

I Won! I Won!

For the first time ever, I have won a bloggy contest that I entered.

I won this card-making kit given away by Haley!!!! Thanks so much, hon! I really enjoy scrapbooking and card-making, but assembling everything you need for such a project is exhausting when you have a toddler. Kits are fantastic!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Miss You!

Hi everyone!

I miss you! Every single last one of you!

Been busy busy busy. Trawling (is that a word?) the internet for scholarships in what little computer time I have.

Started a new "system" for getting things done around my house. During one of Chris' naps, I do housework. During the other nap, I do whatever I want. Unfortunately, his naps aren't long enough for me to eat, read, sleep, watch TV, play keyboard, flip through magazines, scrapbook, take photos, AND blog.

(But my house has been MUCH cleaner this week, which has been nice!)

Maybe things will start to calm down a bit...


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've just entered a fun contest! Go over and visit Haley and have a gander at some cool scrapbooking and card making stuff you can win. I really enjoy doing both those things but have little time for it, so having kits with stuff done for me is FANTASTIC. Good luck if you decide to enter too!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Going Back to School!!!!

If all goes according to plan, it looks like I may be going back to school this fall!!! I have only my internship left to complete before they give me the piece of paper that says I can be a teacher.

Does anyone know of any scholarships available for mommy bloggers??? If I can do this without going any more into debt, that would be fabulous.