April Fool
alaindanpaints your head orange.
alexandralynchlegally changes your name to MoonBeam Cappa.
kearanthefaerytrims your hedge into a replica of the Venus de Milo.
kightpTPs your car.
pfahnlisasells your house on Ebay.
soaring_phoenixeggs your elderly relatives.
tsjafosmiles. All the time.
workerant156bshaves your dog.
Prank Me
Wanted to make sure I wished everyone here in LJ land the Happiest of New Years for 2006!!!!

I know I've bitched a lot about what a bad year it's been, but there was a lot of good too.

  • I'm still with my sweetie - and very, very happy.

  • My family is (reasonably) healthy.

  • I've had my job for OVER two years (a record!)

  • I had minimal fights with my Mom...not gone, but minimal.

  • I've started taking steps (actually, we both did) toward restoring my relationship with my Dad.

  • I graduated from therapy!

  • I've taken a couple of positive steps forward financially...to shed some baggage.

  • The Colts are having their best season EVER!

  • Jessica got re-active in Girl Scouts & is having a blast.

  • I've gotten in touch with some old friends, both IRL & in LJ.

  • I learned how to exercise. I might not have kept it up like I should, but I know *how*, and can do it again.

  • I had a good birthday party.

  • I got to meet Alton Brown!

I'm sure there's more, including good movies seen & good times with friends. But the crux of the matter is that 2005 wasn't ALL bad...there was good, too.

I'm still glad 2006 is here.

My New Year's wish for everyone...a traditional Irish prayer:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm on your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God [or the deity of your choice] hold you in the palm of His hand.
Christmas went lovely, really. Minor hiccups (like the un-good weather outside, making my Mom *very* nervous) but otherwise well.

The presents went as follows:

HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban game for my X-box & a pearl/gold bracelet (from Jess), Babylon 5 (season 2) on DVD, Danger Mouse (seasons 3 & 4) on DVD, and a gift card to Kohl's (from Tony) and a Hammock from my Mom! I also got a check from my Dad & Stepmom in Texas a few weeks ago, and I'll be buying us a food processor with what's left of it - I also bought some pants for work.

I was going to talk about what Tony got, but I'll leave that for him in his LJ (if he chooses.)

Mom was THRILLED with her DVD/VCR player - went off on the "you spent too much" but we shut that down pretty quick. She also was happy with the DVDs she got: we got her the La Boheme she'd been asking for a VHS of, and Jessica got her a collection of three Audrey Hepburn movies (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday, Sabrina.) She spent a good deal of time last night trying to hook it up - I don't know if success was ever finally reached. ;)

Dinner went well; I didn't make the broccoli/cauliflower but the green beans came out well...Jess didn't know what to do with "crunchy" green beans...I've fed her too many canned beans. ;) The ham loaves came out fine, as did the turkey breast (thank Ghods for oven bags!) and Mom brought the cherry cobbler I love for dessert.

I can also *highly* recommend Penzey's Chip & Dip seasoning...yummy stuff, particularly w/ridged chips. :)

Anyway, that's where we're at today. Now we're hanging out. Need to go to the mall to return some stuff, but we're not going to do that until tomorrow when the hoardes might be somewhat better since so many need to go back to work then. I'm thinking about taking Jess to see Narnia - TLTWTW today; I'd like Tony to come but I don't know if he will.

I'm going to go find something to eat & relax with my kid.
And I was the first one up! How does *that* happen? (Especially since Jessica is here for the next 4 days!)

This morning I'm going to bake cranberry quickbread. Mom is coming over for Christmas around 1 pm today; she's going to be VERY surprised by her present. ;) Our menu for dinner is as follows:

Individual Ham Loaves (Pork & ham ground together in little meatloaves with a vinegar/brown sugar sauce.)
Roasted turkey breast
Redskin mashed potatoes
Green beans w/ Alfredo sauce & french-fried onions
Broccoli & Cauliflower

Mom's bringing dessert. I don't know what it is, but I have expressed the idea that I really DON'T want something made with jell-o. :)

Tony wants me to wake him around 10 am since he was up until 4 am or so doing video stuff. This gives me time to start the cranberry bread, and Jess (who is finally awake) doesn't seem to be in a huge rush to open presents. (This is actually a somewhat pleasant change from the violent present-hunger of earlier years.)

Anyway, I'm going to get off of here and go start my cranberry bread.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, (belated) Blessed Yule, Good Kwanzaa, and/or whatever holiday celebration you choose to celebrate!
Two more links.

I found this first one through [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes and is a link to the actual post, not the [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes entry:

Thoughts on political correctness and the war on Christian values. [Warning: Some bad language & a great deal of bitterness.] A quote: "What I care about is that this is getting ridiculous. Christians, you are not an oppressed minority. There is no war on your religious holiday which is the only religious holiday that is also a federal holiday. It's not even your holiday. You stole it from the pagans who celebrated the rebirth of the sun god Mithras on the winter solstice. The Christmas tree is a Teutonic pagan icon that was integrated into British culture during the reign of Queen Victoria on account of her German husband. But hey, if you want to claim it for yourself and call it the birthday of your lord and savior, fine. You do that.

All I ask. All any of us ask, really, is that you shut up about it already. Drink your nog, attend your service, give your gifts, do your thing, but stop cramming it down our throats."

The second one was posted in my friend [livejournal.com profile] syreene's journal, and I nicked it:

The Stranger and the Fox: A Christmas Fable. (As posted in "The Huffington Post".) A quote: " 'So some Palestinian walks into town - beard, sandals, looks like a terrorist, right? Says that God can be directly experienced by everyone, without rich, powerful clergymen or their politician buddies. And when folks want to exchange money at our convenient in-Temple banking centers - which is their God-given right - he calls it an abomination. He's part of the war on Passover! What can you do with a guy like that but string him up, right? I'm Bill O'Reilly and this is the No-Spin Zone.' "

What can I say, I'm getting political in my old age. *sigh*
I was wandering through Meijer's* this evening after picking up a shirt to go with an outfit I bought Jessica for Giftmas. While I was wandering I found the display of Bratz** electronics - TV/DVD player combo, boom box, mp3 player, CD walkman, etc. I was looking around the display, and found, on the other side...

...a hanging display of foam earplugs.

Makes the preteen girls happy, AND their parents. ;)


*Meijer's is a mega-superstore based out of Michigan. I like their variety, and I haven't yet found an ethical reason to *not* shop there, unlike Wal-Mart & Target.

**Bratz, for the uninitiated, are the "new" Barbie. Very "hip" little dolls who look like little tramps & wear lots of makeup. They used to have oversized heads, but don't anymore due to some of the accessories/dream house/spa, etc.
I've been pondering this issue for quite some time, and have thought about writing my own essay/diatribe about it. However, other people seem to have beaten me to it:

The Truth About Christmas: The so-called 'War on Christmas' is a nonexistent threat that does more harm than good for the Christian religion. (Found via [livejournal.com profile] royalcrow.)

Over in [livejournal.com profile] theferrett's domain, we have In Which I Tell You That Everyone's Crazy: The War On Christmas, with follow-up posts here and here.

There's an editorial in the Boston Globe which is good (albeit short & to the point): Whose Holy Day?

And, an article from our local Indianapolis Star, A holiday hot button.

I may not agree with everything in these articles, but it comes down to the fact that, as [livejournal.com profile] dimetherwen states in a post from her LJ here (found via [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes) "As for the "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" issue... for the love of Pete, everyone. Even if you're Christian, there are still two holidays in this particular season- Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Etc. and New Year's. Put that giant yuletide log from your ass and deal with it."

This might not be my most *original* post, but I'll tell you each one of these things really made me think. Feel free to do the same. :)
It's Thanksgiving 2005 and time for my annual list of "what Ellen is thankful for". (In no particular order, really.)

  • My health. I've still got it.

  • My partner/best friend/lover/owner Tony (aka [livejournal.com profile] royalcrow).

  • My daughter, Jessica.

  • My Mom (even when she drives me nuts, I don't know what I'll do when she's no longer around.)

  • My Dad & Stepmom - especially now that we're finally...understanding each other.

  • Tony's family, for being welcoming & loving to me ever since I met them.

  • My job. My cow-orkers might drive me batty, but I still like what I do & like where I work. And I've beaten my length record this year, so I'm particularly thankful for that.

  • Live Journal. I've learned more about my friends...and myself...since I got this thing. I don't know if I could do without it now.

  • My friends, both in Real Life and here on LJ. Some of my friends here are as close to me as some of my RL friends, or closer even.

  • Having found several people who used to be in my life, and getting back in touch with them. Somehow, this proves to me that my memories are *real*, not just feverish dreams (or nightmares.)

  • The slow reawakening of my spirituality. It's really just starting, but I think it's going to grow again. Maybe in a new way, but still growing.

  • House, The Daily Show, Numbers, CSI, and all the shows I'm addicted to.

  • Our DVR & video on demand. This ROCKS!

  • The Colts. It's about damned time!!!

  • The Straight Dope Message Board. Keeping Ellen occupied for hours at a time. ;)

  • The fact that despite all efforts on their part, the NeoCons/Religious Right/GW Bush, et.al. still don't control the country to the point that I'm ACTIVELY afraid to be who I am, say what I want to say, or believe what I want to believe.

  • I'm thankful for all the HONORABLE men & women in the military who are fighting for what they believe in, even if I don't believe in the same things.

  • The smell of fallen autumn leaves, flowers, rain, snow, and the other nature that I can experience.

  • My meds, all of them. Yeah, I wish I didn't have to take them, but at least I'm still here and (reasonably) healthy thanks to taking them.

  • The library. I've "rediscovered" it, thanks to emails that remind me when my books are going to be overdue and/or allow me to renew them online when I miss. I've started reading like gangbusters again...different stuff than the same old stuff I've been reading for years, and it doesn't cost me as much as a visit to Half Price Books.

  • My sense of humor.

  • Every morning I wake up and am able to face a new day.

  • That's all I can think of now; it's late & I need to get to bed. I can't sleep in too much tomorrow morning - I still have rolls to make.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone who's celebrating...and to those that aren't, well, I'm thankful for you, too.
You know how I can tell it's the holidays? Because I got up at 6:30 am to make green bean casserole for the pitch-in today at work.

Now, to be fair, I LOVE green bean casserole (GBC) any time of year. I've been known, when I've had the ingredients on hand, to make a batch of GBC for myself for dinner. (Yes, just that. Nothing to go with it, just GBC. Yes, I know it's bad for me. Sue me.)

We have pitch-ins at work all year 'round, too, so it's not necessarily the fact that it's a pitch-in, either.

It's that SOMEONE had to bring GBC to THIS pitch-in, because it's Thanksgiving, and we can't have Thanksgiving WITHOUT GBC. The person who has brought it the two previous years is no longer with the practice, so...I went with it. If I hadn't, someone else would've.

So, while I'm not actually making this a recipe post (as it is mostly a commentary on the fact that I got up at 6:30 am to make GBC) I'm going to also post *my* recipe for GBC - with notes.

2 14.5 oz cans french-cut green beans (I've tried making it with regular cut green beans; it doesn't taste right to me that way.)
1 can Campbells cream of mushroom soup (I've tried generic/store brand soup (for this and other casseroles) - go brand name here, trust me.)
1 LARGE can French's Original French-Fried Onions (Another case where brand name matters. The generic ones are NASTY.)
1/2 soup can milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain the green beans & put them in a 2 qt casserole dish. Mix in (approx.) 1/2 can of the onions. (Maybe less, I use 1/2 the big can on the double batch I'm making...but I like having leftovers to nibble on.) Mix together the cream of mushroom soup & the 1/2 can of milk in a bowl. You don't want the mixture at soup consistency, but at sauce consistency, which is thicker. It should pour, but not be runny. Pour the sauce over the green beans, making sure it's distributed evenly & can get through the green bean layer. (I usually poke it with my fork some to make sure it will seep through in the baking, but I don't like to completely coat the beans in the sauce.) Put this in the oven for about 30 minutes. Pull it out, put the rest of the onions (reserving some for nibbling, if you like) across the top, and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve hot. Reheats well.

The recipe on the onion can calls for salt & pepper. The recipe on the soup can calls for adding soy sauce. I've also seen varients which call for worchestershire sauce - I tried that one once. Didn't like it. I don't season my green beans, I don't salt/pepper/soy anything. It's a purist thing. ;)

So now that I have rambled incessently about GBC, I'm going to go see about getting dressed, which should probably have happened before now. ;)

It's the holidays. I've been fighting it, but they show up anyway, whether you want them to or not. At least (at this stage) there doesn't seem to be any drama about where we'll be for various holidays this year. Everyone seems to be copacetic.

My goal for today: Eat, drink, and be merry - for tomorrow you may diet. :)
OK, maybe I'm being too indecisive, but I can't make up my mind so I'm calling on you, my friends, to help me out here. We've gotten approval to dress up for Halloween at the office if we want, but it has to be office-appropriate (tasteful) with no face paint or masks. We also can't look grungy or *too* far away from the office dress code (which is usually business casual or scrubs.)

So, I have the following question:

[Poll #598232]

TIA for all help!



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