Thursday, December 21, 2017

You DO Have Time to Cook a Healthy, Delicious Meal at Home - Chicken and Martian Heads

We've become a lazy fast food nation of folks who don't gather around the dinner table  I think we are much the poorer for it, not only in dollars but in the human cost, as well.

Not cooking out is a mindset. Once I saw the ridiculous amount we spent on eating out, I was determined to avoid it as much as possible.  By pre-planning, I know for sure that I can cook a cheaper more healthy meal faster than buying take out.

Basil Chicken, Martian Heads, and Baked Potatoes

Last night, I left chicken breast tenderloins out to thaw. They were marked down for $2.73 from $4.55.  I also cut up two containers of on-sale Brussels sprouts, or Martian Heads, as we call them at Chez Bremer. This took about 5 minutes.

This morning, I put the brussies to the boil with some "Caldo de Pollo," basically chicken bullion crystals from the Hispanic foods section. I will butter the sprouts with salt, pepper, and fresh ground nutmeg.  

Whole nutmeg can be found in the same International section of the store.  They can be grated with a cheese grater.  The taste/aroma is nutmeg on steroids...simply amazing. Like ground nutmeg to the tenth power.

I took a shower while they boiled.  I turned the brussies off early, just before they'rd finished cooking. I just left them on the burner in the pot with the lid.  Four large baking potatoes were scrubbed and put in the cold oven.  

Finally, I mixed one can of sale cream soup (reduced salt), a small amount of pesto from Big Lots, a slosh of white wine, and some garlic together.  I sprayed a baking dish with off-brand Pam, poured in half the cream soup mix, added the chicken (which was still half frozen) and put the rest of the soup mix on top. The dish was covered with tin foil and refrigerated.  All of this took perhaps 7 minutes, if that long.

When I got home from work, I turned on the oven to 400 degrees to start the potatoes first.  About 20 minutes later, I turned the temp down to 350 and popped in the chicken.  The chicken took about 25 minutes. Ten minutes before dinner, I re-heated the martian heads.

We had a delicious chicken dinner. The extra baked potatoes made up two lunches for Bruce, with a little chicken and some delicious sauce on top.  All for 15 minutes prep time.  Anyone can do this.

For all the reasons to "not eat out" check out this great NYC food blog:

Not Eating out in NY

Pic courtesy of My Recipes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What Derek Harbin Told Me to Do

Derek Harbin is my pastor.  Today he told me to do something in church and this is me, doing it.

Before we were dismissed from services today, Derek said, "You know how we experienced 9/11 and wondered why moderate Muslims didn't speak out? Now it is our turn to speak out against the racism which is tearing us apart."

In the aftermath of the inexcusable racism in Charlottesville, VA which culminated in the deaths of three people, it is imperative that all those who really love Jesus speak out against the white "supremacists."  

Please look at the picture above, re-posted from the Huffington Post.  We see a dignified young black cop standing duty. Behind him is a man in a dress with a red pointed cap on. Uh, who exactly is supposed to be supreme to whom?  All I see is a patriot in uniform with a confederacy of dunces behind him. 

KKK members, neo-Nazi's, and other affiliated groups who claim Christ and carry or use the sacred symbol of the cross to advance their racist ideology are apostate.

They have missed Jesus' entire message, which teaches that in Christ there are no superficial divisions.  

Galatians 3:28New International Version (NIV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Jesus was a radical.  He touched a bleeding woman who was considered "unclean" under religious law and healed her. He ate with sinners. Jesus let a hooker wash his feet with tears. Women were among his loyal followers. He reached out to the ultimate foreigners, the Samaritans, and taught about himself. He helped the disabled and reached out to lepers willingly.  

Many conservatives don't want to hear this, but if Jesus had been in Charlotttesville yesterday, he would never have been walking with Jason Kessler's (organizer of this bloodbath) "Unite the Right" activists.  By the way, Mr. Kessler blames the police for what happened, rather than any of his group.

Let's all be as brave as Heather Heyer, the young paralegal who was deliberately run over by neo-Nazi James Fields, along with 18 other victims. Heather gave up her life doing the right thing.

How do you do the right thing?  Don't laugh at jokes with racial overtones.  Moreover, state your repugnance for such things. That's not hard.

Don't publicize Internet garbage attacking Muslims or any other type of prejudice.  Quit reading Facebook posts from those who continually spread fear of groups different from yours.

Do what my husband, Bruce, did in one of his Navy moments of which I am the most proud.  Another Navy Chief (and I use this term loosely) was a racist, a quiet one, but a racist. Bruce saw that a very worthy African American sailor was not gaining the recognition that he deserved. 

He arranged with the Chief of the Boat to write up this young man's accomplishments.  Brian Robertson ended up being the Commander of Pacific Forces Afloat Sailor of the Year, advanced to Chief Petty Officer, and became an officer. Tim, the other "chief" never spoke to Bruce again.  It was no loss.

We helped raise three inner-city kids through an odd set of circumstances. At the least, we were two white folks who treated them well. Lest I appear to be bragging, let me assure you that they gave us more than we ever gave them.

Do all your friends look just like you?  You might want to think about that.

Because of all the disrespect which my neighbors of color have experienced, I am careful to show extra respect by holding the door open, calling them Sir or Ma'am, etc.

Do you think that racism isn't such a big deal?  Let me tell you the story of my precious friends Billie (the wife) and Leslie (the husband) Walker and what racism did to them.

Les and Billie were both stationed with the Air Force at a remote location in Japan. They didn't have access there to a large military hospital like Walter Reed or Portsmouth Naval. Les had experienced a cough and tightness in his chest for months, especially while playing basketball.  There was only one physician for him to see.

Apparently, this physician didn't approve of interracial marriage. He never did a chest x-ray in all the times Les sought medical help and eventually accused Les of malingering to avoid work.

The racist physician went on vacation and the new doctor found that Les had bronchial aviolar carcinoma, which he eventually died from.  How much better would things have gone if he had a non-racist physician who treated the disease in its earlier stage?
Les did a tremendous amount of good during his illness.  He preached on the streets of Waikiki, he witnessed about Jesus to his doctors and nurses. He loved his friends and his family.

The last thing he ever said "to" me was when he was dying. Bruce slipped in to see him at the same military hospital in Hawaii where I was in surgery to take out my appendix.  Les said he'd pray for me. Humbling to say the least.

Racism is like a cancer.  It can be subtle or overt.  Subtle racism is when you cross over to the other side of the road when you see three black youths because they make you nervous. Something to try instead:  stay where you are and say "Hey how are you today?" You'll be surprised at the results.  

We saw what overt racism looks like in Charlottesville yesterday. It looks like death.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Murmuring and Complaining

My friend Debra recently wrote an excellent blog post regarding the dangers to our brains of constantly complaining. 

Two bloggers whom I otherwise love to read spend a great deal of time complaining about various ailments, problems with their homes that they feel helpless to fix, rudeness in today's society, fixed incomes, etc. Lovely pictures are taken and shared, their gifts and talents are amazing, but for the constant complaining.

A close relative (who will not see this) is a constant complainer. Folks who drive with bicycles on the back of their vehicles are "a-holes." S/he didn't like the conversation over dinner at a nice restaurant, so complained about that. Any one who doesn't follow this relative's lifestyle is subject to ire, even to the point of talking to the car radio or TV screen.

Another gloom and doom relative complained that s/he "had" (as in "was forced) to go on a luxury vacation in another country completely paid for by someone else. For months, I listened to the complaints and stress about it to the extent that s/he broke out into shingles the night before leaving.

Now s/he wistfully states that s/he would love to go back to this lovely country, but doesn't really have the extra money to do so!

Because I grew up in a rather negative atmosphere, I picked up early on the habit of murmuring and complaining. I constantly work to ensure that I don't spend a lot of time complaining.

Okay so let's sum up, Five Reasons We Should Not Complain:

1. Ingratitude - This holds you back from receiving all God has for you.
2. Complaining shrinks brain size in the same way Alzheimer's does.
3. Complaining is ungodly and He hates it.  He called the Israelites a "stiff-necked people."  Their whining and moaning kept them wandering in the desert for forty years.
4. Complaining is demoralizing for all who have to listen to you.
5. I believe that when you repeat complaints instead of praise you block God's blessing.
Thanks to Pinterest and for these great images.

To Learn More:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Had a Bad Day

So I love this song from Daniel Powter and I love the video even more.  Here are some of the lyrics:

'Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile, and you go for a ride

Had a Bad Day

So listen to it by clicking above me it is worth it.

So I went for a ride.  Right in the middle of a major metropolitan area of 1 million people, the tidal estuary shown above was a moment of peace, beauty, and tranquility.  And boy did I need it!

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made...Romans 1:20

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Some girls never grow up, so I played early in the morning with my dolls' house
Another girl, I'm not sure if she is a grown up girl or not, played with this dolls' house which I saw later on a drive.

It sits on the porch of this venerable old house:
Queen Mary of Great Britain was a great curator of Royal Family history and objects associated with the family.
We normally see Queen Mary as an imperious old woman, but I love this picture of her during the early days of her marriage.

Here is the dressing table from her dolls' house, an exact replica of the one she used for her toilette in real life:
Perhaps you'll enjoy this video of Queen Mary's Dolls' House:

Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Even royalty loves playing with a dolls' house. Queen Mary was quite elderly when this was completed and it delighted her.

You're as young as you feel. The Bible confirms this in Psalm 92:14: "They will still yield fruit in old age.  They shall be full of sap and very green."

Stay green and sappy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Remember to Stop and Smell the Roses

Sometimes a walk on a Sunday is just what the doctor ordered.  
If you look closely at the top white flower on the right, a dear little bumblebee is drinking some nectar.
Consider the lilies of the field, for Solomon dressed in royal robes had not the wealth of these. - Jesus
Have a happy week and remember to stop and smell the roses!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Be Still and Know that I am God

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10  

On Owens Creek Portsmouth, VA

Saturday, July 29, 2017

This Victorian Life

So this book, This Victorian Life, has been one of the best books I've ever read. The Chrismans, Sarah and her husband Gabriel, live a Victorian life in the small town of Port Townsend, Washington.

In researching this couple, I saw a hate-filled Twitter review by an apparently angry young man, who used the "F" word 7 times in describing them. I'm not quite sure what about their choices infuriated him so much, but I daresay that his hatred of two folks he never met, spoke more about who he is than who the Chrismans are.  

Sarah's book struck a raw nerve among folks her age and got a bit out of control on the Internet.This whole non-controversy speaks a great deal to how intolerant we have become in America. 

The Chrismans support themselves. Sarah is a published author of 2 non-fiction accounts of their lives and of a late Victorian mystery series. She is also a massage therapist who feels her primary responsibility is to home duties. 

Gabriel, an expert rider of the penny farthing type of bicycles, manages a bicycle shop. Both of them provide historical interpretation of the late Victorian period for the public in various events and as consultants.

The Chrismans live the Victorian lifestyle 24/7; clothes, food, transportation, and in the make up of their home. They support themselves and do not expect others to live as they do. The vitriol, death threats, cat calls, and other antisocial behavior towards them has been unbelievable to read about.

Many folks in America claim that one political side is tolerant and the other is intolerant. Perhaps one side is tolerant in terms of progressive social issues such as accepting gay and transgendered citizens, people who use illegal drugs and alcohol to excess, and tolerance towards other like-minded folks who make choices like they do.

However, when people like the Chrismans make the choice to live like Victorians, the tolerance melts away. When Christian individuals or companies do not wish to pay for medical procedures against their value systems, they are considered hateful.  When another family chooses to have as many children as possible to live out their faith in their own way, there is no tolerance for that at all. 

What does the Bible say? 

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands,just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Sarah Chrisman has written a fascinating book about how they came to live as they do. We learn about her daily habits and read about the foraging she does in the woods for berries I never have heard of, such as salmon berries. I read it through in one day, up to 2 a.m. when I had to work the next day.  Yikes.
Do you think Sarah is so unusual? She's a strong woman living her convictions, but her desire to live in a time she prefers is not so different from many of my own practices. 
I often write and tend to dinner at the same time. I just got up and made mashed potatoes using a red World War 2 masher. 
Tomorrow's coffee was set up for brewing in a 1940's era stainless steel percolator with a bulb on the top, in which coffee bubbles up as it percolates. My re-wired chrome toaster once belonged to an elderly neighbor and dates from the 1930's.
Next to my desk is a 1940's tube radio on which I listen to AM stations. FM stations were not available when the radio was made. My desk is a Word WarII era enamel-top dinner table with a silverware drawer.
I make simple skirts from vintage sheets or fabric, hand stitching them.
Let's really be tolerant, peeps, regarding the choices of other folks, unless their choices hurt someone else or are against the law. After all, judge not, lest ye be judged.
And, hey, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this book.

For more information:

Chrisman Web Site

Sarah Alma Chrisman Facebook

Friday, July 28, 2017

What Do You See in This House?

I didn't see anything special in this house at all as I took this shot from across the street. It is in the American Four Square architectural style, just like my house. i liked the chippy texture of the paint and the vines.

I was editing this photograph recently, and thought I saw something strange. My friend Deb was looking over my shoulder and said,"What's THAT?"

She was looking at what I had just noticed. To me, it looks as though there is a man framed in the doorway, on the inside. He is standing sideways and wearing a fedora hat, with his hands clasped under his chin.

Then Deb pointed out that on the second floor left hand window that it looks as though ghostly twins are standing there.

I don't know what this means, but it is not the first time that I've seen something odd in a photograph of an old house that I didn't notice while taking the picture.

However, in the famous words of the Ghostbusters, "I ain't afraid of no ghosts!"


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meandering in Ivor Virginia

It is the season of our constant wanderings on the back roads of Virginia and North Carolina. Late afternoon light is beautiful, the roads wind and bend, with little adventures waiting for us around every turn.

A sign on the side of this weathered old building above reads, "Sycamore Cross."  I'm not sure if that refers to the old house that sits next door or perhaps it refers to the street's name.

This late afternoon, we ended up in little Ivor Virginia whose population of about 300 people has not changed much since1910.

Ivor once had a passenger railroad stop, along with other tiny Virginia communities like Waverly and Disputanta. 

Otelia Butler Mahone, wife of the owner of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad,(now Norfolk Southern) was a great fan of Sir Walter Scott's novels. Local legend says that Otelia named various stops after places in Scott's novels, such as Ivor and Waverly Virginia.  
Thanks to
As for Disputanta, it came about after Mr. and Mrs. Mahone couldn't agree on a stop's name, i.e. they had a dispute about it.

Ivor lives on and still is primarily agricultural.  This old grain silo was probably there back in 1910.
I don't see ghosts. However, I fancy that I hear echoes of the past in old places like Ivor.  In my mind's eye, I see women heading to a small grocery fanning themselves and saying, "I declare it is hot."

I see shoeless boys heading to a creek to swim. I hear mothers ringing large bells from the back door calling, "Supper's ready."

Can you see the checkered tablecloths and piles of cooked sweet corn, sliced tomatoes, and iced tea sweating in the sun? I see freckles, heads bowed over grace, crooked teeth, straw hats, aprons, strawberries made into jam, and ribbons in little girls' hair. In my mind, these types of "ghosts" are everywhere.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dr. Walter Reed House Murfreesboro NC

This is Dr. Walter Reed's home in Murfreesboro, NC.  We are all familiar with this name, what with the famous Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the Washington DC area. How many of us know why he is famous?
Dr. Reed researched yellow fever, once a terrible scourge with periodic epidemics in the United States. His painstaking investigation both in the US and Cuba (the part of the US), confirmed the cause of the disease. He was a pioneering biomedical researcher using strict scientific methods and studies to confirm his theories.

Dr. Reed received his medical degree at 17 from the University of Virginia, the youngest person ever to do so.

Dr. Reed's wife, Emilie Lawrence, was born in Murfreesboro, as was Dr. Reed's mother.  His father was a circuit preacher. Walter lived in this home during his father's preaching tours and also later as an adult. 

Yellow fever hit warm locations, as it is spread by mosquitoes. Can you imagine Dr. Reed's fatigue in working with no relief from the temperature with no certainty whether he would survive exposure to it?  In 1855, ten percent of my local population died from this infectious disease. Yellow Fever

Walter Reed died in 1902 from a ruptured appendix. Medicine had not yet advanced to the point that this was a routine illness.
I thought the porch with its interesting railings and cornice decorations was lovely in the late afternoon light.

I've known about Walter Reed my entire life, what with a father who was also an Army physician.  However, I never knew that he had a distinct presence here so close to home. 

It seems so odd to have run across his house, as I just finished this book regarding Yellow Fever.  American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby was mesmerizing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Like I Said - It Is Poor Grammar

I am a grammar Nazi. I admit it.

My mom, a teacher, raised us to speak properly. I remember answering the phone at Fort Monroe, VA at 5 saying, "Captain Galvin's residence, Annie speaking." My mother spent a lot of time teaching me to do that.

She drilled us in grammar and syntax.  I disliked it as a child. However, as I grew up, I appreciated her instructions very much. I ended up doing well in job interviews and in expressing myself.

So it is in that spirit that I offer this: Peeps...The term is not "LIKE I said." The proper term is "AS I said." 

I'm hearing this term often with professional newscasters. It makes me cringe. Someone used "like I said" on Friday on the Fox News noon show, "Outnumbered."

These are all smart, well-educated women (with one rotating male guest) who have no excuse for not using proper grammar.
Just to be an equal opportunity grammar snob, I also hear this term constantly on the Today Show on NBC.

Thus, my dear friend Debra's very well-written blog is As I See It Now and not Like I See it Now.

Let me get the following other issues off my chest:

1.  Your - belonging to you
     You're - contraction for you are.

2.  There - at that place
     Their - belonging to them
     They're - contraction for they are

3.  To - preposition indicating direction of motion
     Too - also
     Two - the number after one

4.  Using the term "I seen" when you mean "I saw."

5.   Here - at this place
      Hear - what your ears do

6.  Using the word "like" as an oral connector for no
     apparent reason.

     So like I went to the store and there weren't any 
     avocados and like I was jonesn' so much for 
     some guac. So my Mom was like all up in 
     my grill and like she said to just like move on 
     and like get some clam dip instead.  Like, I don't
     have needs?

7.  Here's a favorite: "He don't know any better." Please 
     peeps it is "He doesn't know any better."

8.  Its - belonging to it
     It's - contraction for it is.
Finally, we need to remember that "apostrophe s" after a word ('s) as in the word pump's above, means "that which belongs to the pump" as in "That pump's notice is grammatically incorrect with poor spelling."  Pumps, no apostrophe, means more than one pump.

How about:

The pumps are not taking debit cards. Please pay inside with your debit card and then pump gas. Credit cards can be used right at the pump. Thank you. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

My husband is a great writer with excellent grammar and syntax.
And God help me if I made any mistakes in this post!

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Great-Grandma Delphenia Hurd

This is Bruce's great-grandmother Delphenia "Della,"above but I think she looks like a lot like Laura Ingalls Wilder pictured below.

Many similarities exist between Great-Grandma Della and Laura. They were homesteaders on the prairies. They both cut their bangs in what was then called, "the lunatic fringe" by older adults who criticized this new style. These adorable little bangs are curled around their foreheads almost identically.  According to Laura, they used pencils heated up over a kerosene lamp to achieve this style.

Both girls have the typical high-necked and proper dresses of the period. Laura and Della are wearing their best (and probably only) piece of jewelry.  

Pa Ingalls and John Hurd must have had a lot in common. He must have had that wanderlust like Pa. John, Bruce's second great grandfather, started out in Ohio and ended up in Thedford, Nebraska territory. This was the time when the federal government was encouraging homesteading.

As an aside, and in what I think is one of the coolest things EVER, my mother-in-law, Della's granddaughter, grew up in a sod house like the Little House book, "On the Banks of Plum Creek."  

Della's daughter Irma taught in a one-room schoolhouse on the prairie, just like Laura. Only Irma supervised recess with a rifle over her lap ready to kill rattlesnakes if need be. 

Irma's grandson and my husband, Bruce, teaches Alternative Energy Systems on the college level, among other courses. One topic explored is modern uses of sod houses to conserve energy.  It's just in his DNA, I guess.

I think Della was just a tiny bit prettier in her picture, but I'm not objective.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Buddha's Hand

How peculiar looking is this citrus fruit? The label at Fresh Market said, "Buddha's Hand."

They had a lovely aroma, despite their rather creepy appearance. Buddha's Hand fruit can be used to impart a flavor to sugar and is used in mixed alcoholic drinks.  

You can take part of a Buddha's Hand and add it to vodka, infusing it with a lemony flavor.

According to the Smithsonian, five varieties of Buddha's Hand are cultivated by farmers in China.

Buddha's Hand is definitely the most unusual kind of produce that I've ever seen.

To learn more: Buddha's Hand

Smithsonian - Buddha's Hand

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Bloom Where You're Planted

Does the ground feel rocky?  Do you think you'd do better if only you had: more time, more money, a better place to live, better health, a better job, or a million and one other "if only's?"

Bloom where you're planted baby!

The "if onlies", notions of future perfection, and lots of money may never come so love your life right now.

God uses nature to show us that one may bloom even in the rockiest of environments.

So do something today, right now, this minute to improve your situation.  Pick a free bouquet of flowers right outside. Pray intensely for someone. Create something, fix something, paint something, DO something to make things better.

Send an email to a friend,ride your bike, go to a river or the ocean and let it soothe your soul,take a walk, cook a lovely meal, make your bed, throw out the trash, play with the dog, pull some weeds, etc.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Tim 6:6

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cow Swimming Pool

Talk about the life of Reilly, or Daisy, or Old Bossy...these cows have some fabulous owners who damned up a pool for them, diverting a little nearby stream.

It was so beastly hot and there they were, lowing softly and just standing around in the cool water in the later afternoon.
I almost wanted to jump in too!

This old barn with the wonderful texture and rusted implements is beautiful to me. Maybe I am kin to Oscar the Grouch who used to sing, "Oh I love trash. Anything dirty or dingy or dusty.  Anything ragged or rotten or rusty."

Well, okay, I don't like anything rotten.

I love this abandoned farm house, which we passed after the cow pool. I don't find such a house spooky or scary. Maybe the house is a bit sad, as it thinks of the lives once sheltered there with only mice, hoot owls, and other furry creatures to keep it company now. 

I always wonder who was the last person to close the door, to take down the curtains, and to say goodbye. What was the last meal eaten 'round the table? Cornbread and beans? A Sunday chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and sweet corn? Was it during the Depression or during World War II - so hard to say.