Monday, August 31, 2015

Lord of War

Recently I was involved in a sort of discussion on a favorite blog in regards to gun violence here in America. It seems, like a lot of people, some in the UK and Oz believe us to be gun toting fiends, frothing at the mouth about our Second Amendment rights. To me, owning a firearm is not a bad thing if you practice safety and had training, but one cannot regulate stupid and there is a lot of that going on around here. State by state the laws change in regards to concealed weapons, open carry and crossing state lines with ones gun. Truth is it's a convoluted mess and even difficult for some of us to get a full handle on law wise. Plus the NRA is like a backseat driver. Always directing you even though you know what direction you need to go in but they get louder and eventually you default to their demands to stop their incessant blathering and nagging. Keep in mind they also have a lot of power in DC with many a politician in their pockets so that prevents stuff from getting changed as well.
Personally I think it is more important to educate the public about Emergency Preparedness. Sure it is on FEMA and other government websites, but that is more of a CYA. Make it mandatory in school or offer a town wide class. Catastrophes happen and if people refuse to learn how to educate themselves on how to prepare, they are on their own. I mean, people here bitch about BIG government then a hurricane or tornado hits and government can't act fast enough. We need to be ready in case government can't get to us for awhile, but I digress.
Now, while some anti-government folks may be armed to the teeth, and it is their right, a lot of us want stricter background checks and much more rigorous safety training and actual discussion on how to keep guns out of criminals hands. These are just some of the things the NRA fights rational human beings about.
Guns are pretty scary, but America is not the only place with a love for guns nor are we the only ones supplying them. I think it behooves everyone to take a gander at the 2005 film "Lord of War" to understand what I mean.

Nicolas Cage in one of his better roles to date.

I don't mind that some people on a blog voiced their opinions, but blanket statements are dangerous. Don't assume every American has a gun or guns. Don't assume we don't try to change laws that seem so lackluster you might as well just hand someone a firearm when they move to the area. Don't assume we all hate universal healthcare. Don't assume we don't get frustrated with our school systems. Don't assume we are all obese and resemble every single photo on People of WalMart. Don't assume we don't try to do things about any of this. And most of all, don't assume your own country has not had their hands in the dirty arms game.

From Lord of War: An onscreen postscript states that private dealers conduct less business than the five largest arms exporters – the United StatesUnited KingdomRussiaFrance, and China – who are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Watch the film. Learn. Recoil. Sit in horror. And realize that gun control does not have an easy solution and it should be discussed, but never ever believe your country is not part of the problem. All of our countries have had a hand in arms deals and putting guns on the street. That includes the ones used in a crime in your neighborhood or mine.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Salem, MA

A friend and I spent the past weekend in Salem, MA. A getaway that was long overdue and necessary. I came home feeling recharged and relaxed as well as in awe, still, that the Salem Witch Trials ever happened. Seriously, it boggles the mind, but it is not like we have not seen that history repeat itself in many ways grand and small.

I had gone to college for two years in Massachusetts and had only been to Salem once so this was quite a treat. All I recall from my trip long ago was driving past the museum and going into one store. 

After a very long drive to get there, there was a horrific accident on NY State Thruway so we were diverted to back roads. Then the Merritt Parkway and the Mass Pike had traffic. Believe me when I say we cheered when we got off the Salem exit. Technically the trip should take all of 5 hours from New Jersey, but this time it did not. Made us think we should have flown to Boston. Haha!

We stayed at the lovely Coach House Inn B&B where the owner Pat was an incredibly gracious hostess. Here are some pictures of the place.

 Funky little door on the main floor

 Old chandelier

 Just a little obsessed with this window and how it opens.

Our room

Every morning at 8:30am there is a basket left at your door filled with croissants, muffins, fruit and other goodies. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

One of the bigger surprises was how good the restaurants are in Salem. Granted the town is only about 17 miles from Boston, but they have a lot to offer. We ate at Finz our first night there and had a delicious lobster mac and cheese for our main dish. We also had this very tasty appetizer of warm goat cheese, olives and garlic, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and warm bread. Heaven!

The second day was spent shopping, eating, drinking, repeat. My friend had a spot on reading by a very nice, young witch at The Coven's Cottage. Lovely people and store, they practice Nordic based magic was unusual to me, but very welcoming. The whole store was filled with herbs so the place smelled amazing. 

We ate at our lunch at Rockafella's. Had a nice glass of wine and delicious flatbreads. Mine was all vegetables and pesto, hers was fig and prosciutto.

We decided to pass on the Salem Witch Museum because it is basically a retelling of The Crucible, which we have both read and loved, and it is animatronics. 45 minutes of that is not worth our time so instead we headed to the Old Burying Ground and saw the Witch Trial Memorial. A lot more interesting to read the old tombstones from the 1600's. I was amazed how many people lived longer than what I believed. One guy was 98! The trees were phenomenal in there presence.

He was the only "witch" killed this way. 

That night we went to a place called Opus and sat at the bar. We got a bottle of wine and some appetizers and had a great time. Everyone we met were very nice which is always a plus.

On our last day we went to The House of the Seven Gables. I highly recommend the tour as it was fascinating to learn the history of the house and how it came to play a big part in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel. There were no inside photographs allowed so I took as much as I could off the house and it's charming grounds. 

 Even though it was a misty day, the flowers smelled divine.

There were all sorts of tours offered day and night, but since we were pressed for time, we did not take advantage of any of them. The offerings are plenty so if you are ever in Boston, take a day trip to Salem, hell stay overnight, and check it out, I promise you will not be disappointed. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Quick Yummy Dinner

Our CSA has given us A LOT of zucchini. Instead of substituting it out, I take it because let's face it, it is a very versatile veggie. The other night I made a Creamy Zucchini with Linguine. One of the ingredients it called for was Parmesan cheese which I did not have. On a whim I did a search and came across various vegan cheese recipes. The one I chose and that was fantastic was a Vegan Parmesan Cheese that used just four simple ingredients. Cashews (Or any other nut you choose), nutritional yeast, sea salt and garlic powder. No, it is not cheese, but it has the same bite and flavor required of Parmesan. Hubby liked it, kiddo liked it and so did I. You can store leftovers in the fridge for a month so that is also a nice plus. The meal as a whole was inexpensive and even more delicious the next day. I highly recommend making this recipe.

We have been going through a hear wave here in New Jersey which is no fun. I love summer, but 85F+ with humidity is not my bag. Right now I would kill for 70F and fall. I don't want to hurry fall or winter per se as I love my flowers and the days not being short, but heat like this is awful. I don't know how folks live in the Deep South or Oman. Of course when we get a blizzard this winter I will wish for summer so there it is.

I have been busy with school stuff and hope to have it all mailed out soon. I am amazed at how much one has to do for a little preschool. I am appreciative to be a part of this as I am learning a lot. I also realize I could never work in education. So much red tape and constant budgetary concerns. Not that places like Comcast don't worry about their budget, but they are playing with a helluva lot more cash.

If you are a part of this heatwave, stay hydrated and cool. Thank God there is a breeze today. A hot breeze, but still. If you are in much more pleasant weather enjoy it fully. I am now going to play Star Wars Potato Head with my son. :)


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Delicious Dinner

Ran around today. The little man had a dentist appointment, but lo and behold, we arrived to a dark and locked office. When I called and asked what happened, they stated they were in the Warren office today. I said I was booked for Chester so they asked for my son's name, they began to apologize profusely as we should have never been booked for Warren as we never go there. The woman also remarked the "new person" who started six months ago had made quite a few of these mistakes. Not sure that person is still there, but we rescheduled for next week. I wasn't that upset about it as it was a nice day and had already planned to take our son to the park once we were done. Since we had no appointment we headed right to the playground and he ran around and exhausted himself. As we drove home he fell asleep and I was able to stop at our CSA and pick up the goodies for this week.

I had a Board Meeting at my son's preschool at 6:30 and I wanted to make dinner so using broccoli from our CSA I made a broccoli frittata. I did not have Parmigiano-Reggiano so I used a combo of sharp cheddar and horseradish cheeses.  I also cleaned and chopped the lettuce, dabbed on balsamic vinegar and plated the frittata on the side. Unbelievably Delicious. Thank you Food and Wine for this keeper of a recipe.

Until next time.


Friday, August 7, 2015

It's Friday Night!

And the only excitement I have to share is that the sitter worked out beautifully on Wednesday. At one point our son told me to go away so he can be with his new crush. The big plus is that I got quite a bit done on my book. That was a huge relief and helped to get the creative juices flowing. Of course I am stagnant now since I don;t have a sitter everyday, but that is okay, I am taking it in stride knowing I will have opportunities to expand my hours working on the book again soon.

Most of my week has been taken up with playground visits and paper work that needs to be done for the preschool. Unfortunately not everything is digitized and this frustrates me. I am used to dealing with larger companies and more resources and my last "corporate" job was at an internet company so I expect everyone else to be savvy. Which is incredibly unfair and I know that, but I still get bratty. There are copied that need to be made and mailed out. Sure some documents should still be in paper form, but let's be honest, a lot of things should be digital to cut down on costs and time being used. I am trying to set up a Parent Portal with another on the School Board and I hope we can do it as it would make a world of difference. Fingers Crossed!

I know most people are IKEA haters, but I love the Skogsta Bar Table which is part of their garden to table line. Right now it is only available in the UK which may be a good thing for me...

Excess of zucchini is always proof of summer. I just found a Triple Chocolate Zucchini Cookie recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe' that I may need to try.

So that is it for now. I am off to take my little dude outside to play. Have a great weekend!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Busy Bee

The summer has been a serious whirlwind. Lots of yard work, outside time, day trips, ice cream...the usual.

I agreed to be the Administration Chair for my son's school and all the work that comes with that has begun. Basically, I am an Executive Assistant with voting power. Pretty nice. I get to use and hone skills that are rusty and learn more about what it takes and cost to run a small preschool. Google Docs and I have become friendlier than ever as I create memos and calendars to be distributed. I am hoping to get more stuff up online so I don't have to constantly email. We are also looking into notification systems so again, I am not emailing 28 families about inclement weather or school events.

My three year old does not necessarily enjoy it when Mommy has work to do, it is like having a mini CEO in the house. His demands must be met before I attempt the next task. Again, it pays to be an Executive Assistant as one understand the changing moods and needs of CEO's of all sizes. Though, I admit, it is easier for me to tell my little guy to settle down and hold on then to bark at a someone who runs a massive company. Not that I haven't said things like "Let me get to XYZ first before I start the other thing, then we can talk about your dinner plans." Good times.

Yesterday Master X fell asleep in the car so I took a ride through my town and ended up in area I had never been. I somehow had crossed into Lebanon Township without realizing and wound my ways to parts I did know. I wasn't concerned that I was lost. More amazed that I had no idea where I had ended up and I refuse to use GPS for something like that. I sort of knew where I was area wise, it was more like I could not figure out what town I had strolled into. LOL
As I passed a few farms, I swear I felt like I was in the Midwest somewhere what with the cornfields and old farm houses and barns.

I finally found my county road and made it home. Was a nice drive and would most likely do it again.

Our yard is ever evolving. Behind the garage I had planted a bunch of herbs and echinachea and used bricks for a border. We decided to get rid of bricks and add river rocks. I spent all of Saturday weeding and putting rocks down. I had done some of it a few weekends before, but now it is complete.

I had to use bricks and a lattice to hold the flowers up while I put the rocks underneath. They flop so damn easily, but I read that I am supposed to divide them every 3-4 years so that needs to happen this year. We are going to run the river rocks all the way down the side of the garage which will look nice as well as help with drainage. You really are always working to improve your home.

I am still working on my novel. Surprise right? With such an active kid and a wiped out Mommy by the end of the day, it has been incredibly hard to find time to write. So, I have hired a sitter and she comes this Wednesday. This can be a gift if it works out. We are going to have her for three hours and I hope to get some serious work done in that time. Once he goes back to school it is for three days a week which makes a HUGE difference, but if we can establish a relationship with the sitter, then hopefully I can use her during the school year for stuff too. Maybe, just maybe, my husband and I can go to dinner or lunch sans child. Maybe, we can travel without our dog. Perhaps I am ambitious, but a gal can dream. LOL

That's all  have for now. Everyone is beginning to stir and I was able to write a post uninterrupted. Glorious!