Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratituesday: Thanksgiving

This week, people will be gathering around tables to give thanks for their many blessings.
Mine are too many to count and I always feel put on the spot when it comes to the round table thanks.

My friend posted on Facebook at the beginning of the month "What if you only woke up with the things you had been grateful for the day before...?" WHOA! 

The post was a reminder to be thankful for the big things, family, health and pets, in my case. 
I often play the house on fire game. You know, what would I grab if my house was on fire...?
Family and pets. 
Not wedding photos or family heirlooms. 
My kids, husband and pets. 

So...while I am truly grateful for lots of wonderful blessings that I enjoy, today I am grateful for these specific things in my life, which I would save from a fire, which I would be devastated to wake up without tomorrow, which I am truly grateful.
  • Steve (who sends me amazing pictures like this one...funny and goats)
  • Delaney and Ellie and their wonderful hilarious selves
  • Jake, Maybelle and the odd couple, Hagrid and Charlie
  • My wonderful parents who support and love me 
  • Steve's parents,who are awesome grandparents
  • My amazing sisters who are my rocks and keep me sane (and sometimes insane)
  • My brother, brother-in-laws (3) and sweet sister in law
  • My eight nephews and three nieces
  • My Uncles and Aunts, who are indeed amazing

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cooking: Thanksgiving and other foodie events.

Onto happier, non soap box thoughts. 

This week, I am working three days then off to North Carolina for our family Thanksgiving. 
Today, however, I am heading out for the last day of the Chattanooga Market and my dear friend,
 Paul Smith's last day of running it as operations manager.

Big shout out to Paul Smith for 6 awesome years of GREAT Sunday's! 
This week, Casa Swann is living the foodie life of Riley.

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving feast at our foodie brother-in-law's house in Asheville.
Wednesday, we are continuing our new tradition of Alleia's family dinner, which is heaven.

Come Friday, I may be only wearing elastic waist pants.


Casa Swann's Thanksgiving Menu
  • tonight: homemade acorn/butternut squash jerk soup/ sauteed chicken tenders
  • Thai shrimp soup
  • Alleia! 
  • Turkey Day

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dirt: Soap box

After my last post, I have been so sad to realize that people actually are going shopping, on Thanksgiving. 
What the???

I am not. Nor is anyone in my family, that I know of at least. 

Here is a great, well worded article as to why you, I and ALL of America should not shop on Thursday. 
Stuff is just that and all that cheap crap you are buying is ending up in the landfill. Sales are so far down right now that every single day I get a code for 40-60% off whatever I might possibly want.

Stay home and enjoy your family. Mine is full of people who are going through chemo (at 38 years old) and kids with Type 1 diabetes and family members missing those lost. 

ENJOY your family. Crazy and all, because one day, your Grannie will not be there to make pie. Your sister will have cancer and your Dad will have left your family. Things happen. Enjoy the goodness of a day gathering to give thanks for your blessing and family then let that be enough.

**repost from the Huffington Post**

I'm a capitalist. It's not my religion, I won't bow before its altar, I won't kiss its ring, but I believe in capitalism. It's an invention of man and it involves money, so it's not perfect, but I've never heard anyone suggest a better system. So I'm a capitalist.
I am not, however, a consumerist. I like the freedom and innovation of capitalism; I loathe the materialism and gluttony of consumerism. There's a popular misconception that capitalism and consumerism are inextricably linked; that one naturally involves and requires the other. But this is a fallacy. Certainly the "stimulus" programs a few years ago ought to have dispelled this notion entirely. The government perverted the free market and elected to hand free money to millions of people, hoping that they'd go out and buy a bunch of stuff with it. This was consumerism at the expense of capitalism, and it revealed our priorities: forget freedom, forget principle -- just buy stuff.
That's our entire economic system: buy things. Everybody buy. It doesn't matter what you buy. Just buy. It doesn't matter if you don't have money. Just buy. Our entire civilization now rests on the assumption that, no matter what else happens, we will all continue to buy lots and lots of things. Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. And then buy a little more. Don't create, or produce, or discover -- just buy. Never save, never invest, never cut back -- just buy. Buy what you don't need with money you don't have. Buy when you're happy. Buy when you're sad. Buy when you're hungry. Buy when you want to lose weight. Buy an iPhone. Six months have passed, here, buy another iPhone. Go online and buy things. Go to the mall and buy things. On your way, stop and buy some more things. Buy things for every occasion. Buy things to celebrate. Buy things to mourn. Buy things to keep up with the trends. Buy things while you're buying things, and then buy a couple more things after you're done buying things. If you want it -- buy it. If you don't want it -- buy it. Don't make it -- buy it. Don't grow it -- buy it. Don't cultivate it -- buy it. We need you to buy. We don't need you to be a human, we don't need you to be a citizen, we don't need you to be a capitalist, we just need you to be a consumer, a buyer. If you are alive you must buy. Buy like you breathe, only more frequently.
How appropriate, then, that a holiday created by our ancestors as an occasion to give thanks for what they had, now morphs into a frenzied consumerist ritual where we descend upon shopping malls to accumulate more things we don't need. Our great grandparents enjoyed a meal and praised the Lord for the food on the table and the friends and family gathered around it. We, having slightly altered the tradition, instead elect to bum-rush elderly women and trample over children to get our hands on cheap TVs.
For a while, Black Friday and Thanksgiving coexisted. We thanked God for His blessings on Thursday, and then jumped into the consumer mosh pit at Best Buy on Friday. But this Black Friday-Thanksgiving marriage was tenuous and rocky from the start. It was doomed to fail. Thanksgiving offers tradition, family and contentment; Black Friday offers smart phones at drastically reduced prices. In America, we all know who wins that battle. So Black Friday, like a black hole, violently expanded; it absorbed the light that surrounded it and sucked everything into its terrifying abyss, where all substance is torn to shreds and obliterated. Black Friday could not be contained to a mere 24 hours. It is Consumerism. It wants more. It always wants more. Nothing is sacred to it; nothing is valuable. So, now, Black Friday has eaten Thanksgiving alive. Thanksgiving let out a desperate cry as Black Friday devoured its soul, but we barely noticed. It's hard to hear anything when you're wrestling 4,000 other people for buy one get one free cargo shorts at Old Navy.
Many of the big chain retailers will be opening during, or before, dinner time on Thanksgiving. Walmart, Kmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's -- all among the many electing to cannibalize Thanksgiving. Kmart will be open starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, offering great Black Friday deals for 41 straight hours. This is fortunate because I often walk into Kmart and think, "you know, the stuff in here just isn't cheap enough."
Will the Black Thanksgiving shopper carve a moment or two out of their busy bargain hunting schedule to break bread with their family and friends? Will they make it all the way through grace before dashing out the door, trading in tradition and merriment for cheap electronics and kitchen appliances? "Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts yada yada -- gotta go, Walmart opens in 10 minutes!"
I'm willing to bet that the hoarding hordes descending upon shopping malls and retail outlets at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, would, in a different context, likely speak quite solemnly about the dreaded "commercialization" of our national holidays.
Here's a true story: a few days ago I had a conversation with a friend where we both lamented about the meaning and message of our important holidays being lost in a commercialized haze. Yesterday, this same friend posted on his Facebook page, excitedly announcing Best Buy's earlier Thanksgiving opening time.
Yes, the man who hates the commercialization of holidays decided to become a commercial for the commercialization of holidays.
I admit, it's easy for me to forgo Black Thanksgiving. Stay home, eat food, and drink beer, or wait in long lines at dreary shopping malls, fighting with strangers over half priced Blu-Ray players? Not exactly a tough decision in my book. But even if I stumbled into some demented parallel dimension where the prospect of shuffling like a dead-eyed zombie through Target on Thanksgiving suddenly seemed appealing to me, I'd still pass. If for no other reason, this reason is reason enough: I'm not going to force some single mom to ring up my worthless purchases instead of enjoying Thanksgiving with her children.
These employees will be there, in their name tags and their vests, waiting on impatient mobs of customers while their families eat without them. They will be there with or without me. But I personally can't be among the reasons why they will be there. I understand profit margins and competition, but I think these places ought to respect their workers enough not to rip them away from their kids during one of America's most beloved holidays. And if I think that, I could not possibly go to one of these establishments and make them serve me.
Capitalism is great, but some things are greater. Family is greater. Yes, these folks choose to work at these stores. Yes, they likely knew when they signed up that they'd be sacrificing their Thanksgivings. Yes, at least they have jobs. Yes, sure, and so what? If that's enough in your mind to justify participating in the destruction of a great American tradition -- good for you. But you COULD wait until Friday, couldn't you? And if you did wait until Friday, and if everyone waited until Friday, no store would ever open on Thanksgiving again, right? So you COULD take steps to protect Thanksgiving from the decay of materialism and consumerism, and, while you're at it, give this wonderful holiday back to the customer service representatives who have been forced to abandon it and cater to the stampeding throngs, right?
Right, but then again, those skirts at JC Penney ARE super cheap.
Oh Lord, if you don't go on Thursday to buy stuff, there might be slightly less stuff available on Friday! Think of the stuff! We must get all the stuff! The stuff must be purchased!
Family can take a backseat.
Tradition can wait.
These employees should just be grateful for the opportunity to stand behind a cash register for 14 hours while the rest of us eat our pies and drink our wine.
Thanksgiving is just a holiday.
But stuff, things, toys, gadgets -- these are what life is all about.
Why give thanks for what you have when there's so much you don't have? That's the new meaning of Thanksgiving: count your blessings, and then buy some more blessings and count them again.
Check out more writing by Matt Walsh at themattwalshblog.com.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dirt: I (almost) hate Christmas

As I sat and watched t.v. with my husband tonight, we both lamented how much we hate holiday commercials. The "Kiss begins..." one is especially bad.
Here it is the middle of November (I am in denial that Thanksgiving is 9 days away) and already we are bombarded by holiday cheer.

I hate it. 

Not the holiday part of it. The commercial...gobble, gobble...Pac Man attitude. You know, that MORE, MORE attitude. My memories of the holidays as a kid were Thanksgiving then a very long time passed and Christmas. I realize my childhood memories are skewed. But still. Christmas is a long time away.

I am reveling in the nowness of my life and trying to ignore the giant tree lot that popped up today in the parking lot next to my work. And remember that I love Thanksgiving. Especially the pie. 

I love spending time with whatever part of my family I am with. I love shooting guns and playing cut throat whatever. I love the holiday about eating too much and being Thankful for that option.

I am heartbroken that people will be shopping on Thanksgiving. That they will willingly leave their families and cause others to do so as well so that they can buy MORE. 

I love presents, don't get me wrong. I covet a pair of harness boots and a monogrammed mug. 
But I really love that peaceful feeling of falling asleep in front of a movie with my family nearby. 

I encourage everyone to boycott the MORE and enjoy what you have. Family members, friends and most of all pie.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dirt: Insurance Soap Box

I went to see my internist today for my yearly visit and mentioned that my depression last winter was really tough. She asked why I had not been to see her. 

My answer wast that my insurance pays for one visit per year. She seemed shocked. 

This got me thinking about my yearly visit that costs me $15 out of pocket in her office and then around $50 for blood work. On top of my family's $1700 a month. We go to the doctor for checkups and that is it. $18,500 a year for four check ups and Steve's insulin, which still costs us around $300 a month.

What the heck is wrong with that picture?

 No prescriptions other then insulin. EVER. Ellie was on her first and only antibiotic in 5th grade for an ingrown toenail. Delaney has never been on one. We are drug free, literally.

Why is our insurance so high and then not really pay for anything? 

The country is about to go down a rabbit hole of debt because our lawmakers (all of them) are in the pocket of the drug and insurance companies. 

What are we going to do about it? Probably nothing.
We are lazy and scared and want something for nothing as long as it is not tied to the word socialism.

Go to almost every other first world country and check out their health care systems (Yes, that means England and Canada too). Socialized and functioning. 

**Sadly step off soap box**

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cooking: Organized

I spent this weekend doing things that have needed to be done around my house.
I am in the throes of it right now, but am taking a break to eat some lunch and make my menu for the week. I have already done all my laundry and put most of it away, swept and mopped floors, cleaned my bathroom, hung new curtains in my living room, made homemade chicken soup for my girls, taken them to see Thor, gone to get supplies for a science project and cleaned out all the drawers in my kitchen. BOOM!

My last check off is my front porch and my closet. 

This week, I hope to be a little more organized.
Here is the menu to prove it.

Menu of November Organization

  • Spaghizza, mixed greens salad
  • Baked chicken, cheese baked sweet potatoes, salad
  • Tomato soup with meatballs (we will finally eat this)
  • Shrimp fried rice
  •  Tacos, taco salad or pile-on (Texas term)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dirt: I want a new list...

Because I write for two blogs for my job, I have had a hard time finding the time for my own...
That has made me a little sad. 

I thought back on the reason I started this blog. I started it to share my life thoughts and to keep track of making myself a better person. A little "putting myself out there for the world to hold me accountable" if you will. Recently, I went back and reread some of my old posts and I was a little awed. My writing is decent and I actually had a plan that I have brought to fruition. 
So...not like me.

One thing I really did like was my list and if going to work full time has taught me anything it is that I need a list. A real list. Not only of my daily to-dos, but also of my long term goals. Since I don't really believe in "New Years Resolutions" I thought it might be good to start a new list  now. Before the holiday hubbub and insanity has a chance to set in,while my mind is clear and I have a few seconds. 

So, on that note, here is the NEW list.

  1. Use my phone less when I am with my family
  2. Make one room a priority each day
  3. Take my children to church more often
  4. Talk to my five every week (I actually have 6, but I think the commercial is 5)
  5. Work out five times a week 
  6. Clean out my closet and really purge
  7. clean out Steve's closet and really purge
  8. Take each of my daughters on a date once a month
  9. Continue my trail run date with Steve (I love this)
  10. Write one handwritten card once a week
  11. Make 10 new friends in 2014
  12. Make a gingerbread house with my girls. A real one. A HUGE one.
  13. Talk to my parents more often (texting does not count0
  14. Make time for my favorite people
  15. Watch more television ( I literally watch 1  hour a week...I am so out of the loop)
  16. Spend less time on my computer when I am not working
  17. Finish the damn outside project I started in May BEFORE Christmas
  18. East more protien
  19. Connect with my two nephews that I have lost a connection with
  20. take my vitamins
  21. Craft more with my daughters
  22. Paint my bedroom
  23. figure out how to use a saw so I can build the outside table I want
  24. Read more books 
  25.  volunteer for something and stick with it...
  26. Spend more time with my sisters...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking: hooch

I feel like my brain is fried...Unlike my food.

This week's menu is a clean out the freezer type of week. 

Three nights of choir, a swim meet, and then the weekend. 


Delaney ROCKED the Head of the Hooch this weekend. Her novice 8 came in 19th out of 46, which is big time for their second race.


Post Hooch Casa Swann Menu
  • Shrimp/Scallops spaghetti squash with parmesan cheese
  • Whole baked chicken/ spicey sweet potatoes/greek salad
  • tomato soup/meatballs