“Do you know the difference between pain and suffering?”OITNB-season 4, a review

If you are a Netflix junkie like me, you may have seen ‘Orange is the New Black’. I have kept up with the show and generally liked it since it’s advent. There aren’t many TV shows I love. Generally I’m critical, pointing out errors, and I love picking on actors while watching my favorites. And I like the shows, but I don’t LOVE them. It’s TV, not Walt Whitman.

I do however, love season 4 of ‘Orange is the New Black’. Yes, you should watch the other seasons first and not while doing chores. While watching the new season, I seriously cried like a little baby, belly laughed and felt like I really knew these women. When a show can make you enter the life a prisoner and make you feel the anxiety of the characters, you have a combination of creativity, character, great acting, and content that all come together to make a flawless show. While I am sure there are flaws, I was too busy having my mind blown to notice them.

Ok, so. Now that I have talked this shit up so high it will never reach your expectations, lets reign it back in. It could be, that my life right now, is a metaphorical prison. I am on year three of a Fibromyalgia diagnoses and getting annoyed.  It is very possible that I am making connections from my life to this fiction for the  same reason we all do; to escape, to cope, to find something. We usually don’t though, especially not through TV.

But I did. Silly right? Get a life, right? Yes, and no.  In entertainment, examples of complex issues: social, religious and political, are seldom conveyed with much effect, or at least to the effect intended. Yet the everyday problems these women face echo generation after generation of women behind bars, both literal and figurative bars.  Even in prison, basic decisions are not black and white. Intent, hope, and consequence post choice is seen and lost in a sea of prison politics, untrained correctional officers, and women who fear for their safety daily.  I don’t know if there is a better representation of women’s issues around, especially one so entertaining. If there is, I would love to know about it. Simple things like sanitary napkins, a basic need for women, are overlooked by the male majority in charge and the extended company that own the prison. Also, this season highlights the special treatment those in the one percent with the addition of a new prisoner, displaced and spoiled, even in prison.

The point: Any human concerned with women’s issues, social justice, and victim’s rights should watch this. If that isn’t your thing, then you still might enjoy it for the drama and humor. Either way, get your popcorn and pay attention.

“Do you know the difference between pain and suffering?”

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Learning never stops ( or turning 30)

July is usually unbearable here in Oklahoma. This year it has been uncharacteristically mild. We haven’t had one day so far that got over a 100 degrees! It has been so nice because I get to actually hang out in my garden during the day when usually I would be hunkered down inside with the boys trying to find activities for us all that don’t involve killing each other.

I love my boys dearly but like any stay at home mom I have my moments. In these moments I am the one in need of a time out. I just turned 30 and I have decided that there are a few things I need to work on as human this decade. No one is perfect but we can at least strive to be better than everyone else. Right? No really, kidding aside I would like to be a more graceful and patient person all around, especially while my kids are young and still like me. I am sure one day, they won’t. I didn’t like my parents for a few years there. This is normal right?

There are other things on my list that I guess you could call goals. However, I have never really liked the term goal. It indicates that something has been accomplished and no longer in need of working on. Some things are ever completely done. Laundry is a great example of this, as well improving ones character. It’s an adventure full of triumph, failures, and all the hard stuff in between. Does it really have to be hard though? I think part of the reason we get stressed and/or irritable is because of all the distractions that are constantly competing for our attention. So, one goal leads to another. The second one is simply: less distractions.

Why do I need 3 emails, facebook, and a million games on my phone? I don’t. No-one does. I feel like technology should have come with some kind of warning label. It would read something like ‘Warning: overuse of technology may cause side effects such as: addictive and false sense of community that can damage you and your unborn child’s well-being. Use with caution.’

I am not dissing technology by any means. There are so many great things technology has provided for us. I just think I personally need a break from the less meaningful of these. So, for right now I will try to be more patient and less consumed with social media.

On a completely unrelated note I thought I should tell you about this really great book I am reading. It’s called the good life lab. It’s about a couple who left their life in New York. She was in marketing and he was a worked on Wall Street. They moved to New Mexico to a town called Truth or Consequences (no joke) for a simpler, more environmentally aware lifestyle that takes advantage of what she calls the waste-stream. This lady is a yoga teacher, welder, and homesteader to name a few. Her story and DIY tips have been very inspiring to read. I was thinking of having a giveaway once I am done reading it so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime here is a link to their website if you are interested.

;http://blog.holyscraphotsprings.com/

And a pic of the book (it’s so pretty!)

good life lab

Avocodo and fresh sweet pea dip with chives and radish flowers.

This morning I woke up at 4:30 A.M.  This simply just does not happen.  Ever.  It was all because of the damn birds.  I don’t know what it is about 4:30 and horny birds, but they just love to chirp chirp away right by my window….. and it is LOUD.  Hell, they are still going at it and it’s now 1P.M.

So I got up around 5:30ish and started my day in hopes to get some stuff done.  And indeed I did.  I got out in the garden and got to work and inspiration came flooding in as I pulled Bermuda, planted nasturtiums, cursed the unknown insects that are eating my pepper plants, and harvested peas, leeks, strawberries, chive flowers, the best garlic I have ever grown, and a few radish flowers for the snack I was so inspired to make after all my hard work.

I have to share this snack because it was so very good and simple and fresh. It was just magic. It sounds silly to talk about food this way but I really love it when I eat something I have never had before and it is just what it should be. The peas were warm from the sun, the radish flowers were crisp and refreshing, chives perfectly oniony, and the avocado was just ripe.

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This recipe is pretty self-explanatory but I will write it down for the sake of … just because I feel like it.

Notes: The peas I used were sugar anne snap. I think you could find fresh peas at the farmers market soon depending on where you live.  Growing them is really simple if you have a little space.  As for the radish flowers, I just added these for fun. You don’t really need them.

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado

1 handful of hulled fresh sweet peas

1 squeeze of lemon juice (maybe a teaspoon)

About 1 teaspoon of chopped chives

Salt and pepper (I used a dash of white pepper and a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt to be fancy)

Directions:

Cut open your avocado, scoop out the good stuff and squeeze lemon juice over (the acid keeps the avocado from turning brown).  In a mortar and pestle mash up the peas to your desired consistency.  Add the peas to the avocado with the chopped up chives.  Mash and mix it all together, add salt and pepper to taste with a tiny drizzle of honey if you feel like it.  Garnish with radish flowers or other edible flowers if you like.

 

Braised Venison shoulder, roasted new potatoes with sauteed curly dock ,lambs quarters and garden leeks.

When I made this last night I didn’t think I would be sharing the recipe so I didn’t take very many pics.  I have had venison many times ground up in the form of chili, but I have never eaten shoulder or for that matter I have never cooked venison before myself.  I really didn’t know what to expect.  I just have to tell you that I am not the biggest fan of meat.  I was vegetarian for years mainly just because I didn’t really like meat.  My husband on the other hand loves it and I have been expanding my culinary skills and making a meat dish usually around once a week give or take.

With all that being said this was seriously the best meat I have ever put in my mouth.  I really had no idea how good venison could be.  I knew the shoulder would be tough with lots of connective tissue and I would need to cook it low and slow, and I knew it would have a lot of flavor, I just really had no clue that the flavor would be so fucking good. Pardon my language but seriously.  If you ever have access to venison shoulder, snag it up and cook it slow, make a pan gravy and savor each bite.  It will be soooooo good!

This is my recipe.  It is very simple and catered to what I had in the fridge and what was harvested from the garden.  You could do this many different ways and there are tons of recipes out there.  I thought the flavors in this really showcased the venison.  The coffee and cocoa sound weird but there is so little used in the recipe you really can’t taste it.

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Beer braised Venison shoulder:

1 fresh shoulder bone in

1 Tbsp. butter

1/3  C. coffee

½ tsp. cocoa powder

S & P (I use freshly ground white pepper corns because they are easier to digest and have more flavor)

Notes: The shoulder was kind of awkward to work with because of the large bone.  I didn’t have a lid large enough so I used a few layers of foil wrapped over the pot.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Heat a large Dutch oven to medium high.   Liberally salt the shoulder and add a small amount of pepper and cocoa powder as well.  Melt about a teaspoon of butter or more and brown the shoulder both sides till golden.  Take out the shoulder and set it to the side, turn the heat down to medium and add the beer.  Scrape off the brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  Return the shoulder to the dutch oven making sure there in some liquid in the bottom and a few pats of butter on top, if there isn’t any liquid add a little more beer.

Now, let this cook for at least five hours, basting once every hour.

When you can’t wait it any longer take the shoulder out of the oven then out of the pot and set it aside. Now make a pan gravy with the juices by simmering the liquid on the stove top adding a tablespoon of flour and whisking it in one at a time.  Remember the gravy will continue to thicken.

Serve with your favorite roasted potato recipe and some simple sautéed greens.

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Aside

Wow, It has been too long since I have been able to write. The semester is finally over and I feel like I can breathe again…. Well, sort of. I will be writing a lot more this summer but today I am at a loss for words.

I live in Tulsa Oklahoma. Yesterday a tornado ripped through the town of Moore not far away from here. I don’t know the current death toll because I am honestly too afraid to look. I know it was over forty the last time I checked.

Two schools were hit and there were young children who didn’t make it. I have two kids of five and seven and I just cannot imagine what these families are going through right now.

All I ask from anyone that reads this is that you would send positive thoughts their way in the form of prayer, meditation, or whatever you can do. Please re-post if you can. I know this is not a fun or uplifting post but there are many who could use any help, even if it’s just ten dollars. Thank you so much for taking time to read this.

If you are interested in helping I have posted a link with information below on how you can help this community and another with pics of the devastation.

 

“Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps people affected by disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tornadoes.

 Please consider making a donation today to help the thousands of people who have been affected by these disasters.”

You can also mail checks earmarked Moore relief fund to the American Red Cross at

American Red cross

101510E.11th st.

Tulsa, OK 74128

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2013/05/21/2811763/salvation-army-sets-up-system.html#storylink=cpy

Here is another link with photos of the horrific damage. http://wtvr.com/2013/05/20/photos-two-mile-wide-tornado-hits-moore-ok/

Foxfire and Pea trellises

I have been so busy in the garden. This time I am going to make sure everything is perfect…. Yeah right! In gardening nothing is ever perfect, last year there were aphids and the hottest fucking summer of death that killed my poor plants. This year I tested my soil to find that it is alkaline! Tomatoes don’t like this and I don’t think peppers do either, so I am doing natural soil treatments and hoping for the best.

I have started seeds many times before but this year I decided to try some new stuff and challenge myself a bit. I found a small greenhouse online for 60 bucks and of course I couldn’t not buy the damn thing. Now I have more chili and tomato seedling than I will ever be able to plant.

Oh and peas! Another first for me is growing sugar snaps. I am super pumped about this, and I made a fun little trellis.

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Also, other springy stuff like parsnips, chard, kale, mustard greens, and lettuce.

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Strawberries

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Radicchio

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Spinach

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And one more. This will look very different in a month or two.

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Today was long and lovely and I ended up reading in the bath with some fun new (actually not so new) books I found all about homesteading in the Appalachians called The Foxfire Books with all kinds of amazing stories and how-tos like how to build a log cabin, making soap and basket weaving.  Free download score!   If you are interested in these I would skip the 5th one.   It’s poor quality, but 1 – 4 are great so far.

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You can find the free downloads here:  http://www.outpost-of-freedom.com/library/index.htm

Procrastinating with chile peppers

I am supposed to be doing Trigonometry homework right now but I just keep finding reasons I can’t do it.  Plus, trig is so boring.  I have a deep love for algebra but trig is a pain in the rear.  Instead I have been starting seeds and writing this post.

I have been so excited for spring I can hardly bare it.  I love being outside, planting way more than my yard has room for.  Every year a town outside of Tulsa called Sand Springs has an herbal affair; it is much more than just herbs.  There is food, booths with soaps, oils and all kinds of hippy shit.  Then there are the plants, more plants than a girl could ever know what to do with.  If I have any addiction, I think it would be plant buying.

Every year my husband comes to supervise and make sure I don’t go to the ATM for more money, the boys come to play, run around and help me pick out plants.  Both of my boys love helping in the garden, especially my youngest, Oliver.  Last year he would ask me every day if he could go pick tomatoes for me. This year I am sure we will go and hopefully I can refrain from going too nuts.  I will have to because I already bought way more seeds than I should have.

It’s not my fault really, I couldn’t help it.  I found this really great organization out of Arizona called Native seeds.  They save seeds that are native to the southwest, many of which are harvested at reservations in the area.  Each type of seed has a history; you can’t get anything better than that.  Here’s their website if you are interested in buying from them or donating.  http://nativeseeds.org/

I also have a particular weakness for chilies, all kinds of chilies.  And what do they happen to have tons of?  You guessed it, chilies.  They have a CHILE COLLECTION! It’s eleven types of chilies, all of which are unique and beautiful.  Guess what else?!  It was on sale!  So naturally I had to buy the eleven types of chilies and some red Russian kale and sugar snaps.

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Then I made the mistake of getting on Johnny’s Selected Seed website just for fun, and they were having a sale too!  Can you believe it?  Only eight more seed packets later I realized this was a bit excessive.  They were only a buck a pop so I bought them anyway hoping someone would take some from me, so far no one has but I am sure they will.

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All the seeds I bought together.

I think you get the point; now I have a seed buying problem on top of the plant buying problem.  But alas, I will have to give some of my plants away because I just started ten of the chili seeds in this hilarious mini greenhouse I rigged out of an old plastic comforter case I found.  I don’t have room in my garden for that many plants. I wish I did.

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My wonderful husband has helped me start two gardens in the last six years.   He built raised beds and even helped me make old gutters into planters and hang them on the back fence even though I know he hated the idea. He likes the gutters now.  I think he thought they would look trashy and I wasn’t as confident as I pretended to be that it wouldn’t look trashy.

I should say that this is the first year I have successfully started pepper seeds.  So far I just have some sweet piquillos, hopefully I will have the same luck with these guys.  Here are a few of the seeds I am super excited about:

Chiltepin, South Texas Chile PiquinThis one is tiny and now growing wild in Texas along the cultivated fields.

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Chile Ordoño- This is an ornamental that produces purple chilies! It’s from Batopilas Canyon in Chihuahua.

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Chile Mirasol- “looking at the sun” This one is also from Chihuahua.

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Have you ever wanted to know how to avoid huge ships or what Unicorn tastes like?

Have you ever wanted to know how to avoid huge ships or what Unicorn tastes like?

I honestly haven’t, but Amazon.com thinks I should. This is a list of the unusual suggestions that I have gotten from Amazon and a couple of the reviews of these products that had me rolling on the floor.  I am sure my attention to this first one is what prompted the latter suggestions.

Unicorn meat (in a can!)

unicorn meat

 

One of my favorite reviews from a disgruntled Unicorn meat lover:

“While vacationing in the Enchanted Forest in the Summer of 2007, I happened upon a quaint little Bed & Breakfast near the River of Dreams. The kindly old lady who ran that B&B welcomed me with open arms, and promised me a delicious home cooked meal after I had unpacked my things.

This was to be my first introduction to Unicorn, far and away the most savory, flavorful meat I have ever tasted in my life. The texture? Perfect. Every bite felt like the first bite. Tender, juicy, magical. Grilled in its own sparkly juices, I felt the ‘corn blood filling up inside me… Creating a light-headed euphoria which would last until I had finished the last of my side dishes.

But this??? A disgrace.

Radiant Farms has packaged something so foul, I doubt it even comes from the horse family. While they claim their product is an “excellent source of sparkles,” I counted just 7 dim sparkles, and only after taking a flashlight to it. The meat was gamey and bland, not at ALL indicative of genuine, free range unicorn meat…….”

If you like laughing and want to do it more go here:  http://www.amazon.com/ThinkGeek-Canned-Unicorn-Meat/product-reviews/B004CRYE2C/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

 

This one was advertised as an add-on to the previous. “Frequently sold with Unicorn meat” is ‘maybe you touched your genitals hand sanitizer’. I think you even get a discount for buying them together. Last minute Valentines?

genital hand san

 

Will skip the reviews on this one because I am sure you can imagine. If you can’t for some reason here you go: http://www.amazon.com/Maybe-Touched-Your-Genitals-Sanitizer/product-reviews/B004CPQBRA/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

 

Last but most definitely not least is this sure to be page turner ‘How to avoid Huge Ships’ by Captain John W. Trimmer.  This book is a must have for any home, although I think $200.00 is kind of steep.

how to aviod huge ships

My favorite review on this one is short and sweet:

“Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.”

Here is another one for the heck of it:

“I’m a little annoyed with the sarcastic “reviewers” of this book. You all seem to think it’s funny that some people would honestly like some expert advice on ways to avoid huge ships. What, you’ve never been traveling at a very, very slow speed straight toward something really, really big that you could see for miles and miles away, and wished you’d known what steps you could take to avoid crashing into it? Well, all I can say is “congratulations!” What’s it like to be so perfect? You haters just keep on enjoying your huge-ship-collision-free little fantasies. I for one am going to buy this book and learn something, because I live in the real world, where huge ships and the dangers they present to people like me are actually a serious issue.”

For more:  http://www.amazon.com/Avoid-Huge-Ships-John-Trimmer/product-reviews/0870334336/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

 

And that’s it for today. You’re welcome and Happy Mardi Gras!

Lordy Lordy Better than Nutella Vegan Hazelnut Spread

What do you do when your head is filled with all the day’s fog and you just bought some beautiful hazelnuts to cheer yourself up?

You make good food…. I was staring blankly at the hazelnuts thinking of tarts and spices to roast them with, and then I decided to blend the crap out of them. For one, I have been a super busy lady lately and need a go-to for both me and the kids. I also wanted something that was somewhat healthy. The husband doesn’t like hazelnuts….. Why did I marry him again? Oh yeah, I love the crap out of him.

I like Nutella but I always thought it was too sweet. So, if you like your sweeter by all means add more syrup or plain old sugar. This recipe is super adaptable. Anyhow, when the day is sooooo long but not long enough for you to do all the things on your list, a spoonful of this is the perfect treat at the end of the day. I found myself saying “lordy” out loud more than once in amazement of how simple and delicious this really is.

Also, you can always unveganize this.  I think you know how. …BUTTER and CREAM!

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