Blogger Backgrounds

Friday, March 29, 2013

Just my thoughts...

My mind has been heavy thinking about some very serious things lately.  Our country is in a point of some major political upheavals.  I'm concerned about a lot of things, but I'm only going to touch on one of those issues today.

First of all, I am NOT a political person.  I don't get into political debates, and I pretty much only vote every four years when the time comes to elect a President.  But I watch.  I've been deeply saddened by the way my beloved country is straying farther and farther from the way it was set up by our founding fathers.  The national debt has skyrocketed to terrifying heights, corruption and favoritism is running rampant, etc.

There is a current issue that has been a really big deal in the social medias these days.  I got sucked into another political debate recently - with the gun control issues after the school shooting last December.  I posted things on facebook that went along with my beliefs, and I got some flack from some of my friends about it.  That's when I stopped.  I had figured that my friends would handle those things the way I do.  If I don't agree with something, I just scroll past it.  If it's something I agree with, I might Like it or even repost it.  No debates, no stress, just stating my opinion.  I forgot that people don't always think and react the way I do.  I learned my lesson.  When it comes to heated debates, I'm out of it.

Does that make me a chicken?  Maybe.  But I've seen too many friendships end over differences of opinion.

Anyway, with the current issue of Gay Marriage, while I'm avoiding posting my opinion on facebook, I can't stay completely quiet on the subject.

I struggled for a long time trying to weigh out my feelings on the subject.  I listened to both sides of the argument, but I kept finding myself somewhere in the middle.  But WHERE in the middle was I?  It really boiled down to a single word to me.  "Marriage."  What did I personally think marriage was?  How did that influence my opinion on this very difficult subject?

Then, I was on facebook one day, and discovered that a friend of mine was online.  This was my opportunity.  You see, my friend is gay.  He is in a very committed, loving relationship and has been quite vocal about the gay marriage issue.  So, I brought up the discussion with him.

Heterosexual versus Homosexual.  Gay versus Straight.  There are different terms for the different sexual orientations.  In your opinion, is the issue about the word "Marriage" itself, or would you be content with a different word?

He told me that he uses the term Marriage because it is the most understood term, but he would be perfectly happy to have a Civil Union.  He told me that in his opinion, a Civil Union is where the government would protect him and his partner just as if they were a heterosexual couple.  Things like being able to be on each other's insurance, the ability to make decisions regarding medical issues, that kind of thing.  He feels that churches should have the right to decide if they are going to perform marriages for gay couples or not - but as American citizens, any consenting adult should have all the same civil rights as anyone else.

That was it.  That was the first thing in the whole debate that rang true for me.  Civil Unions!  THAT'S what I believe in.  I believe the government should give the same rights to all US citizens - no matter their sexual orientation.

I know there are members of my church who would disagree with me on this, but I have searched my conscience, and I feel perfectly comfortable with my beliefs in this.  I see marriage and civil unions as two different things.  If there are churches who want to perform marriages between two men or two women just like they do for a man and a woman, that's their business.  But I think the government should treat us all equally.  The Declaration of Independence says:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

ALL men (or People, for the policially correct) have the right to persue happiness.  I have always read that to mean that we have been given the right to persue what it is that makes us happy - as long as what we are doing is not damaging to someone else.  Obviously, if your version of happiness means shooting people in the foot, that's not a good thing.  But if you just want to have a quiet peaceful life with someone you love, what's the harm in that?  My happiness in this world revolves around my beloved husband and our two beautiful children.  My friend's happiness revolves around something just as simple.  If my friend has the ability to join in a legal union with his partner, who are they hurting?  They'll go about their day, doing their jobs, taking care of their pets, creating beauty in the world (you should see my friend's plants!), and most of all - loving each other.

Why should he be punished just because he isn't physically attracted to women?

It's simple.  He shouldn't.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hawaiian Pineapple Cookies

I've been reminded periodically that I've left my readers hanging about something for a while.  I mentioned in this post that life has taken me in different directions and I haven't gotten around to explaining what that meant.

Once we got done moving, life started settling down for us.  Between the peace of not having to look for housing anymore and having some of our financial worries settled, my stress level was much lower.  Stress is paralyzing.  I spent so much time in front of my computer in the past because I was so stressed I couldn't function.

On top of that, our old house was very compartmentalized.  If I was in the kitchen, I couldn't see what the kids were up to in the living room.  So in order to keep up with what my very busy toddler was up to, it was really easy to justify sitting in the living room with him all day.  With my laptop sitting right next to my chair, it was even easier to play with my computer for hours at a time.

In this house, I have a clear shot from the kitchen into the living room.  So most of the time now, I will go online for a little while in the morning when I wake up.  I might check in again around lunchtime.  But for the most part, if the computer is on at all, it's in the kitchen with me.  I watch a lot of movies or TV series on Netflix when I'm in the kitchen so I stay focused on staying in that room.  I don't have the stress I had before, so I have more motivation to keep the house clean and organized.

Which also means I've done a TON more baking and enjoying my time in the kitchen creating things.

One day, I REALLY wanted cookies.  But I didn't want the same old chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies I usually make.  Several years ago, my mom put together a cookbook of all her favorite recipes.  I decided to peruse through it and see what new recipes I could try.

These Hawaiian Pineapple Cookies have quickly become one of my very favorites.

The recipe is originally from a cookbook called A Pinch of Salt Lake by Amy Bowman.

Hawaiian Pineapple Cookies

1/2 Cup Shortening
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Drained Crushed Pineapple* (save juice)
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (macadamia, pecans, almonds, etc), optional

2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter, softened
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 or 3 Tbsp Reserved Pineapple Juice (or more)

3/4 Cup Flaked Toasted Coconut

*I only had pineapple chunks on hand, so I threw them in a blender for a few seconds, then squeezed the pineapple through a sieve to drain the juice.

 A quick note on toasting the coconut.  It's really easy, but needs to be done cautiously.  Bake the coconut on a cookie sheet for 7 to 12 minutes.  Stir it every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure all the coconut is toasted evenly.  If you're like me, you'll want to toast a LOT more than you'll need for the cookies.  I can't stay out of the stuff!

 Put all the cookie ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

While they are baking, make the frosting.  Put all the frosting ingredients in a small bowl.

Mix until fluffy.  

Frost the cookies.  If the frosting is too thick, you can heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and then stir.  Then, dip the cookies in the toasted coconut.

Try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.  It's really tempting, I know.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


The idea of my birthday has been a pretty sore subject for many years.

Even though my ex wasn't exactly a stellar husband, he was really good about making me feel important on my birthday.  By comparison, my sweet Surfer Pirate is an excellent husband all the time, but not so great at gift-giving occasions.

But more on that later.

The string of crummy birthdays started in 2008.  I had been divorced for a few months.  I was dating one local guy, and involved with several different men online.  Three of those guys actually asked if they could come to Montana and take me out for my birthday, but Mr Local had already secured the date a month in advance.  Which made me feel really special because he was dating several other girls.  I continued to feel special until the night of my birthday...  when he showed up more than two hours late.  He took me to a buffet restaurant, where he spent the meal staring at the cute, size-2 waitress.  I debated leaving and walking home.  After dinner, he drove me straight home, dropped me off in the street and left.  Classy.

*For the record, the next week was MUCH better.  The next day, I traded in my evil Dodge Stratus for my pickup truck, and met Surfer Pirate just a few days later.

2009 - I had a miscarriage two weeks earlier.  I was very worried about my dad's failing health.  And to add to the fun, I was laid off from my job along with 13 other people.  Yes, that's right.  Laid off from a job I loved ON MY BIRTHDAY.  I cried the rest of the day except when we went out to eat (as previously planned) and I stressed about how we would pay for it since I no longer had a job.

2010 - We were dead broke, I was still unemployed, and I have no idea what we did because it was all so depressing.

2011 - We had a 2 month old baby.  My dad had died the day before, and Surfer Pirate was dealing with some major personal issues.  We went out to eat, and then the next day (maybe 2 days later?) the kids and I were on a plane to Seattle to be there to support my mom and attend the funeral.

Last year, we were so broke that we could only afford one thing.  A nice dinner, a nice cake, or a gift.  I chose a DQ ice cream cake because... well, who wouldn't??

So this year, I was STUNNED when I realized that we had enough money that I could actually have a REAL birthday!  Woo hoo!!

In comes Surfer Pirate.  Like I said.  Gifts?  Not exactly his thing.  He always worries about buying the wrong thing.  He tries to insist that I just buy what I really want, but I refuse.  I like for him to pick something out for me.  I try to give him as many good ideas as I can so he knows he's getting something I like.  But this year, I only wanted one thing.

This ankle bracelet:

I love it.  Delicate and pretty with little tiny angel wings on it.  It makes me think of my sister - my personal guardian angel.  I made sure Surfer Pirate knew that this was all I wanted and that he had all the information he needed to so he could buy it.

He didn't get his paycheck until the day before my birthday, so I knew I wouldn't get my ankle bracelet in time for my birthday, but at least it would be on its way.

The day came, and I reminded him again that he needed to order my present.  He made the final attempt to get me to just do the shopping for myself.  I gave in.  He was right.  I ordered it.  It is supposed to arrive the end of next week.

I thought a lot about what I wanted to do with my birthday.  Pirate Munchkin was pushing HARD for supper at DQ (can you tell our DQ closes during the winter and it's a big deal that they open in mid to late February??)  I really didn't want greasy fast food for my birthday.  But what did I want?  And then it hit me - t-bones.  I wanted a juicy, flavorful t-bone for my birthday.  Which meant I had to cook it myself.  I've gotten REALLY good at cooking steak and I no longer trust anyone else to do it.  Plus, I had Yukon Gold potatoes - which make THE BEST mashed potatoes.  And I wanted another ice cream cake.

So that's what we had this year.  Steak with mashed potatoes and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard Ice Cream Cake (doesn't that sound amazing?  It soooo is!)  Plus, I got a surprise package in the mail from another loved one with some fun jewelry in it.  I told Surfer Pirate that I felt spoiled this year, and he said I deserve to be spoiled all the time.

I needed that.

*I should mention that my mom spoils me every year.  She has been the light through all these rough birthdays.  Her latest thing is she gets me Amazon gift cards and I have lots of fun figuring out how I can get the most things off my Amazon Wish List.  This year, she ordered my gift card early, so I had all my gifts here at least a week before my birthday had even arrived!