Saturday, August 28, 2010

Making Dinner vs. Cooking Meat

I confess, I like to cook. I am challenged most of the time by a limited budget and picky eaters (myself included in that category) but I do like to cook. I do it most nights of the week. The worst part of cooking for me is not the actual food preparation - that is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out what to make. I hated that job so much that I made a deal with the older kids. They come up with and prepare 1 dinner a weed each and I will do the kitchen cleanup afterwards.

There is another player in this game about cooking too - my husband. He LOVES and I mean LOVES to grill. He is addicted to it. He is outside when the temperature is 20 below with a wind chill cold enough to cool off hell itself standing at the grill. I like that he grills but he doesn't cook dinner. He says that he cooks dinner but he doesn't. He just cooks the meat.

He will come in and say"The meat is almost done, what are we having with it?"

He thinks he is cooking dinner but he is cooking meat. Now rather than figuring out what to have I have the even tougher job of trying to figure out what will go with the eclectic spices, rubs and marinades that he uses.

Am I wrong? Is making dinner no more than cooking meat. If that is the case, I have been doing it wrong for years. I don't think I am. I just want to know, who told them that they were the same thing?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Such a Lovely Neighborhood

Well it was when we moved in almost 20 years ago. There were some of the nicest neighbors that anyone could want. There were kids playing and everyone at least recognized everyone else. No it was not perfect, but it was a nice place to live.

But that was 20 years ago and the world was very different. Now the neighborhood is basically made of transient renters who are not here long enough to get to know. I wouldn't mind so much if they were moving on to better things, but many of late seem to be moving incarceration.

The house next door has been a challenge for the better part of the last decade. The landlord that bought it did so just about the time we bought our house. He may not have been the best but he seemed to screen his applicants well and we always had decent people living next door. Then for reasons that I do not know he sold the house that that is when things started to slide.

The first thing that he did was raise the rent preventing the family who were living there from staying. The first renters were very quiet but by far, they have been the best who have lived there since the house was sold. I believe that they were Muslim and although they were quiet and reserved they were nice to have next door. I am happy for them that they inherited a house in the suburbs and moved to a really nice house. However that was the beginning of the slide down the slippery slope.

The people who moved in next were not too bad except for their somewhat illegal practice of raising dogs for dog fighting - pit-bulls no less. Although the dogs never threatened us in any way, I was never comfortable living next to 13 of them. I was saddened when most of the dogs died in the fire in that house. I may not have liked them, but they certainly did not deserve to die like that. Not surprising, those people found a new place to live after the fire and never came back.

That is when the real trouble started. The current landlord then hired some questionable men to rebuild the house including but not limited to the convicted child molester and rapist. Needless to say my feeling of unease only increased and I would have much preferred the dogs back.

Once the house was remodeled that man was kicked out. Now granted I didn't want him next to me, but they way he was treated was not fair either. I believe that if someone has served their time that they should be a part of society again but just like I don't think a recovering alcoholic should work at a bar, I don't think that working next to kids is a good fit for that man either. I do not know what he did after that, and honestly, I am glad of it.

The next tenant was an older man who was under house arrest. I do not know what his crime was but he was friendly enough. The problem was that because he couldn't leave the house, all his friends came to him. There were parties every weekend and some got a bit wild but nothing that caused any real trouble - for us at least. However we were blessed with that because New Year's Eve of 2009 the police were swarming next door around that man and the recked car that he had used to try and get away. He was removed to a jail cell and the house was up for rent again.

This house is a duplex so at any given time there are 2 sets of people living there. I am never sure who belongs to up or down but it seems as if often they are somehow related to one another. The sister of New Year's Eve is currently living up stairs and by far she is the best we have had in a LONG time.

Although upstairs is really nice by far the worst downstairs moved in this spring. He was loud and vulgar. I doubt that he could speak a sentence without profanity in it. I didn't know it at the time, but he was an ex-con as well. The parties and the violence was almost constant and I we were forced to call the police on multiple occasions. But the call that got signaled the end was not made by us but rather by upstairs.

They saw that downstairs was attempting to grow pot in the house. The police were notified and downstairs was forcibly evicted (but not before assaulting upstairs and firing a gun). We left all the "fun" for the authorities. I have since heard from upstairs that downstairs will not need to worry about where he will live for the next 25 years because he will be a guest of the state.

So down it has gone. From a place that although was not perfect was not bad to a place where my kids are afraid to be. I wonder what is coming next, and I pray that the Lord will keep up safe through it all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Altering attitudes

I have to confess that I love scrapbooking. It is an obsession/addiction. At current count I have 24 albums full of scrapbooking pages (and I do mean full!) I really enjoy it. For me it is my therapy and my hobby and a big part of who I am and what I do.

When I became involved with online scrapbooking pages it did not take me long to discover that although scrapbooking was the main idea that there were others that went along with it. They use the same supplies and have similar appeal. Card-making, Stamping, and Altering are just some of these siblings to scrapping. It did not take long for me to embrace Card-making and even a bit of stamping, but I didn't care much for altering.

I am a VERY practical person. I enjoy making crafts of all kinds but only if they are "useful". I don't want to make something just because. It needs to have a purpose (other than one more thing for me to clean). My attitude to altering was taking something that is practical and making it totally decorative (thus something else to clean). I stuck with this attitude for a LONG time.

Now however I have discovered that it can be useful in some instances. I had to make a piece of altered art and I was stumped. Then I remembered a gift I had received once which was an altered candy bar cover. It just really made the candy bar special. I decided to give it a try. Here is the result:

I have to admit that it was fun. No, I don't think that it is ever going to take the place of scrapping or even card-making but at least I don't now see it as the enemy. AND I now have a great idea for gifts. Not only are they inexpensive but they are also very classy looking.