Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mmmmm. .. meat candy

Ever since my sister-in-law made this for a family reunion, I've been hooked, and it's been my go to for potlucks and party appetizers. It's easy to make, only requires three ingredients, and is always the first appetizer to disappear first.

1. Start with 'Lil Smokies and a package of center-cut bacon.

2. Slice each piece of bacon down the middle and wrap half of it around one of the lil smokies. Put it on a sprayed cookie sheet, seem side down. (I lined my sheet in parchment paper for easy cleanup.)

3. After you've done all the smokies, top with a generous portion of brown sugar. At least half a cup for a single batch. Note that a double batch is shown below (two packages of sausage and bacon). 

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Check half way through and turn them over so that the bottom doesn't stick and burn.

5. I could easily have named this meat crack. Enjoy!

NOTE: For a lighter version, you could also use sliced low-fat turkey smoked sausage. I've done this as well, secured with a toothpick. Equally tasty and less guilt. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Frozen Yogurt Pops

I've found a solution to the popscicles my kids are addicted to. Frozen yogurt pops!

Simply insert a spoon right through the peel-back cover, which helps it stand up during freezing. And then in the morning (or after school), peel off the label, run the container under warm water until it loosens, and pull the spoon out.

Love on a stick! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Focusing on the Three Rs of Child Rearing

In his book “A Family of Value,” John Rosemond gives a no-nonsense look at raising healthy and happy children. And in many ways it’s contrary to what society often teaches. But I’m on board with raising our kids the way “Grandma used to do it." Yes, I realize times have changed. But I feel wholeheartedly that as parents, we need to focus on instilling within our kids what Rosemond calls the “Three R’s” of child-rearing. I've copied from his book verbatim as he breaks each down, just in case you were thinking of the other three Rs. :)


The teaching of these values begins at home. Respect was developed first toward one’s parents, whose responsibility it was to command (not demand) it by being authoritative role models and directors of proper moral behavior. Having been successfully “rooted,” respect extended outward to include other authority figures – teachers, police, lawmakers, employers – then further still to include every honest, law=abiding person, regardless of background or station in life. Finally, this respect would come full circle back to the child, now perhaps in his or her late adolescence, as a relatively mature sense of self-respect. It is, after all, a scriptural truth that in order to achieve respect for self, one must first give respect away, not selectively, but universally. To “love thyself” you must first “love thy neighbor” and “love thy God.” In the final analysis, then self-respect is something earned, not something that can be either learned or given.


Responsibility was learned through the doing of chores in and around the home. These acts were to be selfless; in other words, they were not compensated with money. The child was to do them because, and only because, he was a member of the family. As such, he shared in the family’s work as well as its bounty. Through the doing of chores, the child learned the value of contribution, a prime tenet of good citizenship. The child’s contributions to the family uplifted not only his own value within the family, but also the value of the family to him. This sharing, this mutuality of value, bonded the child to the values that defined the family, thus forming ‘A Family of Value.’


Resourcefulness – the ability to do a lot with relatively little – was neither earned nor learned, but rather brought forth. It is, after all, every child’s nature to be resourceful. It is not human nature to be respectful or responsible, but resourcefulness is a different matter. To bring forth the resourcefulness of a child, parents of not so long ago provided the child with everything he needed along with a small – very small, in most cases – amount of what he wanted. In short, they said “no” more often than they said “yes.” Thus, “creatively deprived,” the child had to learn to solve problems on his own. He had to do his own homework, occupy himself, solve his own social conflicts, and so on. He had to invent solutions to problems in these areas because adults, for the most part, would not solve those problems for him. Adults wanted the child to learn to “stand on his own two feet.” Therefore, they were quite conservative when it came to letting him stand on theirs.

These were the standards of good child rearing. Parents were not measured by the grades their children earned in school. Everyone knew that a child possessed of the “Three Rs” would do his or her best in school, and that was sufficient. . . Parents of generations past were measured against the standard of the “Three Rs.” If, as a parent during those times, you had succeeded in the eyes of your peers at endowing your children with adequate amounts of each “R” – and whether you had succeeded or not was self-evident – your child-rearing skills would be held in high esteem. Your friends and neighbors, therefore, would have said you “were doing a good job.” Whether your child grew up to become a doctor or a janitor was secondary to the fact that your good child rearing had all but guaranteed that whatever path he chose to walk, he would be an asset to the community.

Excerpt from Chapter 1, A Family of Value (1995), John Rosemond

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why a daughter needs a dad

A tribute to my husband, Tony, the greatest dad my girls could ever have.

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so that she will have at least one hero who will not let her down.

to learn that when he says it will be okay soon, it will.

to teach her that her value as a person is more than the way she looks.

to teach her that ignorance is not an excuse for anything.
to teach her not to let pride get in the way of discovering things.
to teach her to experiment for the sake of testing her own assumptions.
to teach her how to focus her mind in the midst of distraction.

so that when no one else is there for her, she can close her eyes and see him.

who will not punish her for her mistakes, but will help her learn from them.
to teach her to believe that she deserves to be treated well.
to teach her to weigh the consequences of her actions and make decisions accordingly.

to be the standard against which she will judge all men.

to teach her that family is more important than work.

to be the safe spot she can always turn to.

who will let her know that while she may not be the center of someone else’s world, she is the center of his.

to teach her that she is equal to her husband.

to help her take the risks that will build her confidence.

to carry her just because she wants to be carried.

who teaches her she is important by stopping what he is doing to watch her.

to teach her the importance of being a lady.

to show her how to fix things for herself.

to tell her all she needs to know about boys.
to show her that all boys are not like the ones who hurt her.
to teach her how to recognize a gentleman.
to stand with her on the day she marries the man she hopes will be just like her father.

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Excerpts from "Why a daughter needs a dad" (Gregory E. Lang)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Atlanta friends will understand

This is for anyone who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, has ever lived in Atlanta, has ever visited Atlanta, ever plans to visit Atlanta, knows anyone who already lives in Atlanta or knows anyone who has ever heard of Atlanta.

Atlanta is composed mostly of one-way streets. The only way to get out of downtown Atlanta is to turn around and start over when you reach Greenville, South Carolina.

All directions start with "Go down Peachtree" and include the phrase, "When you see the Waffle House," except in Cobb County where all directions begin with "Go to the Big Chicken."

Peachtree Street has no beginning and no end and is not to be confused with:

Peachtree Circle
Peachtree Place
Peachtree Lane
Peachtree Road
Peachtree Parkway
Peachtree Run
Peachtree Terrace
Peachtree Avenue
Peachtree Commons
Peachtree Battle
Peachtree Corners
New Peachtree
Old Peachtree
West Peachtree
Peachtree Industrial Boulevard

Atlantans only know their way to work and their way home. If you ask anyone for directions, they will always send you down Peachtree.

Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Coke's all they drink there so don't ask for any other soft drink unless it's made by Coca-Cola. Even if you want something other than a Coca-Cola, it's still called Coke.

The gates at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are about 32 miles away from the main concourse, so wear sneakers and pack a lunch.

The 8 a.m. rush hour is from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The 5 p.m. rush hour is from 3:00 p.m. to 7:30 PM. (Don’t forget the lunch time rush hour!) Friday's rush hour starts Thursday afternoon and lasts through 2 a.m. Saturday.

Only a native can pronounce Ponce De Leon Avenue, so do not attempt the Spanish pronunciation. People will simply tilt their heads to the right and stare at you. The Atlanta pronunciation is " pawntz duh LEE-awn."

And yes, they have a street named simply "Boulevard."

The falling of one raindrop causes all drivers to immediately forget all traffic rules. If a single snowflake falls, the city is paralyzed for three days and it's on all the channels as a news flash every fifteen minutes for a week. Overnight, all grocery stores will be sold out of milk, bread, bottled water, toilet paper and beer.

I-285, the loop that encircles Atlanta, has a posted speed limit of 55 mph. But you have to maintain 80 mph just to keep from getting run over, and this highway is known to truckers as "The Watermelon 500."

Don't believe the directional markers on highways: I-285 is marked "East" and "West," but you may be going North or South. The locals identify the direction by referring to the "Inner Loop" and the "Outer Loop."

If you travel on Hwy 92 North, you will actually be going southeast.

Never buy a ladder or mattress in Atlanta. Just go to one of the interstates, and you will soon find one in the middle of the road.

The last thing you want to do is give another driver the finger, unless your car is armored, your trigger finger is itchy and your AK-47 has a full clip.

Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.

There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Georgia. There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Georgia, plus a couple no one has seen before. If it grows, it sticks. If it crawls, it bites.

If you notice a vine trying to wrap itself around your leg, you have about 20 seconds to escape before you are completely captured and covered with Kudzu.

It's not a shopping cart; it's a buggy.

"Fixinto" is one word (I'm fixinto go to the store) - and can also be pronounced "Fixinta."

Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you're two years old.

"Jeet?" is actually a phrase meaning "Did you eat?"

"How's Momma-nem" means: "How's Mother and all of the other children and other members of the family doing?

And please, don't refer to Atlanta as Hotlanta, especially if you're a Bert Show fan. We've been trying to phase that name out for years.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

India - First impressions

Working for an international company definitely has its perks, and getting to travel for free is one of them. I've been working on a project for several months now, helping our organization select icons and streamline the GUI of a recently purchased application, and in October, the powers-that-be determined it just might be best if I made the trek overseas to work directly with the development team. So I endured the pain of 11 recommended immunizations, loaded up on highly potent insect repellent and popped a sleeping pill before the 20 hours of flight. I'd had several colleagues visit our sister office here in Chennai, and so I felt pretty prepared for what I was about to experience. Or so I thought. One thing that I'm beginning to notice is that India is a city of contrasts. For every beautiful and amazing thing, there is something equally "not-beautiful" to balance it out. So this first entry will simply be a breakdown of my many impressions and observations -- the good and the bad.

The Good

The people: People in Chennai are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Always smiling and extremely polite. Unfortunately, I can't understand them the first time they say anything because they talk three times faster than most Americans, and some of their accents are extremely thick. But they're more than happy to repeat themselves at the same rapid speed each time. Quite often I find myself nodding and pretending that I understand what the heck they just said.

Customer service: The folks here give the word new meaning. Your drink is never empty, doors are opened for you, and they will practically take bags out of your hands to help you carry them to your car. Also, everywhere I go, I see numerous forces in place to protect our personal safety. At first I was a little surprised to see my driver stop at the metal gates surrounding the perimeter of the hotel and turn the car off, and even more so when five armed guards popped the hood, opened the trunk and circled the car with their dogs, but it's become a routine procedure now. They're very efficient. And I'm learning to just hand over my computer bag and purse at the entrance of the front door so that it can be placed on the scanner belt, before I walk though the metal detectors and enter the tiny private area for my pat down.

The food: This is kind of a love/hate thing for most people. I LOVE Indian food, so I've been in heaven since I landed. One of my colleagues and his wife took me to a fantastic restaurant the first night, and I was blown away by the ornate decor, the beautiful music and the attention to every little detail.

The clothing: Every Indian woman I've seen here (with the exception of hotel staff) wear the most beautiful saris I've ever seen. The men all wear Western clothes, but every female over the age of 12 seems to wear floor length, colorful, flowing outfits with beautiful shawls and scarves. Every day. I'm a little jealous. The beauty of their clothing is so much more glamorous than anything I've ever seen in the states. And if I could just live a day with the amazingly full and shiny hair they all have, I'd never cut my hair again.

Personal drivers: I'm grateful my company has assigned me a personal driver to take me to and from the hotel. When I first left the airport, I felt like a celebrity. As I walked down the narrow pathway surrounded by more people than I've ever seen in my life, I found my name on one of the tiny little signs all the drivers held, and since then, I have had personal service anywhere I needed to go. I get to the office about 9:00 in the morning, and because they all work extremely long hours, I'm here about 12 hours a day. And my driver just sits in the car ALL DAY and waits for me. But I'm so glad to have him. Buses are not air conditioned, and they're crammed to capacity (even people hanging on outside), taxis consist of open-air motorized rickshaws that seat about two people confortably. And the traffic here is CRAZY. Every day I feel like I'm going to die. More on that later.

Jasmine: Some restaurants give you beautifully fragrant flowers, which you can wrap around your wrist or wear in your hair. I received this fresh jasmine at the first restaurant we went to.

The Not-So-Good Stuff

Dirty: A friend warned me about wearing anything white here, and I now understand why. India is pretty dirty. There's trash everywhere on the streets and in short, you just feel like you want to take a shower all the time. If you're OCD about cleanliness, you won't like it here.

The water: You hear everyone say it. Don't drink the water, and they're not lying. You will regret it like you've never regretted anything. I was given medication to take two days prior to the trip and every morning thereafter to prevent sickness, dehydration and basically, the runs. So it's strictly bottled water only -- and OPEN IT YOURSELF. Some places fill water bottles with tap water, so it's the only way you can be sure it's safe. I'm using bottled water for everything including brushing my teeth, and I can't open my mouth in the shower. That took some practice.

Mosquitoes: Are everywhere. In the car, in the offices (not as bad, but I still see them), even in the elevators. So I have to cover myself from head to toe in bug cream and spray my clothes every morning with industrial-strength spray. At the office here, they have moth ball in the sinks, I guess to prevent them from coming up through the drains. And if you're wondering what smells like Deep-Woods Off . .. that would be me.

Poverty: The majority of India is literally a slum. And it's very sad to see the conditions that millions and millions of people live in. Shacks and make-shift homes made of sticks and mud, (you can see some below from my view from the hotel) laundry and blankets on the roof to cover the holes, people washing their clothes in the muddy stream, sick and starving animals, kids with no shoes. There's no way you can come here and not realize the wealth and prosperity our country offers and develop a greater sense of appreciation for being blessed to live where we do.

Animals in the street: It's pretty common to see all kinds of animals roaming the streets; dogs, cows and goats are what I notice the most. Sadly, they all look sick and malnourished, and I understand now why I was encouraged to get rabies shots.

Toilet paper: In short, there is none at the office.Paper towels only. Good times. The hotel is plentiful, though. :)

Traffic: I could write a book about this topic. I'm amazed no one crashes here because there don't seem to be any traffic rules as we know them. There are no lines in the road, no traffic lights, no speed limit, and the streets are LITERALLY crowded with cars, buses, mopeds, bicyclists and pedestrians, swerving in and out in all directions, barely missing each other. It's insane! And if it weren't bad enough that no one wears helmets, get this. Mopeds aren't ridden by just one person; there's often two, three or four people on them. Entire families. Dad, mom, a child, and a baby in the mom's arms. Yes, babies. Car seats are non-existent. It's pretty scary to see. I'm recording video of this because you truly have to see it for yourself. That will come later.

Different beliefs regarding modesty: I've seen things outside my hotel window that you never want to see. Such as parents stopping alongside the road so their child can relieve himself. And I don't mean going "number 1". That was interesting, given that this kid was at least 9 years old. I could have done without that.

Smells: Your senses go on high alert here. And if you're sensitive to offensive odors, this might not be the place for you. I won't be gross, but smells come from all over, a high combination of pungent spices, landfill waste, exhaust and the result of hot, humid temperatures and lack of deodorant.
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That's it for now. . . more to come later, as I consolidate some more pictures and video. :)