7 Quick Takes, Icy Dallas Edition

— 1 —

sun and snow

I think this pretty much sums the week up. The official high temperature on Wednesday was 80 degrees. The low tonight is expected to be 12 degrees.

— 2 —

Dallas does not do ice very well. We usually get an ice storm once a year. Right now it’s freezing rain and sleet so The Spare’s high school is closed but the kids are responsible for their assignments which are completed digitally and turned in today. That way they don’t fall behind and the school doesn’t have to add an extra “snow” day to the school calendar. The downside, from the kids’ perspective, to utilizing Blackboard and Dropbox for school.

— 3 —

I finally finished decorating the Christmas tree. Everyone wants to get the Christmas decorations up, but no one is too terribly interested in doing it.

— 4 —

The Patriarch is laying a new wood floor in our back bedroom. This was originally our bedroom but when we renovated the attic into a “suite” for both boys we moved into their old room. This back bedroom has a door that opens to the back yard so it was always kind of weird sleeping there. When finished it will become the room where we watch TV and the living room will be a more formal space.

— 5 —

I got on this kick of reading adoption blogs. Some are strange and then some are wonderful. This week on our local PBS radio station, KERA 90.1, there was a commentary by Diane Brown who was adopted as a young girl from Korea.

“For me, as a Korean orphan adopted in the early 1960s, gratitude was intertwined with my brother and me being told that adoption saved us from fates as prostitutes and beggars. Clearly, if your parents saved you from such fates, it’s logical to be grateful to them. But I rarely felt a sense of gratitude. Being told how I should feel made me resistant, and from my mother’s perspective, I could never be grateful enough anyway. So why even try? Still, I carried around a burden of inadequacy because I knew I never could repay my parents for saving my life.”
She mentions that NPR’s Scott Simon and his wife, Caroline, adopted two children from China, and he talked about this issue in his book, Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other.

“No matter how hurt or angry your children ever make you — and they will — you must never, never, never say, ‘Don’t you know what we saved you from?’ That’s a true obscenity,” Simon wrote. “It is a curse that could discourage the pushing back and outright rebellion that’s necessary for children to grow … We don’t want a feeling of indebtedness to steer their lives.” The key word in Simon’s statement is indebtedness, not gratitude.”

I think this is an interesting concept to explore, the difference between indebtedness and gratitude.

— 6 —

Today is a day for baking and watching movies and trying to stay warm. Since our home was built in the 1920s it can be quite drafty. The dogs are snuggled close and there’s a fire in the fireplace.

— 7 —

I’ve got nothing else so jump back over to Jen’s and check out the really great bloggers. Stay warm and stay safe

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7 Quick Takes, Thanksgiving Edition

— 1 —

So I entered the Dallas Morning News annual Christmas Cookie contest. I didn’t make the final 10 in my category. And I worked so hard and was so sure! I must have made 10 batches of these brownie bites getting everything just right and everyone loved them. So I’m sharing the recipe here. The chutney recipe is wonderful and I make it every year.

Cranberry Chutney Brownie Bites

Cranberry Chutney*
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
10 oz dried cranberries
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Large pinch of ground allspice
Large pinch of ground cloves

Combine granulated sugar and water in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil gently for 3 minutes. Add cranberries, apple, onion, raisins, brown sugar, vinegar and spices. Bring back to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until mixture is thick, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and cool. Can be made in advance and stored, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks. Only a portion will be used for brownie bites and remaining chutney is delicious served as a topping on crackers with cream cheese as an appetizer or as a side to ham or turkey.

Brownie Bites**
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Position a rack in the lower-third of the oven and preheat oven to 325°F.

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a double-boiler. As butter softens and melts, stir frequently until mixture is warm, but not hot. Remove from heat. Mixture will appear fairly gritty. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well-blended, add flour and stir until it disappears, then beat vigorously for an additional 40 strokes.

Spray a 24-count mini muffin pan with non-stick baking spray. Fill each well approximately three-fourths full of brownie batter and top with approximately 1 teaspoon or less of cranberry chutney. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely on a cookie rack. Once cooled remove brownie bites from pan.

*Adapted from Taste of Home Cranberry-Apple Chutney

**Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Best Cocoa Brownies

— 2 —

My mother, who is 75, lives in West Virginia with my sister and brother-in-law. She fell on Saturday afternoon and dislocated her left shoulder and broke the head of her left humerus. This was surgically replaced on Tuesday afternoon and she made it home from the hospital in time for Thanksgiving. Glad that she’s doing better.

— 3 —

Has anyone made it through Evangelii Gaudium? I made it to paragraph 131. Only 157 paragraphs left to go. I recommend that everyone read the papal encyclicals, especially the documents from Vatican II; all are very accessible.

I still haven’t made up my mind about Francis. But I am hopeful and open-minded.

— 4 —

We had our usual Thanksgiving feast with the in-laws. This year The Spare and I made this candy that’s been sitting on my Thanksgiving Pinterest board for almost a year. It was sooo easy. I made a complete batch to take to the in-laws but we ate them all. So I made another batch and that was eaten today. I may make another batch to take to work. One of the guests thought they were real acorns. Use Nutter Butter bites, Hershey Kisses, and chocolate chips. Melt some chocolate chips to use as “glue”. Take a Hershey Kiss, dip the flat end in the melted chocolate and attach to a Nutter Butter bite. Let sit for a couple of hours to set and then repeat the process with a chocolate chip.

Acorn candies

— 5 —

I refuse to participate in Black Friday. I think this very adequately sums up how I feel about the whole Christmas shopping season

black friday

— 6 —

My husband can do anything. He’s working on our back bedroom, which we are turning into another living area. He has some fabulous wood that he’s laying. Then today (Thanksgiving, of course) the sewer line clogged. He’s fixing that in the morning when Home Depot opens and he can rent a 100 foot auger. I’m thankful for a man who takes such good care of us.

— 7 —

Finally, I’m thankful that my mammogram returned normal and my annual well woman exam was within normal limits. So many I know have health challenges that I am well aware of how fragile good health is.

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7 Quick Takes: Monty Python, Ovarian Cancer, and Guys with Fancy Lady Hair

— 1 —

Rain! Living in Texas you get used to heat, heat, and more heat and the near constant drought. It started raining late yesterday afternoon and it’s wonderful to listen to it. I don’t care if the dogs track mud through the house. The rain is wonderful.

— 2 —

I’m sure everyone has already seen this, but I just stumbled on it a few days ago. Guys with fancy lady hair cracks me up! I don’t want a guy with long hair but I must admit these guys look great with their hair up or down. If my husband wanted to do this, I would totally support him. “Mother of the Bride” and “Junior Prom” are my favorites.

— 3 —

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Please take yourself, your sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other lady friends to the gynecologist! Don’t let anything keep you away. Trust me, there is nothing you have that your gynecologist hasn’t already seen, probably twice. No matter how much or how little you weigh or how young or old you are…GO! We’ve had patients as young as 32 and as old as 80 who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Know your bodies!

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition’s website has wonderful information. I can’t say it better than they do. “Common ovarian cancer symptoms include: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; trouble eating or feeling full quickly; and feeling the need to urinate urgently or often. If you are experiencing at least two to three of these symptoms clustered together that persist for two or more weeks, you should see your doctor and ask for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 blood test.

If you’ve already seen a doctor and received a diagnosis other than ovarian cancer, yet your symptoms continue or you are not getting relief from treatment, schedule a follow-up visit with your gynecologist or get a second opinion. If you have a history of breast, colon and/or ovarian cancer in your family, strongly consider seeing a doctor trained to care for women with ovarian and other gynecologic cancers, a gynecologic oncologist, to talk about the symptoms and regular screenings. If your primary care physician or Gynecologist suspects you have ovarian cancer, he or she may refer you to a gynecologic oncologist.

The best predictor of having the best possible outcome is to have your primary surgery performed by a board-certified gynecologic oncologist. Don’t let your regular OB-GYN operate on you if there is any chance you have a malignancy. Better to have a gynecologic oncologist do a surgery for something that turns out to be benign, than have a benign gynecologist operate and do an incomplete staging which would require a follow up operation.

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Now that I’m off my Gyn Onc soap box, let’s look at this awesome trailer. If Monty Python and the Holy Grail were made and marketed today:

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I’m gonna try this cake this weekend. The tutorial is here.

— 6 —

Did I mention how surprised I am that I’m not missing my oldest child, who went to college, as much as I thought I would. It’s really kind of crazy. I thought I’d be all empty nester and helicopter mom, but…not so much. Not that I don’t miss him, but it’s like he’s at work all day and out with friends at night and I don’t think of him as being 200 miles away.

— 7 —

We had the most awesome Religion Teacher at our kid’s elementary/middle school. She’s just started blogging but go see her. She joined Twenty-Third Publications and contributes coaching resources to help parents lead their children in faith.

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