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Friday Favorites

12 Feb

Welcome to the second installment of Friday Favorites!  I hope you enjoy reading these great posts by other bloggers.  I’m hoping to having time to add some posts of my own in the coming week!

Sorry the list is so short this week… a result of not spending as much time on the computer as usual.  However, I hope you enjoyed these few great blog posts!  As for the authors of these posts… thank you for sharing such wonderful posts with us all!

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Friday Favorites

5 Feb

Here it is, as promised! The first installment of the ‘Friday Favorites’ series!

For those of you who may not know, this post will list my favorite blog posts from the previous week, topics may be about anything except writing.  For my writing-related ‘Friday Favorites’ posts, please visit my writing blog, Scribe-ly.

It’s not easy picking favorites from the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of blog posts each week, but I’ll do my best.  If there is a blog post you would like to recommend Continue reading

Is Your ‘Right’ A Wrong In Disguise?

3 Feb

I’ve written so many blog posts in which I’ve censored myself, sacrificing bald truth at the altar of political correctness.  Even my most controversial posts have been censored to spare myself from the worst vitriol and vicious diatribe of those who might oppose my views yet, even censored, when I am about to hit that ‘publish’ button for a post I suspect will rain accusation from others upon my head, my heart pounds and my hands literally shake.  I read and then re-read my post countless times, looking for any statement or opinion that I might have forgotten to ‘PC’-up, anything that I think could be misinterpreted or misconstrued.  Why do I do this?  Because besides my own personal insecurity, people want to be offended.  We read blogs and articles looking for anything to pounce on, like vultures circling a field, searching endlessly for that whiff of carrion, that hint of wrong thinking that we can latch onto and launch an attack on the author about.  I say ‘we’ because I too, have been guilty of this, and often.

On more than one occasion I’ve read a post or an article and found the author’s attitude or opinion to be so offensive that I’ve felt justified Continue reading

Random – Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

19 Jul

I know that, even for me, this is a totally random post topic, but since, at the time of writing, I’m sitting here eating this, and thinking how delicious it is with every bite, I thought I’d share with anyone who is interested how to make HOME MADE Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad… just like Betty Crocker‘s.  (An example of the specific product can be found here)

For those of you who are not regular readers to my blog, please note that I don’t usually post food recipes, so please don’t follow me out of mistaken identity, because when you un-follow me after you realize that I’m not a foodie, I will be broken-hearted and inconsolable (however, feel free to have a look around, and follow me if you like what you see!).

Now, as for my non-US-resident readers, I know that intercontinental market fare is rare indeed, so, I can only hope that you are able to figure out some equivalent of any ingredients not found in your country, assuming it is something you would like to try.

And a final note for all readers:  1) This is NOT good-for-you, healthy food.  This is good stuff.  Tasty stuff.  So obviously, it’s unhealthy 😀 2)If you’re one of those people who cannot cook by ‘feel’ (in other words, you need directions with precisely measured amounts to make something edible) this recipe really won’t be for you, because my measurements are usually along the lines of ‘A lot’, ‘a pinch’, and ‘a handful’.

What you will need:

Pasta!

Pasta!

  • Noodles.  Any kind will do, to be honest, but the box versions usually use the little shells.  Rotini is good, too… any noodle with a decent amount of surface area, but I’d stay away from the ones like Penne  with a large hollow opening, because the insides will either get too much ‘stuff’ in them, or not enough.  Little opening, like macaroni, are fine, though. (This is a great recipe to use up those random remainders of exotic noodles in the pantry!)

The amount of noodles will depend on the amount of pasta salad you want.  A lot of noodles means a lot of the other ingredients, and vice versa, and a lot of the finished product.

  • Mayonnaise.  And I mean real mayo.  Not salad dressing (Miracle Whip = No-no).  REAL mayonnaise.  If you’re making a decent sized bowl of this, say, 6 or 8 servings or so, you’ll likely use 1/3 of the jar, so make sure you have enough before you start.
  • Bacon Bits.  Real ones or fake ones, but, again, the boxed kind uses the imitation kind, so I usually do, too.
Mmmm... Bacon FLAVORED chips...

Mmmm… Bacon FLAVORED chips…

  • Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix.  This one I’m not sure how difficult it is to find outside of the US, but it’s basically powdered Ranch dressing.  If you’re making a big batch, grab 2 packets, if not, one will more than suffice.
Okay, so I used my last pack to make this batch, the part I tore off actually has the brand on it, Hidden Valley

Okay, so I used my last pack to make this batch, the part I tore off actually has the brand on it, Hidden Valley

Now, if you’ve had the boxed variety, you know it comes with little slivers of dried carrots and some dried peas.  You also know that these offer no real flavor to the dish, they’re just there to add a bit of color and perceived nutritional value (notice I said perceived, not actual, lol).  These things really aren’t necessary, and will be more of a hassle to include than not.  Plus, if you want it to actually taste like the kind you buy from the store, believe me when I say don’t put them in.

So, first,you will want to mix your… sauce? Dressing?  Whatever you want to call the stuff you’ll be putting on your noodles. I shall henceforth refer to it as ‘Ranchy-Bacon Goodness’. You’ll need to know how big of a batch you’ll be making to figure out amounts, but I usually end up using 1/4 – 1/3 of the jar of mayo. (I also always use way more mayo than the boxes call for, though… 2 tablespoons?  Really?  That’s a joke.)

Put your mayo in a bowl, and add about 1/2 of the ranch dip packet/powder stuff.  Use your noggin here.  If you’ve got a tiny bit of mayo, you’ll use a tiny bit of Ranch, a lot of mayo = a lot of Ranch.

Stir this up and taste it.  If it tastes too much like mayo, add Ranch.  If it tastes too much like Ranch, add more mayo.

Once you’ve got the flavors balanced to your liking, then you want to add your bacon bits.  I always add extra, even to the store-bought kits, so I tend to dump it in until the surface is pretty much covered, but you add however much or little you like.  Just remember, more bacon bits = more bacon flavor! 😉

Put this bowl of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness in the fridge while you move on;

Cook your noodles to the done-ness you prefer, drain, rinse in cold water until cool, and drain again.  Side note:  if you overcook your noodles, they’re going to fall apart when you stir up this pasta salad, so keep that in mind as you’re cooking.

Once the noodles are cool to the touch (the colder the better, this is a cold pasta salad), get your bowl of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness out of the fridge and mix it and your noodles together.  This is the part that you really hope you guesstimated the amount of mayo right, otherwise, you’ll have to doctor it a little more.

Once everything’s all stirred up and evenly coated, you’ll want to have another taste.  If it tastes good, then congratulations! You can put the bowl into the fridge to let the flavors meld (hence why you made the Ranchy-Bacon Goodness before boiling the pasta!) until time to eat!

If, on the other hand, it’s not tasting quite so tasty, you may need to do a little research and repair mission.  Here are some common problems I’ve had:

Not enough Ranchy-Bacon Goodness – make more.

Too much Ranchy-Bacon Goodness – make more noodles.  (While I find it nearly impossible to have too much bacon-anything, it is possible that you may have overestimated the amount of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness your noodles could support, so, if you’ve already put the entire contents of the bowl into the noodles, your only recourse is to make more noodles.)

Not enough Bacon flavor –  add more bacon bits.

Not enough Ranch flavor –  add more Ranch dip powder.

No appetite by the time dinner is served – stop taste-testing the Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad every five minutes… with a serving spoon. ;-D

Now, as a final note to those of you who are being slick and making your pasta salad ahead of time for tomorrow’s barbeque:  In case you were unaware, pasta absorbs moisture.  If you make your pasta salad to PERFECTION the day before, you will be sorely disappointed the next day when you open your chilled Tupperware bowl and find a dried out mess inside.  If this is your plan, I have a secret secret-weapon for you:  make an extra bit of Ranchy-Bacon Goodness and put it in a tightly covered container.  About 30 minutes before serving, add some of your secret stash to the pasta salad to give it a little pick-me-up, to replace some of the moisture it absorbed overnight.  You will thank me for this tip if you’ve never experienced this pasta-not-so-magical trick before, and if you have fallen prey to the pasta gremlins in the past, you’re nodding your head in agreement.

Okay, a FINAL final note:  You can probably add chicken to this if you wanted to, I guess, but I never have.  But I’m sure it will be tasty!

Calling All Travelers/Vacationistas!

17 Mar

I’m writing this blog post, because I am hoping that the blogging world (and beyond) can help my Love and I decide where to go on vacation this year.  I’m asking for two different categories, the first is where we should go this year, 2014.  This vacation spot needs to be in the United States.

The second category is more versatile.  I’d like suggestions from everyone on the best places to go, and the most awesome things to see, in the entire world.  Mind you, we’re not world travelers, so safety should be a concern, but if you’ve been somewhere and seen something amazing, I want to know about it.

In short, I’m looking for places that are both exciting (stuff to do) as well as beautiful and/or historic.

Please help, and share, and comment with your experiences.  And don’t assume that because it’s world-renown, that I’ve already thought of it!  Short of Vegas, NYC, and London, I have no clue where might be great places to visit.

Current US destinations under consideration are:

Vegas

New York City

San Diego OR San Francisco (or both?)

Current International Destinations are:

?

Namaste – So Much More Than A Greeting

12 Mar
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An_Oberoi_Hotel_employee_doing_Namaste,_New_Delhi.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An_Oberoi_Hotel_employee_doing_Namaste,_New_Delhi.jpg

I openly share my ignorance when I admit that up until very recently, I thought ‘Namaste’ was simply the Indian way to say ‘Hello’.  I was raised in a Christian household, and have had little to no exposure to other religions or cultures outside of what I’ve seen on television or perhaps clicked past on-line, and didn’t put forth much effort into remedying my ignorance.  To be completely open about it, I still don’t do much to proactively investigate other religions or cultures past their relation to something I’m thinking about or researching, but I do learn little tidbits here and there.

I recently learned that ‘Namaste’ and the pressed hand gesture/slight bow combination in Hinduism literally means ‘I bow to the divine in you’.  This wouldn’t have meant much to me a few weeks ago, but I’ve been watching a series of interviews on YouTube recently featuring Sister Shivani where she speaks often about the importance of remembering that everyone is a soul, and began pure and good.  I know not everyone even believes in the existence of a ‘soul’, but regardless of your beliefs, you can’t deny that we are all human, we were born innocent and pure, and are the way we are as a result of the things we have been taught or experienced in the time since we were born.

I could be totally off the mark since Hinduism isn’t my forte, but I imagine that the practice was created as a reminder to the person giving the greeting that everyone else carries a spark of the divine within them, and to treat them accordingly.  Even if I’m way off the mark, I think it’s a good concept.  Continue reading

The Wrong Way To Get Rights

4 Mar

Disclaimer: This is somewhat of a ‘stream of consciousness’ post.  I haven’t weighed every sentence to make sure it’s ‘PC’.  I jump from point to point.  If you feel like my comments are offensive, I’m sorry you took them that way, because that’s not my intent, but remember that offense is subjective, so before you just assume I’m an ass, remember we most likely come from entirely different perspectives – any offense is based in ignorance, not intent.  You are welcome to post opposing views or share with me why you feel something I intended as a positive was actually a negative -I’m very open-minded- but rudeness will not be tolerated.

When I first watched this video, I was irritated.  I had many thoughts similar to several of the objections in the comments [of the video].  I WASN’T LISTENING.  I was too busy reacting to listen and GET the point.  I was so busy focusing on what she was doing that I didn’t think was right, I was unable to hear the message.  Which was her first message.  If you’re thinking of how YOU feel about what someone is saying or doing, or how you want to respond, YOU ARE NOT LISTENING, and if you can’t at least listen, you’ll never get it enough to make a change, in yourself or anyone else.

The blonde with the eyebrow ring wasn’t listening either, because she was so busy thinking about how her suffering was being ‘belittled’.  She missed the point that if you can reach a place where you are able to wrap your head around THIS issue (racism), applying it to every other area where discrimination occurs (not only racism, because that is only one small drop in the ocean of discrimination that humanity pours out on one another) will come naturally, of its own accord.

The video did not show whether the teacher made a point to ALL of the students that the color of skin is only one discrimination.  Sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, nationality, even political leanings, ANY time that you judge a person on any basis other than who they are, instead of what they are, you are no different than the ‘racists’ the teacher refers to here.  If any of those students, whether they wore a green collar or not, walked out of that room without the understanding that the exercise was so much larger than ‘understanding what it’s like not to be white’, then they missed the scope of the exercise.

I honestly don’t think anyone got the true point of that exercise, because not ONE student in the ‘brown eyed section’ stood up and asked the teacher to stop.  Not one person in the ‘brown eyed section’ took a stand when the girl that walked out was visibly upset.  Continue reading

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