Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sexual abuse at Penn State

I usually don't delve into political topics, but this one is really sticking in my craw in several ways.

By now I think everyone has heard about Penn State, Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky.  I am beyond appalled at what transpired there and the "higher ups" that covered it up and allowed it to happen.  

As a sexual abuse survivor, I have a different insight on this.  There are several things about this that bother me and quite frankly, just piss me off. (Pardon my French.)

1) Football was placed above the welfare of children. Yes, these were legally adults that were victimized, but the people who committed the offenses were in charge of protecting the welfare of these young men.  Age 18 may make you a legal adult, but you still trust those in leadership roles in programs, and these men violated that trust in the worst way possible.

2) Several people knew what was going on and chose to ignore it and allow it to CONTINUE!  No one valued these young men enough to put a stop to it.  See point 1.

3) This is where I'm going to get arguments, I'm sure.  The fines handed down are ludicrous.  Why?  They do nothing for the victims.  Stripping Joe Paterno of his wins?  What exactly does that accomplish?  He's dead.  How does this hurt him at all?  And what about the members of the teams over all those years that legitimately earned those wins and were not part of the cover up?  Their hard work and effort has been negated.  Don't get me wrong.  I think athletics are overly inflated and more focus should be on education, but....the athletes that participated earned those wins and should not be negated when they did nothing wrong.  

I fully agree that Penn State needs to be punished.  They allowed this to happen, covered it up, and put their football program above the welfare of the young men that they should have protected.  Plain and simple.  There is a quote that I agree whole heartedly with.  "Punishing past, present and future students of the University because of Sandusky’s crimes does not serve justice. This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did.

4) The reaction of the Paterno family.  "The NCAA never contacted our family or our legal counsel."  WHAT?  You don't get a say!  Your family member committed a heinous crime, and yes, covering up sexual abuse is a crime, and you think you should have a say in the punishments handed down?  NO!  The families of the VICTIMS get a say, not you!  What in the world makes you think you have any rights here?  

5) Lastly, Jerry Sandusky abused his own child.  I understand why it took his son so long to come forward and my heart breaks for him.  And to have his abuse so publicly played out....it makes it so much harder to deal with.

I'm sure this will remain in the news for a long time and there will be plenty that will disagree with me.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Frugal Living - Kindle or Nook

OK, so for a frugal living post I'm telling you to buy something expensive?  Yep.

I bought a Kindle a little over a year ago when we moved our son to Nebraska.  I am an avid reader. I go through at least a book a week.  I have to read in order to shut my brain down at night and if I am a passenger in the car, I can't stand not having something to do.  If I'm not knitting, I'm reading.

I am also come from a family that owns a printing company, and has for the last 94 years.  Switching to an electronic media rather than a printed book was something I did begrudgingly, but now I'm thrilled I did.

I started with a basic Kindle.  My final break-down point was that when I travel I typically don't take enough books and I end up having to buy at least one book, and usually at full price.  I don't like doing that, especially since I don't re-read books.  And books are bulky and take up valuable real estate in a suitcase!

I had it for nearly a year and I loved it.  I always had enough books with me, and could simply pop it into my purse.

Here's the best part, I have never paid for a book on my Kindle.  You may not know this, but there are THOUSANDS of FREE books available to download.  Every genre is available.  If you like mysteries, romance, historical, non-fiction, cookbooks, auto biographies, the classics, you name it.

For Christmas my husband and I each got some cash and my husband decided to buy the Kindle Fire.  The Kindle pictured above simply does books and is not lighted.

The Kindle Fire is essentially a tablet, but not quite.  In addition to books, it is also full color (the one above is only black and white), has wi-fi, e-mail, can stream video, has a touch screen, it's lighted (for reading in bed with the light out - YAY) and much more.  The only thing I have found that it doesn't do is create documents, but it does allow you to open documents.

The regular Kindle retails for about $100, or less.  The Kindle Fire is about $200.

Before I left on my Mommy Time trip to Houston, I also upgraded to the Fire.  I didn't have to take my laptop along, and I still had access to everything I needed while I away from my home office.  My "old" Kindle is now going to our daughter for her birthday in September.  Just like the regular Kindle, I can throw it in my purse and have my books at my finger tips.  I currently have several hundred books loaded.  The Kindle for our daughter has about 200 books on it right now.  It will have many more by the time she gets it.  She devours books the same way I do.

So, where do you find out about free books?  If you have a Kindle you can search on Amazon.  Just type in "free Kindle books" in the search bar.  I believe you can do the same thing with a Nook.

I have also found groups that I "like" on Facebook and they post free book links several times a day.  Sometimes they are only free for a day or two, other times the links are good for a month.  The ones I use are EReader News TodayInspired Reads (Christian based books) and Free Kindle Books and Tips.  These have allowed me to load hundreds of books on both the regular Kindle and the Kindle Fire.  They also post links for Nook books as well.

Yes, the initial investment was "high", but the money I have saved, and will save long term, by not purchasing books, has paid for the price of the device many times over.  The convenience factor is an extreme bonus.  I am never without a book.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Frugal Living - Thrift Stores and Rummage Sales

I absolutely love thrift stores.  For some things they are must shop stores.

If you have infants or smaller children, absolutely check out thrift stores for clothing!  You know how fast children grow and sometimes they only get to wear things a few times.  The clothes are new or in like new condition.

Thrift stores are also a must shop if you're going through weight loss.  Who wants to pay full price for clothing they're not going to be in that long?

There are a couple of secrets to thrift store shopping.

* Look for a store close to major stores. One of the stores I shop it is just down the road from Target.  When Target has clothes they can't sell, they donate them to the thrift store.  I often find clothes that still have the tags on.

* If you're children/teens are into name brand clothing, but you don't want to pay the price, check out Plato's Closet.  They stock name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost.  College kids will often clean out their closets before packing up at the end of the school year.  This makes it a great time to the back to school shopping for your kids!

* Look for stores that benefit smaller non-profit groups.  We've heard of Goodwill and Salvation Army, but locally we have a store that benefits a Lutheran High School as well as one that benefits a humane society.  They tend to be less expensive than the "chain stores."

* Be creative when you shop.  Look at furniture and see if it's structurally sound.  If you don't like the fabric, see if it would be easy to change it, or throw a slip cover on it.  Dressers and tables can be painted, especially when you're talking about a child's room.  It makes the furniture easier to clean!

Look at this setting of table and chairs.  Things don't have to match.  You can go funky with color and style.

I'm looking for chairs to do something like this in my kitchen.  My chairs are not in good condition, and getting close to being beyond repair.

* You can also look at consignment stores where you get a percentage of the sales.  This is what I am doing with some of my daughter's clothes.  They are higher end clothing that I got at good deals, and she grows so fast that they are in like new condition.  Some stores may be picky about what they take, so be sure to check out the criteria before you take things in.

I love rummage sales for these same reasons.  You may call them yard sales, tag sales, garage sales, or some other variation, but it's the same thing.

My daughter is entering middle school in the fall.  She is at the point where the peer pressure for name brand is really starting to kick in.  I hate this part of parenting.  I hate the peer pressure, but I remember it all too well.  I didn't have the name brands and I was picked on mercilessly.

We hit a rummage sale the other day and picked up all of her tops for school for $31. We got nearly 20 tops.  These are all Gap, American Eagle, Polo, you name it.  No one will know that we didn't pay full price, and she is thrilled.  She's also a bit funky in her style (sometimes mixing patterns that make my eyes hurt) so we talked about how she could add a belt or boots or something to make a style that's all her own.  

The other day I got a shirt for myself for 90% off.  The shirt was brand new with the tags still on.  It was from a higher end store and the price was $35. I paid $3.

If you are a book lover, these are great places to pick up books.  If you go through books like I do, you don't want to pay full price.

You can also repurpose things into completely new items.  Check out this dessert stand made from old china.

Mirrors can have the frame painted.  If you love a frame but not the print in it, see if you can take the print out.

There is one thing to be cautious of, and that is baby and children's toys.  The toys may be older and not have been tested for lead paint.  I also recommend sanitizing any toys purchased, especially stuffed animals.  A quick spin through the washing machine or dishwasher, as the case may be, is certainly worth your child's safety and health.

Check out your local thrift stores, and do it with an open mind.  You never know what you might find, and the money you save is so worth it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Baking with Yeast Dough

I have a love/hate relationship with yeast dough.  I love items like bread, cinnamon rolls, and the such, but yeast dough can be so temperamental.

Don't those look heavenly?!?!?

Yesterday I discovered this fabulous recipe that is pretty much fool proof! This one is for cinnamon rolls.

9 c. flour2/3 c. sugar1 1/2 c. water - warm4 eggs, beaten1 1/2 c. milk, scalded2 tsp. salt2 pkg. yeast

By scaled milk, it means heat it until it's about 115 - 120 degrees.  This is VERY important, because that's what helps it react with the yeast.  Get a thermometer for food if you don't have one.  It will help quite a bit. 

Put flour into large Tupperware bowl. Mix other ingredients in another bowl. Make well in flour; pour in ingredients and seal lid - "burp." Let rise until lid pops off. Add 2 sticks butter (melted); mix well and seal lid - "burp." Let rise until lid pops off.

On floured board, knead lightly. Roll out. Spread butter, sugar and cinnamon. Slice into rolls. Place in greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Let rise. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Really.  That's it.  No "punching down" or greasing bowls or anything like that.  The lid really does pop off.  I didn't use a Tupperware brand bowl, but my lid still popped off.

This does make a gooier dough than a traditional kneaded dough.  It will stick to your fingers and the bowl, but it really does bake up beautifully.

If you like raisins, them in.  If you want to make raisin bread, just divide it into smaller sections and still roll it up like it does for the cinnamon roll, then place it in a loaf pan and bake.  

It is so easy.  For the first time I had no problems with baking with yeast.  

Bake on friends.  Bake on!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Tribute to a Special Young Man

I am proud to know a special young man named Dan.  I met him when I began working with his mother.  Through the years I have gotten to know Dan and what a special young man he is.

A few weeks ago he graduated high school.  This video was created by his classmates, who gave him a standing ovation when he graduated.  Unfortunately, I was in Houston attending another graduation and I missed it, but this video is wonderful.

May we all learn to love and accept these special people in our lives.

Dan is one of the many reasons that I despise the "R" word.  If you don't know it is, trust me, you hear it in every day conversation, from many age groups.  It is the word "retarded" or its variations.

The definition:  "A slowing down or hindering of progress."

That is not what I see when I see this young man.  I see a young man with a beautiful heart.  You did it Dan!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Rediscovered Gem

For the past couple of months, I have been cleaning and purging preparing for a rummage sale.  Or yard sale, or tag sale, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods.

It was an attempt to get my daughter to learn about earning money for the mission trip we are going on in a few weeks, rather than Mom and Dad just paying for everything.

While I was cleaning I re-found (is that a word?) a box of linens given to me when my husband's grandmother passed away.  This is one of the pieces.

It's  a large tablecloth, and it will actually fit our kitchen table.  When I was showing these old linens to my daughter, I discovered that this was not meant to be embroidered.

Years ago, I cross stitched tons of things, but carpal tunnel has gotten the best of me and I can no longer do it.  I knew I had these linens, but I thought I had to embroider them and that my hands couldn't handle it.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered these were meant to be painted!!

The linens are stamped with a pattern.  It even includes paint-by-number instructions. I can't paint anything, but I can handle this.  There is no date on the instructions, so I have no idea what vintage this is.

By the time I met Grandma Dorothy, she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.  The memories I do have of her are fond, and my husband speaks of his grandparents often.

Back when I first received a few of the pieces I was still able to cross stitch.  I worked on a small table cloth and finished it in early December.  The day I finished just happened to be the day Grandma Dorothy died.  I gave it to my husband's parents for Christmas with an explanation of when I started it and when I finished it.  Fortunately, she had the embroidery floss that she originally purchased for the project, so they are the same vintage as the cloths.

I feel like I have discovered this gift all over again.  The days here are quite hot, and our old home does not have air conditioning.  We don't normally have days this warm for any extended period of time.  This is a great project for these warm days, and I get joy my heart as I do it.  We will enjoy this tablecloth for years to come and my husband will tell our daughter about Grandma Dorothy as we enjoy dinners with this beneath our food.