Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hello, Kindergarten! Goodbye, Little Girl!


Today was my five-year-old's ninth day of Kindergarten. I am not ashamed to admit that watching her little body disappear into the large crowd of students entering the building was harder today than it was her first day.

She has a great teacher and is so excited to leave for school every morning. Not wanting to go to school isn't the issue. We haven't really had to deal much with seperation anxiety, and for this I am grateful. I expect this is due to the fact that she had two years of preschool at Fayette Co-operating Preschool and Kindergarten. I know her time there has made the transition to Kindergarten a lot easier for her. Too bad I didn't spend that time preparing myself!

I'm a bit of an emotional wreck this morning and slightly unsure as to why. I guess I am trying to figure out when, or should I say, how, we got to this place. I guess I am also desperately searching for a way to get back time that has gone by. I am realistic though and know that doing so is impossible.

I love the person that she is becoming and the fact that she wakes up so excited to go to school. I adore the way that she approaches each new day and I am so excited to listen as she shares with me the lessons that each day brings. But, the truth is, each morning when I walk that sweet little face to school and watch her saunter through the door and down the hall, a little piece of me dies. I know that she can't stay "Daddy's Little Girl" forever, and I have accepted that fact. (Okay, not really.) I just want to be there to protect her always and guard her innocence.

So, this morning, I tip my hat and raise my cup of coffee and box of tissues (for the cold that I am still battling) to not just my parents, but to any parent who has ever had to find their own way again after sending their first child off to Kindergarten. I know that more often than not, it is harder on us parents than it is our children.

God's love and blessings!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Because sometimes writing/typing it out is better than keeping it in.

One of my biggest fears in life is dying. Not really dying, but of dying alone. To take it a step further, I would say that I am afraid of dying alone and then after death, that my life has been so meaningless that my absence, the loss of my presence, goes unnoticed.

As of today, I have been off work for one year, six months, and a week and even though I know that my medical situation has made that necessary, it doesn't help to calm my fears that my life is/has become so meaningless to not only myself, but to so many around me. At one time, I would have never guessed that if I were ever in the situation that I am in now, that some of the folks whom I regarded very highly, and whom I would like to think I carried through some of their darkest hours would not be there for me.

LORD, I thank you for all that you have given me, for the small circle of support, both family and a few friends, who still surround me. And I beg of you, LORD, please help me to find the meaning that my life once had or help me to redefine my new meaning.

Verse of the Day

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Colossians 4:2 NLT

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Casserole


Ingredients

3 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 1/3 cups uncooked whole-grain brown rice
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, divided
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
½ cup sour cream
½ cup salsa verde
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs*, cut into ½-inch pieces

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth.

2. In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, and rice. Add hot chicken broth, 1 cup cheese, soup, sour cream, and salsa, stirring to combine. Stir in chicken. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

3. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes longer or until center is set and cheese is golden brown.

Source: Paula Deen

Verse of the Day

Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Isaiah 26:4 NLT

Friday, August 24, 2012

University of Kentucky vs. University of Louisville


Baked Macaroni & Cheese Cupcakes


Ingredients

Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups dried breadcrumbs
8 ounces small pasta such as pennette, shells, or elbows
8 ounces ground turkey or chicken, preferably dark meat
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1½ cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cups chopped broccoli, blanched, see Cook's Note
1 pound asparagus, cut into ¾-inch pieces, blanched

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 12-cup muffin or cupcake pans with vegetable cooking spray. Using 1 cup of breadcrumbs, coat the inside of each muffin cup with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, or chicken, if using, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until cooked through.Setaside and cover to keep warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add the cooked turkeyandthe cheeses.Seasonwithsalt and pepper to taste. Spoon the prepared pasta mixture into the cupcake molds, filling evenly to about 2/3 full. Place a few pieces of tomato, broccoli and asparagus in each cup. Top with a thin layer of the remaining breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully unmold with a spoon.

Cook's Notes:

To blanch vegetables, bring a large saucepanofsaltedwatertoa boil.Addthe vegetables and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until verycrisp. Using a smallstrainer, remove the vegetables and place immediately into a bowl of iced water. Drain and use.

Source: Giada de Laurentiis

10 Smart Rules for Giving Negative Feedback

Praising good performance is easy, but what about those times when someone on your team needs a kick in the butt more than a pat on the back?

In that case, you’ll need to give some negative feedback–and do it without demotivating or demoralizing the other person. This post explains exactly how to do this.

Before we get started, though, it’s important to remember that the goal of feedback isnot to tell people what to do or how to do it. That’s mistaking the process for the goal.

The actual goal of feedback–even negative feedback–is to improve the behavior of the other person to bring out the best in your entire organization.

With that in mind, here are the 10 rules:

1. Make negative feedback unusual.

When a work environment becomes filled with criticism and complaint, people stop caring, because they know that–whatever they do–they’ll get raked over the coals. “I try to give seven positive reinforcements for every negative comment,” says Dan Cerutti, a general manager at IBM.

2. Don’t stockpile negative feedback.

Changes in behavior are more easily achieved when negative feedback is administered in small doses. When managers stockpile problems, waiting for the “right moment,” employees can easily become overwhelmed.

“Feedback is best given real time, or immediately after the fact,” explains management coach Kate Ludeman.

3. Never use feedback to vent.

Sure, your job is frustrating–but although it might make you feel better to get your own worries and insecurities off your chest, venting a string of criticisms seldom produces improved behavior. In fact, it usually creates resentment and passive resistance.

4. Don’t email negative feedback.

People who avoid confrontation are often tempted use email as a vehicle for negative feedback. Don’t.

“That’s like lobbing hand grenades over a wall,” says legendary electronic publishing guru Jonathan Seybold. “Email is more easily misconstrued, and when messages are copied, it brings other people into the fray.”

5. Start with an honest compliment.

Compliments start a feedback session on the right footing, according to according to management consultant Sally Narodick and current board member at the supercomputer company Cray. ”Effective feedback focuses on the positive while still identifying areas for further growth and better outcomes.”

6. Uncover the root of the problem.

You can give better feedback if you understand how the other person perceives the original situation. Asking questions such as, “Why do you approach this situation in this way?” or “What was your thought process?” not only provides you perspective, but it can lead other people to discover their own solutions and their own insights.

7. Listen before you speak.

Most people can’t learn unless they first feel that they’ve been heard out. Effective feedback “means paying attention and giving high-quality feedback from an empathic place, stepping into the other person’s shoes, appreciating his or her experience, and helping to move that person into a learning mode,” says Ludeman.

8. Ask questions that drive self-evaluation.

Much of the time, people know where they’re having problems and may even have good ideas about how to improve. Asking questions such as “How could we have done better?” and “What do you think could use improvement?” involves the other person in building a shared plan.

9. Coach the behaviors you would like to see.

Negative feedback is useless without a model for how to do better. But simply telling the other person what to do or how to do it is usually a waste of time.

Instead, use this tried-and-true coaching method, which is based upon what top sports coaches do.

10. Be willing to accept feedback, too.

If you truly believe that negative feedback can improve performance, then you should be willing to accept it as well as provide it. In fact, few things are more valuable to managers than honest feedback from employees. It’s to be treasured rather than discouraged or ignored.

Source: Time

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Verse of the Day

O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 62:8 NLT

Chili Dogs


Ingredients

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup Paula Deen’s Southern Chili Spice
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 onions, chopped
1 lb hot bulk sausage
3 lb ground chuck

For the Texas-Style Chili:

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 hot dog buns
4 hot dogs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, chopped
3 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans

Directions

Using a Dutch oven, combine the ground chuck, sausage, onions, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned, stirring the meat to break it up as it cooks. Drain the pan drippings. Stir in the chili powder, flour, sugar, oregano, salt, and stir well. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and beans, and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat a grill. Butterfly, or gently slice hot dogs lengthwise, making sure not to cut all the way through. Grill hot dogs until done, approximately 5 minutes. Place the buns on the grill to warm them. Place hot dogs in the bun. Put the hot dog on the plate with split side facing up. Ladle chili over and top with cheese.

Source: Paula Deen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Corn Casserole


Ingredients

1 (15¼-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1½ cups shredded Cheddar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Source: Paula Deen

Verse of the Day

Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.

Proverbs 16:20 NLT

Monday, August 20, 2012

Verse of the Day

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

Psalm 13:5 NLT

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans


Ingredients

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 onion, chopped
4 cup water
½ lb. ham hocks
1 lb dry pinto beans
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Paula Deen’s House Seasoning to taste

Directions

Wash the beans and soak overnight in cold water. Drain the beans and dump into slow cooker. Stir in chili powder and oregano.

Pre-soak ham in a separate pot, for between 2 and 24 hours, depending on how salty you want your stock to be. Add ham-hock to slow cooker with beans and pour in ham stock into. Add more water until ham hock is completely covered.

Finish by adding onion to slow cooker with beans and meat. Stir well. Season to taste with House Seasoning, cover the pot, and cook on high for 5 hours.

Source: Paula Deen

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coffee Ice Cream Pie


Ingredients:

2 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares
¼ cup butter, cubed
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
½ cup sugar
1 pint coffee ice cream, softened
1 (8 inch) chocolate crumb crusts
1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
¼ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Melt chocolate and butter. Stir in milk and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Spoon ice cream into crust. Stir sauce and spread over ice cream. Top with whipped topping and sprinkle with pecans. Freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Source: FOOD.com

Friday, August 17, 2012

Don't have a payment? You should rent, too.

When a person arrives at the point in their life where they desire home ownership, that person often doesn’t have 20% of the cost of the house they’re eyeing.

In our area, for example, a nice, recently-built family home with several bedrooms will set you back at least $150,000. 20% of that is $30,000. For many people who are recent college graduates and are facing student loans, car loans, an entry-level salary, and the difficulty of adapting to adulthood, $30,000 in the bank seems like an imposing goal. In other areas, that amount can be quite a bit higher.

The itch for home ownership often comes from living in an apartment (or something similar) and realizing that the place is a little small for the family you want to have – and perhaps not the most family-friendly place, either. I remember the apartment building I lived in during my late college years. There were a few families there, but there were also apartments full of partying college students who would blast their music at two in the morning and sometimes party to excess. The police were called more than a few times (not on me, thankfully, but on my neighbors more than once).

That’s the situation a lot of people find themselves in. They’re realizing the value in finding a better place to live, but they don’t have the financial means. The solution, as promoted by their parents and relatives and countless publications and programs, is to go buy a home. That’s the American Dream, after all.

The problem is that if you don’t have enough money for a down payment, you’re going to lose a lot of money.

When you ask a bank for a home loan, they’re going to want to see that you’re serious about the loan. One way they do that is by asking for a down payment. They want to see that you have the financial stability to come up with 20% of the value of the home.

If you can’t do that, you look a little risky to the bank. They’re going to want some insurance against the possibility that you’re going to be unable to pay back this loan. It’s going to be up to you to pay for that insurance.

PMI – or private mortgage insurance – is required by most lenders for loans exceeding 80% of the value of a home. PMI can vary a lot, but it usually comes in at a cost of about 0.5% to 1% of the value of the home per year. So, if you’re borrowing to buy a $200,000 home, you’ll be paying an extra $1,000 to $2,000 a year in PMI. Usually, that’s rolled into your monthly mortgage payment, so you’d be paying an extra $80 to $160 a month.

What do you get out of that? Nothing at all other than the “privilege” of being able to borrow without a down payment.

You don’t have to pay for PMI forever – just until you’ve built up 20% equity in your home. Of course, if you’re borrowing the full amount and making minimum payments, you’re going to be paying the PMI for something around twelve years on a thirty year mortgage.

Your other option, of course, is to get a home equity loan to cover your down payment. So, you get a normal mortgage that covers 80% of the value of the home, and you get a home equity loan that covers whatever else you need. The only problem is that the home equity loan will likely have a higher interest rate and it will also have its own closing costs.

In either case, there’s a significant extra cost to buying a home when you don’t have a 20% down payment. The bank will lend the money to you, but it will cost you.

Don’t get tempted into diving into home ownership without a down payment. If you feel like you need a better place to live but you don’t have the down payment, look for a better rental situation. Don’t start diving into the real estate pages unless you have enough money in the bank to secure the best possible deal for yourself.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Herb Ricotta


Ingredients

½ cup ricotta
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 small clove garlic, grated or chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
A few leaves basil, chopped
A couple sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
4 small pieces skinless, boneless chicken breast, butterflied
EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
A splash of white wine
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF. In a bowl, season the ricotta with salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic, parsley, basil and thyme. Place some of the ricotta mixture on each butterflied piece of chicken and fold the breast over. Drizzle with EVOO and wrap with prosciutto.

Heat an ovenproof skillet with a drizzle of EVOO. Add the chicken bundles and brown over medium-high heat, turning once, for 4-6 minutes. Transfer to the oven to cook through, 12-15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and deglaze the pan with wine. Swirl in the butter. Spoon the sauce over the chicken to serve.

Verse of the Day

There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

James 2:13 NLT

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mattell Commissions First Ever "Drag Queen" Barbie


Over the years Barbie has done alot of things. Everyone’s favorite leggy plastic glamor girl has been a doctor, an astronaut, a Dutch national, and now: a man –a drag queen to be exact. Underground design duo The Blonds has unveiled the first ever gender bending Barbie, commissioned by Mattel, that will be hitting stores in December. This isn’t the only time the flashy pair and the toy megalogiant have crossed paths. In 2009, The Blonds (Phillipe and David Blond) were tapped by Mattel to create looks for Barbie’s 50th birthday fashion show.

While we’re hard pressed to see the difference between this drag queen Barbie and a regular Barbie (isn’t big hair, loud makeup, and over-the-top dressing her hallmark signature?), we can definitely see this collector’s edition winding up under John Waters’ tree this Christmas. Though a tad pricier than most Barbies ($125, which is actually a bargain for a collector’s edition), the gender stereotype defying doll will be adorned in a white faux-fur coat, and a mini version of the jeweled corset dress from the Blonds’ “Blond Legends” fall 2008 collection.

The Blonds Blond Diamond doll will be exclusively available for pre-order at Barbiecollector.com, but if you hope to be able to snag one for yourself I wouldn’t wait any longer to put in an order.

While the doll is certainly a progressive step for the company, we can’t help but wonder how else they could use the iconic doll to push traditional gender rolls into the 21st century? With gay marriage such a hot button issue in America right now, it would be interesting to see how the company might tackle a line of same-sex loving Ken or Barbie’s, especially seeing how popular the line is with the LGBT community. While only the future holds the answer, be sure to check back with Barbie in the coming year for more splashy collaborations.

Source: Slate

Why Gen Y Loves Restaurants – And Restaurants Love Them Even More

We’ve all heard that young people in America today are very likely to have loads of student loan debt, relatively little cash to spend, and roommates they know as “Mom” and “Dad.” Interestingly, despite their strapped financial situations, millennials are also more likely than other generations to dine out at upscale restaurants on a regular basis.

According to a new report from the research firm Technomic, 42% of millennials say they visit “upscale casual-dining restaurants” at least once a month. That’s a higher percentage than Gen X (33%) and Baby Boomers (24%) who go to such restaurants once or more monthly, despite the fact that older generations earn more than Gen Y, by and large. Then again, members of Gen Y probably don’t have as many expenses as their older counterparts, who are more likely to have mortgages, multiple car payments, young children, and perhaps older children who have moved back in with them after college or a layoff. Older people have also obviously had more time (and reason) in life to learn how to cook.

The data gibes with the eye-opening New York magazine’s feature published earlier this year about the rise of foodie culture among the young, in particularly among the hipster youth in Brooklyn. The story’s headline – “When Did Young People Start Spending 25% of Their Paychecks on Pickled Lamb’s Tongues?” – pretty much says it all.

Previous studies have shown that millennials are more likely to make impulse buys on little splurges for themselves, and going out to eat at a nice restaurant would seem to fit in the category. Nonetheless, millennials aren’t necessarily spendthrifts when it comes to dining out. As a group, Gen Y is the most likely to be drawn to deals, with 43% saying they are influenced by coupons and discounts when choosing where to eat. They also seem to prefer combo meals more than older groups.

Of course, if saving money was truly the main concern among millennials, they’d be better off staying home and learning to cook. (Having one’s own kitchen would help.) The preference for combo meals is noteworthy too, for their popularity is waning as customers realize fast-food dollar menus are better deals.

It seems as if part of the reason Gen Y is so comfortable heading out to restaurants regularly is that they’re more optimistic than most about their finances. Half of millennials expect their personal financial situation to get better in the coming year, compared to just 38% overall. Perhaps, though, Gen Y’s “optimism” is rooted in the idea that, considering how bad things have been for them in terms of the jobs market and the economy overall, they’re bound to get better.

In any event, if you’re confident your finances will improve in the near future, that’s something worth celebrating—perhaps over a meal at a nice restaurant with friends?

Source: Time

Verse of the Day

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12 NLT

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Disney Is 'Face Cloning' People to Create Terrifyingly Realistic Robots



The Hall of Presidents is about to get a whole lot creepier, at least if Disney’s researchers get their way. That’s because they’re “face cloning” people at a lab in Zurich in order to create the most realistic animatronic characters ever made.

First of all, yes, Disney has a laboratory in Zurich. It’s one of six around the world where the company researches things like computer graphics, 3D technology and, I can only assume, how to most efficiently suck money out of your pocket when you visit Disneyworld.

What does “physical face cloning” involve? Researchers used video cameras to capture several expressions on a subject’s face, recreating them in 3D computer models down to individual wrinkles and facial hair. They then experimented with different thicknesses of silicon for each part of the face until they could create a mold for the perfect synthetic skin.

They slapped that silicone skin on a 3D-printed model of the subject’s head to create their very own replicant. As the authors of the study point out (PDF), it’s not all that different from creating a 3D model for a Pixar movie, except that in real life you have to worry about things like materials and the motors that make the face change expressions.

The plan is to develop a “complete process for automating the physical reproduction of a human face on an animatronics device,” meaning all you’ll have to do in the future is record a person’s face and the computer will do the rest. This is a different process than the one used to make the famous Geminoid robots from Osaka University, whose skin is individually crafted by artists through trial and error.

The next step is developing more advanced actuators and multi-layered synthetic skin to give the researchers more degrees of freedom in mimicking facial expressions. That means next time you go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, don’t be surprised to see a terrifyingly realistic Johnny Depp-bot cavorting with an appropriately dead-eyed Orlando Bloom.

Source: Time (via Techland)

"Me Without You" by TobyMac


Verse of the Day

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7 NLT

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Math Nerds Rejoice As U.S. Population Hits 314.159 Million

From the department of utterly meaningless yet charmingly geeky milestones (it’s a larger department than you might think) comes word that the United States’ population on Tuesday hit 314,159,265, according to the Census Bureau’s population clock. As all math geeks know, that’s pi times 10 to the eighth, rounded to the nearest whole number.

Pi, for those who have forgotten or repressed their middle-school geometry lessons, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The census bureau, bless its heart, saw fit to put out a brief news release marking the occasion. It reported that we reached the milestone shortly after 2:29 p.m. eastern today. The timing is not precise, since the population clock is an estimate rather than an exact count. (It assumes one birth every eight seconds, one death every 14 seconds, and one net migrant every 46 seconds.) But pi is an irrational number anyway, so who cares.

"This is a once-in-many-generations event… so go out and celebrate this American pi," Census Bureau Chief Demographer Howard Hogan said, probably not off-the-cuff.

What other statistical serendipities should we be on the lookout for in the coming years? God help us if our population ever hits Avogadro’s number…

Source: Slate

"Good Morning" by Mandisa featuring TobyMac

Verse of the Day

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 NLT

Southern Fried Chicken


Ingredients

3 eggs
1/3 cup water
About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce (recommended: Texas Pete)
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon pepper
House seasoning, recipe follows
1 (1 to 2½ pound) chicken, cut into pieces
Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil

Directions

In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Season the chicken with the house seasoning. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat well in the flour mixture.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.

Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer then white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes.

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Source: Paula Deen

Monday, August 13, 2012

8 Tips for a Healthy School Year


In those busy weeks before the first day of school, many parents sandwich a quick visit to the doctor for their child between clothes-shopping trips and last-minute runs for school supplies. And, of course, that's all happening while your family is trying to soak up the last days of summer. However, pediatricians say there's more to getting your child healthy and ready for school than just filling out medical forms and scheduling booster shots. To give your children the best possible launch, you need to take a look at their overall health and start now to get them physically ready to meet all the challenges of a new school year.

1. Getting Enough ZZZ's

By far, the most important school health issue for most kids is getting enough sleep  --about 10 to 11 hours a night for elementary school-age children. That sounds simple, but the trouble is, it's not always easy to make your child's sleep patterns mesh with his new school schedule.

When parents work late, children's bedtimes often get pushed back to create a window of family time. How can you argue with that? But to make sure your child can make it through the day without dozing at his desk, night-owl families need to start gradually shifting their schedules a few weeks before school starts, advises Donald Schiff, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "You can't wait and say, 'Oh, my gosh, we start school tomorrow. You have to get to bed early tonight.' "

Don't be surprised if your child comes home from school exhausted, especially in the first few weeks, says Greg Prazar, M.D., a pediatrician in Exeter, NH. "It's a huge adjustment for children," he says. "Lots of kids will need a nap after school to help them revive." If your child doesn't want to sleep, settle for 30 to 45 minutes of quiet time  --with no television.

2. Testing Eyes and Ears

You can't expect a child to learn if she's having trouble seeing the blackboard or hearing the teacher. So have your pediatrician screen for vision and hearing problems during your child's back-to-school checkup.

"If your pediatrician does not have the equipment for visual and hearing screening, you're not getting a complete assessment," says David A. Cimino, M.D., director of adolescent medicine at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. "Parents ought to insist on that." Some pediatricians prefer to send patients to ophthalmologists and audiologists for more sophisticated eye and ear checks. (Don't try to cut corners by going to a local chain  --their quick tests may miss important development problems in young children.) Make a note to ask your doctor what type of screening she recommends, then be certain to get it done long before school starts.

Remember: You can't assume your child has 20/20 vision just because he never complains about not being able to see; children with vision problems may not realize the world isn't blurry to everybody else. If your child often has headaches, tilts his head to one side to read schoolwork, or holds objects unusually close or far away to view them, it could be a sign he has a vision problem.

3. Lunchtime!

You may be planning healthy, well-balanced lunches to pack in your child's shiny new Pokemon lunchbox. Just don't be surprised if those turkey sandwiches and carrot sticks come back untouched. Eating in new surroundings and under tight time constraints can make some children's appetites evaporate.

Don't worry too much if your child only nibbles on lunch at school, Dr. Prazar says. Instead, focus on providing a protein-filled breakfast. "It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it has some protein. It makes a real difference in your child's energy level." With a little bit of fat and fiber from complex carbohydrates, your child will be ready to start the day. You should also take time to eat breakfast with your children, Dr. Prazar adds. "I know it's tough, but parents are the most important role models. Why would your kid eat breakfast if you don't?"

It's a good idea to lay down some nutrition rules before your child heads into the lunchroom. Otherwise, he may end up trading his healthy lunch for a short stack of Twinkies. "Parents ought to know what their kids are eating at school  --so ask them," says Dr. Cimino.

4. Bathroom Break

Adjusting to classroom life can be overwhelming for a child who's a little embarrassed about asking to go to the bathroom, and there's nothing more humiliating than an "accident" at school. To help your child avoid any problems, have a talk ahead of time about school bathroom rules  --taking breaks as scheduled, and raising your hand for permission to leave the room.

If you think your child may have wetting problems in school, take preemptive action, Cimino advises. Before school starts, schedule regular bathroom breaks during the day, so your child gets used to going when directed. It's also a good idea to talk with the teacher before that stressful first day of school.

5. Scrub-a-Dub-Dub

The first day of school brings new friends, new activities  --and a bunch of new germs. That's why good hand-washing habits are critical for school-age children. Children (like adults) need to wash their hands after they go to the bathroom and before they eat. "Kids hate to wash their hands, but they can understand that germs can be bad for us," Schiff says.

If your child rockets out of the bathroom without stopping at the sink, consider sending her to school with a packet of antibacterial wipes. They're not as effective as soap and water, but they may have more appeal for young children. (You can also check how many towels are left at the end of the day, to see whether your child is really using them.)

6. Calling in Sick

No matter how much you emphasize personal hygiene, your child is bound to get a cold during the school year. To make the first morning your child wakes up with the sniffles easier, study in advance a copy of your school's guidelines on when to keep a sickly child at home. "Don't wait until your child's first illness," says Linda J. Rufer, M.D., a pediatrician in Chicago. If you're not at home during the day, you'll need to prepare a battle plan to provide reliable backup child care for unexpected sick days.

7. Stay Safe

When a child starts school, it's often the first time he's out from under your watchful eye for any length of time. So it's important to review basic safety rules. If your child will be walking to school, go over the route together ahead of time to check out possible hazards, such as busy streets. Don't let a young child walk to school alone, and don't expect a slightly older brother or sister to provide adequate safety supervision, Dr. Schiff says. "There are just too many distractions for 7-, 8-, and 9-year-olds," he adds. "Their ability to take responsibility is limited."

In carpools, seat belts should be a given, but remember to check out other drivers' safety standards well ahead of time. For safe bus trips, tell your child to stay seated quietly while the bus is in motion. If you can't take your child to the bus stop, arrange for an adult or responsible child to get him on and off the bus safely.

To protect your child from strangers, avoid writing her name on the outside of her backpack or jacket. However, Prazar warns against overstating the risks of child-directed crime, so you don't make your child too scared. "Some parents obsess about it," he says. "Talk about it with your child once at the beginning of every year, and that should do it."

8. Get Moving

As your child blasts through the backyard like a whirlwind or jumps across the sofa-turned-lava pit, making sure she gets enough exercise may seem like the least of your worries. But once she enters school, she'll be spending most of her day sitting at a desk  --and you can't assume that recess and gym class are giving her all the daily activity she needs to stay healthy and happy.

"Kids need 20 to 30 minutes of regular, nonstop exercise a day," Dr. Prazar says. Physical education classes and after-school sports may not be enough. "At softball or in gym class, most kids are standing around, waiting for the ball to come to them," he adds. Plan weekly bike rides and nature walks, and your whole family will benefit.

Source: Parenting

Fresh Corn Salad


Ingredients

5 ears corn, shucked
½ cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for
seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Verse of the Day

Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.

Deuteronomy 8:5 NLT

English Pea Salad


Ingredients

4 slices bacon
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let cool.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the bacon, peas, cheese, and eggs. Stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cheesy Zucchini Rice


Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of milk, as needed

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat. Toast the rice, stirring often, just until it starts to turn golden. Pour in the chicken broth, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and cover. Cook, covered, for 15 - 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the butter, grated zucchini, cheddar, and garlic powder. Stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir again and add salt and pepper to taste and a splash of milk if you'd like to thin out the texture a little bit.

Verse of the Day

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NLT

Friday, August 10, 2012

Simple S’mores Bars


Ingredients:

1½ cups teddy bear shaped graham cracker cookies
1½ cups miniature marshmallows
1½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup brown sugar
1 (quart) mason jar

Directions

Layer all ingredients in the mason jar and attach an instruction label that reads:

“Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare a 9” square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour contents of the jar along with ½ cup melted butter into the prepared baking dish and press firmly. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Cut into bars."

Credit: Paula Deen

1873 Dime costs a pretty penny: Nearly $2 million

A dime made in 1873 has cost someone a pretty penny: It sold for nearly $2 million at an auction in Philadelphia.

The unique coin was minted in Carson City, Nev., during a one-day run of dimes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the anonymous winning bidder paid $1.6 million for the pristine coin, plus a 15 percent buyer's fee.

The 1873-CC "No Arrows" Liberty Seated dime was auctioned during a convention of the American Numismatic Association.

It's part of the Battle Born Collection, which contained one of every coin minted in Carson City before the facility closed in 1893.

All 111 pieces were parceled off Thursday night, fetching a total of nearly $10 million.

Source: Associated Press

Verse of the Day

My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.

Job 4:8 NLT

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Verse of the Day

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:7 NLT

Zucchini Bread


Ingredients

2 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup water
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1½ teaspoon salt
3¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice.

Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 6 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Source: Paula Deen

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tax-exempt Olympic medals? That's silly.

President Obama and conservative GOP senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) agree: Olympic medals and the cash awards that go with them should be tax-exempt. This is the dumbest idea of the summer—and in our overheated campaign season, that’s saying something.

The idea seems to have originated with anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist. Rubio instantly turned Norquist’s press release into a bill. By yesterday, Obama had his spokesman join in the pandering, perhaps hoping that a bit of the game’s nationalistic enthusiasm would rub off of his presidential campaign.

What’s going on here? U.S. athletes who win their competitions get two forms of direct compensation. First, of course, is their medal—gold, silver, or bronze. The commodity value of the hardware is very modest, ranging from perhaps $700 for gold to about $5 for bronze. Second, the U.S. Olympic Committee (not the U.S. government) pays a cash bonus of $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. Those winnings are taxable just like any other income. The Rubio bill would make them tax-exempt. If you want to know more, PolitiFact has a nice, more detailed description.

I suspect much of the support for this silly idea is based on the mostly-outdated myth of the self-sacrificing amateur athlete who gives up all in the Olympic spirit. Chariots of Fire and all that.

But the dons who run the Olympics have let professionals compete for more than 40 years. As a result, many of those who would benefit from this tax cut are as far from amateurs as one could imagine.  LeBron James, for instance, made $57 million last year in salary and endorsements. Kobe Bryant made $52 million. Michael Phelps made $10 million. Does BronBron really need an $8,700 tax cut? Seriously?

And even those winners who have not yet cashed in will do so soon enough. As Gabby Douglas is about to learn, a gold medal and a nice smile is worth untold bucks on Madison Ave.

Are there still U.S. athletes who compete for the love of their sport, and make great personal and financial sacrifices to participate in the Olympics? Absolutely.  Many medal-quality athletes now have sponsors who pay most of their expenses but some, especially those in minor sports, must work temporary or part-time jobs to pay the rent while training.

The thing is, those self-sacrificing athletes won’t be helped very much by this new bill. A single person whose only income is her $25,000 cash award and who has no deductions would owe about $1,900 in federal income tax. But, of course, a world-class athlete would likely have many deductible expenses—for coaching, travel, equipment and the like. It is not unreasonable to suspect that in the real world, many of those low-income non-professional athletes already owe little or no tax on their Olympic cash bonus.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Olympics is big business. Paying athletes performance bonuses for winning medals is no less commercial than anything else the Olympic bosses do. But why this extra cash should be tax-free escapes me. At least hedge fund operators have to pay capital gains taxes on their bonuses.

As my colleague Eric Toder reminds me, there once was a time when this sort of special tax treatment was slipped into revenue bills by high-paid lobbyists in the dark of night. Now, the code has been so corrupted that pols propose this junk without even being asked. For that, I suppose, they deserve the gold medal of stupid tax tricks.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Verse of the Day

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Philippians 4:6 NLT

Monday, August 6, 2012

Banana Split Pie


Ingredients

3 cups light vanilla ice cream
1½ cups sliced strawberries
2 cups fat-free whipped topping, thawed from frozen
One 60-calorie sugar-free chocolate pudding snack
2 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons light chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon crushed dry-roasted peanuts
8 maraschino cherries

Directions

Set out all of your ingredients so your ice cream doesn't melt too much once you start assembling.

Once slightly softened, scoop ice cream into a large pie pan and spread into an even layer along the bottom. Evenly place strawberry slices flat over the ice cream, pressing down lightly so they adhere.

Put whipped topping in a bowl. Add pudding and mix thoroughly. Spread pudding/topping mixture into a smooth layer over the strawberries. Evenly place banana slices flat over this layer, and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Sprinkle with nuts and evenly place the cherries on top of the pie. Freeze for about 4 hours (or overnight), until completely firm.

Allow the pie to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing. Cut into 8 slices and enjoy!

Source: CookingChannelTV.com

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Verse of the Day

For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God.

Psalm 38:15 NLT

Lemon-Baked Cod


Ingredients:

1 lb cod fish fillet
¼ cup butter or ¼ cup margarine, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
paprika

Directions:

If fish fillets are large, cut into serving pieces. Mix butter and lemon juice. In another bowl, mix flour, salt and white pepper. Dip fish into butter mixture; coat fish with flour mixture. Place fish in ungreased square baking dish, 8x8x2 inches. Pour remaining butter mixture over fish; sprinkle with paprika. Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until fish flakes easily with fork, 25-30 minutes. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon slices if desired.

Source: Food.com

Americans miss the best of the Games


If you've been mesmerized by the drama, like millions of other viewers watching coverage of the Olympic Games, you have heard the most heroic, inspirational stories of athletes reaching the pinnacle of international competition. Or, at least you think you have.

The truth is American viewers are missing out on the best of the Games.

Coverage of the Olympics in the United States understandably focuses on American athletes. That is as it should be, but not to this degree. By concentrating mainly on Americans' stories, the NBC network is depriving U.S. viewers of some of the most fascinating, moving and exciting aspects of the Olympics.

How much have you heard, for example, about Guor Marial, who marched in the opening ceremony under the banner of "Independent Olympic Athletes"?

Marial became a marathoner after running for his life since he was a young boy in Sudan, growing up in the middle of one of the deadliest wars of the 20th century. He learned to run as he fought to escape from those who killed his siblings and relatives and later kidnapped and enslaved him. Imagine such a story of tragedy and redemption, from slavery to triumph.

His life is a most unbelievable odyssey, culminating at the Olympic Games. His parents live in a village with no electricity or running water. He hasn't spoken to them in years and hopes someone will get word to them to try to get to a television to watch their son.

It's fine to cheer for the Americans, but how about a cheer for Marial? There's one who deserves to become a star -- and one who should have NBC's cameras following him.

His is not the only fascinating story at these Games.

American viewers are interested in the performances of American competitors. There's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with NBC producers offering profiles, even fawning ones, of the hometown athletes. But the U.S. public is missing out on what truly makes the Olympics special.

The only time network viewers hear about other athletes, it seems, is when there are suspicions of doping or other violations, which could potentially help Americans. It would seem the rest of the world is there only to serve as the rivals Americans require to conquer the podium.

No question, the United States has brilliant, talented, exciting competitors; everyone wants to see them. But in hundreds of hours of coverage, there should be room in the spotlight, time in the schedule, for the rest of the world.

In NBC's telling, it's all about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, about American gymnasts and swimmers, and soon enough about American track stars and, ultimately, about crowning the few who will grace the Wheaties box, who will sell us Subway sandwiches and Gatorade, Nike sneakers and Snickers chocolate bars.

It's about manufacturing heroes because, in a truth we all know, too much of it is about making money.

Behind the cynicism and the commercialism, however, the Games really do have the power to inspire. There truly is a history of toil and drama behind every athlete. That's because the Olympics are full of heroes, but they're hardly all Americans. (Although a remarkable number of them do make their home in the United States.)

Every athlete has a story, and there are almost 15,000 athletes at London 2012.

In addition to the rivalries at the pool and the very touching images of U.S. athletes' parents suffering and celebrating in the stands, we would all gain from hearing more about, say, Tahmina Kohistani, the lone woman in the Afghan delegation, who endured threats and taunts to keep her out of the Games. Because some people in some countries, including hers, are convinced that sports are no place for women. In Afghanistan, people have been killed for helping girls learn to read and write.

Kohistani deserves a gold medal just for making it to the Games.

Criticism of NBC's U.S.-centric coverage of the Olympics is nothing new. Overly nationalistic narratives and neglect of non-Americans are chronic problems, which attract attention every time the Olympics roll around. From the veteran sports writer Frank Deford to everyday viewers, many complain. As one blogger says, "Watching the Olympics in the U.S. is no fun because the only thing you can watch is Americans winning."

American viewers, I have no doubt, would cherish the opportunity to learn more about the first women to compete for Saudi Arabia, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Sarah Attar, who represent a country where women are not only banned from participating in sports, they're even banned from watching sports events in major stadiums.

The Olympics would have given NBC an unparalleled chance to receive permission for a glimpse into the secretive North Korea. We could have learned about the mysteries of training in the Hermit Kingdom for the two North Korean medal-winning weightlifters, Kim Un Guk and Om Yun Chol.

Learning about how many hundreds of hours Lochte spent at the pool, or how many pairs of shoes he has in his collection is fine. But just think what more we could be discovering.

Does it have to be this way? Is NBC just doing what viewers want? I don't think so. I believe Americans would relish the opportunity to find out about many other fascinating individuals competing at the Games.

During my days at CNN, politics caused the United States and the Soviet Union to boycott each others' Olympics. CNN founder Ted Turner, my former boss, decided to create his own Olympics, staging the Goodwill Games over a span of 16 years. CNN producers and camera crews traveled the world to produce profiles of the men and women who would participate in Ted's most excellent sports adventure. The profiles were unforgettable.

Americans may be missing out on some of the best of the Games. Fortunately, the rest of the world is not. As Afghanistan's Kohistani said, "there are a lot of Afghan girls and women [who are] watching me and they hope that one day they shall be [in my place]. And I am going to open a new way for the women of Afghanistan."

One day, perhaps, Americans, too, will have the opportunity to gain inspiration from athletes like her, whose journey deserves more attention, even if she does not compete for the USA.

Source: Frida Ghitis, CNN

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bobby's Lighter Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint


Ingredients:

Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (4-pound) seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks  
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese (did not use lowfat)

Directions

To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl. Combine the watermelon, shallot, mint, and basil in a large bowl. Lightly toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with the feta; serve immediately or chill up to 1 hour before serving.

Source: Bobby Deen, PaulaDeen.com

Enough with the Black Hair Obsession; Focus on What Matters: GABBY WON!


I learned of Gabby Douglas’s win on Facebook. But just a few posts down, I also learned about the derogatory comments about her hair. Yes, her hair! What a shame. The first African American female to win Olympic gold in the all-round gymnastics competition gets attacked online for her hairstyle.

Really?

Maybe you have read the negative comments online or maybe you haven’t. Needless to say, some people have nothing better to do than to demean others on social media.

I consider Gabby Douglas to be a role-model for young girls everywhere. Not only is she a gold medalist, but she’s also a young woman of faith. I’m sure I was just one of millions of people who heard her say she meditates on scripture to calm her nerves. If that’s not enough, she’s articulate, poised, and gracious –always giving her teammates props and deflecting the spotlight off of herself. I can’t wait to see her biography in the children’s section of the bookstore one day. Gabby Douglass will be on the cover, and I will purchase it for my daughter.

I know we don’t know her personal life, but the positive image she has portrayed on television for an entire week, should be enough for us to stop obsessing over her hair and to start celebrating her accomplishments. It’s time for us to focus on what really matters.

What matters is that we see what commitment and discipline will get you in life.

What matters is that other black girls can see someone who looks like them on prime time television , namely someone who isn’t cursing, shaking her rear-end, or fighting in the streets.

What matters is that Gabby Douglass broke the color barrier in world class sport.

Those things matter, not hair.

Sadly, people complain about disgraceful reality television shows that perpetuate stereotypes and promote negativity. But, when the true reality of a beautiful and successful young black woman graces our television screens, instead of celebrating her, we judge her.

A part of me hopes that Gabby doesn’t read the comments. But even if she does, I don’t think they would phase her. She’s already proven that in the face of opposition (and competition), she’s secure in her faith and confident in her ability to beat the odds.

Congratulations Gabby. We are proud of you!!!

Source: Black and Married With Kids

Verse of the Day

Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.

Proverbs 18:13 NLT

Thursday, August 2, 2012

GOP Lawmaker: Contraception Mandate Like 9/11, Pearl Harbor Attacks

As of Aug. 1 most employers in the United States are mandated to cover contraception without co-pay, so some legislators are doing the reasonable thing: comparing the requirement to acts of terrorism. 

Freshman Republican Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania called the policy an "attack on religious freedom," saying that Aug. 1 would be a date remembered along with 9/11 and the Dec. 7 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican, claimed the measure reintroduced "anti-Catholic bigotry" to American life.

Though churches and houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, 24 lawsuits have been filed against it, and it remains one of the most contentious aspects of President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act. 

Calling the contraception mandate an act of war on America may win support from religious conservatives, but GOP men may also be opening another can of worms ... accusations they are waging a war on women. 

Source: Slate Magazine

Verse of the Day

I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.

Psalm 120:1 NLT

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Michael Phelps wins 19th medal


Michael Phelps lingered on the blocks, not wanting to make another shocking blunder. The 19th medal was his. All he had to do was avoid a DQ, then set off on what amounted to four victory laps.
Down and back, then down and back again, the roars getting louder with each stroke.

When Phelps touched the wall, he finally had gold at his final Olympics.

And a record for the ages.

Phelps swam into history with a lot of help from his friends, taking down the last major record that wasn't his alone. He took the anchor leg for the United States in a gold medal-winning performance of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night, earning the 19th Olympic medal of his brilliant career, and the 15th gold.

A more appropriate color.

"I've put my mind to doing something that nobody had ever done before," Phelps said. "This has been an amazing ride."

About an hour earlier, Phelps took one of his most frustrating defeats at the pool, blowing it at the finish and settling for silver in his signature event, the 200 butterfly.

That tied the record for career medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, but it was hardly a triumphant moment. Phelps slung away his cap in disgust and struggled to force a smile at the medal ceremony.

But any disappointment from that race was gone by the time he dived in the water on the relay, having been staked to a huge lead by teammates Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.

Before the race, they all huddled together, fully aware of their role in history.

"I thanked those guys for helping me get to this moment," Phelps said. "I told those guys I wanted a big lead. I was like, 'You better give me a big lead going into the last lap,' and they gave it to me. I just wanted to hold on. I thanked them for being able to allow me to have this moment."

Berens handed off a lead of nearly 4 seconds to Phelps, who was extra cautious with the exchange, knowing the only way he could ruin this one was to get disqualified.

Lochte stood on the deck, waving his arms. Dwyer and Berens pumped their fists. And Phelps touched the wall for his first gold of the London Games with a cumulative time of 6 minutes, 59.70 seconds.

No one else was close. France's Yannick Agnel swam a faster final leg than Phelps, but it wasn't nearly good enough, his country taking silver in 7:02.77. China was far back in third at 7:06.30.

"Congrats to Michael Phelps for breaking the all-time Olympic medal record. You've made your country proud," tweeted President Barack Obama.

Phelps might have backed into the record a bit by failing to win any of his first three events at these games, but there's no denying his legacy as one of the greatest Olympians ever - if not THE greatest.

"The legacy he has left behind for swimming is fantastic," said South African Chad le Clos, the guy who beat him in the butterfly. "Even in Africa, everyone knows Michael Phelps."

Phelps has 15 golds in his career, six more than anyone else, to go along with two silvers and two bronzes. After failing to medal in his only race at the 2000 Sydney Games, he won six golds and two bronzes in Athens, followed by his epic eight gold medals in Beijing. And now the swan song, not nearly as epic but enough.

Latynina won nine golds, five silvers and four bronzes from 1956-64.

"You are now a complete legend!" the public-address announcer bellowed, accompanied by the Foo Fighters' song "Best of You."

Phelps still has three more events in London before he retires, three more chances to establish a mark that will be hard for anyone to touch.

"It has been a pretty amazing career," the 27-year-old said, "but we still have a couple races to go."

Several fans held up a bedsheet with "PHELPS GREATEST OLYMPIAN EVER" handwritten on it.

Hard to argue with that, though this hasn't exactly been the farewell Phelps was hoping for -- a sluggish fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley, a runner-up showing in the 4x100 free relay, then another silver in the 200 fly.

The 200 fly was a race he had not lost at either the Olympics or world championships since Sydney, when he finished fifth as an unknown 15-year-old just soaking up the moment, a kid with big dreams but no idea they would turn out like this.

Phelps, after leading the entire race, tried to glide into the wall instead of taking one more stroke. Le Clos took that extra stroke and beat Phelps by five-hundredths of a second.

"Obviously I would have liked to have a better outcome in the 200 fly," Phelps said. "I was on the receiving end of getting touched out. Chad swam a good race. I've gotten to know him a little over the last year. He's a hard worker, he's a tough competitor and he's a racer."

Le Clos pounded the water when he saw the "1" beside his name.

"He has always been an inspiration to me and a role model," le Clos said. "I've watched all his races a million times and I've run the commentary over and over. Now, I guess I can watch my race."

Phelps hung on the lane rope and buried his face in his hands, disgusted with himself for having squandered what looked like a sure gold. Le Clos won South Africa's second swimming gold of the games in a time of 1:52.96. Phelps finished in 1:53.01, while Japan's Takeshi Matsuda took the bronze in 1:53.21.

"It's obviously my last one," Phelps said. "I would have liked to win, but 1:53 flat isn't a terrible time. When you look at the picture of it, it's a decent time."

But the finish was a stunner, given that Phelps had won a memorable race at Beijing when a rival made the very same error. Milorad Cavic of Serbia thought he had the 100 fly in the bag after his final stroke, but Phelps made the split-second decision to get in one more stroke and slammed into the wall -- one-hundredth of a second ahead of Cavic.

This time, it was Phelps on the losing end. He was again denied a chance to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three straight Olympics, though he can still do it in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.

Lochte was also feeling better about himself, having struggled in two straight events after opening the Olympics with a dominating win in the 400 individual medley. He swam the anchor of the 4x100 free relay, but was chased down by Agnel after being handed a comfortable lead. Then he was fourth -- far behind Agnel -- in the 200 free.

"After that relay, my confidence went down," Lochte said. "Everyone just kept on telling me, 'You know what, you're better than that. Just forget about it and move on.' I didn't swim at all this morning, which I thought helped. I woke up this morning and I was back to myself. I was that happy-go-lucky guy, so I think that's what really helped me throughout the whole day."

After losing the 200 fly, Phelps retrieved his cap, went over to congratulate le Clos, and hustled out of the pool to get ready for the relay. Before that, Phelps had to return to the deck for a medal ceremony that he clearly would have preferred to skip. He bit his lip, leaned over to have the silver medal draped around his neck, and forced a weak smile.

It sure didn't feel like a celebration.

But the mood was much different when he came out with his teammates to accept gold for the relay. He bantered playfully with the crowd. He posed with an American flag. He propped up a chair trying to reach his mom and two sisters, sitting in the front row.

As Phelps lingered on the deck, doing television interviews, a crowd of U.S. supporters broke into a chant.

"Four more years! Four more years!"

But, really, what's left for someone who's already the greatest?

Source: ESPN

Could ‘Fifty Shades’ give us a baby boom?


One of these days, some kid’s going to ask how he was made and he’ll be met with the response,”Fifty Shades of Grey.”

According to the Global Editor in Chief of BabyCenter.com, Linda Murray, the odds of that happening are looking stronger than you’d think.

Getting into E.L. James’ racy runaway best-seller, the first in a trilogy, “is acting like an aphrodisiac for women,” Murray told “Good Morning America” Tuesday. “It’s putting them in the mood more frequently and they’re having more sex and they’re ultimately getting pregnant faster.”

BabyCenter.com posted a blog on July 10 about the novel’s potential responsibility for some forthcoming bundles of joy, noting that many members of the BabyCenter community pointed to the book as an aid in conception.

ABC News’ “Good Morning America” featured three couples who say that “Fifty Shades,” which is also being turned into a movie with closely watched casting, helped them conceive. Funnily enough, ABC news points out, all three couples also have due dates around February of 2013 — nine months following a May sales spike of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Judging from the July 10 BabyCenter.com post, we also shouldn’t be surprised if the first names of the novel’s two main characters, Christian Grey and Ana(stasia) Steele, “skyrocket [to] the Top Baby Names list in 2012.”

Source: CNN's Marquee Blog

Gooey Butter Cake


Ingredients

Cake:

1 18¼ ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.

Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Source: Paula Deen

Verse of the Day

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

1 Peter 3:15 NLT