Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homemade Granola Bars


2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut
½ cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
¼ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup chopped pitted dates
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

Monday, April 22, 2013

15 Things Never to Say to Parents of Biracial Kids

It's been 46 years since Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, convinced the Supreme Court to end race-based marriage restrictions in America. These days, mixed-race babies account for 7 percent of the kids born to American moms every year. One of those babies has risen all the way to the office of the presidency.

So why are the parents of biracial kids still hearing the same rude comments our parents and grandparents heard (or, God forbid, made!) back in the day?

The Stir asked moms and dads in biracial families to tell us some of the things people have said to them, and we found that a lot of people make these comments without seeming to understand that they're being rude.

Take a look at this list of things parents of biracial children have heard:

1. But your kids are really white!

2. A family member of mine told me that I should consider not having children with my husband because our babies will be biracial and will be teased. Needless to say, I didn't listen and our babies are gorgeous.

3. After practice a few years ago, I actually had a parent STOP my daughter as she ran to me, asking, "Where's your Mom, sweetie?" Ummmm ... hello. I'm right here. Seriously.

4. Aww, look at the cute zebra baby.

5. He doesn't look anything like you!

6. Oh, she's so cute! What province did you get her from?

7. What was it like giving birth and seeing this Asian baby come out of you? (As if I had given birth to a frog.)

8. Look at her cute chinky eyes!

9. At least her father knows she's really his!

10. Are you the nanny?

11. Wow, you're lucky they're so white.

12. While I was pregnant, someone asked, "I wonder if her hair will be nappy?"

13. Are you sure they're really yours? (directed to the father of two light-skinned children)

14. I was shopping with my two daughters and one of my daughter's friends. An employee handing out samples of granola of some sort started pointing at each child. She pointed at my oldest and said, "She's yours!" She pointed at my daughter's friend and said, "She's not yours." Then she points at my youngest, who was maybe about a year old, and she said, "What country?" She is very lucky she was about 70.

15. Aww, you're so lucky. Biracial kids are soooo much cuter.

Source: Jeanne Sager on CafeMom's blog, The Stir

English Muffin Breakfast Pizza


Whole-wheat English muffin, split
Small tomato, seeded and diced
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 slice (½ ounce) Canadian Bacon, sliced
¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Chopped fresh basil, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with foil.

Place the English muffin halves cut-side up on the baking sheet. Top each with tomato and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the Canadian bacon over the tomatoes, then top with the mozzarella. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with basil.

Anti-incest app built by Iceland college students

Need to be sure you aren’t accidentally dating your cousin? In Iceland, there’s an app for that!

A group of students at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík have created an Android app that prevents Icelanders from accidentally dating their cousins. 

The app draws information from the Íslendingabók database, a national record of Iceland residents and family trees dating back into the Middle Ages.

Arnar Aðalsteinsson, Alexander Helgason and Hákon Björnsson, in their final year at the University of Iceland, entered and won an app-building contest sponsored by the tenders of the Íslendingabók database.

When you tap phones with someone who has the app, it brings up an alert if the owners of the two phones share a grandparent. (Of course, if you don't already know who you share a grandparent with, incest may be the least of your problems, but the team says it is looking into functionality for spotting common great grandparents, too.)

The feature is called "Sifjaspellsspillir" which directly translates to "Incest Destroyer," though the team prefers the phrase "Incest Spoiler."

The app has been downloaded 3,651 times at their last check, the team told NBC News. An app for the iPhone is very likely on the way, they say.

"Genealogy is the kind of the national hobby of Iceland," Friðrik Skúlason, a software engineer who first started building the Íslendingabók database in the 1980s, told NBC News. "On average if you pick two people on the street at random you will find they are related 6 or 7 generations back."

The database was taken over by genetics company DeCode. Íslendingabók is now a free database for anyone with an Iceland national identification to use online, where they can trace relatives and their contact information.

"[Iceland] is a small community with extensive records gong back centuries, and everybody is related to everybody else," Skúlason told NBC News. "The database contains every single person who is currently alive or that we have been able to find any information about for the past 1,100 years."

He hasn't used the app himself, but Skúlason imagines it will make for good pickup lines at a bar. "My phone would really like to know if it's related to your phone … there are possibilities," he says. Although, he adds, most people already know each others' close relatives well.

About two-thirds of the country has accessed the database at least once, he says, with spikes in activity during Christmas, "I guess when people are writing Christmas cards and trying to remember what is the name of Uncle Joe's third child and so on," and during the summer, when people plan the traditional family reunions.

Source: NBC

How to Run a Successful Yard Sale

Run a successful sale -- and still have time to savor your newly emptied basement -- with these tips from Peter Walsh, host of TLC's Clean Sweep:

• Keep like items together -- clothes, toys, DVDs -- as you gather them for the sale so they're easier to organize.

• Have a multifamily yard sale (better selection is likely to attract more customers).

• Ask a local charity to pick up what you don't sell. Most will do it for free.

• Place your goods on tables arranged in a U-shape formation. The layout will keep shoppers moving instead of dawdling.

• Display small items in a bin labeled "Buy two, get one free." Less time spent pricing for you -- and there's a good chance it'll lure customers into impulse buying!

• Slash prices midway through the day to boost lagging sales.

Source: Parenting

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon bomber suspect in custody

Some of the best news that we have gotten since this whole thing began on Monday afternoon.

We will continue to pray for those affected by this horrible tragedy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Parent Tardiness Lands Kindergarten Student in Detention

Brooke Loeffler was put in detention after her parents dropped her off late to Olympia Elementary School in San Antonio for a third time. Brooke is a 6-year-old kindergarten student.

Brooke's parents, Brad and Erika Loeffler, who both work full-time and have a newborn baby with medical issues at home, say they both thought that it was unfair to punish a small child for something she has no control over.

In fact, Erika Loeffler says she offered to volunteer at the school doing anything from working with kids to cleaning tables, instead of giving Brooke detention. "I'll do the time," she said.

"We tried to explain the situation to the vice principal and principal," Erika Loeffler said. "They were very cold and not understanding of the circumstances."

Steve Lindscomb, director of public information at Judson Independent School District (ISD), says that the tardy policy has been in effect for approximately three years, and each parent signs off on it when their child enrolls.

"Each year, parents are asked to look over the policy and sign it," Lindscomb said. "We have the document that they (Brian and Erika) signed off on, and they also signed for the detention to go on."

Olympia works with parents to make detention more doable. In the Loeffler case, Brooke Loeffler was allowed to split the hour detention into two days during the lunch period because she couldn't stay after school when detention would normally take place. Also, she did not sit by herself either day. Her father sat with her the first day, and her grandmother sat with her the second day.

"I'll say that it sounds too young for detention, and that's why we worked with the students and their parents, Lindscomb said. "But we do need to have some level of consistency because some parents would be upset that some people got a little attitude and some did not, but we do make allowances for age appropriate treatment."

According to Ericka, a second grade elementary teacher, Judson ISD was untruthful in their Facebook post about working with them.

"They were not working with us," Erika said. "They first told us it would not count if one of us sat with her."

The Loeffler's told ABC News that the school has no absence policy, only a tardy policy, and that they might consider having to make Brooke skip a full day of school rather than be late and risk another detention. This, she says, is not a choice parents should have to make.

Kelly Reid, treasurer of the Parent Teacher Organization at Olympia Elementary School, warned that the Loefflers could face legal problems if they keep their daughter out of school.

Reid cited the school district handbook which states, "a court of law may also impose penalties against both the student and his or her parents if a school-aged student is deliberately not attending school." That clause can be invoked if a child misses 10 days in a six month period or three days in a four week period.

Erika Loeffler says that as an educator, she understands the tardiness rule, but she suggested implementing a positive reinforcement approach instead. In other words, instead of punishing late students, they could reward the ones who are consistently on time.

"She's a very good student," Brad Loeffler said about his daughter. "She never causes any trouble at school. According to her teacher, they use a color system to rate their performance of the day, and she [Brooke] always gets the top color or the one right below it. She's very polite and shy to people she doesn't know. I don't think she has ever caused any trouble at all."

However, Lindscomb explains that the policy is effective in reducing tardiness at Olympia.

"Definitely since the rule was put in place about three years ago they've cut tardies down from 90-95 percent, but that doesn't mean we don't work with each student in terms of age-appropriateness and family situation"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Margaret Thatcher's coffin leaves St. Paul's for private burial

Britain's first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, has been honored in a ceremonial funeral service at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

The bells of the landmark domed cathedral rang half-muffled as pallbearers carried Thatcher's coffin to a hearse, ahead of a private cremation and burial.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip were among the more than 2,000 mourners who attended the service. At least 170 countries were represented among them.

Mourners included Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and F.W. de Klerk, the last apartheid-era president of South Africa.

Former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attended but Nancy Reagan -- the widow of Thatcher's ally and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan -- was unable to attend and sent a representative in her place.

Roads near St. Paul's Cathedral closed and buses were diverted from early Wednesday as part of the security operation.

Many Britons blame Thatcher for creating soaring unemployment but supporters believe the tough reforms she pushed through transformed the British economy.

By 8:30am local time, supporters had crowded by the railings of the cathedral, some with folding chairs, and police stood on every few yards down the road to the cathedral.

At Ludgate Circus, a crowd of about 50 protesters waved Socialist Worker placards, a sign reading "Anarchists Against Thatcher" and rainbow-hued "Peace" flags. Another held a sign demanding 'Where was her respect for Goldthorpe and the miners?' referring to Thatcher's campaign against the power of coal-mining unions.

Protester Hilary Jones said Thatcher had been strident in her beliefs "and her beliefs were so at odds to a large chunk of the population." "There was nothing for many of us to feel proud of during her time," she said.

But Conservative Party activist Lionel Voke said he credited Thatcher with the success of his business.

'We're here out of respect - to us, she was wonderful. I accept that not everyone sees it the same way, but it's the same if Tony Blair died -- I wouldn't necessarily come, but I'd expect him to be treated with respect, and I'd want him to rest in peace."

Ian Twinn said he had traveled from New York to mark the life-changing impact Thatcher had on him.

"I was a boy in the 1980s. Rightly or wrongly she changed the landscape of the UK forever, and she made me feel I could do anything," he said.

Thatcher, who led the Conservative Party from 1975 until she was forced to resign in 1990, remained involved in British politics for the next decade or so. She was named Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven after leaving office and served in the House of Lords.

She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several smaller strokes after that.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Comforting Boston

A Christian Science perspective: The bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon left a city seeking comfort. 

Marathons, including the one in Boston, celebrate courage, endurance, strength, freedom, and joy, and the bombings that took place at this year's event cannot be allowed to have the last word.

Freedom cannot be despoiled by fear, and love cannot be replaced by hate. Our prayers – wherever we are, whatever our religious beliefs – can prove this. And as we pray, we can embrace in our hearts and thoughts all who have been injured, the families who have lost loved ones, and those whose joyful participation may now seem shadowed by fear and sorrow.

To all those, and others, the comfort of divine Love is present, right now, and is a powerful redeemer. The word "comfort" derives from two Latin words (cum + fortis), which mean “with strength.” This is the kind of comfort that is present for those immediately affected, for the police and other officials who are striving to find solutions, for all who are in any way engaged by this event.

With strength, divine Love, God, is with all who mourn. The prophet Isaiah – who witnessed his own share of violence – spoke from experience when he said of God, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

With strength, divine Love is speaking to all who are fearful, including visitors to the city who may feel at sea in an unfamiliar place. Love’s presence comforts, guards, and guides them to intelligent decisions, to safety and peace.

With strength, divine Truth, God, is with those who are seeking the answers to these events and are also trying to help bring peace and safety to the city.

With strength, each one of us can push back against the belief that the mental darkness behind these events can despoil good and fill people with anguish and fear. Our prayer can insist that God’s love is present and that this love can never be taken away from any of His children. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy writes, “... Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy".

Given the many situations Jesus faced – including terrorism in his own time – his unshakable conviction of God’s power to heal even in the most hopeless circumstances gives hope and strength to all who love God and pray for His goodness to be seen right now, in these times. Jesus' conviction that God could meet every need can strengthen our prayers. He didn’t just hope that God’s goodness would prevail, he expected it to do so. Behind this conviction was his consciousness of Christ, which Christian Science explains as the spiritual relation between God and man, between infinite Love and its spiritual offspring.

The Christ-power behind Jesus' healing work is present with each man, woman, and child – in Boston and beyond. This is the power that "comforts those that mourn" – not only with an arm around the shoulders (tender as that may be) but with something more: It was and is comfort “with strength.”

This is our comfort, and the comfort our prayers can bring to all.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pimento Cheese Patty Melts with Bacon


8 slices of smoky bacon
1½ lb. ground beef
Coarse salt and pepper
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp. grated onion
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ pound sharp cheddar, grated
4-oz. chopped pimientos, drained
3-ounce package cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s® RedHot®
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Softened butter, for buttering bread
8 slices good-quality white bread


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange bacon on a slotted broiler pan and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, season the beef with salt and pepper. Mix in the Worcestershire, parsley and onion. Form 4 large patties (thinner in the middle for even cooking.)

In a large skillet or cast-iron griddle, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the patties and grill, turning once, for about 8 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cheddar, pimientos, cream cheese, mayo, hot sauce, paprika and garlic until well mixed, 1-2 minutes.

Reheat the skillet or griddle over medium heat. Butter 1 side of each bread slice, placing buttered side down on a work surface. Spread each bread slice with some cheese mixture, top with a burger, 2 pieces of bacon and another bread slice. Griddle until golden and the cheese is melted.

Earning the title, Stay-at-Home Dad

Being a stay-at-home dad was never a role that I imagined that I would play in life. And maybe, that is why I have not lived up to that huge responsibility, especially recently. Not at all. Not even close!

Now, don't misunderstand. I don't say that I never imagined myself as the stay-at-home type because I am of the traditional mind-set that a man's place is out in the workforce, "bringing home the bacon," while his wife tends to the children and upkeep of the home. I am not that guy! I instead, always imagined myself married to a strong and independent woman whom I would work hand-in-hand with to build a welcoming home that is full of happiness, hard work and God's love.

God sent me that strong and independent woman and later this year we will celebrate 10 wonderful years of marriage. I thank Him every day for the blessing that she is and continues to be in my life.

God also blessed me with two beautiful children who are overflowing with love, their momma's brains and work ethic, and my sense of humor and stubbornness.

Together, my wife and I were forging ahead. We were working diligently to build a home for our children that had all the warmness that a child should remember their upbringing for having.

Then, a few years ago, God gave me yet another blessing: Congestive Heart Failure. (How generous, right?)

You are probably thinking, what?!?! How is this guy going to sit there and tell me that Congestive Heart Failure (or CHF) is a blessing??? Well, for me, it truly was. I'll spare you the details of the many trials and tribulations that the past several years have dealt us and instead share with you this lyric from the song "Beautiful Boy" which was written and released by John Lennon in 1980. The song says: "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

Man, oh man, how true are those words?!?! 

We were so busy making plans for the rest of our lives together that we seemed to lose track of the notion that God already had a plan laid out for us and we were well into the second act of His plan.

We all know how impossible it is to support a family on one income and it was becoming obvious rather quickly, that I had to go back to work. I have to admit, I was relieved. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. They are the center of my universe. But being with them all day, everyday, and having no adult interaction for a vast majority of the day, was not my cup of tea. So quickly, before things could get any worse, I went out and got a part-time job. Just as I was settling into that job, I got called back to the job to a previous job that I had. I would be making double what I was making at the part-time job and I loved that job when I had it before. Not to mention, WE NEEDED THE MONEY!

So, I settled back into that job, with the long work days and an hour and a half commute every day, not considering for one moment that it was in God's plan for me to be at home with my children at this point in their life. That maybe, I was meant to be at home, caring for them and offering support and encouragement to my wife as she worked her tail off to provide for us. That I needed to be her backbone and He was going to take care of the rest. 

I had been back at that job for maybe two months when I became desperately ill. I fought it, and fought it like I always do, because, "I'm not going to the doctor." 

"I don't need to go to the doctor," I said.

Then one Saturday morning, I woke up and went to get ready for work. I still had this crud. Some sort of chest cold or something that I just could not shake. I remember that morning so vividly. I called one of the other assistant managers and asked if he could go and open for me. I explained that I was going to the hospital and that hopefully, I could get some sort of antibiotic and that I would be on in as soon as possible.

Three days (and many tests) later, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. My ejection fraction was devastatingly low. But I wasn't going to pay no mind to those doctors when they told me that I needed to take it easy for a little while. I hurried back to work and threw myself into it headfirst. We had some important things coming up and I was going to make sure that it all went perfectly.

Long story short (but not really), my body just couldn't do it anymore. After a long conversation with my cardiologists and me sifting through every other option, it was made readily clear by both my cardiologists and my wife that I was going to have to take an indefinite amount of time off and get my heart back in shape and my health back in order. 

I've told you all of this for a reason. I probably could have said it more eloquently or possibly got to the point a bit quicker, but I didn't. Besides, we are here now.

God sent me several signs that He wanted me at home with my children. I chose to ignore those signs until he forced my hand and showed me that He was going to get His way. You know, that whole, "Thy will be done..." part of the bible. (Matthew 6:10)

His will was for me to be at home with my children. I have been home with them for over two years now. And yet still, after all this time, I am still not doing His will. I am not living up to what he expects of me. 

Last fall, one of our children moved on to Kindergarten, leaving her younger brother at home. It was so much easier when they were both at home. They kept each other occupied, making it so easy for me to ignore the fact that I wasn't doing as I should have been. Since she went off to school, and I only have one child at home, I have noticed how much down time he has. Time that could be spent doing so many entertaining, educative and enriching activities. Simply put, I have really been doing a disservice to the child at home. And that is where the title of this entry comes into play. I have been playing the role of a Stay-at-home Dad, but I haven't even come close to earning the title.

Today, I wanted to begin to rectify that. He and I went to the Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, and to McConnell Springs, a twenty-six acre natural areas park located at the historic springs where the city of Lexington, Kentucky was named. We wrapped up our morning by joining a friend for lunch at her job. 

I really think/hope that he had a grand time. At the Arboretum we talked about the different flowers and trees and that were blooming and the fact that the seasons were changing and what that meant.

At McConnell Springs, I made a very bad attempt at explaining to him what the springs were and what was going on there. I really could have used my wife's assistance there. Especially considering the fact that she has a Bachelor's degree in teaching Science. Maybe next time I will ask her to write up a brief lesson plan. :)

Although days like this are hard on me physically, I hope to have more of them in the future. I need to work on finding things to do with my children that expand their minds and make them think but that are fun at the same time. With summer coming, and the older child being at home, I need to work diligently to not slip back into old habits and let them become one another's entertainment. Every now and then, that's okay. But not on every minute of every day.

For the past couple of years, I have played the role of Stay-at-home dad. Now it is time for me to earn the title. They deserve nothing less.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spanish Chicken and Potato Roast


1½ lbs. large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1½ -inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1½ lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (5 to 6 thighs)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 lemons (1 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
2 large or 3 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced


Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Place a large cast-iron baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet on the rack and preheat to 500 degrees F. Put the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large microwave-safe baking dish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, pierce the plastic in a few places with a knife and microwave 8 minutes to partially cook.

Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 2 tablespoons parsley and the lemon juice; toss to coat. Set aside.

Remove the hot baking dish from the oven; carefully add the potatoes and spread in an even layer. Scatter the onions on top. Roast until the potatoes start to brown, about 12 minutes.

Flip the potatoes and lay the chicken pieces on top, adding any accumulated juices from the bowl; return to the oven and roast until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 12 more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

American Idol's other noteworthy performances from the top six

There is no doubt that Candice Glover stole the show last night on American Idol, but Angie Miller and Kree Harrison also gave a performance a piece that I think are worth mentioning. Performances that very well may have solidified their place in the top three.

Tasked with choosing the one track she wish she wrote, the contestant went with “Love Came Down” by Kari Jobe — and it paid off with a standing ovation from Randy Jackson and Keith Urban.

“I love that for so many reasons… You tapped into the emotion. There’s something about you at the piano,” Jackson told Miller. “That was amazing. You saw us stand up. Unbelievable.”

Mariah Carey told her, “Angie, that piano and you, you never lose. Never lose. It’s just organic to you, and I felt that. And you sounded so — I can’t even express it. It was just perfect.”

Urban called the performance “beautiful,” and Nicki Minaj gave Miller props for returning to her strengths.

Kree Harrison sang the timeless Kris Kristofferson classic ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’ on ‘American Idol‘ Wednesday night (April 10), once again demonstrating her wide range of interpretation and earning accolades from the judges.

She chose the song as part of the theme of the evening, where contestants sang songs they wish they had written. She lauded the song and the long list of other singers who had covered it, noting that she knew she had to connect with it in a special way.

Which is exactly what she did. Harrison began with a simple vocal underpinned by minimalist chords, then built her performance up through the more powerful part of her range, demonstrating again that she can sing anything that comes in front of her with equal aplomb.

“That was beautiful,” Nicki Minaj said. “You are just at the head of the class.”

Randy Jackson gushed, “You are what I call a natural, natural singer.”

Mariah Carey noted that she had sung the song in a film appearance and struggled with it, saying, “That’s how the song should be sung,” while Keith Urban — who previously stated that Harrison could win this season of ‘Idol’ — said, “I predict that you will become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.”

Did 'Idol' just have its best performance ever?

"American Idol" contender Candice Glover may or may not take it all this season, but according to judge Randy Jackson, she's already given a history-making performance.

Her rendition of The Cure's "Lovesong" earned both a glitter bombing from Mariah Carey and a standing ovation during Wednesday night's show.

The top six "Idol" contestants were tasked with singing a song from Burt Bacharach, and then a song they wish they'd written.

Glover chose to first sing sing Dionne Warwick's "Don't Make Me Over," which was perfectly lovely:

But when it came time to sing Adele's cover of "Lovesong," Glover showed out and brought down the house:

As Rolling Stone recaps, Glover was just two notes in when she won the audience over.

"A song I wish I had written is The Cure's' Lovesong,'" she told the "Idol" audience Wednesday. "It was done over by Adele, and singing about love is my absolute favorite thing to do. If I was to record an album, I would definitely want to touch on that. Like, when you're alone with someone, and you just feel at peace because you and that person are so connected. There's no one in particular that I'm thinking of now as pertaining to that song, but I definitely know how that feels, and I think that's why I connect with it."

By the time she was done, Keith Urban had stepped out from behind the judges' panel to bow as his fellow judges and the audience stood on their feet and clapped in appreciation. The applause went on for so long that Glover began to cry.

"On behalf of all my judges up here," Randy Jackson exclaimed over the cheers of the crowd, "[that was] one of the greatest performances in the history, in the 12 years of 'American Idol!'"

Source: CNN, The Marquee Blog

What made Margaret Thatcher special in her time

What we can learn from Margaret Thatcher's leadership style, her triumphs and failings?

Of the few women who led a nation during the 20th century, Margaret Thatcher stood out more than most. Her leadership qualities were so remarkable at the time that, even though she resigned as Britain’s prime minister more than two decades ago, her actions and style are still debated well into this century.

Her passing on Monday comes as new concepts about what makes a good leader take hold in government and business. Many people still look for inspiring, towering figures, of course, to guide them through wars, recessions, and big changes. They admire people who speak of principle and act with certitude – and occasional humor – as “the Iron Lady” did. In that sense, she was much like her American counterpart of the 1980s, Ronald Reagan. Both are known as “transformative” figures in recent political history.

Her commanding presence and her spine of virtue helped Thatcher stand up to the powerful miners union, the Argentine military in the Falklands War, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and the Soviet Union. She muscled through conservative economic changes in a hidebound Britain. And she began the long project to restore the morale of a country lost in post-empire malaise.

Her belief in her own moral certainty, however, was also the undoing of her long tenure. Like many leaders with so much success, she forgot to listen, especially to her closest supporters. She was challenged within her party over her insistence on imposing a highly unpopular tax.

Many politicians in a democracy must find a balance between leading and following. In the post-Thatcher era, management consultants now speak of the “servant-leader,” or someone who can form close bonds with followers, empower them, connect a vision to daily tasks, and avoid taking credit. Humility is now more honored than during Thatcher’s day.

The Internet has spread ideas such as crowd-sourcing and the Wiki phenomenon of distributive power. Political uprisings like the tea party and the “Occupy” movement are nearly leaderless and almost nonhierarchical, showing the power of ideas more than the charisma of individual leaders. A rising distrust of institutions, from government to churches, has led to a whole study of how people can thrive in groups, or a community of followers.

In world history, Thatcher will no doubt be remembered for her results. She helped end the cold war, and stood up to tyrants like Saddam Hussein and terrorists like the IRA. She knew the principles that had sustained humanity’s progress up to then, spoke of them eloquently, and insisted on their practice.

Her record offers valuable lessons in leadership, some timeless and others to be avoided. That she was able to deftly maneuver through male-dominated British politics should be an inspiration for all women.

She had faith in unending progress for all, and that kind of faith can extend to knowing there is progress in what makes a good leader for each age.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Arnold Palmer orders an Arnold Palmer: Winks, asks for 'Mr. Palmer'

One of the fascinating things about the Masters is that, each year, golfing legends become very much a part of the festivities. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are as much front-and-center during Augusta's week in the spotlight as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

They are celebrities. It is a good thing. Of course, they deserve it. Arnie and Jack are legends. And in case you need further proof of that, I present Exhibit A: How Arnold Palmer orders an Arnold Palmer. (In case you don't know, it's lemonade and iced tea mixed together.)

Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger found the answer when he spotted Arnie sipping on his namesake and approached the waitress who served the golfing legend, inquiring how Palmer ordered.

"He leaned over and said, 'I'll have a Mr. Palmer.' Then he winked," the waitress said.

That is, as the kids say, absolutely bawse.

It's hardly surprising, though. Palmer is old but he's perfectly spry. (I present further evidence of this in the form of Arnie laying one on Kate Upton when they met recently.) The dude can still golf, too, of course.

And if you had a drink named after you, wouldn't you drink it? Of course you would, especially if it was named after you because you drank it. If only you could order it as smoothly as Arnie.

Source: CBSSports.com

Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Swear Words

Four-letter words have been around since the days of our forebears—and their forebears, too. In Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, a book out this month from Oxford University Press, medieval literature expert Melissa Mohr traces humans’ use of naughty language back to Roman times. NewsFeed asked Mohr what surprising tidbits readers might stumble upon amidst the expletives. Here are nine talking points from her opus for your next (presumably, pretty edgy) cocktail hour.

1. The average person swears quite a bit.

About 0.7% of the words a person uses in the course of a day are swear words, which may not sound significant except that as Mohr notes, we use first-person plural pronouns — words like we, our and ourselves — at about the same rate. The typical range, Mohr says, goes from zero to about 3%. What would it be like to have a conversation with a three-percenter? “That would be like Eddie Murphy,” Mohr says. Presumably from Eddie Murphy Raw, not from Shrek Forever After.

2. Kids often learn a four-letter word before they learn the alphabet.

Mohr’s work incorporates research by Timothy Jay, a psychology professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, who uncovered the 0.7% statistic above and has also charted a rise in the use of swear words by children — even toddlers. By the age of two, Mohr says, most children know at least one swear word; it really “kicks off” around the ages of three or four.

3. Some of today’s most popular swear words have been around for more than a thousand years.

“S— is an extremely old word that’s found in Anglo-Saxon texts,” Mohr says. What English-speakers now call asses and farts can also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxons, she adds, though in those times the terms wouldn’t have been considered as impolite as they are today.

4. The ancient Romans laid the groundwork for modern day f-bombs.

There are two main kinds of swear words, says Mohr: oaths—like taking the Lord’s name in vain—and obscene words, like sexual and racial slurs. The Romans gave us a model for the obscene words, she says, because their swearing was similarly based on sexual taboos, though with a different spin. “The Romans didn’t divide people up [by being heterosexual and homosexual],” she says. “They divided people into active and passive. So what was important was to be the active partner.” Hence, sexual slurs were more along the lines words like pathicus, a rather graphic term which basically means receiver.

5. In the Medieval era, oaths were believed to physically injure Jesus Christ.

In the Middle Ages, Mohr says, certain vain oaths were believed to actually tear apart the ascended body of Christ, as he sat next to his Father in heaven. Phrases that incorporated body parts, like swearing “by God’s bones” or “by God’s nails,” were looked upon as a kind of opposite to the Catholic eucharist—the ceremony in which a priest is said to conjure Christ’s physical body in a wafer and his blood in wine.

6. However, obscene words were no big deal.

“The sexual and excremental words were not charged, basically because people in the Middle Ages had much less privacy than we do,” Mohr explains, “so they had a much less advanced sense of shame.” Multiple people slept in the same beds or used privies at the same time, so people observed each other in the throes of their, er, natural functions much more frequently — which made the mention of them less scandalous.

7. People in the “rising middle class” use less profanity.

“Bourgeois people” typically swear the least, Mohr says. “This goes back to the Victorian era idea that you get control over your language and your deportment, which indicates that you are a proper, good person and this is a sign of your morality and awareness of social rules,” she explains. The upper classes, she says, have been shown to swear more, however: while “social strivers” mind their tongues, aristocrats have a secure position in society, so they can say whatever they want — and may even make a show of doing so.

8. Swearing can physiologically affect your body.

Hearing and saying swear words changes our skin conductance response, making our palms sweat. One study, Mohr notes, also found that swearing helps alleviate pain, that if you put your hand in a bucket of cold water, you can keep it in there longer if you say s— rather than shoot. Which is a good piece of info to have next time you’re doing a polar bear plunge.

9. People don’t use cuss words just because they have lazy minds.

Mohr discusses the myriad social purposes swearing can serve, some nasty and some nice. “They definitely are the best words that you can use to insult people, because they are much better than other words at getting at people’s emotions,” she says. Swear words are also the best words to use if you hit your finger with a hammer, because they are cathartic, helping people deal with emotion as well as pain. And studies have shown that they help people bond — like blue-collar workers who use taboo terms to build in-group solidarity against management types. When asked if the world would be better off if everyone quit their cussing, Mohr answers with a four-letter word of her own: “Nope.”

Source: Time

Pasta Primavera


Kosher salt
12 ounces fusilli or other corkscrew pasta
¼ lb. sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
¼ lb. broccoli florets
2 carrots, shredded
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fusilli and cook as the label directs. Add the sugar snap peas and/or broccoli, carrots and bell pepper to the boiling water during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water. Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta and vegetables. Add the mint, parmesan and half the goat cheese and toss to combine. Season with salt.

Divide the pasta among bowls. Top with the remaining goat cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables


3 ½ pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 lemon, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fingerling potatoes
2 bunches radishes
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch baby carrots
¼ cup chopped fresh dill


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze ½ lemon over the chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and radishes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, radishes, carrots and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 more minutes. Squeeze the remaining ½ lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Top with the dill and season with salt.

Source: FoodNetwork.com

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Louisville's victory by the numbers

Perfection was the story for a Louisville team that lived up to its No. 1 overall seeding in the NCAA tournament.

The Cardinals won their third national title (against no defeats), keyed by a perfect shooting performance from long range by an unlikely source.

Let’s run through some of the statistical highlights of the Cardinals' first NCAA tournament championship since 1986.

The history

Louisville ended the season on a 16-game winning streak. The Cardinals became the eighth school to win at least three national championships and the third overall No. 1 seed to win a national championship.

The Cardinals went 27 years between title victories, the second-longest drought by a team that has won multiple championships (Kansas went 36 seasons).

Rick Pitino became the first coach to win a Division I title with two schools (he won with Kentucky in 1996). This was Pitino’s 664th career win, tying legendary coach John Wooden for 25th all time.

Louisville attempted 23 of its 35 second-half field goals in the paint, making 11 of those shots.

Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan combined to score 24 of Louisville’s 34 paint points, 18 of which came in the second half.

Siva’s 12 points in the paint were his second-most in any game in the last four NCAA tournaments (scored 14 in 2012 versus Davidson).

Also key: Louisville held Michigan to two second-chance points in the second half Monday after allowing 13 to the Wolverines in the first half.

Hancock’s perfection

Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock finished with 22 points and was 5-for-5 from 3-point range.

That’s the most makes without a miss on 3-pointers in a Division I title game. The previous mark of three was shared by Taurean Green (2007 Florida) and Wayne Ellington (2009 North Carolina), each of whom won a national title that year.

Siva a difference-maker

Siva starred for Louisville, particularly in the second half.

His box score line put him in impressive championship company.

Siva finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, the first player to hit all of those benchmarks in a national championship game since steals became an official stat in 1986.

He's the first player with an 18-6-5 combo in a title game since Derrick Rose in 2008.

Burke, Michigan elite in defeat

Trey Burke became the third Wooden Award winner to lose in the national championship game. The other two players were Larry Bird and Elton Brand.

Michigan shot 52.1 percent from the field, the highest field goal percentage by a losing team in the national championship since Georgetown in 1985 (54.7 percent).

Early on, that was keyed by Spike Albrecht, who scored a career-high 17 points and went 4-for-5 from 3-point range. Albrecht went 9-for-10 from 3-point range in the tournament, just shy of matching Sam Cassell’s mark for most 3-pointers in a tournament without a miss (nine for Florida State in 1993).

Michigan fell to 1-5 all-time in national title games. The Wolverines' .167 winning percentage is the worst of any team with at least five championship game appearances. The five losses are third-most all time.

Source: ESPN

Salmon Baked in Foil


4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
2 chopped shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir the tomatoes, shallots, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Place a salmon fillet, oiled side down, atop a sheet of foil. Wrap the ends of the foil to form a spiral shape. Spoon the tomato mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed. Place the foil packet on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat until all of the salmon have been individually wrapped in foil and placed on the baking sheet. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Cicadas to emerge on East coast after 17 years

Like clockwork, they're coming back — after 17 years.

"They" would be cicadas, the big, noisy bugs that climb out of the earth about every decade and a half to make everyone's life more exciting.

The Richmond area soon will be buzzing with a sound heard only once every 17 years.

Around mid-May, millions of 17-year cicadas will crawl out of the ground and mate. The females then will lay eggs and both adults will die shortly after mating. In the summer, the eggs will hatch and their offspring will burrow into the ground to begin the next cycle.

Experts tell Gannett News Service that the bugs live underground and feed off fluid that gathers near the roots of plants, then emerge from the soil when its temperature reaches 64 degrees.

"We have no idea how they know how much time has passed," Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He said it will be Richmond's day in the sun for cicadas.

"To me it's like having a David Attenborough special in your backyard," Kritsky told, "if you are lucky enough to have them emerging in your yard."

During their short time of the surface, the insects do a lot of good, he said. Their holes aerate the soil, and they return nutrients to the soil when they die. They also provide food for birds and other animals.

They're largely harmless, but their sheer numbers can cause headaches. Some areas could see as many as a billion of the cicadas per square mile. That can lead to a lot of dead bugs all over roadways and grassy surfaces. They can also disrupt outdoor events with their loud buzzing.

The big noise is made the males, who are trying to attract mates. The females flick their wings.

Each female makes punctures at the ends of tree twigs and lays 400 to 600 eggs. This can harm small trees but it is like a pruning for larger trees, Kritsky said.

"Next year, they'll come back with a better growth," he said.

He recommends that people get married when the cicadas appear.

"'Think about it. The only time you will have the same environmental conditions of your wedding day will be on your 17th anniversary, your 34th anniversary and your 51st anniversary," Kritsky said.

Peggy Singlemann, horticulture director at Maymont, has fond memories of the cicadas' last appearance in 1996. While they were noisy and "just everywhere," she said that they did not cause significant damage to trees.

"We are so used to our comfort," Singlemann said. "But just to know that for 17 years an insect has been underground waiting for its time to re-emerge. I think it's fascinating."

This year's brood of cicadas is Brood II, which lives in a stretch from north-central North Carolina through central Virginia to Connecticut.

What Do You Do With Five Metric Tons of Stolen Nutella?

The Associated Press reports that thieves in Bad Hersfeld, Germany have made away with five metric tons of Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread voted “Item Least Likely to be Stolen in Bulk” in last year’s Larceny Awards. Though Nutella is delicious, it doesn’t have much resale value: the AP reports that the stolen spread was worth a little less than $21,000. Let’s assume the Nutella wasn’t stolen by mistake. What in the world do you do with five metric tons of chocolate-y goodness?

Fence it. The most likely option. Professional thieves don’t typically dispose of their booty themselves. Rather, they bring it to a middleman who, for a fee, will find a buyer for the stolen merchandise. Granted, it is probably easier to fence electronics, or cigarettes, or goods for which there is an established black market. But a good fence will likely be able to find some unscrupulous grocer or eccentric chocolate lover who’ll jump at buying a truck’s worth of Nutella, no questions asked.

Peddle it. The thieves could conceivably try to sell the Nutella on their own. This would increase their profit, but would also increase their risk of getting caught. A lot of thieves resell stolen goods on eBay and Craigslist, and I guess that’s an option here, though I’m not sure how you would word the listing such that the Nutella appears to have been legitimately acquired. (“I stocked up on Nutella for the apocalypse, which didn’t come. Now I need the space in my bunker for a pool table.”) Other options: going door to door like Girl Scouts, starting a roadside kiosk or pop-up shop, or selling it to the producers of the German version of Double Dare, if that actually exists.

Eat it. This is what I would be loudly advocating for, if I were a member of this gang of thieves. I’d much rather have a lifetime supply of Nutella than the few thousand bucks I’d get from fencing or re-selling the stuff. I don’t even like Nutella, but I would learn to like it.

Use it as part of a scheme. The AP story reports that thieves stole a load of energy drinks from the same depot sometime in the recent past. This leads me to believe that the Nutella was stolen as part of a larger plan, the depravity of which we can’t even begin to imagine. You can use frozen orange juice to make napalm, right? There’s gotta be some sort of IED you can make from Nutella and Red Bull.

Source: Slate Magazine

Monday, April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female PM, dead at 87

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,a towering figure in postwar British and world politics and the only woman to become British prime minister, has died at the age of 87.

She suffered a stroke Monday, her spokeswoman said. A British government source said she died at the Ritz Hotel in London.

Thatcher's funeral will be at St. Paul's Cathedral, with full military honors, followed by a private cremation, the British prime minister's office announced.

Thatcher served from 1975 to 1990 as leader of the Conservative Party. She was called the "Iron Lady" for her personal and political toughness.

She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several strokes after that.

She made few public appearances in her final months, missing a reception marking her 85th birthday hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2010. She also skipped the July 2011 unveiling of a statue honoring her old friend Ronald Reagan in London.

In December 2012, she was hospitalized after a procedure to remove a growth in her bladder.

Thatcher made history

Thatcher won the nation's top job only six years after declaring in a television interview, "I don't think there will be a woman prime minister in my lifetime."

During her time at the helm of the British government, she emphasized moral absolutism, nationalism, and the rights of the individual versus those of the state -- famously declaring "There is no such thing as society" in 1987.

Nicknamed the "Iron Lady" by the Soviet press after a 1976 speech declaring that "the Russians are bent on world dominance," Thatcher later enjoyed a close working relationship with U.S. President Reagan, with whom she shared similar conservative views.

But the British cold warrior played a key role in ending the conflict by giving her stamp of approval to Soviet Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before he came to power.

"I like Mr. Gorbachev. We can do business together," she declared in December 1984, three months before he became Soviet leader.

Having been right about Gorbachev, Thatcher came down on the wrong side of history after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, arguing against the reunification of East and West Germany.

Allowing the countries created in the aftermath of World War II to merge would be destabilizing to the European status quo, and East Germany was not ready to become part of Western Europe, she insisted in January 1990.

"East Germany has been under Nazism or Communism since 1930. You are not going to go overnight to democratic structures and a freer market economy," Thatcher insisted in a key interview, arguing that peace, security and stability "can only be achieved through our existing alliances negotiating with others internationally."

West German leader Helmut Kohl was furious about the interview, seeing Thatcher as a "protector of Gobachev," according to notes made that day by his close aide Horst Teltschik.

The two Germanies reunited by the end of that year.

A grocer's daughter

Thatcher -- born in October 1925 in the small eastern England market town of Grantham -- came from a modest background, taking pride in being known as a grocer's daughter. She studied chemistry at Oxford, but was involved in politics from a young age, giving her first political speech at 20, according to her official biography.

She was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, when the party was in opposition.

Conservative Leader Margaret Thatcher arrives at
Tory headquarters in London after winning
the 1979 general election
She made history four years later, becoming prime minister when the Conservatives won the elections of 1979, the first of three election victories to which she led her party.

As British leader, Thatcher took a firm stance with the European Community -- the forerunner of the European Union -- demanding a rebate of money London contributed to Brussels.

Her positions on other issues, both domestic and foreign, were just as firm, and in one of her most famous phrases, she declared at a Conservative Party conference that she had no intention of changing her mind.

"To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: 'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning,'" she declared, to cheers from party members.

The United Kingdom fought a short, sharp war against Argentina over the Falklands Islands under Thatcher in 1982, responding with force when Buenos Aires laid claim to the islands.

Announcing that Britain had recaptured South Georgia Island from Argentina, Thatcher appealed to nationalist sentiments, advising the press: "Just rejoice at the news and congratulate our forces."

A journalist shouted a question at her as she turned to go back into 10 Downing Street: "Are we going to war with Argentina, Mrs. Thatcher?"

She paused for an instant, then offered a single word: "Rejoice."

Controversy over Falklands war

The conflict was not without controversy, even in Britain.

A British submarine sank Argentina's only cruiser, the General Belgrano, in an encounter that left 358 Argentines dead. The sinking took place outside of Britain's declared exclusion zone.

In her first term, Thatcher reduced or eliminated many government subsidies to business, a move that led to a sharp rise in unemployment. By 1986, unemployment had reached 3 million.

But Thatcher won landslide re-election in 1983 on the heels of the Falklands victory, her Conservative Party taking a majority of seats in parliament with 42% of the vote. Second-place Labour took nearly 28%, while the alliance that became the Liberal Democrats took just over 25%.

A year later, she escaped an IRA terrorist bombing at her hotel at the Conservative Party conference in Brighton.

She was re-elected in 1987 with a slightly reduced majority.

She was ultimately brought down, not by British voters, but by her own Conservative party.

Brought down by the poll tax

She was forced to resign in 1990 during an internal leadership struggle after she introduced a poll tax levied on community residents rather than property.

The unpopular tax led to rioting in the streets.

She married her husband, Denis Thatcher, a local businessman who ran his family's firm before becoming an executive in the oil industry, in 1951 -- a year after an unsuccessful run for Parliament. The couple had twins, Mark and Carol, in 1953.

She was elected to Parliament in 1959 and served in various positions, including education secretary, until her terms as prime minister.

Thatcher was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, a year after she stepped down as prime minister. She was named Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven after leaving office.

She retired from public life after a stroke in 2002 and suffered several smaller strokes after that. Her husband died in June 2003.

Though her doctors advised against public speaking, a frail Thatcher attended Reagan's 2004 funeral, saying in a prerecorded video that Reagan was "a great president, a great American, and a great man."

"And I have lost a dear friend," she said.

In the years that followed she encountered additional turmoil. In 2004, her son Mark was arrested in an investigation of an alleged plot by mercenaries to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea in west Africa. He pleaded guilty in a South African court in 2005 to unwittingly bankrolling the plot.

Source: CNN

Numbers to Know: National title game

In a season of upsets and Cinderella stories, we are down to the final game of the season for the national title, pitting a team ranked second (Louisville) and a team ranked fifth (Michigan) in the AP preseason poll.

The last time we had a national championship game between two teams ranked in the top 5 of the AP preseason poll was 2008, when Kansas beat Memphis in overtime. Let’s hope Monday night’s contest between the Cardinals and Wolverines is just as exciting as that game five years ago.

It’s been a while

Both Michigan and Louisville are among the elite college basketball programs of the past several decades, but it’s been a while since either has hoisted the national championship trophy.

Louisville is appearing in its first title game since 1986, when Pervis Ellison led the Cardinals to the championship.

Michigan is in the final game for the first time since the Fab Five made back-to-back appearances in 1992-93 (which were later vacated), and is looking for its first title since 1989.

Strength vs. strength 

This is a classic strength vs. strength matchup between the nation’s top-ranked teams in adjusted offensive efficiency (Michigan) and adjusted defensive efficiency (Louisville), per Kenpom.com.

Louisville’s defense is built on a swarming press that forces turnovers on 27 percent of its opponents' possessions, the second-highest rate in the nation. However, its defensive turnover rate has been below 20 percent in each of its past three games of the tournament.

Michigan ranks first in Division I in offensive turnover percentage (14.5%) and has shown the ability to handle a pressure defense. The Wolverines had a turnover rate of 18 percent against VCU, which leads the country in defensive turnover percentage at 28 percent.

What’s at stake 

Michigan is trying to be the second No. 4 seed to win the national title. The other was Arizona in 1997, which defeated a top-seeded Kentucky team coached by Rick Pitino. 

The Wolverines are also trying to improve on their 1-4 record in national championship games, which is tied for the worst among all schools that have played at least three games.

Louisville is seeking to be the third No. 1 overall seed to win the title since the NCAA began the designation in 2004, joining Florida in 2007 and Kentucky last year. The Cardinals would also be the eighth school to win at least three national championships.

Rick Pitino is the fourth head coach to take multiple teams to the national championship game, along with Larry Brown, Frank McGuire and Roy Williams (John Calipari’s title game appearance with Memphis was vacated).

If Louisville wins, Pitino would be the first men’s coach in NCAA Division I history to win a national title with two different schools.

Source: ESPN

Rick Pitino highlights 2013 class of 7 into Naismath Hall of Fame

Rick Pitino, who will coach Louisville in the NCAA championship game Monday night, is among seven people elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Joining Pitino in the class of 2013, announced Monday, are former NBA stars Bernard King and Gary Payton, former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, North Carolina women's coach Sylvia Hatchell, former University of Houston coach Guy Lewis, former University of Virginia star Dawn Staley.

The inductions will take place in Springfield, Mass. in September.

Inductees announced previously were Edwin E.B. Henderson, a direct elect by the Early African Pioneer Committee, longtime Indiana Pacers guard Roger Brown, Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, the leading scorer in Olympic history, Richie Guerin, a star for the New York Knicks in the 1950s, and Russ Granik, the longtime assistant commissioner of the NBA.

Source: ESPN

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Somebody Wants What You Have

Right now, someone in the world envies you. They admire your business. They covet your wardrobe. They lust after your husband. To someone, somewhere, you look like you have it all. Your website makes their mouth water. Your pictures on Facebook make them yearn for adventure in their life. Seeing you makes them crave more in their own life.

Feeling jealous is part of being human, but what we do with this emotion is a choice.

There are plenty of religions and spiritual practices that would have us believe that to want something another has is wrong. I’d like to suggest otherwise.

I’d like to suggest that noticing the good that someone else has got going on is a reminder of what you desire. It’s a clue as to where to point your ship as you steer your life. It’s a sign that you’re a living, breathing, emotive human being.

When you find yourself envying another, remember:

  • Someone, somewhere, wants what you have too. Take a moment to be grateful for how amazing your life is right now. Notice specific things that you appreciate and breathe them into your grateful body.
  • Embrace your envy. It’s great information that will help you make decisions to move you toward more of what you want in life and to steer clear of what you don’t.
  • You always have a choice as to which kind of jealous you’re going to be: the bitter kind who resents someone else for what they have or the trusting kind who celebrates the success of another as an affirmation that if they can do it, so can you.
When you think the grass is greener at your girlfriend’s house or in your competitor’s business, get out your hose and water your own grass.

Channel your desire for what someone else has into practical actions that will get you what you want. When used this way, envy can be used for good instead of evil.

Source: Kate Northup

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pizza Potato Skins


8 whole Small Russet Potatoes
Canola Oil
Butter, Melted
Kosher Salt
Jarred Marinara Or Pizza Sauce
Grated Mozzarella Cheese
Diced Pepperoni
Minced Fresh Parsley
Miscellaneous Pizza Toppings: Cooked Sausage, Cooked Hamburger, Diced Bell Pepper, Diced Onion, Diced Mushrooms, Diced Canadian Bacon, Etc.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes very clean.

Rub the surface of each potato with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake until the potatoes are tender and the skins are crisp, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Cut the baked potatoes in half, then use a spoon to scoop out most of the insides, leaving a bit of a rim all around. Brush the inside and outside of each half with melted butter. Place the potatoes skin side up and return to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn them over (using tongs) and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes, or until the potatoes are crisp. Remove them from the oven and set them aside.

To assemble the skins, fill each skin with a spoonful of marinara or pizza sauce. Add a good amount of grated cheese and sprinkle on some diced pepperoni. Return them to the oven for just a couple of minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with minced parsley and serve immediately!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Waiting on God

As a waitress at an inn in a resort town years ago, I would stand poised at the guests’ table, pencil and pad in hand. I was not idly passing time. I was preparing to be of service by “waiting on” the guests. When they were ready to order, I would record their meal choices on my pad and then convey what I had written to the chef in the kitchen.

Recently I was thinking of that experience in the light of what it means to wait on God. While I may not be standing poised with pencil and pad, I can, nevertheless, wait on God with that same readiness to serve Him. I can prayerfully listen for, and be receptive to, what He is asking of me.

Waiting on God involves maintaining an aura of expectancy and a readiness to follow through, knowing that He gives us only messages or ideas that we can fulfill. Every order from divine Mind, the Mind of God, has a purpose that can’t be thwarted or undermined.

Jesus’ whole life was committed to waiting on God. His every act was a direct result of that expectant waiting. His waiting did not include lapses of time. One might even say that time had no place in a life lived in such intimate communion with the Father. What better model for waiting on God than Jesus’ life and works.

Servants stand ready to receive orders. They don’t delay in responding when summoned. To wait on God is to be alert to heed His summons. It’s not “hanging around” waiting for something to happen. Acknowledging His presence in our lives reveals new opportunities to serve Him, whether it’s a call to pray, even when we may not ever know the results of our prayers, or whether it’s a call to take action as the result of prayer. The prophet Hosea offers this direction: “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually” (Hosea 12:6).

I recall writing to a cousin in a distant city upon hearing of her divorce. She had married without her parents’ blessing, and the marriage had foundered. It was at a time when divorce was generally shunned.

I paused before putting pen to paper, waiting on God for just the right words to express my support for her courage in taking this difficult step. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter of gratitude from her. Our long-distance friendship deepened as a result of that exchange of letters, and she recalls it gratefully to this day.

How many times do we each have the opportunity to wait on God for the right moment to speak, the right words to comfort, the appropriate time to encourage? Waiting on God is not passive; it’s a state of readiness to respond in a Christly manner.

Our status as sons and daughters of God assures us of His ever-presence in our lives. It is our privilege to wait on God – to be poised to accept His order knowing that He never asks of us more than we can fulfill. We honor His presence by waiting on Him, standing ready “with pencil and pad,” to make the moment at hand count for what He is requiring of us.

Girl Scout Cookie Upside-Down Cake



½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
¾ cup lightly packed premium unsweetened natural cocoa
1½ tablespoons canola oil
½ cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 sleeve Girl Scout cookies, chopped (I used Do-Si-Dos)


¼ cup unsalted butter
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 cookie for garnish

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan. 
  2. Melt ½ cup the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa (¼ cup). Add the oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. 
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. 
  4. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. 
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk (or soured milk), egg, and vanilla. 
  7. With a rubber spatula, stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. 
  8. Spread chopped cookies evenly in the bottom of your prepared pan. Pour the batter over the top and place in the center of the oven. Bake until the top is firm and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan – about 30 minutes. 
  9. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. 
Make the frosting:
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil; boil for 30 seconds. 
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. 
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar ½ cup at a time while whisking continuously.
  4. Immediately pour the frosting over the cake (the cake should be bottom-side, i.e. flat-side, up), spreading with a spatula. The frosting will harden pretty quickly. Sprinkle an extra crumbled cookie on top.
Source: Mollie Zapata, Eat. Run. Read.

21 Ways to Overcome Disappointment

“We would never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,” wrote Helen Keller.

How I wish she were wrong.

Disappointments leave us with the unpleasant task of squashing, crushing, and pinching lemons to extract any and all juice.

Here, then, are a few of my techniques to turn sour into sweet, to try my best to overcome disappointment.

1. Throw away the evidence

Albert Einstein failed his college entrance exam. Walt Disney was fired from his first media job. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Get it?

2. Stay in the mud

“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud,” says a Buddhist proverb, just in case you thought all crap was bad.

3. Make a pearl
Allow your disappointment to form a pearl just as an oyster does when an irritating grain of sand gets inside its shell, but grab the pearl before the sand gets in your eyes.

4. Ignore the critics

Success is one percent talent, 99 perspiration. Take it from a writer whose eighth-grade paper was read aloud as an example of how NOT to write.

5. Grow your roots

Although the bamboo is the fastest-growing plant on Earth, it looks lazy at first because there is no branching … just growing lots of deep and wide roots. At the right time, though, the evergreen is capable of surging as fast as 48 inches in 24 hours. So are we … if we grow strong roots.

6. Persevere

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”–Author Unknown

7. Don’t rush the process

Only in struggling to emerge from a small hole in the cocoon does a butterfly form wings strong enough to fly. Should you try to help a butterfly by tearing open the cocoon, the poor thing won’t sprout wings, or if it does, its friends will make fun of it.

8. Protect yourself

Avoid the highly educated relative who might tell you “all things happen for a reason” or that you somehow attracted this disappointment with the wrong thoughts. Build an imaginary bubble and hide inside.

9. Stay big

Newspaper columnist Ann Landers once wrote, “Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.” For once in your life, the bigger you are, the better!

10. Allow cracks

A crack in your marriage, career, or personal plans doesn’t mean that your life is broken. According to Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

11. Write about it

Recent research by Dr. James Pennebaker, chair of the psychology program at the University of Texas, has concluded that writing about painful feelings and emotional events relieves stress and promotes healing on many levels. So keep a journal.

12. Back up

Sometimes you can’t make sense of a picture until you back up. Up close all you see is dots … lots of them in different shapes and colors. But with some distance the painting comes alive. It tells a story.

13. Stand up again

A Japanese proverb says, “fall seven times, stand up eight.” Notice there is no mention of sitting down when you’re tired, or crawling when you’re scared.

14. Join the race

That’s the human race I’m talking about. Because no one is perfect. The human experience is an exercise in collecting disappointments and mistakes, ruminating on them for a little bit, and turning them into wisdom.

15. Take the fork

Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to the fork in the road, take it” … meaning: it doesn’t matter which direction you choose as long as you keep moving.

16. Start over

Every disappointment is an opportunity to start over. A white piece of paper. And if this time you still can’t color within the lines, you get another blank sheet, as many new beginnings as you want.

17. Be gentle

Don’t scream at yourself. Speak to yourself with loving kindness, the same way you would to your friend who was just dealt a big, fat, unfair blow.

18. Get directions

Oprah Winfrey was taken off the air in Baltimore at the start of her career, then she was given a shot at a talk show. Says Oprah: “I have learned that failure is really God’s way of saying, ‘Excuse me, you’re moving in the wrong direction’.”

19. Dance in the rain

My mom once told me, “You can’t wait for the storm to be over. You have to learn how to dance in the rain.”

20. Believe in miracles

I’ve witnessed enough miracles in my life to know they happen … usually when I least expect it.

21. Hang on to hope

There is one thing that never, ever disappoints. And that’s hope. Hold on to it forever.

Source: Therese J. Borchard