Monday, April 16, 2012

Scratch Beginnings

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25 and the search for the American Dream
By Adam Shepard

After reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed”, Adam Shepard was not ready to believe that the American Dream was unattainable to those who start at the bottom. So with his glass half full mentality he set out to a new city with $25.00 in his pocket determined to prove that the American Dream can be a reality.

I liked Adam Shepard’s attitude much more than Barbara’s and was pleased with his determination to stick with it until he proved Barbara or himself wrong. This book was different from Nickel & Dimed because he wasn’t trying to flex his intellectual muscles and superior social skills through his writing.  He assumed his role as a homeless man as well as he could.

I got bored in this book too. This wasn’t a book about how to become a professional mover however I felt he spent a lot of time talking about all that and it wasn’t necessary. This and “Nickel and Dimed” could have been easily reduced to a few essays and made their points just as poignantly.

Although Adam had a better hope in his outcome his Suzy Sunshine attitude and need to be ‘accepted’ or ‘liked’ by the ‘in-crowd’ at a homeless shelter or at his work was very high school and I disliked that very much. Who cares if the popular kids like you?  I guess it makes life a bit more charmed but if you are trampling on others while you trot on your high horse, your elevated status is of no help to others. I give this book 1 ½ stars. I am a little bothered that books are selling that mimic the working poor. There are plenty of working poor, why don’t we just research their story and publish that instead of playing pretend?

Nickel and Dimed

Nickel and Dimed:On (Not Getting By in America)
By Barbara Ehrenreich

The author takes it upon herself to work  ‘undercover’ and become a low wage, blue color worker to see if it is possible to get by and move up on the American socioeconomic ladder.

My first draft of this review was much like the book, long and whiney. Because that is exactly what I disliked about the book, I decided to redraft. So here it is. I didn’t like it and generously give it 1-star. If you are up for a short rant, continue on.

This book was boring and confusing. More than once I found myself back at the introduction to refresh my memory as to what she was attempting to prove. Was it that no one could get ahead in this country on low wages or was it that the working class is mistreated and downtrodden or that it sucks to have a job that requires a lot of work with little or no reward? Whichever it was, she had a very difficult time “spitting” it out. However, by its conclusion, I believed she accomplished what she set out to do…fail. Congratulations.

There were a few bits that really got me fired up, but not in sympathy for her case, I kept thinking up solutions or arguments to refute what she had put forth. Rather than spend the 15 hours or so it may take to read this book, get off your duff and go help someone! We can talk about change for the rest of our lives but until we DO something about it, our hope for change is wasted. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Giveaway! (a real one this time)

Ok well, it's been quite a week for me. Again not so much here as over here:

Because I know you all care, I wanted you all to know first that I finished another UNFINISHED PROJECT: The Shopping Sacks!

yeah, yippee, cheers, applause!

To celebrate the completion of this project, Earth Day and my new blog....

I am giving the bags away to one helpful reader!

If you haven't already, head over to

To see the newly finished project and enter for your chance to win them. Thank you for your help in making the first week of the new blog such a great success.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Hey guys,

I have a little secret. I'm blogging again. Which isn't really evident from what you see here because I'm blogging over here:

I started the new blog because I had a hard time posting about food on a blog titled Sew Many Books. I tried...Really I did remember?...




Anyway I just couldn't do it. If I were OCD I'd blame it on that, but I'm not so I have no excuses, just a request that you please follow me to.

Say to yourself...I want to go to there!

It's a lot to ask I know. You probably already have a favorite food blog and perhaps you aren't really sure if you want to follow me there (because there is only one food post up- at the current time)  But if you like to eat or have ever eaten anything that I've prepared for you, or you think that I'm a soul worth saving...I think you're going to want to follow the new blog. :) Just be patient, it's growing....Can I count on your vote in November.... Ooops not a political blog a food blog....

Do you feel the love?  Then go ahead and share the love, your comments are more than welcome and appreciated.



Monday, April 4, 2011

The Red Tent-Review & Giveaway


The red tent was a place designated for the women in this biblical story to congregate during their menstrual cycles, times of birth, sickness and healing. Only women are allowed in the tent and during the time spent there, they shared experiences, spoke of traditions and discussed all matters of importance.

Dinah, the daughter of Jacob [Israel], tells her family’s familiar story from her own experiences and from the experience of others that she learned while in the red tent.


Sounds interesting enough right? Especially when you consider that the only record we have from that time period is from a male perspective. But see that is the problem with a synopsis; they are written to sound interesting. You can’t get enough information from a synopsis to know what else may be lurking between the covers. So please, don’t judge a book, as I did, by the synopsis on the cover - judge it by its reviews.

The author was too easily sidetracked with lurid sexual references and often lost sight of the forest through the sleaze (thank you Hitch). I am not going to argue about whether or not the Bible is a romanticized record of what actually took place during that time period or if these stories are even true or based on parable. My issue with this book is that this new look into this story from the Old Testament adds little to the progression of humanity in comparison to it’s male perspective counterpart.

Within this story the author had a unique opportunity to express her thoughts and feelings regarding the good and bad that takes place when progress interferes with tradition and she totally blew it. She took so much time setting up the story to explain the complicated relationship that evolves around families, especially between mothers and daughters and when the time came to really drive the idea home, she just put her pen down and walked away. This approach made the fictional part of the character Dinah seem flat with no depth worth holding onto. Dinah began the story as a girl filled with potential and possibility and by the end had evolved into a creature of circumstance rather than choice and that just bothers me about people in general, especially women.

In the end, the book receives a 1-star rating because I had a hard time absolutely hating a book that prompted me to pick up my dusty old testament and read the ancient story for myself. If The Red Tent is a reflection of what the Bible would read like, if women wrote it, I am eternally grateful, that men were the scribes back in that day. Not because I think the men had a better handle on reality but because this women’s version tried to stretch truth in all the wrong places. But perhaps the book really wasn’t that bad and I’m just mad because  this was the first book I’ve purchased in a really LONG time and I would have liked it to be better than what it was. 

So, if you are still interested in reading the book, let me know by leaving a comment on this post sometime before midnight on April 11, 2011 (that's one week). I’ll send you my copy to keep! (if more than one person requests the book I’ll use to choose the winner.)

Oh and if you don't want a copy, you can still leave a comment - just let me know you are not interested the giveaway. :)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mint Brownies

Happy Birthday
This treat is for you!

Truth be told… I have no idea if you like mint or brownies, but since it’s your birthday (and St. Paddy’s day) I thought I’d dedicate this treat to you. I know you try to keep your sweets to a minimum so I cut these very small (1 inch squares). This way, if you can resist eating more than one, the sugar effects would be minimal. On the other hand, I also know you like to exercise so if you do happen to eat more than one, you have a good excuse to hit the pavement and work off your spoils.

From what I was told, these brownies were amazing and by far the most eaten out of the array I had made for a baby shower earlier this week. I can’t tell you first hand what they tasted like because I couldn’t eat a single one. Not even a taste to see if my mint ratios were correct! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to bake/cook when you take snitches of what you are preparing? It’s hard and I hope you only ever have to take my word for it. Set aside the challenge of getting the recipe just right, it’s torture for the food loving soul. (I wonder if I could start a book series based on that title- you know to play on the other multimillion dollar book franchise about a warm broth for the whatever loving soul…I think my book would do better though because I think people like to torture themselves.) Anyway, I’ll address that particular problem (about not being able to eat the food I prepare) later. For now, enjoy your Birthday/St. Patrick’s Day Sweet.

Oh and now for a little baking explanation. I found these little beauties off of the website scrumptious photography and yes, I am aware that her photography skills are far superior than mine...I’m over it. After much deliberation, I decided to change a few things with the recipe. To start, I didn't feel her pictures were "minty" enough, so I one-and-a-halfed the mint layer portion of the recipe. (recipe below reflects the change). Since I didn’t have any peppermint extract or crème de menthe on hand I used lorAnn’s Oils Crème de Menthe Flavor. Which, I’m told is a stronger concentration than either of the other flavoring methods mentioned and for best results should be done to taste (hard to do when you can’t taste-so I used my brother and his wife to help me out). I used close to ½ a dram for my recipe.

The other thing I changed was the addition of a drippy ganache (which I can never spell correctly and neither can spellchecker) and an Andes Mint as garnish. I was going for "WOW" factor and/or pretty presentation. I’m not sure I achieved either, but the brownies were gobbled up so that must say something. 

-brownies adapted from: /
-ganache adapted from: annies-eats

Brownie Layer:
½ cup unsalted butter, but into pieces
4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Scharffen Berger 99%)
1 ¼ cups granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

Mint Layer:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
¼ to ½ a dram (1-2 ml) lorAnn Oils Crème de Menthe flavor
2 drops liquid green food coloring

Chocolate Ganache:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Andes Mints, cut in half on the diagonal
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 8 x 8 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan (avoid glass) that has been lined with parchment paper across the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan, like a sling. Set aside.

In a stainless steel (heatproof) bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and beat, with a wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan (about one minute). Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges of the brownies are just beginning to brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out almost clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to completely cool.

Mint Layer:
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownie layer. Place in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes or until firm. Cut brownies into individual pieces and arrange ½ an inch apart on a cookie tray covered with parchment paper. (this is so you can drip the ganache off the sides)

Chocolate Ganache:
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.  Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 3 minutes.  (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to drip over the brownies.)  Dip a small spoon into the ganache and with the backside of the spoon dab the ganache onto each brownie square ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides. Place Andes mint on top of ganache for garnish and refrigerate the brownies until the glaze is set, at least 1 hour.  

Bring back to room temperature before serving.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I just want to write…something. 

I want it to be beautiful and complete. But there is laundry to be folded, dishes to wash and children to kiss goodnight.  I can’t possibly write the depth of what is prancing though my mind so I’ll just skim the surface in order to just write….


Tomorrow evening, Boy and I will be attending a viewing for one of his high school friends. He and I have talked about this kind of day for many years. I knew it would come, but I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready. I thought maybe when I was 80 and my friends started dying I wouldn’t mind so much, but 33?

On a lighter note.

My baby, is already 2 months old. He smiles and laughs. He makes me smile and laugh. I’m enjoying good mental health. I was worried... I wasn’t so fortunate with the last one.

The last book I read was “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte over 4 months ago. I can’t believe I finished it because I hated it SO much! I couldn’t put it down.

I started sewing again. I made PJ’s for my kids this Christmas. I also started making the aprons I’ve been looking at for a while, but I didn’t get those finished yet and it’s ok.

I’m ok. I’m great actually. Quite busy, more than I’ve ever been, and although I am not allowed many opportunities to really think about the state of my being (or gussy up my blog posts with pictures or fancy fonts), I know that I’m happy and thankfully, today, that is enough.