Ground Beef Sukiyaki

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 Tablespoons of molasses
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup A-1 Steak sauce
salt to taste (not much)
6 oz can of sliced mushrooms
2 medium onions, sliced very thin
1 green pepper sliced in thin strips
6 scallions cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, thinly sliced
1 8 oz can bamboo shoots
1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
cooked rice.

Directions:

In large skillet brown beef until crumbly. In small bowl, mix molasses, soy sauce, A-1 steak sauce, and salt. Set aside. Drain mushrooms, reserving lidquid. When meat is cooked, mix in vegetables. Add sauce. Simmer 3 minutes or until vegetables are just crisp-tender. Combine cornstarch or arrowroot powder with the reserved mushroom liquid. Stir into simmering sukiyaki. Cook while stirring, just until sauce thickens and is not so milky in appearance.

Serve over rice.

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Chicken Liver Pâté

chicken liver quoteChicken Liver Pâté

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 chopped onion

1 garlic clove, chopped or minced

5 oz of chicken livers

3 1/2 ounces of butter or bacon grease

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 pieces of bacon, cooked, minced (optional, but WHY?)

Directions:

Heat the oil or cook the bacon in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft, but not coloured.

Add the chicken livers and fry on both sides until golden brown all over.  Then allow it all to cool for a few minutes.

Place the butter, cooked bacon (if you’re using it) and the chicken liver mixture intto a food processor and chop in spurts to form a smooth paste.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then spoon the Pâté into a bowl.

If you want to serve it right away, chill in the freezer for a few minutes.  Otherwise, just cover and chill in the fridge and eat as desired.

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The Cherub has low iron levels, so I like to cook up a package of chicken livers each week and then just give one or two livers for lunch, with a couple generous spoonfuls of Kkakdugi (깍두기) (cubed radish kimchi) on the side.

But this week I wanted a change, so we’re having this in the fridge and she’ll have some spread on a rice cake or a ‘flacker,’ a rosemary flaxseed cracker that has no wheat, eggs, or corn products, so the Cherub can eat it.

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Gotta Watch This

Trey Gowdy vs Irs Commissioner John Koskinen again.

Reminds Koskinen that he testified under oath to Congress that ‘We confirmed’ the Lerner emails and hard-drives were gone, gone, gone and there were no back-ups existed. Asks Koskinen to please explain who this ‘we’ is and how does he define the word ‘confirm,’ and is he still ‘confirmed’ about this?

Thanks to the Daily Caller, and I agree with their take that Koskinen looks considerably less snotty and smug here.

More here.

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Police State

winamac police militaryThe above picture is from the Indiana Libertarian Party.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, the population of the entire county was 13,402.  Of the towns in the county, Winamac is the largest with a population of about 2400.

The estimated Winamac crime index is 47% lower than the Indiana average and and the Indiana crime index is 3% higher than the National average.
The estimated Winamac violent crime rate is 67% lower than the Indiana average and and the Indiana violent crime rate is 10% lower than the National average.
The estimated Winamac property crime rate is 44% lower than the Indiana average and and the Indiana property crime rate is 5% higher than the National average.
http://www.areavibes.com/winamac-in/crime/

Winamac is safer than 67.7% of the cities in the nation.
The crime rate in Winamac is less than 52% of the cities in Indiana.
The estimated chance of being a victim of a crime in Winamac is 1 in 56.
The estimated chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Winamac is 1 in 883.
The estimated chance of being a victim of a property crime in Winamac is 1 in 60.

More here:

Johnson County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire MRAPs from military surplus since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star. The vehicles are among a broad array of 4,400 items — everything from coats to computers to high-powered rifles — acquired by police and sheriff’s departments across the state.

Law enforcement officials, especially those from agencies with small budgets, say they’re turning to military surplus equipment to take advantage of bargains and protect police officers. The MRAP has an added benefit, said Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer, whose department also acquired one: “It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.”

 

Even in Pulaski County, population 13,124, a more military approach to law enforcement is needed these days, Gayer suggested.

“The United States of America has become a war zone,” he said. “There’s violence in the workplace, there’s violence in schools and there’s violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

 

None of the other towns in the entire county even reaches a thousand in population. One of them has a population of 218 people (saaahlute!)

Town of Winamac’s website.

To be precise, the military style vehicle you see is for the whole county, not just Winamac (That’s Winamac, not Winaraq, pronounced like winning a Big Mac, Win-a-Mac, accent on the Win).

Pulaski County, IN, violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 10, is 2.

 

Between 2003 and 2008 Sheriff Gayer’s warzone, Pulaski county had 1 murder, 2 rapes, and 500 thefts reported.

Now, I think the fancy toy up above was given to the county for free, the military was getting rid of something.   But maintenance will cost the county something.  Furthermore, there is always a danger when government officials are given toys like this- and that danger is that they will want to use them since they have them.  I mean after all, they are already sitting there, might as well be put to good use, right?

We’re heading toward a police state, and it’s a serious problem. There are few reasons, if any, a police force in America needs a fully armored vehicle capable of sustaining a direct hit from an explosive device in order to do its job.

More here:  http://reason.com/archives/2014/07/23/over-policing-america

And here: Conservatives, libertarians and liberals should all worry about the militarization of police

(Updated because I hit publish before I had finished adding all the information I had ready for this post)

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Bed-Sharing

Sleepy Blog PicMy eldest shared this link with me (and the rest of her FB friends) recently:

“Breastfeeding mothers and babies sharing sleep is a biologically normal behaviour, while formula feeding and separate sleep are departures from the norm. It is these behaviours that need to be shown to be effective and safe, not the other way round.  In some reports on SIDS and other sleep related deaths, breastfeeding mothers who do not smoke and have not consumed alcohol or arousal-altering medications are considered a sub-group to be discounted from the analysis – whereas they should be the normal starting point. A first step in looking at infant deaths in adult beds would be to look at what was wrong with the beds, not what was wrong with the mothers.”

The American medical community, frankly, doesn’t know what they are talking about on this issue.

 

“The lowest SIDS rates in the world are in countries where bed-sharing is traditional, for instance parts of Asia and South Asia. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of geography, as when people from a low-risk cultures move to other countries if they bring their traditions with them they also tend to bring a low rate of SIDS . The US has a higher rate of SIDS than just about anywhere else and the four big risk factors for this are mentioned above. Bed-sharing is not one of them.”


The whole article is worth reading, the FYG says.  She notes there are ‘some technical bits about research and data, but honestly, that’s missing a lot from the Scare Tactic Spiels many give about co-sleeping.’

“the four biggest risk factors for SIDS: smoking, laying a baby facedown for sleep, leaving a baby unattended, & formula feeding.”

You can still sleep with your baby even if you formula feed.  The HG slept with her firstborn, even though  he was tube fed and sometimes on formula when donated breastmilk wasn’t available.  She was cautious and took some precautions she didn’t take with her younger two (like sometimes not using a pillow).

She says:
“From the researchers I’ve read on this subject, I think the consensus is not that it’s a bad idea to do if your baby needs to be on formula, but you should be aware of extra risks and plan accordingly.”

 

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Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but a real friend doesn’t need to say that

i do not look sickIn other news, although maybe this, too, was made possible by therapy, I deleted, blocked, or unfriended a couple of sanctimonious sorts from my friends list because they were seriously SO not helping.  I’ve known that the things these particular people said to me were actually harmful for months, and in one case a few years, but I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.  Then I accepted the fact that the possibility that I would hurt their feelings was not more important than me not being able to function for a full day (or longer) because of the kinds of stuff they felt free to say to me.

They said these kinds of things not because they are horrible people, but because they have no clew what they are dealing with but don’t know what they don’t know (and unfortunately apparently couldn’t be bothered to spend five minutes learning about it).  They were very much Job’s comforters, although I couldn’t really tell their goal was comfort.   And once I blocked them and gave myself the gift of space and protection from their darts and arrows, I realized that it probably wasn’t going to hurt their feelings at all.  Instead, it would give them the opportunity to pat themselves on the back and tell themselves that they tried, but I just wasn’t willing to listen, or just didn’t want to hear, or whatever.  I’m pretty positive they will not be questioning themselves and asking themselves if there might perhaps be something wrong with what they said.

We all say dumb things sometimes, unhelpful things sometimes, hurtful things sometimes. I am talking here about people who had pretty much nothing to offer but criticism and unhelpful, hurtful, counterproductive remarks. What they offered was not help, it was sabotage. It’s as though somebody wrote a list of all the things you could say that would trigger a meltdown from a person with PTSD, and they used that list for all their communications with me.  So you probably don’t need to worry if you are one of those people.  But just in case,  if you are worried about what you might be saying wrong to some suffering soul in your life, this post on helping a family dealing with cancer is useful for many traumatic situations.  And if you’re like me, you might find the snark on my PTSD pinterest board helpful.  Or at least fun.

You know how when a person describes themselves as ‘humble’ they probably really aren’t that humble?  And if somebody has to tell you, “Look here, I am a grown up!” they really aren’t all that grown up?  I’ve begun to suspect that when somebody begins a conversation with ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend,’ they aren’t that much of a friend, either.  That’s a good verse for you to use to filter words when you are processing something potentially painful which somebody else said to you.

If you’re using it to describe yourself as you tell somebody else why they need to listen to the oh, so important yet admittedly hurtful things you want to say,  you’re probably not doing it right.

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Therapy Week Three (? I think)

wrestling with demonsI might post these once a week, I think, roughly coinciding with therapy appointments.  Or not. No promises (or threats).  We’ll see.

I’ve tended to post updates the day after therapy because I’m especially a big kind of a mess after therapy and blogging/writing is how I process.  I’m not so much of a mess this week because I didn’t have therapy this week, more on that momentarily. I’m also kind of conflicted about therapy itself at the moment. But writing a bunch of stuff about why I’m conflicted (and then deleting it, so HA) has kind of clarified it in my head, although that does not mean it’s going to be clear to you when I hit publish. Most blog posts are to a certain degree at least partially an exercise in unabashed narcissism, but maybe this one more so than others.

So.  After writing out the very long and emotional unloading post which I have now deleted, I’ve concluded that there are legitimate reasons why I might get quicker, more immediately effective results with a different therapist.  I wrote those reasons out and then deleted them because… delete, delete, delete.  So you just have to take my word for it.  Well, and I did share them with a close friend who was all, “Really? That’s crazy….” and other stuff that kind of agreed with me.  Did I pick this friend because I knew she’d agree with me? I will leave that to your imagination.

I also was writing largely out of frustration- the therapist wrote down one appointment time on the card she gave me last week, but a different appointment time in her appointment book, so when I got there for my appointment yesterday, the office was locked, nobody was there, and the cell phone number I have was disconnected.  And when I got home later there was an email canceling the appointment she had scheduled in her book for a different day, so… yeah.  I know stuff happens, and I understand why she needed the time off this week, it just was particularly complicated to get there and back yesterday.  So I was irked.

“Do I really need to keep this up? She’s given me some direction, surely I can just do this on my own from here.  Mabye there’s another therapist who could help me more.  What about _____ in _____, who does _____ therapy?  That would be better.  Why not just keep up with my current ‘homework’ on my own until I master it and am ready to move on, and then call her or somebody else to start the next step?”

That’s the direction my thoughts were running.

BUT- for me at this time,  the alternative isn’t a better therapist, it is none at all.  Realistically, there’s nobody else in town I’m going to go see, and there’s absolutely no way I can get myself to another town on a regular basis.  I’m pretty sure nobody in my family can commit to that (we’re talking an hour drive one way and inconsistent work schedules as well),  and even if they could, I couldn’t.  I know I’d be canceling appointments every week with lame excuses and exaggerated illnesses- the mildest prickle of pain in my pinkie toe would turn into crippling gout, arthritis, a sprained ankle- or my genuine distress about the travel would manifest as very real stomach issues and migraines as the therapy appointment loomed larger and larger in the oncoming semi-truck of life.

And it’s not that I am saying she is just better than nothing at all, because that’s not true, she’s much, much better than ‘nothing at all.’

One reason has nothing to do with me, it has to do with my family.  Just the fact that I am going to therapy at all matters so much to them I can’t even explain it.  A few weeks ago I gave the book Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD to my 16 y.o. to read.

Tonight my 16 year old boy who covers all emotions with a smile or a scowl and a joke or a jibe told me in a rare serious moment that he didn’t need to finish reading it, because the fact that I was going to therapy was kind of all he needed for now (necessary explanation: I’m paraphrasing, and I don’t think that’s all he’s ever going to need, and he may need to revisit the book in a few weeks or months), that it made a huge difference to him.  I could hardly quit going to therapy after that, now could I?

I did wonder if the therapy was actually helping, but I think the fact that I leave her office with a major head-ache and often have back spasms within a few hours, and the next day I basically feel like an antique toy stuffed with sawdust, particularly between the ears, indicates something is going on.

In talking to her about PTSD causes, signs, symptoms and issues, I know I also have recognized several things that indicate this goes way back.  I thought it was just from the Thing that happened a few years ago that I don’t discuss because hello, big, flashing, neon warning sign, symptom 6: Avoid thinking about or talking about a stressful  experience from the past.

And definitely, that is the Biggie.

But, as I mentioned last week, I realized my reaction to math is a classic PTSD thing and I know why.  I also have this other thing that I thought was just a random weird quirk, but my reaction is just too severe for that.  I hate having my mouth covered, and I mean hate it.  But that’s not strong enough.  I seriously cannot endure it, not for a second.  I might not hurt you if you walked up out of the blue and put your hand over my mouth because I’ve worked on self control with this ever since the time my firstborn child was maybe 1 year old and we were snuggling and having a fun mommy-daughter moment on the bed while my husband was at work, and without warning she clapped both her little hands tightly over my mouth and just as much without warning the next second I knew, she was on the floor crying.  I was horrified.  I don’t even know exactly what happened, but clearly, in pushing her away from my mouth I also pushed her right off the bed without even knowing it. But I think it’s a PTSD trigger. I don’t exactly why, and to be honest, if I don’t remember why, I’d rather just keep it that way right now.  I never reacted quite that extremely again, but my reactions were strong enough that none of my kids ever put their hands over my mouth more than once.

Another weird discovery- When I was in high school and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I had answers for them because I knew answers were required, but they were all fiction.  I didn’t really believe I was going to grow up.  I didn’t tell any adults this, but I did tell most of my friends that I did not see myself surviving high school.  They were kids, too, so they mostly put it down to my macabre and/or devil may care reckless personality, which was also true. But hello, symptom 12: Feeling as if your future will somehow be cut short.

Kids and teens can present PTSD symptoms a little differently from adults.  Here’s one list I found:

  • Fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others, feeling as if people are looking down on them, low self-worth, and not being able to trust others
  • Behaviors such as aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol

Well.  I don’t think I was that aggressive, and I didn’t abuse drugs, so there’s that.

Impulsive is another character trait of kids with PTSD and I know I was pretty much off the chart for impulsive decisions. I thought it was a virtue.  I have some very dark and ugly thoughts about all this, including precisely how I know that I was off the chart for impulsive decisions. I’m not speaking metaphorically or figuratively there- I was given a psychological test that indicated I had almost no impulse control at all, and there’s more to that which I am not yet ready to share.

I would not necessarily know these things without therapy, or at least, I would not accept them.  My youngest brother also has PTSD and a few years ago when we were discussing our childhood he told me he didn’t see how on earth I didn’t have it, either.   I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but I know that thankfully I did not say this even though I do remember thinking it: ‘because I have God and you don’t.’

I wasn’t being smug- at least not intentionally so- it was more in sorrow than in smug- I was sad for him.  Now?  I don’t know.  There’s a galaxy of empty space and unanswered questions in those three words.

I get frustrated when I think about it for a number of reasons, so I try not to- the above discoveries basically burst unbidden through holes in my defenses when I wasn’t looking.  Just typing this out brought out a couple other memories of my own behavior that make me seriously question my judgement about how aggressive I was or was not as a child.

So there’s something therapy has done, but I don’t know how helpful it is to know that I’ve probably had PTSD since grade school and more recent incidents and the Event of which we do not speak piled on with all the ambulance rides and traumas of this year just basically put gas and a match to an already existing problem.

ON a more positive note:

I’ve made a few advances in things I can do each week. I get frustrated because I know from the outside, it looks like all the progress of a three toed sloth, but on the inside a journey of sixty feet is like a marathon.  Saying a word I have not been able to say aloud is like climbing a mountain, and just as exhausting.

Here’s what some progress looks like:

Usually, I watch movies until I fall asleep against my will and without my knowledge OR I do the same by listening to loud and raucous K-Pop (seriously, who else puts herself to sleep listening to songs like this one because it’s calming?). Instead, thrice in the last 7 days I managed to go to sleep on purpose before 4 a.m. by sprinkling my sheets and pillow liberally with lavender oil, sniffing deeply and on purpose and concentrating on the smell while listening to Pachelbel With Nature’s Ocean Sounds.  Okay, before 4 a.m. means by 3 a.m. two out of three of those days, but still.  And also, one of the three days when thunder woke me up I had to resort to movies again.  But again, still.

I went someplace twice last week and twice the week before, and two of them weren’t to therapy.

Last week I mentioned the one activity that I really cannot do without drenching myself in panicked sweat within about 20 minutes.  Well, I still can’t.  I might have a better grip on why (or not, the jury is still out, but I’m working on it).  In addition to figuring out the why, I’m working on working around it- this is not going to work long term, but it helps for now (that’s a lot of uses of the word ‘work’).  I make a plan before I start, I set the timer, and I go work on doing that thing, being in that place, for at least ten minutes. Sometimes I’ve gone over 20 but that’s been a mistake every time. Waterboarding territory, and here there be most foul and horrendous dragons.

This morning I tried moving my base of operations to the adjacent room, so that I only have to be in that space that for some reason triggers me so badly for a couple minutes at a time.  I managed to stretch out my time working on that stuff to almost an hour that way, but I spent only about fifteen minutes total in the ‘trigger room,’ which also helped me confirm it’s that room in my house, not the activity, which is one more indication I’m right about the cause (updated to add that I don’t really know why I am being so mysterious about this- the room is my kitchen, and I think the cause is merely that I was in the kitchen when I got some very upsetting and frightening news this year, and I paced back and forth in the kitchen for almost an hour, I think, before we got word back that made everything mostly okay, and then I stuffed it and set it aside and almost forgot it completely because that seemed easiest, and it came back to haunt me).

A lot of things make me very angry.  Some of them are legitimately issues that are wrong, some not so much, and some of the legitimate ones it just doesn’t matter how angry I am, they are what they are.  This week it helped me a lot to just tell myself, “this is probably not as big a deal as you think it is, it’s just your PTSD brain doing what it does.”

I started using tension tamer tea in my green smoothies. Probably that’s just in my head, but I’ll take what I can get.

I use my lavender bottle like sniffing salts.  In all seriousness, I like essential oils for a handful of medicinal or cleaning uses (about five) that I consider legitimate enough to stand up to scientific testing.  Sniffing Lavender oil to derail an oncoming PTSD meltdown is not one of them- because I don’t think it’s the lavender essential oil that’s working, it’s me focusing on something physical that I really, really love, and I’ve always been one to notice smells.

On this screening test my score is a 79 and nothing is below a 3.  But a couple months ago my score was higher and nothing was below a 4.

I did two or three things this week and last week that I wasn’t able to do last month.  They were seemingly small things to most people, but it was a huge deal to me.

So I guess that means therapy is helping.

 

P.S. So, yes, I’m continuing.

 

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Food Prices Rising, Again

vintage housewife grocery shopping at the butcher shopYou’re not imagining it- food prices rising faster than wages.

http://thefederalist.com/2014/07/22/american-families-are-right-to-be-worried-about-inflation/

Inflation is a tax on the poor.  But the gov’t doesn’t count food or utility prices when it calculates the cost of living.

Not all that long ago, a can of tuna was less than .50 at my discount grocer- and sometimes I could get it on sale for less.  Today it was on sale- a slightly smaller can for a dollar a can.

A can of black olives was just under .70 cents.  1.69 now.

Butter was 1.99, now it’s 2.99 and sometimes more.

If you want to eat ‘clean,’ organic, nonGMO foods, meat and dairy products from pastured reared animals, there are some tips here.  It’s helpful, but honestly, with the husband working part time and going to school, we just can’t even do that for the most part. I do buy raw milk, but our raw milk is not that much more than pasteurized.  But I couldn’t even do that if we were not buying with a group to help with transportation costs.

You can look for wild, local foods- there’s a list here (not all the foods listed are listed for food purposes, some are useful as dyes, or have medicinal applications, so read carefully).

day lily, edibleI do eat day lilies- the flowers and pods- raw and in stir fries. I’ve read the tubers are also edible but I haven’t ever tried them.

I eat lambsquarters (I like them in omelettes, I think I will try them green smoothies.

I like purlsane raw and in stir fries.

Also look for fruit trees in the neighbors yards- fruit trees where they aren’t gathering the fruit.  Often if you ask, they are willing for you to take it, or at least some of it.

More here

The Four Moms once discussed keeping the food budget under control.

And here I shared some tips for finding organic foods on a budget.

Other ideas here, with the reminder that you’re not a bad person if you cannot afford organic.

What about you? What are some of your best budget saving meals?  Do you have any wild foods you eat?

 

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Illegals and Math Problems

border kidsThis is just a collection of links to stories where some sort of effort is made to quantify the issue of illegal border crossings.  I am making no claims about this, I just found it all interesting:

1/4 of those at the border have criminal records, only a small fraction are unaccompanied children. Story here.

Senator Dan Patrick said there are at least 100,000 illegal immigrant gang members in Texas and they have committed crimes such as rape and murder (they’ve been charged in nearly half a million crimes in four years, including several thousand rapes and 2,000 murders). But also, 60,000 illegal immigrant children have been apprehended since October of last year. Story here.

Perry sending Guard to the border because unaccompanied minors only make up roughly 20 percent of those being apprehended illegally crossing the border. Story here.

Indeed, “Nearly all of the illegal immigrant children who have been apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last two years have been teenagers.
According to a new Pew Research report, in fiscal year 2013, 91% of illegal immigrant “children” apprehended at the border were teenagers. Of the nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant “children” who were apprehended since October of last year, 84% have been teenagers.” Story here.

There’s a reason, or several thousand reasons, why Texas is legitimately concerned about this:
“Each week, more illegal immigrants enter Texas than people who are born in the state during the same time period.
On Monday’s The Laura Ingraham Show, Dan Patrick, the Texas state Senator who is the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said two weeks ago, Border Patrol agents “apprehended almost 10,000 people crossing the border, in one week.”
“Every week, week after week, we’ve been averaging for the last year apprehending between six and ten thousand people a week,” Patrick said hours before Texas Gov. Rick Perry formally announced that he would be sending National Guard troops to the border. “If we apprehend eight or nine thousand a week, that’s more people than are born in Texas each week.”
Patrick also said law enforcement officials have told him that somewhere between one in five and one in ten illegal immigrants are actually apprehended.
“Now, we think we catch one out of every five. That means twenty five or thirty thousand are crossing the border, that we don’t catch,” he said. “Don’t focus on the numbers that are apprehended, that’s the ones we catch.”" Story here.

Children 12 and under fastest growing group of unaccompanied minors at the border (okay, I do have an opinion about this one- somebody is trying to muck about with statistics to make this a bigger crisis than it already is).  Story here.

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A Buffet of Books, Books, Beautiful Books

we love books bookshelf vintage

Historic Tales, Vol. 12 (of 15) The Romance of Reality

Historic Tales, Vol. 12 (of 15)
The Romance of Reality, Japanese and Chinese, by CHarles Morris
Excerpt:
THE FIRST OF THE MIKADOS.

The year 1 in Japan is the same date as 660 B.C. of the Christian era, so that Japan is now in its twenty-sixth century. Then everything began. Before that date all is mystery and mythology. After that date there is something resembling history, though in the early times it is an odd mixture of history and fable. As for the gods of ancient Japan, they were many in number, and strange stories are told of their doings. Of the early men of the island kingdom we know very little. When the ancestors of the present Japanese arrived there they found the islands occupied by a race of savages, a people thickly covered with hair, and different in looks from all the other inhabitants of Asia. These in time were conquered, and only a few of them now remain,—known as Ainos, and dwelling in the island of Yezo.

In the Japanese year 1 appeared a conqueror, Jimmu Tennō by name, the first of the mikados or emperors. He was descended from the goddess of the Sun, and made his home at the foot of Kirishima, a famous mountain in the island of Kiushiu, the most southerly of the four large islands of Japan. As to the smaller islands of that anchored empire, it may be well to say that they form a vast multitude of all shapes and sizes, being in all nearly[Pg 6] four thousand in number. The Sea of Japan is truly a sea of islands.

By way of the sailing clouds, and the blue sky which rests upon Kirishima’s snowy top, the gods stepped down from heaven to earth. Down this celestial path came Jimmu’s ancestors, of whom there were four between him and the mighty Sun goddess. Of course no one is asked to accept this for fact. Somewhat too many of the fathers of nations were sons of the gods. It may be that Jimmu was an invader from some foreign land, or came from a band of colonists who had settled at the mountain’s foot some time before, but the gods have the credit of his origin.

books black and white

Bellaria di Rivergaro: The story of an Italian country inn and the family that made it their home

Blurb: Bellaria di Rivergaro is the story about a family that lived in a beautiful valley in northwest Italy and the country inn they built in 1901 that was their home. Emilio and Evangelina meet in a small hamlet between the towns of Rivergaro and Bobbio along the Trebbia River. They fall in love, marry and raise a family of eight children in the place they name Bellaria di Rivergaro (Bellaria). Within a few years, their two oldest children, Luigi and Elisa, immigrate to America where they confront the challenges of assimilating into a different culture. Meanwhile, life at Bellaria continues through the turbulent events leading up to and through World War I, while sadly tragedy strikes Elisa and her family in the immigrant section of New York City.

Later, during the fascist period of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the family finds it must deal with economic hardship, terror and danger. However, they are saved from harm by an unsolicited memento from a notorious personage in the fascist government. The family at Bellaria confronts even greater danger during World War II when family members face possible execution because occupying German forces suspect they are engaged in partisan activities. In America, Luigi achieves success in industrial construction, but feels a deep sense of guilt for never fulfilling his promise to return to Bellaria to see his family.

The years pass with the economic fortunes of Bellaria rising and falling. Emilio and Evangelina pass on leaving Bellaria to their children. In 1980, after almost eighty years, Bellaria is sold to acquaintances of the family. However, in America, the grandson of Luigi makes contact with the family in Italy and with his wife determines to fulfill his grandfather’s promise, but in an unexpected way.

Reader Review: This novel begins as a love story between the two main characters, Emilio and Evangelina. However, it soon evolves into a compelling drama laced with interesting historical detail, challenge, heartbreak and tragedy, humor and danger. The author tells the true story about how his ancestors built a country inn and restaruant in northern Italy and about the human drama they experienced through the early to late 1900s as they operated the facility and dealt with the hardships two world wars, including life under the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. This is a well-told story that will be enjoyed by men, as well as by women.

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Japan

Reader Review: I found the book very interesting and helpful in understanding the history of japan since it’s existence on earth up to the end of the nineteenth century. The book illustrates the events of japan in chronological order with fair explanation. I was particularly amazed of the internal conflict between the different warlords and the share of power with the imperial family. Another interesting subject in the history of japan is the introduction of Christianity and Buddhism and the exchange of dominance depending on the warlords preferences. It is an easy read book with full of interesting information of japan history.

Exerpt: Chapter IX. Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The death of Nobunaga in the forty-ninth year of his age left the country in a critical condition. Sakuma and Shibata had been his active retainers and generals for many years, and they had the most bitter and envious hatred toward Hideyoshi, whom they had seen advance steadily up to and past them in the march of military preferment. It was to Hideyoshi that the country looked to take up the work which Nobunaga’s death had interrupted. Akechi began to realize when too late that he must reckon with him for his terrible crime. He appointed two of his lieutenants to assassinate Hideyoshi on his way back to the capital. He sent word to Mōri Terumoto, who was trying to raise the siege of the castle of Takamatsu, concerning Nobunaga’s death, hoping that this tragedy would encourage Terumoto to complete his designs.

In the meantime the news had reached Hideyoshi. Terumoto had heard of the starting of Nobunaga with additional troops, and had determined to make peace with Hideyoshi. He had sent messengers with a proposition for peace. The measures [pg 194] for taking the castle had succeeded and it was surrendered. In this state of things Hideyoshi160 pursued a course which was characteristic of him. He sent word to Terumoto that Nobunaga was now dead and that therefore his proposition for peace might, if he wished, be withdrawn. You must decide, he said, whether you will make peace or not; it is immaterial whether I fight or conclude a treaty of peace. To such a message there could be only one answer. Peace was at once concluded and Hideyoshi started for Kyōto to deal with the traitors.

The attempt to assassinate Hideyoshi on his journey came very near being successful. He was in such eagerness to reach his destination that he hurried on without regard to his army which accompanied him. A small body-guard kept up as well as they could with their impatient chief. At Nishinomiya in this journey Hideyoshi, when in advance of his body-guard, was attacked by a band of the assassins. His only way of escape was by a narrow road between rice fields, leading to a small temple. When he had traversed part of this lane he dismounted, turning his horse around along the way he had come, and stabbed him in the hind leg. Mad with pain, he galloped back with disastrous effect upon the band which was following him. Meanwhile Hideyoshi hurried to the temple. Here the priests were all in a big common bath-tub, taking their bath. Hastily telling them who he was, and begging their protection, he stripped off his clothes and plunged in among the naked priests. [pg 195] When the assassins arrived, they could find nothing but a bath-tub full of priests, whom they soon left in search of the fugitive. As they disappeared, the anxious body-guard arrived, and were astonished and amused to find their chief clad in the garb of a priest and refreshed after his hurried journey with a luxurious bath.161

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Organic Lotion: Recipes for Beginners: How to Create Homemade Organic Lotions For Beauty, Nourishment, and Skin Healing (Treat Your Skin Naturally with … Organic Lotion Recipes Made for Beginners)

Blurb: Have you ever been filled with discontentment at the sheer sight of your own skin? If you answered yes to this question, then you are not alone. People all over the world must deal with a number of skin ailments, including dry skin, oily skin, aging skin, rashes and itching, and various skin conditions. What’s worse is that many people have haphazardly invested their faith in synthetic lotions designed to suffocate the outer layer of skin. Luckily, there is a solution to this, and it entails creating your very own, homemade lotions. With homemade lotions, you can actually control the course of your own skincare regimen.

First, as you delve into this book, you will learn about the critical importance of organic skin care as opposed to chemically based products. In the next chapter of this book, you will receive a brief review of essential skin care tips. Sometimes, owning the right product is not sufficient. If skin care is not executed properly, this can culminate in skin damage and irritation. The next section of the book will discuss the topic of lotion making tips so that you are adequately prepared for the lotion making process. Next, you will learn about the most popular lotion ingredients and essential oils, as well as their most important functions in the context of lotion. In the remaining chapters of the book, you will learn simple lotion making recipes for general skin care, youth and age prevention, as well as healing lotions for specific skin ailments.

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Paleo Frozen Desserts: 35 Delicious Homemade Dairy Free, Gluten Free Paleo Frozen Treats

Blurb:Summer is here, however if you are on the road to health and decided to rid your diet of the processed and refined foods, eating dessert may pose a bit of a challenge. Today’s supermarkets, ice cream shops and even desserts served by our neighbors are laden with refined sugars, soy, dairy as well as artificial flavors and preservatives that further contribute to weight gain, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. What if you could enjoy delicious, mouth-watering dessert in the comfort of your own home knowing it is 100% natural so that every guiltless bite could be enjoyed to the fullest?

You are in luck because Paleo Frozen Desserts will get you through the hot summer months! This book contains proven steps and strategies on how to make desserts that are in step with the Paleo diet and taste great. Not only are the desserts you are about to make creamy, rich and delicious- they are made without eggs, gluten, soy or refined sugar! Some of the treats you’ll enjoy include homemade ice cream, gelato, sherbet and popsicles!

In addition, this book provides you with more than just a list of recipes for Paleo Desserts; you will find out how dessert fits into the Paleo diet plan. You will also find hints and tips for how to manage portions so that you can control the amount of sugars in your diet, plus an explanation of the types of desserts and when it is best to make and serve them.

The following are just a few of the types of treats you’ll enjoy:

Strawberry Ice Cream

Vanilla-Hazelnut Ice Cream

Mint-Avocado Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

Coconut Ice Cream with Raspberries

Coconut Pineapple Sherbet

Strawberry Lemon Sherbet

Lime Coconut Gelato

Peach Banana Gelato

Apricot-Raspberry-Banana Gelato

Blueberry Apple Gelato

Creamy Berry Popsicles

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Green Clean Your Oven: 4 Easy Ways to Clean Your Oven Without Using Toxic Chemicals

booklet
This new book introduces 4 Easy Ways to Clean Your Oven Without Using Toxic Chemicals. These methods will show you how to clean a very dirty oven without exposing your family to those harsh, toxic chemicals.

A couple of methods I’ve included:

- Baking Soda To The Rescue
- Baking Soda, Salt & Water

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Homemade Body Scrubs: 25+ AMAZING Body Scrub Recipes to Hydrate, Soften, Nourish and Exfoliate Your Skin!

Blurb: In the Homemade Body Scrub Recipes eBook you will discover:

::What are body scrubs and what are the health benefits that they bring

Find out what body scrubs really are, what’s the history behind them, and what health benefits they bring.

::How body scrubs are made and used

Learn about the basic principals of how body scrubs are made – what they consist of and how they are mixed. And also find out how they are used.

::A variety of amazing body scrub recipes

Recieve [sic] a wide variety of wonderful body scrub recipes

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Homesteading Essentials (4): From Garden Plot To Soup Pot! Modern Homesteading & Easy Tasty Soups – 2 Book Bundle

Blurb: Living A Self-Sustainable Lifestyle:
Whether growing your own vegetables or raising chickens; Homesteading is self-sustainability are all about consuming the fruits of your own labour – whether in the form of energy that you have produced or vegetables that you have grown, or indeed chickens that you have raised for eggs and meat.

In this 4th book in the ‘Homesteading Essentials’ series, Norman & Fay have combined to offer some great tips on the essentials of homesteading, and how to produce some fantastic tasty soups from your growing and rearing efforts.

Homesteading ‘Quick Bites’ Include:

Volume 1: Canning & Food Preservation

Volume 2: Raised Bed Gardening

Volume 3: Raising Chickens – 5 Top Tips

Volume 4: Growing Organic Vegetables

Volume 5: Vermin Control

‘Easy and Tasty Soups’ Contains 18 tasty soup recipes that are both simple to make and delicious. These include soups for the slow cooker that are mouth-wateringly moreish!

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There is quite a nice collection of these titles, all free, all best for the Kindle Fire or any other color option you have. i’m not even listing all of them.

Twenty-Four Claude Monet’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Gustav Klimt’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Johannes Vermeer’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Paul Cezanne’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four John Singer Sargent’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Mary Cassatt’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Hokusai’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Edgar Degas’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Leonardo da Vinci’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Marc Chagall’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

Twenty-Four Andy Warhol’s Paintings (Collection) for Kids

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The Prepper’s ‘Lights Out’ Guide to Surviving with the Grid Down (Survival Family Basics – Preppers Survival Handbook Series)

reader review: We all hope we may never need this book but the reality is that we all depend on the grid and it could go down.
This book will teach you what to do if that ever happens. Contains essential information you need to know…
from water to hygiene to lighting. An essential survival reference.
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Homemade Cosmetics: Over 100 Recipes You Can Make at Home
blurb: Over 100 recipes for homemade cosmetics using primarily basic kitchen ingredients. Quality control, fresh and organic ingredients, no preservatives or additives, lower costs, better for the environment – these are some of the reasons to make your own cosmetics. Includes recipes for facials, toners, flower waters, lip balms/gloss, pine needle bath, bath salts, bubble baths, shower gel, mouthwash, tooth powders/paste, shampoo, hair rinse, dandruff cure, hair conditioner, sunburn remedies, rash remedies, body powders, body scrubs, athlete’s foot treatments, foot baths, foot tonics and lotions, fake “vasoline,” glitter body/hair gel, aftershave, cologne, perfume, bug repellents, fake “tigerbalm,” natural deodorant, rose petal beads, dream pillows, herbal suppliers, educators, links and resources. Includes special babies’, children’s and women’s herbals section and 31 photos by the author of herbs in nature and herbal processing techniques. Recipes come from the author’s 30+ years’ experience making her own cosmetics. Special bonus sections about herbs, women’s herbals and herbals for babies and children. Includes 31 photos by author of herbs in nature and herb processing procedures. The author has over 30 years experience making her own herbal cosmetics. She has raised her son using almost entirely medicinal herbs for any medical problems he incurred, and had a home birth, using herbs, from midwives during and after pregnancy. Much of her herbal knowledge comes from work with women’s groups, wilderness guides, midwives and herbalists, while most of the book explains her first-hand methods for using herbs.

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The Feral Spy: Shot down, with no contacts and no way home… (Sequel to A Gathered Radiance)

Lady Helena Templeton Forsyth has been arrested for stealing cat food, resisting arrest and faces additional charges of assault and actual bodily harm. Helena is living in dire poverty and cannot afford to pay a fine. She is persuaded by her defence solicitor to recall the story of her disastrous time in the S.O.E. in the hope of gaining sympathy from the magistrate. What follows is a tale of profound sadness, bravery, love, sacrifice and betrayal, Forced to bail out when her plane was shot down on the way to the dropzone, with no wireless, no contacts and no way home, Helena became a hunted fugitive with a price on her head. Yet she still risked her life to help the resistance. Will the magistrate even care, or will he still want to make an example of a woman he sees as a crafty old battleaxe? Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, a long buried secret is unearthed in the grounds of Templeton Hall, her ancestral home, and she can’t talk her way out of this one…

The Feral Spy By Joyce Weaver.

Reader Review: Having thoroughly enjoyed A Gathered Radiance, I was anxious to read this sequel. It is indeed another fascinating time slip story. Set initially in the present and then going back in time intermittently, to before and during the war, we follow Helena Templeton’s dramatic life story. As a young, rebellious, vengeful girl in the early 1930s she has an uncanny knack of getting herself into all sorts of trouble.
Educated at home initially by a scheming governess, whom she strongly dislikes, things go from bad to worse, when the woman later becomes her step-mother. By which time, Helena and her cruel, insensitive father Edward Templeton have become totally alienated.
Eventually her own mother takes her away to France, where her grandparents live. There she gets expelled from a brutal convent school in Grenoble for her mutinous behaviour. She’s then sent to a boarding school in Geneva, but is kicked out after blowing up the science lab and nearly immolating herself in the process. This act alone is to bring her future ramifications.
When Helena learns that her father, has allowed his petulant step-daughter Marguerite and scheming step-son Luke, to become his lawful heirs, yet another rancorous facet to Helena’s story begins.
Indeed, throughout the book, Helena displays constant vitriolic resentment towards them, their mother Joan and her father, and this turns her into an even more revengeful young woman… who is always flying into rages, using venomous, bad language!
Helena is an extremely well drawn, feisty character, but owing to her sometimes offensive temper, she’s quite hard to warm to, particularly in the first half of the book. However, I have a feeling that this is intended by the author.

Book one of this set is also free at the moment: A Gathered Radiance

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Keeping Chickens: A Beginner’s Guide

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The Budget Cookbook: 57 Delicious Recipes You Can Cook at Home to Have Restaurant Quality Meals on a Shoestring Budget

The dishes in this book are easy to make but taste absolutely amazing. We are all trying to save money where we can these days and with the price of food increasing all the time its hard to cut back in this area but Sophia shows us how it can be done easily. I have tried two recipes so far – the pesto infused quinoa (wow!) and the chicken curry. I have Sophias quinoa book also and I have to say I am loving the style of her writing. I am looking forward to her next book already :)
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The Prodigal Father: “I Faked My Own Death” (Life after Death Book 1)
I read the sample pages of this one and it looks really interesting.
Blurb: ” I faked my own death and lived under other names for almost three years. I was the prodigal son, prodigal husband and prodigal father. I left my mother and father, ten brothers and sisters, and my wife and three children. I knew I couldn’t live a deceptive life and take God with me. I couldn’t take my family and live a deceptive life, so I verbally told my God goodbye. He left me alone. The children of Israel wanted meat in the wilderness. God gave it to them, but He sent leanness to their souls.——I got the freedom I wanted, but leanness to my soul. Through a series of miracles, however, God visited me again and persuaded me to come back…..to Himself and my family. That was over forty years ago.”

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Modern Homesteading – Self Sufficiency. 5 Books Bundle Beginners Guide: Canning & Food Preservation; Raised Bed Gardening; Raising Chickens; Growing Organic … Vermin Control (K.I.S.S Quick Bites Book 6)

Anyone that wants to get back to their roots and learn to live as our elders did… THIS IS the book you need to start with. Love the diverse content and the writing style that makes it easy and fun to read. As our society evolves into a spiraling mess of speedy convenience this and that…we are quickly losing site of the value and importance of this basic food storage and survival knowledge. This special collection is the perfect re-introduction into these practices. I have and will recommend to all my contacts.

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How to Declutter Your Home and Simplify Your Life: Tips and Techniques for a Clutter-Free Home

There may have been various instances in your life when you’ve looked around your home and felt rather weighed down by the clutter that was reigning over it. Naturally, nobody wants to live in a home that’s so filled up with clutter that it makes you feel like you’re living in some kind of a pig sty. As your home plays an important role in determining the physical and mental health of your dear ones, ridding it of clutter should be your first and foremost priority; you can’t be entirely happy unless you’re living in an environment that makes you feel good.
Once you’ve decided to make your home clutter-free and adopt a simpler lifestyle, the first question that pops into your mind is, “Where to start?” This is a very crucial question as people who are unable to answer it often tend to find themselves in a bit of a jam, leading to even more clutter in the house.
Thus, to help you get back the house of your dreams and transform it into a squeaky clean haven, this book will provide you with a step-by-step guide to hassle-free organization. The tips provided within this eBook will help you effectively clean and de-clutter your home and keep it clutter-free for months!

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Housekeeping:

Sometimes when you click on a link, for some reason it won’t finish loading. Just hit refresh and it should work.

Subject to change without notice: Free Titles were free at the time I copied and pasted the links. But they don’t always stay free.  Deals were reduced prices at time of listing, but these prices generally don’t last more than the day they were listed.

Same for reduced price titles.

Shameless money grubbing: I thought this was common knowledge, but it turns out it’s not- these are affiliate links. If you click on a free title and download it, I get….. nothing.  If you click on a free title and while you are at Amazon also buy something else, I get….. something.  Depending on what you buy, it will probably be somewhere between 4% and 7.5% of what you spend (I don’t get a percentage on penny sales) but I don’t pretend to understand how all of that side works.

Also, Swagbucks remains my favorite source for free Amazon gift cards. And if you haven’t joined, please click on the link and join so that I can keep getting free Amazon gift cards because I am still shameless.

Don’t have a Kindle? : You don’t have to have Kindle to take advantage of these offers. You can read them on various free reading apps. I often read mine on my laptop if they are short enough books, even though I have two kindles.  That’s because my kids keep taking off with the Kindles to read their school books and they don’t remember to recharge them before returning.  I wouldn’t say I’m bitter about it, but I might be a little disgruntled. If you’re curious, this is the Kindle I have, and I have used others and mine remains my favorite. Mine has Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi and I don’t have commercial screensavers.  The second Kindle is actually one I was given in exchange for some writing work, and I gave it to my two teens.  It does not have 3G, which is why it’s their Kindle.  Personally,  I don’t like Kindle Fires because I am a crank like that.

If you like these free listings, you should also like my Facebook page, because I list other free titles there several times each week.

Yes, my Kindle gets slow because I stuff it too full. You can left click on a title on your Kindle anddelete it from your device, while still keeping it in your list of titles at Amazon in case you want to add it back to your Kindle later without paying for the title all over again. Don’t delete it from folder at Amazon unless you want to rid yourself of it permanently.

Most of the blurbs and book descriptions above are not mine, but come from  reviews on Amazon’s page.

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