Green (tea) Smoothy

cups borderThis morning I made myself a cup of green tea and was reminded once again that I think green tea tastes like hay.  I left it sitting on the counter.

A little later I put the following ingredients in my blender:

Roughly two cups of frozen strawberries (organic, locally grown, the last of the free fresh strawberries I flash froze last spring)

a dropper full of liquid stevia, berry flavored

a generous handful of spinach leaves

a generous handful of kale leaves

about half a cup of yogurt

A squirt of lime juice

I was about to add some water, and then I remembered the green tea I hadn’t finished, so I poured that in the blender, too.  I put it through the liquify cycle of my blender (which is a 70s era Sears brand from the thrift shop) for a few minutes, stopping once to give the contents a stir.

Slurp.  Ahhhhh.

It was actually a little bit on the too sweet side. I had forgotten how sweet those strawberries were.  Next time I’ll do the same, but add some rhubarb, too.

cups border

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Chicken Almond Puffs

vintage cook kitchen

Chicken Almond Puffs

1 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup cooked chicken, finely diced
2 tbsp. toasted almonds, chopped

Sift flour. In a saucepan over low heat, combine stock, salt, pepper, seed, flakes, Worcestershire sauce and butter, and bring to a boil. Add flour at once, stirring vigorously until mixture forms a ball (like cream puffs) and leaves the side of the pan (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly after each one. Continue beating until a thick dough forms. Stir in chicken and almonds. Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 deg. F. for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Serve hot or freeze in an airtight container. To thaw and crisp, put puffs on baking sheet and heat at 250 for 10 to 15 minutes. These are good served with Chinese mustard or apricot preserves, warmed.

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Common Core: Cui Bono?


There really is no name
for this other than fraud, unless it’s educational malpractice, and it makes me furious:

New York State has reduced the passing score for its math test from 60% correct in 2006 to a mere 44% today. An investigation by the NYT found that a student who randomly guesses on all question now has an 89% chance of receiving a passing score.

More at the link.

That was a few years ago (five).  Here’s what’s happening now:

“The United States is being transformed from a decentralized educational system to a national system from P-20 right before our eyes.  In 2010, 45 states adopted Common Core, a standard of college readiness for math and English Language Arts. Logically, ONE common standard cannot have FIFTY state tests.  The question became what test would become THE Common Test aligned with the Common Core to provide the framework for the P-20 education to the workforce system? ”

More at the link. There’s plenty of evidence that Common Core is good for the big testing company that will win new contracts, and for textbook companies who will get to repackage and resell textbooks rewritten to match Common Core. But there’s no evidence that this is any better for the children themselves than New Math was in the 70s.

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Math Tip for Homeschoolers

vintage math money doll truck wagonVideo showing how to subtract by regrouping. You can demonstrate the same thing using dimes and pennies or cuisenaire rods, but sometimes it helps to repeat an instruction in a variety of ways.

Here’s one of the things I learned about teaching math (or anything, really).  Kids need time for ideas and information to sort of percolate in their brains.  Many years ago I introduced some basic math concept to the HG- I think it actually was regrouping.  She wasn’t getting it at all, and we both were tremendously frustrated with each other, so we ended the lesson on a very sour note and went on to other things.  I waited a couple of days before I had the courage to try the subject again.  I broached the topic with gritted teeth, prepared for battle.  The HG stopped me and said, “No, Mama, I think I’ve got it,” and she demonstrated that she did, indeed understand what to do and how to do it.

We had concluded the lesson with a child who had, seemingly, no clue what I had tried to explain and was highly resistant to the topic, and 48 hours later, with no math in between, something had clicked and she got it.

Sometimes it’s good to just give the kids a play break, a sleep break, an ‘any other topic but that one’ break, and approach it anew later.  I’ve been surprised how often that space allows ideas they thought were hard to sink in.

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Thai Drama Review: Cubic

I have branched out and am watching a Thai ‘Lakorn,’ so not a K-drama at all.   What is Lakorn?  This one is called Cubic, and the title refers to a Rubik’s cube and is explained in the show.

I’m kind of shaking my head over this one, or over myself because I keep watching.  It’s so cute but it really shouldn’t be, and it has moments that severely stretch my toleration.  It’s like an almost super squeaky clean Harlequin romance, the kind where the good girl falls in love with the very bad pirate king and becomes the only person he can love and this love redeems him.  In this version the very wicked pirate king is a mafia boss.

What’s not super squeaky clean would be the clothes of one or two of the bad girls here, and several mentions of mistresses, not to mention the mafia is a criminal organization and there’s not much charming about gun-running IMO.

But otherwise, yes, clean (wait, more on that later), formulaic, Asian in some distinctive ways (I almost cheered out loud in one quick scene with some Asian, porcelain toilets set in the ground for squatting in the background because yes, I’m really weird), old-fashioned in some ways I like, perpetuating some of the more unpleasant patriarchal stereotypes which I don’t like,  but in such melodramatic settings that it’s hard to take seriously, and I enjoyed large parts of the plot, the character of the lead girl, and the character of the second male lead immensely.

General plot:

Lin Lan Ser is the lead male.  He’s a coldhearted, brooding,  Thai Godfather type- he has been in charge of the mafia since he was 21 (I think he’s in his late 20s here).   Only this Thai gangster’s organization is in Hong Kong.  A business man who is deeply in debt to him puts up his pretty daughter P’Nan as collateral and then betrays Lin and substitutes his supposedly less pretty, but far smarter younger (17 years old) daughter Ruthainark while he flees with the older girl.  Lin’s boys kidnap Ruthainark (Nark), the younger sister, and bring her back to Hong Kong.

Mainly that’s because they think she knows where her father and sister really are, and they can use her to catch them, but that doesn’t work. She really doesn’t know, and her daddy is too busy fleeing with P’Nan to come back to fetch Nark.  Lin Lan Ser gives her a very bare bones place to live, insists that she enroll in school, and gets her a job at a construction site because he’s kind of taken aback at her feisty and mostly fearless responses to him and he’s bemused and doesn’t know what else to do with her.  She pleads with him to let her off school attendance, but he refuses because she needs her education.

Also, he’s the principal of her school.

Yes, that kind of cracked me up, too, but an article I read explained that the idea of mafia behind private schools isn’t that far fetched, it’s a way to educate mafia kids and have some money laundering going on at the same time.

There are several young looking (to me) fathers of pretty daughters, and selling them for debts seems to be a drama way of life, (and I hope that’s all it is).  There are strange comments that are meant to be funny, like once when Ruthainark (Nark) has just finished mouthing off to him in front of his henchman, Lin says, “If I didn’t think it would be child harassment, I’d tie her down and cut off her fingers,” and they all laugh genially and I gather the audience was supposed to as well.

There are a lot of bizarre-and-appalling-to-me things that are supposed to be entertaining, but that also is part of the exotic attraction.  There’s plenty of other stuff that actually really is entertaining (to me), and I always enjoy listening to new languages and getting a sense of the inflections and syntax.

Mint, the actress playing Nark is not at all plain or homely as she is supposed to be for the purposes of this story. I think she’s adorable, so it’s a stretch to believe, as they keep saying, that she didn’t get sold off as a mistress because she’s not pretty enough.  The story is based on a novel, where the description of Nark is that she’s plain, chubby, and nerdy, according to what I read.

Anyway- the character of Nark or Naak (i’ve seen it transcribed both ways) is pretty delightful, and watching her baffle most of the mafia is pretty funny, too, although admittedly unrealistic.  Mint is a fun actress to watch here.  She’s totally charming, adorable, and clever as all get out.

Bomb, the actor playing the mafia king, is not so good, and he relies an awful lot on speaking glances, glares, and head shaking, but then, his character is icey cold and doesn’t chat much with chits, however cheerful, so he may not feel he has a lot of options.  He does warm up as the series progresses, and I must concede that he is very pretty to look at.

I would call this a definite PG for the details that you see, a PG 13 for theme in some cases. For example, one of the lamer, weaker members of the mafia group kidnaps a young woman in payment for her father’s massive gambling debts.  He locks her in his house waiting her father’s repayment, but when the father flees to another country, lame mafia dude attempts to ‘make her his woman,’ and I don’t mean sweet talking her and giving her flowers and a ring.  She escapes by tricking him into following her into the bathroom where she beats him into a temporarily stunned sort of incapacity with a toilet plunger and then sneaks out of the house and runs away. I get that it’s supposed to be a funny scene, but I am too western to be hugely amused by it and wouldn’t want my son watching it.

And I guess this is a spoiler- but once she escapes from him she stops her friends from giving him the full beating he deserves and decides she loves him after all, because, you know, he only abducted her (only because she fought back and escaped).  Ugh.  That dreadful side plot aside- I found this strangely fun to watch.


Viki, it’s also at Youtube.

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El maestro:—¿Qué lección tenemos para hoy?

El discípulo:—Tenemos la quinta lección para hoy. Debemos también aprender de memoria los nombres de los meses y de los días.

El maestro:—¿Dónde empezamos hoy, Federico?

Federico:—Empezamos en la página 20, renglón 6. Debemos traducir dos páginas.

El maestro:—¿Han escrito todos Vds. la traducción?

Pablo:—No he escrito la traducción.

El maestro:—¿Por qué no, Pablo?

Pablo:—- Porque estoy malo y tengo todavía dolor de cabeza.

El maestro:—Escriba Vd. la traducción antes de salir de la escuela. Fernando, empiece Vd. a leer. Lea Vd. distinta y lentamente.

Fernando:—El año tiene doce meses. Los meses se llaman: enero, etcétera.

El maestro:—Muy bien. Lean Vds. todos lo que ha leído Fernando. Rodolfo, repita Vd. lo que ha leído la clase.

Rodolfo:—El año tiene doce meses, etc.

El maestro:—León, vaya Vd. a la pizarra y escriba Vd. esta frase.

León se levanta, va a la pizarra, la limpia y escribe la frase en ella y después va a su banco.

Ricardo:—Hay un error. Él tiene una falta de ortografía en la palabra año.

El maestro:—- Correcto. Deletree Vd. la palabra. La clase, ¿cuáles son los días de la semana?

La clase:—Los días de la semana son: domingo, lunes, martes, miércoles, jueves, viernes y sábado.

El maestro:—Muy bien. La lección para mañana es: Traducir las páginas 22 y 23. Aprendan Vds. de memoria la descripción del conde. Ahora debemos terminar, la campanilla ha sonado. Hasta mañana, niños.


The Project Gutenberg EBook of A First Spanish Reader
Erwin W. Roessler and Alfred Remy

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Comment Announcement

Note: for some reason two posts have been hit with dozens of spam comments that my filters aren’t catching, so I have temporarily closed commenting on all posts ten days or older.   I would have closed comments on just those two, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Anyway, I’ll open those up in a few days, or when I remember, whichever comes first.=)

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Climate Science and AGW Basics and Background

Donald Rapp at Judith Curry’s blog explains:

“Why after 400 years of La Niña precedence, did periods of El Niños dominance start in the 20th century? And why did the two periods of strong El Niño dominance in the 20th century occur during a period when the CO2concentration was rising? Is there a link between rising CO2 and the El Niño – La Niña balance? But if there is such a link, why did El Niños become less prevalent than La Niñas from 1941 to 1976 and be in balance after 1998?”

More at the link.

Watts Up With That also has a seven part series on the same topic.  That’s a link to part seven, but if you scroll down there are links to the whole series so far.

These are older, but very useful for understanding some of the basics and background:



Paleoclimatologist Robert Carter delivered a scientific presentation on the flaws in the so-called consensus view of AGW to the the Australian Environment Foundation a while back. The video of his presentation, uploaded to youtube, is in four parts and linked below:………

“Professor Ian Plimer, author of Heaven and Earth – Global Warming The Missing Science, with ABN Newswire’s Brian Carlton. In an extensive interview with Professor Plimer, Carlton takes the pragmatist’s chair and speaks with the author about the new book.” The interview can be viewed via the link below:…

Clive Crook’s explanation of Climategate and the aftermath:…

John Daly explains the Hockey Stick and tree ring proxies:

Lastly, those wanting to better understand the climate impact and importance of multi-decadal ocean cycles will find good information on them here:…

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Flavored Coffee Mixes

A jar of these with a pretty mug and some home-made cookies would make a great Mother’s Day gift if your mom likes coffee.

To prepare these, grind the ingredients into a fine powder in a blender or food processor.

monk with coffeeUnless otherwise specified, use one or two spoonfuls per mug of hot water- adjust for your taste preferences.

Bavarian Mint:
2/3 cup instant coffee
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. dried mint leaves
2/3 cup nondairy creamer

Cafe’ L’Orange:
2/3 cup instant coffee
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. dried crushed orange peel
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Cafe’ Mocha:
2/3 cup instant coffee
3 TBS. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup nondairy creamer
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

Cinnamon and Spice:
2/3 cup instant coffee
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice

Toffee Coffee:
1 cup instant coffee
1 cup nondairy creamer
1 cup brown sugar

Cafe’ Vienna:
1 cup instant coffee
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups nonfat dry milk
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cafe’ Orange Cappuccino:
1 cup instant coffee
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups nonfat dry milk
1 tsp. dry orange peel

Swiss Mocha:
1 cup instant coffee
1 cup sugar
2 cups nonfat dry milk
4 tsp. cocoa powder

Cafe’ Vienna Mix:
1 cup instant coffee
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups nondairy creamer
1 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk
4 TBS. cocoa

Cafe’ Au Latte’:
1 11 oz jar nondairy creamer
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup instant coffee
Dash of salt
(use 1/4 cup mix to 2/3 cup hot water for the cafe’ au lait)

Night Cap Coffee:
2/3 cup nondairy powdered coffee creamer
1/3 cup instant coffee
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Use one heaping TBS. to 1 cup hot water.

Chocolate Malt Coffee Creamer:
2 cups instant hot cocoa mix
2/3 cup nondairy powdered coffee creamer
2/3 cup malted milk mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Raspberry Cocoa Mix:
3 cups instant hot cocoa powder
1 pkg. unsweetened raspberry Kool-aid (0.13 oz size)
Use 2 heaping TBS. to 1 cup hot water.



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Frugality: Facing Facts

thrifty frugal vintage kitchen tools cupsMany financial gurus and geniuses  will tell you that it’s okay to like stuff, that they aren’t going to tell you that you can’t have stuff or that you have to skip going out to eat altogether or to totally eliminate some other occasional treat in order to make it financially, and they are certainly not going to tell you that you need to give up most of the convenience foods in your diet, because who lives like that?

The reason they say this is NOT because you are entitled to those things, you deserve them.  And it’s certainly not because it won’t make a big difference to your budget if you can do without them. They tell you these things because they are in business and they know the majority of their market isn’t interested in hearing that and won’t pay for that advice.  They are right.  Most people won’t want to do without these little extras and they will not pay to be told they should give up convenience foods.

But I am not selling my financial advice.  I am giving it away for free, and I am here to tell you that there is a long, long list of things our culture has taught us to feel like we deserve because our culture is a liar.   Those things, in fact,  are not an entitlement.  You really do not ‘deserve’ them.  It really will make a huge difference in your budget if you can brace yourself and skip them.

I would suggest that you consider that for more of the history of the world, disposable income of any level was largely the provenance of the very wealthy, and splurging was buying raisins for an extra treat, and in some cases, eating more than once in a day (in other cases, eating.).  I’m not saying you have to go that far, but it does help to get a sense of perspective with more depth and breadth than last month in America.

A couple years ago the kids gave me the book What the World Eats This is a project done by the same team who did the book Material World.  In Material World (you can see some photographs here), they traveled the world and took photographs of an average family in various countries with the family’s possessions.

In What The World Eats, the photographer and journalist  went to 24 countries and photographed 30 families with one week’s worth of groceries, most of the families the same families who were in their first book.You can look at a short story about it with some of the photographs here.  You can see other photographs from the project here.   They include data about how much the food costs, how some of the food is prepared, recipes, and a list of the food.

The family from the refugee camp in Chad get 16 ounces of dried meat each week for their family of 6.  Their fruit and vegetable consumption in a week includes five small limes, 4.6 pounds of legumes, one pound of Red onions, 1/2 pound of garlic, a few ounces of okra, five ounces of dried tomatoes and chilies, each.  There are some other items- plenty of millet, for example, but not really all that much more.

Now, I am not one of those people who believes that we owe it to the rest of the world to feel guilty because we eat well, and may people do not.  I am grateful for the blessings we have, and I am sorry for the blessings that others do not share, and we do have our favorite charities and various acts of service we do to try to help others.  But feeling guilty because I was born here instead of in Chad is an unproductive waste of time.  My point is not that we should all give up meat and  live on a dollar a day to show our solidarity and appease our guilt for not having been born in dire poverty.

What we do need, however, is a sense of perspective.

I would also suggest that it is not deprivation, suffering, or starvation to use meat as a seasoning for a season rather than as the main part of the meal if you need to save money by doing that, or at least, it does not need to be.  It is not deprivation to have old fashioned oats for breakfast instead of pop tarts, to have an egg omelette using leftover vegetables for filling instead of store bought cereals (one of the biggest rip offs known to the western world) or to have a bowl of home-made granola instead some frozen breakfast pastry you pop into your toaster.

If you need to save some money, it’s just reality. It doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. But it might have to be that way now, for the moment.  Make the best of it as well as you can.

Proverbs 15:17
Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.

Posted in frugalities, Uncategorized | 15 Comments