Monday, December 30, 2013

Sprouts Farmers Market Discriminates!

Yeah, I am pretty upset by this. They just built a new Sprouts Market in town, and it has a lot of nice stuff.  I like liked it.  I like liked shopping for certain items there--the bulk foods section is good.

On their doors previously, was the standard TABC "Blue Sign" (required where alcohol is sold) stating it is a felony to carry a concealed weapon on the premises without a license.  A licensed CHL holder is not restricted by such a sign, as they possess the requisite LICENSE!

But just this week, Sprouts Farmers Market stores, headquartered in Arizona, decided it was necessary to post the signs necessary to restrict LAWFUL concealed carry on their premises. Why, I do not know.  Their customer service department said it was by the orders of the Board of Directors who apparently feel it is OK to DISCRIMINATE against citizens engaged in a lawful behavior.  In Texas, this was done by posting (properly no less) the "30-06" signs on all public entrances.  This sign prohibits lawful concealed carry.
McKinney TX Sprouts

I wonder if Sprouts knows this, about Texas CHL licensees?

A Texas Concealed Carry License Holder:
  •  has no felony convictions - lifetime
  • has no Class A or B misdemeanors within the last 5 years
  • has passed state and federal fingerprint and background checks
  • has no delinquent conduct within the last 10 years
  • is not delinquent in child support, student loans, or state/local taxes
How much to they know about their OTHER customers???

I have darkened their doorway for the last time.  There are other stores such as Whole Foods, or Central Market, Tom Thumb, or Krogers, which DO NOT DISCRIMINATE.  These stores have equivalent quality and selections, including the desired bulk foods.  Sprouts Farmers Market has lost another customer.

Please note folks--Sprouts is not changing any laws that I know of especially in Texas.  The law permits a business to post no-carry on their property.   It's a dumb decision on their part, IMHO, but it is not a flouting any law.

The other public entrance also posted.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dialect Quiz

From Midwest Chick, via Roberta....the dialect analysis quiz!

Mine came out remarkably accurate...kind of a fun thing.  Try it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Days After...

Christmas day has come and gone.  I sit here in a cold room, sleeping husband behind me, children out in the main of the house, playing fairly quietly.

Much paper was shredded, and some pranks played with gifts, but it was all in good fun.  Sharp pointy things were given and received all 'round, the general theme being all things Spyderco...

Christmas dinner was not a major feast this year--only a home-smoked turkey breast and Abuela Foster's special Macaroni and Cheese (recipe below) that I made, plus a small green salad.   Still, it was all tasty, even if my timing of the courses was off.  The turkey took too long to smoke.

The children have yet to spend the gift cards they received from family and friends, though they are plotting madly what to buy!  I am plotting how to best take advantage of my new Frieling insulated French Press.  I've only made one pot of java in it so far, as I am still fine-tuning the amount of coffee needed, as it is a slightly smaller capacity than my old lexan press.  Reminds me, I need to roast more beans tomorrow!

Ah...the bliss of home roasted, fresh ground, French Pressed coffee!

Abuela Foster's Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

2 cups of dry large elbow pasta
2 cups of milk
1 cup of cottage cheese
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Pinch of cumin
2 pinches of kosher salt
black pepper to taste
3 cups of shredded cheese, a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack
1/2 cup of grated cotija Mexican cheese
At least 4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped into half-inch pieces
1 tablespoon of butter

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square or round baking pan with the butter. Add the dry pasta.

In a blender, mix together the milk, cottage cheese, chili powder, mustard powder, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper until it’s smooth.  Pour mixture over dry pasta and stir until sauce is evenly distributed.

Stir in two cups of the shredded cheese, cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil and stir the macaroni and cheese a couple of times. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese and chopped bacon and cook for another 25 minutes uncovered or
until light brown and bubbling. Be sure to watch it, as it can go from light brown to burnt quick.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with the grated cotija and serve. Kroger and Fiesta supermarkets usually cotija cheese.

I made this in a big 9x13 pan, and doubled the amounts. It also took a lot longer to fully cook in the large pan.  Nobody complains if you use extra bacon, either.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!

Here at Casa Monkeywrangler, the gifts are wrapped, the stockings mostly stuffed, the pumpkin bread is baking, the Monkeys are discovering how slowly time passes on Christmas Eve, and the dogs are sleeping as usual.

Tonight DH will finish the annual reading of A Christmas Carol, by Dickens, and we will watch the Alastair Sim version on DVD (it's really the only version worth the time and money to buy).  That's become a tradition here.

We wish you all, the blessings of Christmas.  May you enjoy your time with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas Past

By the time this Christmas comes, I shall have been on this dirtball for half a's sometimes hard to grasp that, I think.  I don't 'feel' that old, and I don't think I look quite that old.  It seems like only yesterday I was a kid,  I guess I still am, at heart.

I remember pieces of Christmas past, many of them.  The rarity of a white Christmas in Kansas, or even more rare, in Texas.  A couple years ago, a winter storm stalled out right on top of DFW.  We were supposed to only get 1-3" white fluffy, but in reality it was between 10-14".  That, in the land of limited snow removal equipment!  It was awesome!

It brought back fond memories of all the snows in Kansas as a kid--often more sleet and snow mix, but that just made for even better sledding, as the sleet would solidify into a hard sheet of ice.  You could really FLY downhill on campus, there below the Campanile, and Potters Pond.  I once broke a runner-sled, I caught so much air on the downhill run!  Or of the crazy stupid stuff we did as kids, sledding through the trackless woods, I still don't know how we managed to always avoid serious injury crashing into the trees.  But we did...oh the invincibility of youth!

I always loved putting the tree up, but my secret favorite is the outdoor Christmas lights.  I suppose that's why those dumb Chevy Chase movies struck a chord with me...I must be a Griswold at heart!  I wish I was more creative in putting out our lights.  I wish they made better quality (durability) lights these days--even the LED lights don't last long.

I remember one year, as a young adult/late teen, still enamored of checking out the packages as they appeared under the tree.  There appeared a larger box, fairly heavy and not noisy at all.  It said on the label, to Mom, love Dad.  I would've shrugged and ignored it from then on--it wasn't mine after all!  Until, as I was handing out presents on Christmas morn, I handed that to Mom, and she laughed, telling me to read the label again!  Those sneaky buggers!  They had relabeled it with my name the night before!  IIRC, it was a VHS player, and it was used for a great many years.  In fact it may still be on our current TV stand, though not used any more, having been replaced by a more reliable DVR system.

As a child I was an inveterate package shaker, and probably could have gotten a job with a TLA as a Crate-ologist!  I was good, back then, at deciphering box contents based on size, shape, weight, and noise levels.  One year I recall cheating.  I finally figured out how to lift the scotch tape without tearing the paper underneath, and just HAD to know what some of my gifts were.... You guessed it, that act ruined the surprise and joy of the day, and I don't even remember what the gifts were, that I had to sneak a peek at.  It was one of those steps in life, where you finally do begin to learn it is better for the soul to give than to receive.

Setting out cookies and milk for Mom and Dad, oops, I mean Santa.  (MonkeyBoy suggested a glass of American Honey liqueur for Santa this year!)  As a kid, taking time the night before, with my Dad, to get the fireplace ready for a rare fire (the older I got, the more rare the fire for some reason).  Rolling up the scrap newspapers, and tying them in knots for kindling, and picking the split logs to be sure it all caught nicely the next day.  The excitement of seeing the overflowing stockings the next morning...there was always an orange in the toe of the stocking, and some mixed nuts in shell.  Sitting on the hearth, my back to the hot fire, warming myself up.

I'm trying to give our kids some traditions around Christmas.  We are trying to make sure the kids know the true meaning of Christmas, not the retail-reality.  Like me, one Monkey is an early Christmas Present (birthday just before Christmas) and it makes it a little harder when all your gifts come in one week, where the other two are summer children, and get half their stuff then.  So with birthdays, each birthday-child gives the other two a small gift, so that they learn to give, not just receive, and also to make it a little easier on the December child.

This year the Monkeys decorated the tree.  I guess they really are growing up...the tree looks super, and has all our special family ornaments on it, as well as a bunch of little homemade ones the kids have produced over the years.  We have also received from a dear friend, a Christmas village.  I love it!  My Aunt Max had a huge collection of Christmas village pieces, and I helped her set it up one year, and loved the whole concept.  Our friend, in cleaning out his house, gave us his village pieces.  I just need to get some cotton batting to put down as snow....and a larger table!

One silly tradition we have is the Christmas Jayhawk.  Yes, I am a Jayhawk by birth, Texan by the grace of God.  I got from my mom years ago, a small Jayhawk cross stitch ornament.  If you squeeze it just right, the mouth opens, and you can stick a note or a piece of candy in it.  For the kids, if they behave, the Jayhawk will leave one child a piece of candy on their particular December days (every 3rd day here), and he also likes to hide on the tree, moving every night.

In years past, my early riser son would get up, find the Jayhawk, and eat the candy, even if it wasn't his specific day!  This resulted in the forfeiture of his next candy day, and the expected wailing and whining.  This year, as they couldn't decide in what order they should receive their Jayhawk-days, the Jayhawk was generous, and has been giving treats to all 3 of them daily, except when they misbehave.  They're old enough now to have figured out the Jayhawk's secret, but it was fun while it lasted, maintaining the illusion of magic.  I suspect I will need to figure out how to make two more Jayhawk ornaments they each will have one to take with them when they are all grown up.

I can understand why some folks have a harder time emotionally at Christmas.  Sometimes, death casts its pall over the holidays, making for a far more somber occasion than is the norm.  Other times illness in a family causes strain.  Sometimes it is even THE family that causes the strain for some folks.  We have been blessed, in that it is only the first two, which have darkened our doorsteps here at the casa.  You may think it strange for me to say we have been blessed, but I don't.  Death brings family together, who are often far-flung these days.  It brings remembrance, and introspection, and if you are fortunate, a willingness and desire to fix flaws in your own life, to honor and remember those now gone from our daily lives.

Illness, chronic or acute, grinds you down, daily wearing thin the social niceties one expects to see.  The hard part is the struggle to get back to 'normal', but at least there is a chance to fight for normality.  Remembering, that there are tests in life, and this will merely be one of them.  Trusting in God's purposes in one's life helps, I find, especially when I cannot fix what is wrong, but can only offer support.  I need to work on remembering that I choose how I feel each day, choose how I react to others actions, making a conscious effort to keep in mind the commandment given to us in John 13:34-35.

For Christmas is the remembrance of the greatest love.  A birth in the season of winter-death.  And hidden on the Christmas tree, is a reminder of that other tree, one on which the Son gave up his life, that we might gain ours.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Monkey Christmas Carol

Yes, some of you may have seen this before, but 'tis the Season, and I fixed the rhyme on the last verse.  Ha!  (you know the tune already...)

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
The children are still fighting!
They fight when summer days are bright,
They fight when winter snow is white.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
The children are still fighting!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
No Christmas Tree or presents!
How oft at Christmas tide they whine,
O Lord, I need a drink of wine!
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
No Christmas Tree or presents!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
Forever children squabbling.
Your voices shout in the daytime.
I’m going deaf, by night time.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree
No Christmas Tree or presents!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
Another mess they made today..
Pushed my last button, they have done,
I need a cave, away to run.
No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree,
No Christmas Tree or presents!

That is all for now.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Random 5 Friday 12/13/13

Well, I had this post started Tuesday night, but Blogger ate it.  Yep, vanished into the IntarWebz.  :(  So, starting over, I will be linking up via comments, with whichever of y'all wants to post their link in the comments here.  Nancy at A Rural Journal is taking a blogging break, so no linkup there.

1.  We have enjoyed playing lumberjack this past weekend, helping our neighbors out with their downed trees and limbs.  The Stihl 16" chainsaw ran, well, like a Stihl!  And the Monkeys were awesome!  They really stepped up and helped haul limbs and branches (even for us!).  DH and I are proud of them.

2.  With all the ice, it hasn't been safe to walk the dogs.  Shiloh has been keeping me up all hours of the night, wanting covered up, or out, or both.  Finally last night I got some decent sleep as the Monkeys woke up to take care of her.

3.  Between last Saturday's nasty migraine (complete with puking), and the lack of sleep, the lung crud is making a resurgence.  I don't feel as bad as I usually do with it though, so perhaps I can actually kill it myself this time, and skip a trip to the doc for antibiotics.

4.  With all the limbs to be collected by the city, we have had to pile them on the curb.  These walls of limbs promptly got named Zombie Walls!  The Monkeys loved it.  I think we need more/bigger walls if the zombies are coming...
Zombie Walls
5.  Most of my shopping is done, except for things like stocking stuffers, I think...  I hope everyone else out there is well set and well stocked for the coming winter--it starts a week from this Sunday, after all!  I had wanted to ride 50 miles that day, on the bike, but I don't know if I have it in the legs this time around.  I have been so long off the bike this fall.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Icepocalypse, or Icemageddon 2013?

Well we did not dodge this ice storm.  While the ice and sleet are beautiful in a Narnian winter way, the damage being wrought upon the vegetation is not.  My Globe Willow is shattered.  I am unsurprised, since it is a soft wooded tree, and still had a lot of leaves to catch and hold the ice.  Still, it does/did provide much needed shade in the back yard in summer.  Depending on the total damage to it, we may have to cut it all down.

The oak out front has fared better, being a hardwood, but since it has not yet shed the majority of its leaves either, it has lost limbs too.  DH went out at 4am today to beat ice off the lower limbs with his pole saw extensions.  It at least has saved some of the limbs.  The issue later will be how to remove the broken ones high up in the tree.  They are 2-4" diameter branches, and far too high up for us to climb after.  DH says there will be a lot of chainsaw work to do this weekend, which by the way is still calling for more freezing rain for the Metromess.  It looks like a good quarter inch of sheet ice.  I guess we should be happy the other 2" fell as sleet and did not do damage.

The oak--the damage is hard to see.
Our neighbor had his Bradford Pear explode, whilst the Monkeys were playing out front in our yard.  They said it sounded like a gunshot.
The tree on the right is about to die...

And now it is gone...It was pretty before it shattered.

Total loss.

Still there is great beauty out in the ice.  Fantastic forms, bent low under the weight of mere water.  Icicles form, on almost anything that holds still long enough.
In the eye of the beholder...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I felt it coming on last night...the headcold that inevitably ends up in a chest infection for me, along with a cough that tends to last for months if it gets settled in real good.  Monkey3 started the whole affair, being sick a week and a half ago.  She got better.  She shared this evil vileness (virus) with her sister, Monkey1, who saw fit to share it with yours truly.  Joy to the world, and all that...

With a boatload of OTC meds on board last night I managed to sleep well enough, but today is not going well.  There's the low grade grinding headache.  There's the ever-present sinus drainage, which I know is just dyin' to set up shop in my lungs.  There's the swollen lymph nodes under the jaw...and the partially obstructed eustachian tubes, so my ears don't want to stay equalized.

Oh to add insult to this cold, the weather is supposed to get ugly again starting late tonight/tomorrow, with a massive wet cold front booming in from Canada.  Current long range forecasts guesses are for up to half an inch of ice accumulation by Friday night or Saturday morning.
cloudy Mostly cloudy in the morning then becoming partly sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph becoming west 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.
nt_cloudy Mostly cloudy. A 20 percent chance of rain after midnight. Lows in the upper 30s. North winds 10 to 15 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Gusts up to 30 mph.
rain Cloudy. A chance of showers in the morning...then rain or light freezing rain likely in the afternoon. Much colder. Temperatures steady in the upper 30s. North winds 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation 60 percent.
Thursday Night
nt_rain Rain and light freezing rain likely in the evening...then light freezing rain after midnight. Colder. Ice accumulation around three tenths of an inch. Lows in the upper 20s. North winds 10 to 15 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 90 percent. Wind chill readings as low as 17 to 22.
rain Cloudy. A chance of light freezing rain or light sleet or rain likely in the morning...then a slight chance of light freezing rain and light sleet in the afternoon. Colder. Ice accumulation around two tenths of an inch. Highs in the upper 20s. North winds 15 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation 60 percent. Wind chill readings as low as 11 to 16.
Friday Night
nt_cloudy Mostly cloudy. Lows around 20.
Saturday and Saturday Night
nt_cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of light freezing rain and light sleet. Highs in the upper 20s. Lows in the mid 20s.
cloudy Mostly cloudy with a chance of light freezing rain and light sleet in the morning...then partly sunny with a slight chance of rain and light sleet in the afternoon. Highs in the lower 30s. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.

Last time, they guessed wrong and we didn't get the ice as it was a degree too warm.  I don't know if we will be so lucky this go-round.  If we do get the ice badly, it's going to mean DH and friend can't get to the Larue/Aimpoint event this weekend, and the Monkeys and I cannot make it to the Santa Paws/dog adoption events.  I really hate leaving my friends in the lurch for the adoption--we were excited to be going, and they were counting on us to help manage the hounds for the adoption side of the event.

DH says he will spend the weekend/evenings in the garage working on stuff.  I suspect I will crash early and try to sleep this thing off.  Meanwhile, since Barkley is getting such good face-time on his driver Brigid's blog, I thought I would leave y'all with a recent picture of my new dishwasher.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

FYI: Reloading Heads-up on 9mm

Just an FYI to any reloaders out there.  Seems S&B  (Sellier & Bellot) has a run of brass-washed steel case 9mm Luger out there in the "wild".  You can't tell it from regular full brass casings without a magnet.  The headstamps I have seen and sorted out are S&B 9x19 Luger 08 (or 09) codes.  All have the red primer sealant.

If you pick up range brass I highly recommend you run a strong magnet over your brass gleanings to pull out any steel casings.  While I have heard that you can reload steelcase, I believe there can be issues with the crimp, which may increase the risk of bullet setback.  That could result in a serious negative-happy experience at the range!  It's not worth the risk to me, so into the steel recycling bucket they all go!