I have never agreed with my other self wholly. The truth of the matter seems to lie between us. -Khalil Gibran

I've been trying for a while to express the near-universal frustration I feel when I encounter or engage in discussions of a political or social nature. This has been especially true lately, now that we're eyeball-deep into the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign. My aggravation seems omnipresent and on the rise these days--it's not pretty.

Living with a self-described political junkie doesn't help, but neither does the constant stream of opinions, spin, assumptions and propaganda supplied by the 24-7 news/information cycle and the Internet (upon which we seem to be increasingly, inextricably dependent).

Cut to this morning, when an insignificant ZipMeme-ish graphic posted on facebook (see previous comment on digital dependency) finally crystallized my thoughts and enabled me to leave some of my vexation here on the page, rather than allowing it to further weigh on my heart. So here goes...

I find the gross oversimplification of complex social/political/economic issues to be one of the most frustrating aspects of interacting with other people.

It is inexplicably unfair and small-minded to characterize entire segments of the population as "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong." Very few issues are black and white--shades of gray almost always exist and are rarely buried deep. The intentional unwillingness to recognize "the gray" involved in the forming of people's beliefs/philosophies/ways of life is at once infuriating and baffling to me. And in some cases, I have questioned and altered my relationship with individuals whose scope is disturbingly myopic.

Rich/Poor, Female/Male, Gay/Straight, Carnivore/Vegan, Liberal/Conservative, Christian/Non-Christian, Pragmatist/Utopianist, Mac/PC--whoever and whatever we are, we're all guilty of prejudices and predilections for or against someone or something. We assert that we are open-minded, but never seem to recognize that our tolerance ends when we encounter opinions that differ from our own. I actively include myself in that royal "we"--no one wants to be around when I get preachy about child advocacy,
recycling, proper grammar and punctuation, or making Hollandaise sauce from scratch.

I'm not a Pollyanna, I know that conflict has always and will always exist, and that it can be an important catalyst for human improvement. But by looking for the gray in those with whom we disagree, rather than painting each other with broad strokes of black and white--of good and bad--life would be a lot less challenging and certainly less vitriolic.  

A little less hostility in the world seems like a good thing to me.

Handwriting is civilization's casual encephalogram. ~Lance Morrow

Kids should be taught how to print, because it’s all they’ll ever need if they find themselves without a cell phone to text on, or a keyboard to type with.

I'm pretty sure I had a stroke after reading that quote. Any statement that includes the phrase "...because it's all they'll ever need..." makes me immediately suspicious and fairly certain that the speaker/writer is, at best, shortsighted (though "idiot" seems a more appropriate description).

It saddens me to think that we're being stripped down to our most basic (and base) skills by the advancement of technology. Those abilities that make us uniquely and preciously human are being deemed irrelevant because they don't have an immediate application in the world of the keyboard? It seems we're reverting as a species in the name of progress.

No worries, I'm not preparing to move to the Montana wilderness so I can devote all my time to mailing bombs to ITT Tech students. I just wanted to share my lament. End rant here. :)

The Responsibility Project > Should Cursive Be Saved? 

Adventures with greens!

Our beloved Auntie Karen belongs to an organic CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) co-op here in Cincy. She's been out of town twice this summer on the pickup day for her share, and she generously offered the goodies to us, we just had to go pick them up. Free organic veggies and a trip to a farm? BONUS! (Thanks again, K!)

Both of our visits to the co-op netted us familiar vegetables like onions, squash, lettuce, peppers and beans--all of which were eaten quickly and enjoyed unequivocally. What I didn't have any experience with were the greens offered at each visit--leafy broccoli stems the first time and resplendently stalked Swiss chard today. 
I won't recount my experience with preparing the broccoli greens, as the final product didn't even make it to the dinner table. The racoons that frequent our compost pile may have enjoyed them, but I did not. The chard, on the other hand, was a resounding success, illustrated by the fact that both Hoops and Campbell cleaned their plates tonight. Evie did an excellent job of gagging on hers, but that had more to do with my "no noodles/no milk" stipulation (I know, I'm a tyrant), than with her enjoyment of the meal. Three is just a super-fun age!

Anyway, I had no idea what to do with the chard when I saw it on the share table, but I was bound and determined to get Karen's money's worth and took the allotted 10 stems. When we got home, I pulled out my beloved copy of Joy of Cooking and found the only entree that called for chard--Creamy Pasta with Chard and Tomatoes. The recipe sounded pretty neutral and Hoops didn't make a face when I mentioned it, so dinner it became. An added bonus was that the girls--who are certifiably Kung-Fu-Panda-crazy--are very pro-noodle these days, so as long as you call the dish "Po Noodles," they're on board. Hooray for well-marketed animated blockbusters! 

So, using a couple of farm-stand tomatoes (and two pitiful, meager, warty tomatoes from our garden), a small onion that was also part of today's share, a couple cloves of garlic, some half-and-half (the recipe called for heavy cream, but who keeps that on hand for Wednesday night dinners?), Parmesan cheese, a little seasoning and the chard, I made a pretty super sauce to pour over some freshly prepared pasta. You can get the recipe from the cookbook itself, or you can check out these blogs, here and here, which share two other cooks' experiences with the recipe. 

The only adjustments I made to the mix was the aforementioned half-and-half and a hindsight decision to reduce the amount of cheese a bit. If you're going to use the Parm-in-a-shaker that's conveniently located in your grocery's dairy case (not ideal, but again, it's Wednesday night for Pete's sake!), consider cutting back on the amount you use. The recipe called for 3/4 cup of cheese, but 1/2-a-cup would have been more than enough for my humble taste buds. If you happen to have a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano aging in your cheese cellar, however, go ahead and grate with gusto!
Parmigiano-Reggiano = Gourmet Goodness!
Kraft Parmesan Cheese = No Fillers!
This was a great recipe to ease my way into the world of greens. It's uncomplicated, it didn't call for any gourmet-level ingredients/ingredient preparations, it didn't take forever to cook, and it was pretty-darned yummy. It was so tasty, in fact, that Hoops said we should have it again--and coming from my beloved corndog-aficionado, that's a ringing endorsement. I don't think it will replace my favorite go-to pasta, Mario Batali's achingly simple and equally delicious Spaghetti alla Carbonara, but it will certainly get me to walk around to the entire produce gondola at the grocery store from here on out. 

Just so long as I don't have to eat broccoli greens again... .

Friendship, like love, is destroyed by long absence, though it may be increased by short intermissions. -Samuel Johnson

Holy cow! How have four months gone by since my last post?!?!? Whatever the cause (*cough-cough* Evie and Camie *cough-cough*), please accept my most-sincere apologies and know that I haven't abandoned Tricky Peanut! 

I think I've started to get a handle on this mother-of-two-toddlers deal (though it's been a rough transition to say the least) and hope to have more time to devote to writing, if for no other reason than I get to express myself as an adult here, rather than every sentence including words like "boo-boo" "wa-wa" and "deeeese" (which, for those of you who aren't fluent in Evie&Camie-ese, means "please").

I hope all has been well with you and yours during the past four months and that this special day when we celebrate our fathers/dads/papas/padres/peres/pops/etc, proves to be a source of countless good memories for you and your families. Yay for daddies! :-)

Part Two - The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her. -Marcelene Cox

Well, since I gave face time to the Target Baby Sale a couple of weeks ago, I figured I'd give some equal time to the J.C. Penney Baby Sale, which runs through February 25th. Looks like lots of good stuff is available, so if you're expecting, or just want to stock up on swag for your bambino, be sure to click on over!

Hope y'all have a great weekend! ;-)

When someone asks you, 'A penny for your thoughts?,' and you put your two cents in, what happens to the other penny? -George Carlin

Wow! Target.com has some fantastic baby/kiddo clearance items available right now and I thought I needed to share. :-) Perfect for those of us who are snowed in!

Must. Not. Shop-'Til-I-Drop! :-) Stay warm, everyone!

And here's another item that should've been the lead story on every news program in the nation...

Last week, The Lancet, the world's most respected medical journal, retracted Dr. Andrew Wakefield's 1998 article that linked the MMR vaccine to increased rates of Autism. This is the study that has had parents second-guessing the advice of their doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics for the past 12 years and caused an international spike in reported cases of measles--a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and in some cases, death.

I guess from the tone of the previous paragraph, it's not hard to figure out where I stand on this issue (though I am glad the "clean vaccine" movement brought about the removal of Thimerosol from most childhood vaccines--just seems like good juju to me). If you'd like some more information on the whole vaccine/Autism debate, iVillage put together a great presentation on the subject, which you can find here:

That's all I've got for today. Peace out!

A little shameless self-promtion never hurts. -Erin Hooper

So, as you may have noticed, my TrickyPeanut posts have been pretty few and far between lately. Part of the reason for my e-silence is that, though my growing daughters are a constant source of blogging material, they're also experts at eating up my available free time--gone are the bi-daily two-hour naps, gone are the days of a quick toy tidy-up after they've gone to bed. Oh well, worse things have happened--yay for busy toddlers! :-)

The other reason I've been m.i.a. is because the hubbster and I are dipping our toes into the bottomless sea of capitalism with the launch of our own cottage industry, the Tidy Peanut Ulti-Bib. It's a product born of necessity, as the girls have taken the art of messy eating to wholly unforeseen levels in recent months. They were our guinea pigs, used to help tune and refine our design until we were comfortable introducing it to the world. Some day we'll repay them for their service--I have glorious visions of saving up all our Tidy Peanut earnings and using that money to buy most of the text books the girls will need for their first semester of college. Used text books, mind you. And they might have to share a copy or two. ;-)

In all seriousness, though, while we aren't putting all our eggs in the Tidy Peanut basket, we are excited to see where this adventure will take us. Pat is constantly suggesting design tweaks to enhance the "performance" of the Ulti-Bib and I'm enjoying the autonomy that comes with "designing" a "fashion" line. Who says you can't pair pink terrycloth with a skull-and-crossbones print?!?!? That's right, I'm a rebel! And if nothing else comes of it, I'll still come out of the bargain with a brand new serging machine to play with, so two points for me! :-)

With that being said, I promise that TrickyPeanut is not going to become the Tidy Peanut blog. Though I've added a widget for our Etsy and facebook pages to the homepage's sidebar (after all, a little shameless self-promotion never hurts), that's all the Tidy Peanut propaganda you'll see mentioned here. I mean, I'll undoubtedly need a bib-free escape from the daily high-roller, mover-and-shaker grind that awaits me, right? And what could offer a better retreat than a few minutes of non-bib-related writing/venting here on TrickyPeanut? Sure, a pitcher of margaritas would do the trick, too, but I'm much more likely to sew my finger to a bib (*shudder*) if I go the drunken-stupor route--and then I wouldn't be able to write or sew!!! Cathartic blogging it is!

Now that's a tricky, tidy solution if I do say so myself. ;-)
The evolution of the Tricky Peanut Ulti-Bib!

The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her. -Marcelene Cox

Hey Mamas and Mamas-to-be, I got an email this morning from Target previewing their upcoming baby sale (starts in stores on 1/31/10) and thought I'd share in case they didn't send an email to you! Looks like lots of great baby must-haves are marked down, so hopefully you'll find something that's been on your wish list, or something a Mama you know just can't live without. Happy shopping!

Baby Sale Sneek Peek 

DwellStudio Bedding Sale 

Baby Sale Deals 

Diapers & Wipes Deals 

Many items are tagged for free shipping with an order of $50 or more, PLUS, you can get an additional $5 off a $50 order when you use the code TCDWMNBF at checkout! :-)


How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. -Anne Frank

Haitian earthquake relief--if you can help, please do. And please make sure you're donating to a reputable organization. Sending money to the corrupt Haitian government that has mistreated its citizens for decades and created the deplorable infrastructure that lead to the disintegration of structures across this nation of 10 million souls will do much more harm than good.

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