Images found here are not to be reproduced without my express written permission.

Weighing heavy on my mind.

For too long the discourse about guns has been drawn along hard and fast lines, but it has come time for us to seek points of agreement between those who support the Second Amendment and those who call for gun control. Can we not bring together people on both sides of the issue who are concerned about the misuse of firearms?

According to statistics compiled by the nonprofit group Gun Violence Archive, there were 36 mass shootings in the US in the first 23 days of 2023, with a total of 2,679 deaths in the same period attributed to gun violence. No responsible gun owner would want to see guns used in such a fashion. This is just one point of agreement between two factions with very different points of view. Surely we can find more than one.

But the more I think about it, the more I think we need to draw up a list of “trigger words” before even trying to discuss this.  By this I mean words such as Liberal... Right-Wing... Black… Illegal aliens… Democrat… Republican... Gun control... These words and their synonyms and their ilk should be banned from the initial discussion, because people on both sides often close their minds and stop listening altogether as soon as they hear them. Both sides are guilty of this, and it’s sad to see people shouting at each other rather than listening and trying to come to a consensus about even ONE teensy thing to do to help make our streets and schools and homes safer.

This is not a right wing vs left wing issue, or a blue state vs red state issue – it is an issue that affects people of every race, religion, economic status, and political persuasion. It is a human issue. Let us call together reasonable people to seek ways to have safer streets and schools while still preserving the legitimate rights of gun owners.

I know there are a host of organizations who are concerned about this issue and the many factors that feed into the problem. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could form a coalition comprised of one representative from each of these organizations who would agree to set and abide by ground rules for keeping the discussion civil and focused not on disputing but on finding constructive approaches to address the violence in our community from the ground up? By limiting the size of the group we could get more done, yet by having wide representation we could ensure that all viewpoints are heard.

Can we as Americans – as citizens of this country and of North Carolina – sit down together and find a reasonable and respectful approach?



You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Play time

 

We have a rather immense cat tree for our "boys". One part of it might work for kittens, but it is too flimsy for a full-sized cat. I use that section to store their toys. Tommy spends time each day sorting through and choosing the toy he wants to play with that day.  




You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Shakshuka - love this dish!

I'm trying to eat healthier, and Mediterranean cooking has begun to appeal to me. When I was cooking for two, my better half wasn't into experimenting - he was fond of meat & potatoes, pasta & sweets, and all those other things that pack on the pounds. I'm now able to experiment without the eye-rolls, and have recently fallen in love with this recipe.  I adapted it slightly, choosing to use cilantro rather than parsley and mint, and decreasing the number of eggs for two of us. I can't wait to try it with fresh tomatoes when they're in season, though!

Easy Shakshuka Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 6 cups)
  • ½ C tomato sauce
If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, use a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice and omit the tomato sauce
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¼ C chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ C chopped fresh mint leaves

Instructions

  • Heat 3 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the onions, green peppers, garlic, spices, pinch salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce (or canned diced tomatoes). Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook a bit longer to allow the mixture to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Using a wooden spoon, make 6 indentations, or "wells," in the tomato mixture. Gently crack an egg into each indention.
  • Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and cook on low until the egg whites are set.
  • Uncover and add the fresh parsley and mint. You can add more black pepper or crushed red pepper, if you like. Serve with warm pita, challah, or crusty bread of your choice.

Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: You can prepare the shakshuka tomato sauce one night in advance.  Let cool completely, then store in the fridge in a tight lid glass container. When you are ready the next day, warm up the sauce in a skillet and add the eggs and follow the recipe from step #3 on.

Enjoy!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sunflower seed bread

 

The smell alone of this bread baking is enough to make it worthwhile! Heavenly!


Ingredients

  • 2/3 C warm milk or water (I used milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 C sunflower seeds, + more for sprinkling on top

Combine honey, milk, sugar, salt, yeast, oil, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add in flour and sunflower seeds and mix just until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Pour dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Shape risen dough into an oval (batard shape) and place in a lightly greased 8x4" loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. While bread is rising, preheat oven to 375 F. 

Once bread has risen, brush top with a little vegetable oil and sprinkle top with sunflower seeds.

Bake the loaf for 35-45 minutes, then allow it to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing or serving.

YUM!


 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Before abandoning the holiday theme altogether...


...I had to share this photo of a friend's baby checking out Santa Claus. It made me smile and I wish the same for you!

Happy New Year!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Want an easy snack recipe?

Spicy Seasoned Pretzels


Ingredients

  • 16 oz (1 lb) bag tiny twist pretzels 
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil *** See note below!
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt) 
  •  2 teaspoons lemon pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ***

Instructions 

  • Pour oil and spices into a gallon Ziploc bag. Seal and shake to evenly distribute oil with spices. 
  • Add in pretzels, seal up Ziploc bag, and gently shake to combine. 
  • There are two different ways you can finish the pretzels: 
    • Option 1: you can leave them in the Ziploc bag and allow pretzels to soak up the seasoned oil for at least 6 hours, or ideally for 24 hours. Turn bag to shake up pretzels every few hours.
    • Option 2: Bake the oil soaked pretzels in a 200 degree oven for about 1 hour, stirring several times to ensure even baking. 
Allow to cool before eating. Pretzels will keep in an airtight container for 3 weeks.
 
*** I reduced the amount of oil to 1/2 cup and used the cook-in-the-oven method. I found this works just fine, but if you wish to jack up your cholesterol... be my guest! I also upped the amount of cayenne pepper after the first time I made this to prevent me from gorging TOO much - these things are tasty and addictive!
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter