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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adventures in Thanksgiving Prep.

I like to prep as much as possible the day before the main event, so I'm not scrambling around the day of. So I was in the kitchen for about 8 hours today. During that time, I:

1. Peeled and cut potatoes, carrots and squash.
2. Baked a scratch apple pie.
3. Baked several loaves of homemade cardamon bread.
4. Made a nice salty brine bath for Tom Turkey.

Pictured: Cardamon bread.

While that was pretty cool, the main reason for this post is the fun things that happened while I was doing those things. Here you go.

1. I taught my two little ones, Aidan, age 4 and Regan, 20 months, to make handprint turkeys. I helped with the tracing and left them to color. The baby colored for about a minute, then started throwing crayons everywhere. Aidan got annoyed because his turkeys didn't look like real turkeys, and opted to build towers with the crayons instead.

2. Aidan asked for leftover pie crust to play with, which I gave him. He tried to use it like play-dough, but his sister kept eating his creations.

3. I was playing music and singing along while working. Every time I would stop singing, the baby would run into the kitchen and yell at me.

4. Aidan rocked out hardcore to "Welcome to the Jungle", and insisted I replay it several times.

5. Aidan asked for pie, and when he was told it was for Thanksgiving tomorrow, eyed me and said, "Well, it's dark out, it must be ALMOST tomorrow."

So in addition to the normal cleanup, the entire kitchen was destroyed. I love my kids.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Green Mountain Coffee - A Great Taste, a Better World.

"When you buy Fair Trade, you're not just buying better coffee, you're building a better world."
- Kelly Clarkson

I've been a longtime fan of Green Mountain Coffee, and I was thrilled to be chosen by BzzAgent to try the new Kelly Clarkson Limited Edition Three Continent Blend for free.I love my coffee. No, I really, really love my coffee. The survival of myself- and others-depends on a steady supply. To sum it up, compliments of

This particular bit of steaming jet fuel? Straight up, it's delicious. It's got a smooth, rich flavor with an assertive finish that even when you drink it with addins like I do, you know you're drinking coffee. It's not harsh, though, or bitter, it just gives you a kick at the end. The aroma is wonderful...nutty with a dark scent underneath. It has the distinctiveness and quality I've come to expect from Green Mountain Coffee. A generalization: even using the K-Cups, you get a full strength cup of java. Not all brands deliver like that.

Okay, now you're wondering why I put such a powerful title on a review about coffee, not to mention the quote by the lovely Kelly Clarkson that started this post. Now that I have your attention, I will explain.

What is Fair Trade?
From the World Fair Trade Organization website:

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seek greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade Organizations, backed by  consumers, are engaged actively  in supporting producers,  awareness  raising  and  in campaigning for changes  in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”

So what does that have to do with coffee?

Green Mountain Coffee is Fair Trade Certified. Long story short, when you purchase their fabulous coffee, you are helping local farmers make a decent wage for their hard work. I'm from farming country and have done my stint at my friends' farms, so I know it's a very tough job. In 2012, coffee farmers earned more than $31.8 million in Fair Trade premiums to invest in their communities and improve the quality of their harvests. This is an 88% increase over 2011 premiums earned.Since 1998, coffee farmers and workers have earned approximately $93 million from Fair Trade. (Source:

Had no idea? Don't feel sad at all. Only 38% of people know about it.

So what can you do to support such a lovely thing? Buy Green Mountain's really awesome coffee, and other goods that carry the Fair Trade label. Coffee is the best known, but you can find Fair Trade versions of everything from chocolate to wine to soccer balls. Seriously. Check this site out. I've used quite a few fair trade products, and they truly make you happy, body and soul. It's always good when spending money brings a great happy. For more information on Green Mountain Coffee, their mission, and what songstress Kelly Clarkson has to do with it all, check out

I received free products from BzzAgent and Green Mountain Coffee for testing and reviewing purposes. My opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cyberbullying is Rampant on YouTube.

I' m normally one to keep my posts light, but my baby girl is under attack, and no one can seem to stop it. Or cares.

My teen daughter has been through a rough time. She had trouble making friends. She had social problems all through school, until we finally received a diagnosis of Asperger's. Her major functional issues are purely social; she doesn't have ADD, or anything like that. She doesn't require medication, and is instead receiving counseling, attending a special needs school, and learning coping techniques.

In this process, she discovered an affinity for making fan videos, and despite misgivings, I allowed her to get a YouTube account to show her work to her friends. I monitored her account, and she had no problems at all.

Then she got a new kid in her class, a self proclaimed "troll". When she refused to follow his YouTube account, as he used it exclusively for trolling, he told her we would be going after her account.

Suddenly, rude comments started appearing in her Discussion section. Someone posting under her name, saying things like "I'M GAY" and "I'M A BITCH" and "I POOP MY PANTS". YouTube's Advice is to change your password and put comments on mod only, which we did. No way to report the person, since they weren't using an account that could be posted into their immovable form. I figured it was her new classmate, but there was no way to prove it. I called the school, but they said they couldn't do anything either. Even when a classmate joined the fray and was caught, he simply changed his account name and denied it.

I tracked down a customer service number for Google, and was put on hold. I waited. And waited. And waited. For five hours and 21 minutes. No, I'm not kidding. Five hours of "Your call is important to us. Please wait on the line until the next available customer service...etc. No one ever picked up.

For a while, I thought the changed password and comment mod did the trick. No comments even attempted to come through.

Unfortunately,  it appears my daughter had picked a password that was hackable. She comes downstairs about an hour ago, hysterical. All of her videos, more than 80, are gone. In addition, replacing her About description is this: (edited for content, but you can see what it said.)

Yep. On a teen girl's account, a filth-ridden phrase with gay and racial slurs. Thank God that my daughter was so upset over the missing videos that she never saw it.

You'd think the notification system would have sent some sort of warning, but nothing. No warning that the videos were deleted. No warning that that horrible phrase was on an account with her name on it. Not a damned thing. My account was linked up to it as well as hers, and I didn't get anything either. The multiple safeguards I put in place were useless, BECAUSE THE TROLLS ALL KNOW HOW TO GET AROUND THEM.

There are no ways at all to talk to a human being at Google or YouTube.  I posted this to YouTube's Facebook page:

I have a feeling I won't get a response, though. They're all about the money, and one teen who needs an outlet for her stress doesn't bring in the millions. So my options are to close her account and let the trolls win, or leave it open, encourage her to start over again, and subject her to further abuse when once again, security is circumvented.

Since this is Blogger, maybe someone will pay attention. These little monsters are nothing but bullies and criminals, yet they're allowed free reign to destroy almost everything. Maybe we're not advertisers with big bucks, but we are consumers, and we should matter.

 My daughter's account link.