Thursday, June 28, 2012

#SCOTUS health care thoughts

This may be the first time I've brought up anything seriously political on my blog.  I feel like I might be crossing a line, so if you're a regular here and don't want to read this, I will not be offended.  But here I go crossing that line because, it's my blog, and I can do what I want to.

First off, I am not a political or legal or "ObamaCare" expert.  I understand the general principles of trying to cover everybody and that birth control will now be included in your insurance.  As a former self employed, and somewhat starving artist, these are the things that matter to me.

Second, so other than the two points I just mentioned, I don't want to talk about the details of healthcare reform.  That is for experts to hash out, and I am confident the final result will be acceptable to the majority of Americans.   And I am not an expert.

I just want to give my thoughts on the general concept, and the issues I have with the cost arguments/concerns.

  1. Our government spends lots and lots of money.  I believe in a balanced budget, but I have no problems putting that money towards US citizens who need healthcare, and US doctors and hospitals that deserve to get paid rather than giving away free services.  Our war expenditures should be going down, why is it a bad thing to pay doctors, and heaven forbid, insurance companies here.  Our economy is struggling, why is it a bad idea to put money into our country in such a way thats its not even a bailout?
  2. Preventative care is good for everybody.  This comes from both a human nature/ethical standpoint and a financial one as well.  If we can keep Americans healthy, then we should be able to prevent costly hospital stays, treat problems before they are out of control, all while improving quality of life and paying doctors for their services.  This seems like a natural extension of the programs we've had in place for decades.
In general I consider myself a libertarian.  I think people should be free to make their own choices, as long as they don't infringe on my personal rights, or cost me too much money.   Expanding Medicare/medicade/ObamaCare or whatever you want to call it may cost me money (or maybe not in the long term, we'll see) but I'm ok with that.  I pay taxes anyway, and the money might as well go towards raising the bar for quality of life for the people around me.  I'm a softie like that.

And now for some pretty pictures:

The rules on my blog are as follows:  discussion = cool, arrogance & fighting = not tolerated.  If you would like to leave a comment about my thoughts here please do.  If you have thoughts of your own I'd love to hear them.  I wrote this post to simply get my thoughts out there not to start a debate or fight.  Again, it's my blog and I'll do what I want to....including delete potentially nasty comments.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

garden update - the vegetable garden

Since I (mostly) kept my promise to myself and worked in the garden this past weekend I wanted to show you my vegetable garden.  It's not much, but it really is just about all of the sun I have, and the only sun I have anywhere close to a water source.

Everything about this bed is completely makeshift.  The boards are some that were replaced on my grandmother's deck this last fall, and my tomato stakes are a mixture of fallen limbs and scrap wood/pipe found behind my shed.

My favorite part about this bed is the irrigation.  I feel like I actually did this right and laid out a soaker hose around my plants, then mulched about 3 inches on top.  I've been able to water at night, or overnight, twice a week without any problem.
Considering the heat, I'm very happy about that.  And considering my water bill was $9 last month, I think I can handle the long soaks...ahh the perks to living in the county!

This year I planted tomatoes, peppers, and squash with a few marigolds to help the tomatoes along.

We'll start with the tomatoes.

I'm really excited about my tomatoes.  On a whim I started a bunch from seed, and this is the only little guy that survived my neglect.  He's either a yellow or red brandywine.

The healthiest tomatoes in my garden are heirloom varieties that came from the Chattanooga Area Farmers Markets.  I have a German Johnson Gold, Cherokee Purple, and Pink Brandywine.  I also have 2 sweet 100  cherry tomatoes from my local Ace Hardware, at $1.00 for a 4 pack, I couldn't resist.  They did too well on my patio last year!

I'm so excited that the first of my tomatoes are starting to form.  Of course I was running behind this year and planted everything late,but I'm looking forward to having fresh food later in the summer.  In the meantime, I've got an excuse to go to the farmer's markets!

Next up are the squash and peppers!

The peppers are mostly started from seed by my step grandmother, with one Ace Hardware plant. The squash are from the same Ace Hardware, I really couldn't resist the $1.00 closeout sale.  My veggies will all come in late, but they will be cheap!

This is my first year planting veggies in the ground and not in containers, so while I don't have to water as much, I do have to worry about critters.  So far I've just seen rabbits, but I have a feeling once the actual veggies come in that will change.

Everything seems to be healthy with the exception of my German Johnson Gold.  The plant looks happy, but the leaves have yellow spots on them.  Does anyone know if this is something I should worry about, or typical for this plant?

I would love to have a gold tomato this year, but I don't want to risk the rest of my crop if this is indicative of a more serious problem.

I'm almost done with the rock garden, so look for those updates later this week.  :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

a promise kept

This weekend I did spend time with friends and drink wine.  This weekend I did work in my house.  This weekend I did relax and get over my cold.  This weekend I did work in the yard and got most of my plants in the ground.  I did get mulch moved, and set out most of my annuals. 

I'm going to say that considering we saw triple digit temperatures, I did all right :)

I'll post the full fruits of my labor, complete with pictures later this week!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

a promise to myself

This weekend I will work in the garden.  I will take all of the plants I have out of their pots and put them in the ground, even if it may not be in their permanent home.  I weekend I will mulch as much as I can.  This weekend I will fill my extra containers with annuals that will make me smile when I get home.  This weekend I will drink wine with friends.  This weekend I will relax and get over my cold.  This weekend I will get stuff done.

I promise.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

garden to table challenge - pizza

Confession: this is inspired from one of last weeks recipes (Pesto Pizza) on the Garden to Table Challenge at Greenish Thumb.  Mine is different, but the idea to make farmer's market pizza's definitely came from Lindalou.

The great thing about a farmer's market pizza is that everything is going to be fresh, and you can pick what you like.  My group vetoed peppers, but there were a few I had my eye on.

The great thing about the farmer's market is interacting with the farmers.  I knew I wanted sausage for the pizzas, and when I asked Cloudcrest Farms what would be good, they were able to recommend what they used on pizzas the night before. When I picked out mixed tomatoes, the farmers from Pocket Farms were able to show me a low acidity yellow tomato named 'taxi' to try along with a more traditional looking (ie red) heirloom tomato i forgot to ask the name of.

If I had been smart, I would have gotten my cheese at the farmers market, but I had some store bought in the fridge, so I used what I have.  Next time, I'm still a newbie.

(1) andoille sausage - farmers market
(6) small heirloom tomatoes, 1/2 diced 1/2 thinly sliced - farmers market
Basil - my garden
(2) medium pizza crust - store bought
Mozzarella - store bought
feta - store bought
olive oil w/italian spices - Alchemy Spice

I brushed the pizza dough with my olive oil, layered the tomatoes, toppings, cheese, and basil and baked according to the crust instructions.  This is the first pizza I have made with heirloom tomatoes, and it was ah-may-zing.  Having two different types of heirlooms was just so good.  I am convinced that I will never go back to regular tomatoes, and I am kicking myself for not putting my tomatoes in the ground's going to be at least another 3 weeks before I have any tomatoes of my own.....but that's what the farmers market is for!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Riverbend Photoset #2 - Festival Food

It is no secret that I love food.  I'm not a true foodie, but fancy or not, good food just makes me happy.  Last night I went down to see Yo Mamma's Big Fat Booty Band from Ashville (such a fun show btw...jam band meets brass band meets funky fun show).  The show was early, so we decided to do festival food for dinner.

Yes, most prices are outrageous at Riverbend, so we passed on the BBQ platters, turkey legs and chicken on a stick...and I think we found the best food for the best deal:  A Fried Green Tomato Burger and Fried Mac &Cheese from Funny Face Food.

The burger was a steal at 14 tokens ($7) and the fried mac and cheese was reasonable at 12 tokens ($6).  I split dinner with a friend since there was so much food, so I for $6.50 I was all sorts of happy.

We'll start with the fried green tomato burger...

The picture pretty much says it all.  The burger is huge, juicy and messy....just the way I like it.  It's served with pickle, onion, lettuce, a special sauce and two fried green tomatoes.  Heaven wrapped in foil.

Now on to the fried mac & cheese.  This sounded good, but I was skeptical.  Recently I ordered "fried mac & cheese bites" from a restaurant that shall not be named, and was served little triangles that looked like cheese sticks.  I was crushed. (I got over it, but it was sad.)  I didn't want to make the same mistake twice, so we asked to see what the Funny Face Food version looked like....and it was a night and day difference.

This is your grandmother's macaroni and cheese, bundled into a ball and fried.  People talk about fried food being crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, but I feel like that never really happens and can't be all that awesome.....well I just found out that it does happen and is that awesome.  This picture is my half of the mac & cheese, and although its hard to tell, the super creamy macaroni just spilled out of the inside of the ball.  It really was soo good.  It even comes with a spicy sauce, if you want to add some kick to this little ball of awesomeness.

After the show we decided we wanted to try something I had heard about, and had to see for myself: Diabetic's Delight - Sugar Free Elephant Ears & Funnel Cakes.  I was curious how someone would make the fried and sugar coated carnival standard sugar free.  The answer: Splenda.  It's the same fried pastry coated with Splenda, or Splenda & cinnamon.  The concept sounded better than it looked, so we went with the classic funnel cake...topped with hot fudge. (14 tokens, $7)

It was everything we hoped it would be, but entirely more food than we could handle.  Between two of us I think we were only able to eat about a third of it.  It was a waste, but I think our arteries thanked us.

june bloom day 2012

There has been so much going on in the past month that I haven't spent much time at all in the garden.  And I'm going to be honest...I hate it.  I had dreams of what my yard would look like this summer, and I am no where close.  There is mulching to be done, ivy to be pulled, tomatoes to be staked, and the list goes on.  The worst thing is I feel like there is nothing blooming right a few volunteer black eyed susan's that dot my un-mowed lawn.

The lesson here is that not much will survive the hot summers here without help.  This means that when I do start planting summer blooming perennials for next year, they need to be drought tolerant and heavily mulched!

If you'd like to see what is blooming around the world, visit Carol's May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Riverbend Photoset #1

New this year is the Ferris Wheel. 
I wasn't brave enough to try it in the rain.

Here are some pictures from Sunday night at Riverbend.  It rained just a little bit, but that didn't keep me from Gov't Mule.  This was my, "if I don't see anything else I'm not going to miss this band."  It was a two hour set ending with Soul the rain....I was a very happy girl.

My top two Riverbend moments have been shows in the rain.  Alabama in 2000, and now Gov't Mule.  In 2000 it stormed so bad the show had to be shut down, but we waited it out, and actually snuck on to the barge that is the main stage for the last part of the show.  Funny they didn't think the dancing teenagers belonged backstage in the VIP section.  This show didn't have a storm, but the rain kept everything cool, and I think the band really appreciated that the crowed chilled in the rain to watch the show.

Warren Haynes is amazing, and it wasn't until I heard him live that I realized how much of an influence he is on some of my musician friends.  Maybe it bc they play some of the same guitars (Warren played 3 during this set), but the sound was the same.  I loved it, and it reminded me of Clemson.

I'm glad I got this shot of Warren Haynes smiling and interactnig with the crowd.  I love it when musicians smile and connect.  It's a great reminder that the music comes from a good place, is meant to touch people, and the musician is on the same page as everyone there.

I got a little excited, and videoed Soul Shine.  Unfortunately I was so close to the stage and the sound system that all you can hear is bass.  So I will spare you the video, but show you just how happy I was to get out for this slightly rainy show.

Due to scheduling conflicts,  it looks like I won't be back at Riverbend until Thursday night for Yo Mamma's Big Fat Booty Band, but I can't wait, and I'm sure there will be more pictures.  I haven't gotten into the festival food yet!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

garden to table challenge - BASIL

photo taken May 2012
The first food to come out of my garden (in any significant quantities) is basil.  Last summer I fell in love with basil, and it was one of the first things I 'knew' I wanted to plant at my new house.  Since I don't have enough sun to have the bountiful crop I had last summer, I'm compensating with quantity.  I have planted 7 basil plants so far, and I'm thinking about adding more.  Last summer I discovered how easy basil is to freeze, and I would love to have a few full good sized freezer bags full to last me through the winter next year.

My first use of my basil is this simple, summer, go to pasta dish.  There are no measurements; it's up to your taste and the number of people you are serving...this is one you really can't mess up.

Cooked Pasta, drained
Fresh Basil, chopped
Garlic, chopped
Sun Dried tomatoes
Olive oil (I use olive oil infused with Alchemy Spice Italian seasoning)
Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Feta cheese, crumbled
Salt, optional when using feta

  • In the same dish you cooked the pasta in: drizzle olive oil, and add fresh basil, garlic, salt, Parmesan Cheese, and sun dried tomatoes.  
  • Mix everything together, cover, and let sit for 3-5 minutes.  (If you have an electric stove, I usually do this on the burner I cooked the pasta on, but with the burner turned off.  This little bit of heat is great, but doesn't scorch the pasta or melt the cheese)  
  • Uncover the pasta, mix in some feta, and serve.

I love this because it's quick, tasty, and only uses one dish.  Since I'm washing dishes by hand, every little bit helps.

I hope you enjoy this simple, early summer pasta!  For more in-season recipes visit Greenish Thumb's Garden to Table Challenge

Friday, June 1, 2012

(Re)Discover Chattanooga Riverbend 2012

There are a lot of reasons to go (or not go) to Riverbend.  The crowds, the extremely diverse music, the festival either love it or hate it.

I'm in the group of people who go to Riverbend for the music.  It may sound strange, but sometimes I think we're in the minority.

One of the best things about Riverbend, for me, is being exposed to new music.  I love music, but I don't get out as much as I like, and Riverbend is a great (and cheap!) way to be exposed to a lot of new music in a short period of time.

The small stages at Riverbend are perfect for getting to hear new music.  Last year I had a blast with Dirty Guv'nahs out of Knoxville, and they've become a favorite of mine to see live.

Here is a list (by date) of the music I'm most excited about for Riverbend 2012:
  • The Future Birds June 8, 2012 7:00 pm Bud Light Stage These guys are out of Athens and have been doing some pretty serious touring for an up-and-coming band.  I'm excited to get a chance to check them out.  Video
  • Machines Are People Too June 9, 2012 5:00 pm Bud Light Stage Electro Dance comes to Riverbend...if I can make it at 5, this would be an interesting way to kick off the festival!
  • The Dirty South June 8, 2012 11:00 pm The Volkswagen Stage There wasn't a description of this band on the Riverbend site, but according to this the The Dirty South band from the UK, and not the Dirty South band with 3 followers on facebook.  If I knew which Dirty South this was I might make a point to walk up to the Hunter after Foreigner, but we'll see.
  •  *FOREIGNER* June 9, 2012 9:30 pm Coke Stage  I'm not usually a fan of the main acts at Riverbend, but this is a classic and I can't wait to rock out to songs like "Cold As Ice," "Feels Like the First Time," "Hot Blooded," "Double Vision," and "I Want To Know What Love Is."
  • *GOV'T MULE* June 10, 2012 6:45 pm Bud Light Stage This is a band that's been on my radar for at least 5 or 6 years, but I've never gotten a chance to hear live.  And not hearing Warren Haynes live is something I plan on fixing. This might be the top of my "Must See" list for this year. 
  • Joe Louis Walker June 10, 2012 8:00 pm Unum Stage  You had me at "blues on the electric violin."
  • Cast Iron Filter June 10, 2012 9:30 pm Meo Mio's Cajun Spirits Stage Progressive bluegrass meets jamband...I'm in :) 
  • Rebirth Brass Band June 10, 2012 9:30 pm Unum Stage There is no way this won't be fun.
  • Smooth Dialects June 13, 2012 5:00 pm Bud Light Stage  Shake your groove thang.  This is a band I'm not familiar with, but I like the name, the photos, and the idea of mixing funk, reggae, soul, jazz, blues and world music.The only think I'm not excited about it the time...5:00 is tough for me if this is a work night. 
  • Uncle Lucius June 13, 2012 8:00 pm Unum Stage  I feel like I've heard of these guys from one of my better versed friends in music.  Add a white guy with a giant fro, and you know this show is going to be fun.
  • *YO MAMA'S BIG FAT BOOTY BAND* June 14, 2012 6:15 pm Bud Light Stage  This is one I'm not just picking based on the name...although the name is awesome...this show should be a lot of fun, and is on my "Must See" list.
  • Mother of Pearl June 15, 2012 7:30 pm Meo Mio's Cajun Spirits Stage  This caught my eye for 2 reasons...Mother of Pearl is my favorite expletive, and this is the only stage where mixed drinks are available.  Since I'm both allergic to hops and a fan of adult beverages, I think I'll be able to see what this band is all about.
  • *BLACKBERRY SMOKE* June 15, 2012 7:45 pm Bud Light Stage  This band has come across my radar more than once in the past year, and I hope I get to check them out.
  • Goo Goo Dolls June 15, 2012 9:30 pm Coke Stage  This just makes me giggle, knowing the Goo-Goo Dolls are still around, but I'll be in the back singing along.
  • Digital Butter June 15, 2012 11:00 pm The Volkswagen Stage A local band with a funky name.  They produce their own music, and have been around since 2009.  I feel like they'll be worth giving a listen while the traffic dies down.
  • *LAUREN ALAINA* June 16, 2012 9:30 pm Coke Stage Yes, I'm a fan of American Idol.  Yes, I'm a fan of most things local.  Yes, I plan on being there for Lauren Alaina and the fireworks...I'm a sucker for fireworks.
ProTip: Blanket Seating.  If there is a band you really want to hear on the Coca Cola stage, consider blanket seating.  It's just $10 per person per night, and you can lay out your blanket on the grass at the base of the stage.  The downside is the barge sits pretty tall, so you can't see more than the front edge of the stage.  But the sound is good, there are plenty of screens, you're with people who are there for the music, and you have your own private concessions & bathrooms.  Last year we did this for The Machine with The Chattanooga Symphony's covering of Pink Floyd, and it was AWESOME.  We put out our blanket, got our wristbands, and walked around the festival until it was time for the show. Everything was as we left it, and the show was great.
View from Blanket Seating last year

New this year: Specialty alcoholic beverages.  This isn't really new to Riverbend - it's just coming back.  Mixed drinks (margarita's etc) will be sold at the Meo Mio's Cajun Spirits Stage. This is the only place in the festival they will be sold.  As someone who is allergic to beer, I miss the days of the Jack Daniels tent.

Riverbend Information:

Pins: General Admission Pins can be purchased from May 1 - June 7 at midnight for $32 at local Kangaroo gas stations. Gate price starting June 8 is $45. One night wristbands are $26 and can be purchased at the entry gates. Senior citizen and military one night passes are discounted to $12.
Festival tokens are valued at $.50 cents each, and are used for all food and beverage purchases. Token Centers are also located throughout the festival where they are sold at face value. Tokens are good for all days of the festival, *including* for the Bessie Smith Strut. Tokens are nonrefundable, but may be used at the 2012 Riverbend Festival. 
Parking: Plenty of paid parking is available throughout downtown Chattanooga. Shuttle buses will be available for $1 per ride from 6PM-12:15AM every night of the festival, except during the Bessie Smith Strut (Monday, June 13th). Parking is available at Finley Stadium and the Chattanooga Choo Choo. The shuttle will drop patrons off at the corner of 3rd and Bro ad Streets. 
Alcohol: Age verification wristbands are required for all alcoholic beverage consumption. Wristbands are available at all token and beer locations. . All alcohol sales will cease 15 minutes before the final show is scheduled to end. All other concessions will close when the last show is over. 
Blanket Seating: Bring a blanket and stretch out on the lawn in front of the Coca-Cola Stage for only $10 a person (per night) with your Riverbend admission pin. Wristbands available at the Main Gate located at Chestnut and 2nd Street, and at the entrance to the Blanket Seating area. 
Boaters: Boaters can enter the festival through the Walnut Street Pier Gate, but admission pins must be purchased in advance.

More Riverbend Info
Facebook - @RBFestival

Update 6/8/12:  They will be serving Chattanooga Whiskey at Riverbend this year....this makes me happy. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...