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I must reveal up front that politics is not my game. But I think the horsing around going on in Washington, DC can be unhealthy for all of us.

 I ask myself, ‘What do I expect of a politician?’ 

I feel strongly that one issue candidates are dangerous because they don’t think about each and every one of us when evaluating bills that come before congress. 

Politicians who are too far to the right or left of center can’t possibly care for all of us because they are too busy fighting for their tiny fiefdoms to be productive.  And they forget about those of us in the middle who are trying to take care of our families.

I watched the debacle in Congress this summer where each member voted based on his or her personal concerns. It was Friday July 20 Congressional representatives broke talks with the president. Again on Saturday, the 21st congress did not move forward. 

Who were they kidding? This is a $15 billion debt ceiling we are talking about. How do you solve those issues in 24, 48 or 60 hours? If you and I ran our households like that we too would be in deeper debt than our country is now….and we can’t print money at will like Congress can.

Mudslinging was used to get their messages heard.  

Mudslinging does not solve problems. It does not bring people together so they can be productive.

 And in the middle of it all, our congressional representatives treat our President as a foe to be burned rather than someone to work with. In our president’s August 20th weekly address Mr Obama states, “The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party.”

Did they forget that President Obama is the leader of our country…our spokesperson to the world?  (Doesn’t matter whether you voted for him or not, he still is our voice.)

Our congressional representatives forget that they are there to help every American remain healthy and productive. 

We all have different political views but we must remember that we are a nation of 312 million people. Caring for all takes precedence over individual points of view.

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The end of the summer is a great time to squeeze in those last minute barbecues that might otherwise have to wait for the next season. Sure, my husband will grill even in the middle of a blizzard, but not all are so brave (or crazy!)  Last weekend we had my family over for a cookout, and the results were simple yet delicious.  Using up the remnants of your garden or farmer’s market finds, it’s easy to put together a meal that will give you time to sit and relax with your guests.

Summer BBQ

We began with turkey and beef cheeseburgers, served on toasted rolls.  I chopped up some red potatoes, and drizzled with them olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh rosemary from the garden.  Wrapped in aluminum-foil packets, these went on the grill first. Cooked this way, they come out crispy yet moist.  Next on the grill were skewers of yellow squash, zucchini, and grape tomatoes, brushed with wine white.  My husband cooked some fresh corn, sautéed some Vidalia onions, and our no-fuss BBQ was ready.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I guess as a writer, most life events get analyzed and thought about, and eventually written about. And this is one of those times.  My mom, 89 years old, feisty, independent to the end, passed last Sunday morning.  She was in the hospital, a place she had avoided since giving birth to me (the same year Alaska became a state!), but it was the place we had to bring her just so she could breathe a little easier, and get discharged with an oxygen tank and home care.  But, it was not meant to be.  Minutes before I came to spend Sunday with her, both her breathing and heart stopped.  Quiet and simple, just as she wanted.  Though cancer did appear in her lungs, and probably liver, they said after a good night’s sleep, her heart gave out. 

As we remembered Ma over these last few days, we were amazed at how ready she was to go, so it wasn’t a totally sad affair.  Her paper delivery had been cancelled two weeks ago — this from a woman who read The Daily News faithfully every day, and had the crossword puzzle pretty much completed by noon.  She had given envelopes to my older brother and I with her last wishes, she had her dress ready, money in a joint account for her funeral arrangements, even chose the hymns for her mass, and left this warning:  “no crying.”

Yesterday was a glorious day, sunny and cool, a day Ma would have loved because it meant she’d get out to the stores, holding on tight to her rolling shopping cart, AKA “walker.”  As her casket lay at the plot where my Dad lies buried, I knew she was truly happy: to be with our father again after 30 years of widowhood.  She’d been strong to the end, and we know she’s at peace.

I’m back at the editor’s desk here at Hudson Valley Parent with a new outlook on “preparedness.”  It’s something we should not put off.  It will not only put your mind at ease, but your family’s as well.  No matter your age, if you own a home and have children, visit a lawyer or at least research your options so that’s in order.  If you have bank accounts, make sure they are in the right names, or changed to a joint account.  If your family’s home has not been appraised for decades, do so before you put it on the market.  And last, create your living will and sign the DNR if that is your plan.  It made what was a difficult time easier because the wishes of my Mom were carried out to the letter. 

As we head to September, and what is traditionally the season of “new beginnings,” let’s take stock, fix what needs fixin’, correct what needs correcting, and hug your loved ones every day.  

 

I had the privilege of being invited to a media only event this weekend at Bethel Woods featuring The Family Stone. We were part of an interview with the band members that will be part of an exhibit later. They started out as Sly and the Family Stone and appeared at Woodstock oh so many years ago.

The band members were great. Very down to earth and you can tell they love what they do. The trumpet player, Cynthia Robinson, had a funny story about Sly and some bologna they tried to eat on the way to the ’69 show.  I have some great pics and some video too. Check out this video and see if you remember….

Click here if you want to see the pics.

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I’ve decided that eating fresh pesto is like eating summer.  If you grow your own basil, then what’s the difference between basil and summer, really?  To me, they’re fairly synonymous.  Cooking with home-grown fresh herbs is one of the treats of the season, and I look forward to it all winter long.

 Making Pesto

My basil plants were overflowing with great-sized leaves the other night, and I decided it was time for some pesto.  Every year at the end of the season I make a few batches of pesto, and freeze them to use throughout the winter.  This batch, though, did not last past dinner.  In a food processor, combine 2 c. well-packed basil leaves and 1/4 c. chopped nuts (pine nuts or walnuts).  Pulse till shredded, then add 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 c. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper, and pulse again.  Add 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, and pulse until smooth, pushing down as needed.  If you’d like to freeze this in a jar for later use, don’t add the cheese until it’s been thawed and you’re ready to serve it.

A Pesto Pasta Salad

Once the pesto was ready, I poured it over a lb. of cooked pasta, then stirred in 8 oz. of cubed fresh mozzarella and a handful of grape tomatoes.  Served with some fresh fruit, it was the perfect savory, gooey dinner that satisfied the whole family.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

As the school year approaches (yes, I said it, even though the reality of it makes me sad), I start gathering ideas for quick breakfasts, lunch boxes, and snacks.  I’m a big muffin fan, and I do believe you can’t have too many muffin recipes. When I find a good muffin recipe, I bake two dozen, and freeze most of them in Ziploc bags.  I’ll often make some as mini-muffins, which are also great to freeze and pop into a lunch box for a snack.

Banana chocolate chip muffins

I don’t put chocolate chips into breakfast items too often, as I’d rather rely on fruit to jazz up a baked good.  Banana and chocolate, however, are worth the exception.  This recipe comes from weelicious, and was enjoyed by both my family and a friend’s family.  I followed the recipe closely, making only a few changes.  I used whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour, and I decreased the chocolate chips to 1/2 a cup, and still found that to be plenty.  I used half agave nectar and half honey for the sweetener.  Often I use applesauce in place of oil, but since it was a fairly small quantity and this was the first time I was making it, I left it as is. Next time, I’ll use half applesauce, half oil.  The muffins were filling and chocolaty, and will definitely join my fall muffin rotation.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

 

Where did summer go? In just a few short weeks, buses will be en route, children will be anticipating that first day, and parents will be gathering all of those needed school supplies. So what’s the best way to prepare your children for that first day of school?

Children going into kindergarten can have a lot of anxiety about what school will be like. In many cases that anxiety can be parent-imposed as parents struggle with the new found role of their “babies.” Saying goodbye while your most precious cargo sails into the sunset on that big yellow school bus can invoke lots of feelings. The number of parents holding back tears can be equal to those children shedding them. The best way to prepare your child for their first day of school is to first prepare yourself parents. Assess how you feel in all of this. If you’re feeling anxious or fearful, address your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one — away from the ear shot of your children. The only thing your children should hear from you about school is positive reinforcement. ‘Oh, wow, you get to have a new teacher! You get to make new friends. It can be like a great adventure finding where the art class, bathroom and lunchroom are.” Everything can be spun positively… everything! It’s an enormous burden for children to have to shoulder the emotional roller coaster of their parents. Being mindful of what we bring to the dynamics is key.

Listen, with three children of my own, one of which is entering kindergarten this year, I certainly can be one of those parents if I do not practice self-awareness. After all, these are our babies, we nurtured, protected and sheltered them from harm. What is amazing is the adaptability of children, even very young ones. I can say I have witnessed thousands of young children enter into the school building each year for the first time who transition well and show great resiliency to change and new endeavors. The best way to prepare your young one emotionally for the start of the new school year, is to start with being mindful of how we present their impending new adventure.

Tenise Wall, LMSW has been serving the Hudson Valley since 2002. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker having obtained a Master’s Degree from Fordham University. She is the award recipient of the 2009 Orange County Tribute to Women of Achievement in the area of Education. She is the author of Pain to Purpose www.WallProfessionalServices.org.  If you have a blogging topic of interest or a question for me to answer, you could contact me at tenise@wallprofessionalservices.org.

 

My son and I have seen signs for the Native American Festival around this time for years. We finally got around to going and it was fascinating. The dancers were awesome. The native dress is stunning. The beadwork and feathers are exquisite. I found the dances inspiring.
There was some great food there too. Buffalo burgers have a great taste and are not super greasy. I would skip the buffalo tacos though, the flavor was boiled out of the meat. My suggestion, boil down that pot likker and let the flavor seep back into the meat.
There were booths galore. If you love silver jewelry, this is the place to be. I actually purchased a pair of feather earrings myself. They are rather beautiful I think.
Last, but not least, they had birds of prey there. The owl is stunning. We did not get to stay for the show, but I have seen one before and they are truly a sight to behold. If you missed it this year, it comes to Anthony Wayne State Park every August.

Something about the sound of “zucchini fritters” makes me feel like I’m at a carnival, about to taste a magical creation, and perhaps win one of those ridiculously giant stuffed animals to boot.  I came across this recipe last week, and knew it was just the thing to do with those glorious shiny green zucchini I’d picked up last weekend.  I cook with zucchini just about every chance I get, and was excited that fritters were about to be my next endeavor.

Crunchy zucchini fritters

With this recipe for zucchini fritters being the main inspiration for dinner, I looked for something that would complete the meal.  Bunless turkey burgers worked perfectly, along with a handful of fresh strawberries.  The fritters were incredible- moist, slightly crispy, and full of flavor- and we were sad when they were all gone.  I pan-fried the burgers since I was already at the stove, and within 20 minutes we had a complete and really delicious dinner.  Abundant zucchini this time of year is a blessing!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

‘Wakes up at 7:30, and plays quietly.  He doesn’t cry but waits for mommy to come and get him for breakfast.”  Isn’t that just the best way to start the morning?  Dylan Rheal was born this past February.  His mom, Marci Rheal of Newburgh, won our very first “expectant mom” contest.  Her prize package was a year’s worth of photos by the Wanamaker Photography, and I get so excited when I know there’s been a photo shoot scheduled since we know we are in for a new batch of “cutey-patootie” photos. 

When I first met Dylan, he was sleeping so soundly in his carrier, occasionally hiccuping, which when a baby does it, while sleeping, is just a scream to watch.  Marci and Corey hovered like new parents do, like I remember doing as a new parent.  In fact, it brought me back to the day my husband and I brought home our first baby.  After being waited on by the nurses, having someone right at hand to ask questions about this, after a day, they discharged us.  Me, and this little baby.  How could they just let me goI’m not ready to do this by myself.  But that was it.  I remember placing her on her diaper table, as she wiggled around, and I thought, “Ok Emily, we’re going to do the best job we can.”  She hiccupped, smiled, and then we were all just fine.

Please check out the August HV Parent, or view the story online.  We are thrilled to showcase this new little guy, and the new parents; I know they’re going to be just fine, too.

 

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