Monday Morning Open Thread: Break Out the Light Therapy Boxes

(Drew Sheneman via

Something this weekend about the quality of the light, or the lack thereof, reminded me it’s probably time to start using my light therapy box again. If the turning season makes you SAD, remember that self-care is especially important as the days get shorter here in the northern hemisphere.

Apart from turning inward with the season, what’s on the agenda as we start another week?

It’s not just us sensitive left-wing snowflakes — even the robust denizens of MAGAmurka are feeling abused and misunderstood these days. Eric Levitz, in NYMag, says “Trump Keeps Getting Mad When He Finds Out What His Policies Actually Do”:

[T]here is one sense in which Trump is genuinely a man of the people — or, more precisely, of a certain subsegment of said people: Like millions of ordinary Americans, Donald Trump watches a lot of Fox News, but isn’t really interested in politics.

No occupant of the Oval Office has ever shared the average person’s disinterest in policy, parliamentary procedure, and the rudiments of American civics to the extent that Trump does. He is America’s first “low-information voter” president.

This was surely one source of his appeal on the campaign trail. The candidate spoke about politics like a regular Joe. Which is to say, like someone who doesn’t know much about politics but heard (or misheard) an outrageous thing about “Obummer” on Hannity last night. Jeb Bush read white papers, gave speeches at D.C. think tanks. Donald Trump watched Fox & Friends and shouted at his television. The billionaire might live in material conditions more opulent than his supporters could ever imagine. But unlike every other candidate in the GOP primary, in one small — but real and visceral — sense, Trump and the Republican base lived in the same world.

But if blithe ignorance about politics and mindless faith in the claims of right-wing pundits worked for Trump as a candidate, they’ve proven less effective for him as a president.
Read more

Shit is gonna bust your brains out, baby

I won’t say what made me think of this topic (except to say that it doesn’t involve me or anyone I’m close to), but I was just thinking: what are the best movies and books about people losing their minds? There’s various Poe short stories, John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samara, what else? I don’t mean stuff like Fight Club or I Am The Cheese, I mean stuff where the narrator or protagonist is not obviously insane at the beginning but is by the end. Seems like it should be a very rich genre but I’m not able to think of that many examples.

This Week’s Fall Menus

JeffreyW makes a yummy pot roast

I’ve been running to keep up with things and it looks like that is going to continue until the holidays, but I want to try and continue with the weekly menus. Here is the first of our October’s menus. I will do my best to keep this up…

Monday is my favorite Taco Salad and Tuesday is a super easy Creamy Chicken.

Full menus are here: October Menus 1

Wednesday features a Slow-Cooker Pot Roast and a sweet Ice Cream Delight for dessert.

JeffreyW makes Gumbo

Finally, Thursday is an easy Gumbo and Creole Salad and Friday is kid favorite Chili-Mac. 

The week’s shopping list can be found here: October Weekly Shopping List 1  Remember it’s color-coordinated so you can eliminate any items from recipes you aren’t using.

In honor of Friday the 13th, this week’s bonus recipe is Bewitched Roasted Squash and Apple Soup, below.

That’s it for this week. What’s on your menu for the weekend? What’s tasty in your kitchen tonight?

Tonight’s bonus recipe:

This is based on a recipe sent to me. I punched it up a bit. The first thing I did was roast the squash to help bring some depth to the dish. I added a little heat and finished with a splash of lemon juice to brighten everything when it was done. I don’t think of it as a stand-alone soup (like my very favorite Tomato-Spinach soup – next week’s bonus recipe), but I think it would work well as a first course in any meal.

Bewitched Roasted Butternut Squash and Spiced Apple Soup

  • 4 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large apples – tart works well, but I used my neighbor’s backyard apples which worked great
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 12 cups (3 quarts) water or vegetable broth
  • splash of lemon juice

baking dish, dutch oven or large saucepan

Put about 1/4 inch of water in the baking dish, put squash face down and roast at 375 degrees until it is easy to put a fork through the skin. Turn over and continue roasting until tender and squash are golden brown. About 30-40 minutes. You can turn the heat up after you flip them to brown them, if desired. Remove to cool.

Meanwhile, core and slice apples into about 1 inch pieces. No need to peel or get fancy with the dicing since this is a puréed soup. Melt butter in the saucepan, add apple, onions and sauté until apples are soft and onions are golden. Add spices and coat the apple mixture. Scrape squash from skins and add to the apples, add water or broth. You can use chicken broth, but to keep it vegetarian I used vegetable broth. Let simmer for 30 minutes, purée until smooth, heat an additional 5-10 minutes, adding water if necessary and add a splash of lemon juice just before serving.

You can use a blender or hand blender to purée the mixture. If you use a blender, add a couple of ladles of soup to the blender, cover and blend slowly to start, to keep the mixture from expanding too much. I’ve seen hot liquid blow the lid off…you don’t want that. Blend in small batches. With a hand blender, keep it immersed and again blend slowly, to avoid splattering the hot liquid.

Just Saying – Open Thread

A number of commenters have said that Trump’s behavior makes them afraid. His behavior is, in many ways, frightening. He is spiteful and ignorant and willing to use the power of his position in destructive ways.

But he wants us to be afraid. Fearful people are more malleable. That is part of his schtick, and part of why he thinks he is a good negotiator. He uses fear.

So we need to get past that fear and figure out ways to deal with him and the problems he is causing.

My mother always used to tell me to “Whistle a Happy Tune.” It’s stuck with me.

Corny, I know, and we can complain about colonialism, but I’ve found that the song, out of its context, helps. Open thread.


Denver Area Meet-Up

I think that Westminster might be a good central locale based on all the areas everyone said they were coming from – and after talking to friends in that area, they highly recommended this restaurant: Rositas. They had a birthday party there and said it was a good place for a large group and easy to have a conversation (one of the reasons I’ve nixed many of the great brew pubs – conversation is difficult).

Can we pick a date between Oct 16 and Oct 22? Some of you were not going to be around one week or another – let me know and we’ll do our best to work around it – since there was so much interest I’d like to make sure you can all make it.

Ok, give me your best days in the comments and if you have a real complaint about the restaurant, please offer another suggestion in that area. If anyone needs a ride, we’ll see if we can arrange things.

Things to remember – you’re getting this introvert out without Bixby and Bailey to provide a distraction – so don’t be shy. Lurkers are more than welcome. And I’m kind of hoping this will lead to some of us going on group dog walks and/or hikes later on.


Seven Days In October?

Trump’s comment just now is disturbing enough that I thought I’d step on my own thread.

POTUS and FLOTUS stood side-by-side in the middle of more than a dozen couples who were lined up for an official photo. CJCS Dunford and his wife stood to their left. An unidentified military leader and his wife stood to POTUS’ right.

“Tell us when you’re ready,” POTUS told the photographer. “Be careful, don’t push.”

“Our faces are tired,” one of the spouses joked.

A couple of seconds later, POTUS pointed around the room and asked members of the pool, “you guys know what this represents?”

“Tell us,” one reporter responded.

“Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” POTUS replied.

“What’s the storm?” another reporter asked. “On Iran? On ISIS? On what?”

“We have the world’s great military people,” POTUS replied. “Thank you all for coming.”

Kristen Welker of NBC News asked, “what storm Mr. President?”

“You’ll find out,” POTUS replied.

“Give us a hint on your Iran decision,” another reporter asked.

POTUS said “thank you, everybody” and pool was ushered out of the room.

Read more

Open Thread & Possible Denver Area Meet-Up

I’ve banned the dogs from the couch because they’ve been out of control. I walked into the room and found this. That space is barely big enough for a cat, much less a 160 lb beast of a dog. Love that pup.

I know some of you have wanted a duck update, but it’s been raining pretty much since I returned from my trip, so I don’t have any new photos. I’ll work on that.

I hear there is interest in a Denver area meet-up. Could we get a head count of interest here and ideas on a central location (that isn’t downtown Denver, hopefully)?

For the rest of you…open thread. What’s on your to-do list tonight?