Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HOT off the press!

Way back in 1996, our then President, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law.  This act which you’ve likely heard referred to as DOMA, establishes that states have obligations to one another to recognize each other’s public acts, records and judicial proceedings.  Section 3 of DOMA (conveniently) excludes same-sex marriage from “acts” that other states are required to recognize.  For all intensive purposes, this gives each state the sole authority to define marriage, as a power not granted by the Constitution/federal government, but instead belonging to each state. 

You all still with me?

So the homophobes (otherwise referred to as opponents of same-sex marriage), who argue that the definition of marriage is a power reserved to the state, do so in anticipation of the day that the federal government may substitute language that would ultimately recognize same-sex unions.  Critics of DOMA (myself included) take issue with this act because it denies all of us: adult, consenting, human beings, the right to participate in marriage with the partner we choose, regardless of gender thus violating the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause as well as the good old Fourteenth Amendment (you know the one about life, liberty and the pursuit of fairness?  Yeah, that one)!  Opponents of DOMA challenge that the act unfairly discriminates against one class of citizens, homosexuals, who have long endured a history of discrimination.    

Okay, so I’m getting to the good part…the section of DOMA (referenced above) has been declared “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” by President Obama!!  It gets better – not only has it been declared unconstitutional, but the Department of Justice will not defend it in federal court!  Can I get a WOOT, WOOT!

The Defense of Marriage Act has essentially restricted the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage in any way.  By doing this, the act has inversely given states the right to not recognize same-sex marriage if they don’t feel like it... The thing I wish everyone would realize, is that it’s not just that we want to have weddings and save money on our car insurance – it’s that DOMA makes same-sex couples ineligible from accessing over 1138 federal and state benefits.  Not only that, but it also sends the message to all Americans, that the life commitment and union of same-sex couples is UNEQUAL to the same unions of heterosexual couples. 

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement today; “After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.  The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet the standard and is therefore unconstitutional.  Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.  I fully concur with the President’s determination”.  

Thank you Mr. President! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crock Pot Cookin: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Growing up, one of my favorite books was the story of a little girl that spent the afternoon making tortilla soup with her Grandma.  As they cooked together, the Grandmother told the little girl about the history of the recipe and the traditions of their family.  It was such a wonderful story all about the special bond shared between the two.  Back in elementary school, I would check the book out at the Griegos Library as often as possible and I would read it over and over!  I wish I could remember the title but despite my best efforts – I haven’t been able to find it :(

I’ve never been one to order tortilla soup and it’s not really a dish I grew up eating, but when I came across the recipe the memories of the book and my years at Griegos came rushing back.  Those were some good years and this ended up being some good soup!  Georgia said that it’s her favorite crock pot creation so far…but she says that every time ;) 

What you’ll need:

- 1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
-  1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
-  1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
-  1 medium onion, chopped
-  1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers (I used fresh green chile)
-  3 cloves garlic, minced
-  2 cups water
-  1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
-  1 teaspoon cumin
-  1 teaspoon chili powder
-  1 teaspoon salt
-  ¼ teaspoon black pepper
-  1 bay leaf
-  1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
-  2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
-  1 package corn tortillas
-  Vegetable oil

What to do:

1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, and garlic into slow cooker.  Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Stir in corn and cilantro.  Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil.  Cut tortillas into strips, season with garlic salt and pepper, then spread on a baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.  To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.


On another note... here’s a preview of the DIY project we are working on right now! 

We’re in the process of painting the office as it will soon be our office/guestroom/craft room!  We have cleaned out SO much stuff I can hardly believe it.  The shred bin is full, we took another 3 trash bags of donations to BBBS yesterday and we’ve only just begun…     

So happy to see the red go!

We'll keep you posted on the progress!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Sweets ~ Red Velvet Cupcakes

G and I decided that we would celebrate Valentine’s Day a little differently this year.  No waiting at restaurants to get a table, no fighting traffic, no spending tons of money.  Our first idea was to change up the gift giving.  Rather than over priced roses or expensive jewelry, we decided to get each other silly gag gifts or handmade stuff!  And instead of dining out, we’re dining in.  I’ve taken on the task of making a special dessert for our V-day meal.  With it being Valentine’s Day, the first thing that came to mind was red velvet cake!  Finding the perfect recipe was a bit of a challenge because apparently no one makes old school (from scratch) red velvet cake anymore.  Nearly every recipe I came across online and in my cookbooks called for a box of cake mix and red food coloring – say what?!  I knew there had to be a better way and thanks to, I made our V-day dessert 100% from scratch!  

My first plan was to make a heart shaped cake but while shopping for closet organization stuff a few weeks ago, I came across the cutest red cupcake stand for half price (and I love a good deal)!  This find changed my dessert plans from going the cake route – to cupcakes!  If you’re looking to make something sweet this Valentine’s Day, give it a go.

The Sweets ~

Cake ingredients ~

§  1 1/2 cups of sugar
§  1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
§  2 eggs, room temperature
§  2 1/3 cups of cake flour
§  2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
§  1 teaspoon of baking soda
§  1 teaspoon of baking powder
§  1/2 teaspoon of salt
§  1 cup of buttermilk
§  1 1/2 tablespoons of red food coloring
§  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
§  1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar

Frosting ingredients ~

§  1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
§  8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
§  2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
§  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

What to do ~

§  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.
§  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
§  In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.
§  Add a third of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern until finished.

§  Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 10 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.
§  Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.
§  Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
§  Add the vanilla extract and mix.
§  Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.


Here’s a pic of G prepping our v-day meal for manana!  Yay, can’t wait!

I LOVE her.

Happy Valentine’s Day Friends!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A clean closet is a happy closet!

I’m not ashamed to admit that Oprah is my life coach!  I read all the books she tells me are great, I make the recipes she recommends, I check out the products she endorses and I try everyday to live “an authentic life” as she always encourages her viewers to do.  This may seem a bit ridiculous but I would venture to say that I’m not alone in my affection for Ms. Winfrey.  One episode in particular that has always stuck with me was a segment all about how to de-clutter your life one step at a time.

This episode was about the female tendency to hold on to clothing long past their expiration date.  Truthfully, I too am guilty of this.  I think we’ve all held on to one (or twenty) items of clothing that don’t fit in the hope that one day they will.  I have no doubt that I’m not the only one who owns a few random tops that I’m convinced I will find an equally random event to wear them to.  And I know everyone has to have at least three pairs of shoes that are super cute but don’t go with anything!  The list goes on and on.  The expert that Oprah had on the show (Peter Walsh) talked about how holding on to these things is actually bad for mental health and happiness.  This may sound a bit odd, but after he explained why…it made total sense.

He explained that if you start your morning looking at a messy and dis-organized closet full of things that you can’t wear because they are either too big, too small, out of style, old or just ugly, you are beginning your morning (every morning) on a negative note and that’s just not a very good way to start your day!  I personally know this to be true because I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I’ve wasted staring at a closet FULL of clothes knowing I only wear about 50% of what’s in there!  One of the pointers Walsh offered to help get your closet in shape was to recycle your clothing.  Every time you buy a new shirt, donate one of your old shirts.  When you get a new pair of shoes, clean out an older pair you no longer wear.  The same would go for jeans, skirts, belts, etc.  This way you’re keeping your wardrobe fresh, fashionable and full of things you actually can and will wear.

I started doing this about 2 years ago but then kind of forgot about it.  Now that we’ve started up again we’ve been able to donate a ton of clothes to Big Brothers, Big Sister!  For those of you that live in Albuquerque, you can drop off donations at the same place you take recycling.  For a while there I was taking our clothing donations to Goodwill but after we discovered the BBBS option, it’s become our main drop-off.  I like the idea that our clothing is given to teens rather than sold at a discounted price.  We’ve now organized the closet in a way that allows us to see at a glance what is clean and ready to wear.  I no longer have to dig through piles of crap to find hats and scarves because they are now neatly put away in cute baskets and our shoes are displayed for easy access!  I even recently replaced our white plastic hangers (which are a bit bulky) with sleek silver “no slip” hangers.  Replacing the bulky white hangers opened up a ton of space in different areas of the closet :)

This is a bit of a process when you first get started but it’s so worth the time!  I now love our closet space and it makes me happy to know that there are teens in the 505 actually wearing our clothes that would have just collected dust and taken up space in an already packed closet!

Recycle, reduce, reuse!

Master closet (after): over 100 items donated, new rug, replaced hangers, new baskets, shoe cubbie and rack, replaced hampers.

I added a few extra shoe racks so our shoes don’t pile up anymore

We now have baskets on both sides of the closet for organizing hats and flip flops!

Now if only we can keep things clean and organized...we’ll see.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Zach Wahls Speaks About Family

As Georgia and I do everything we can to bring a baby into this world, and the reality that we will one day (hopefully soon) be parents, I often find myself worrying about all the “what ifs” that come along with having a child.  Just like any other aspiring parent, I find myself worrying about everything from health to safety and we don’t even have a baby yet!  Aside from these common concerns, as a gay parent with a modern family, there can be some additional worries involved.  Will my kiddo get bullied because he has two mommies?  Will my little one’s teachers treat her like every other student that has a mom and dad?  Will Georgia and I have everything it takes to raise a well rounded, responsible and respectful child that is proud of where they come from? 

I’m confident that we can but it certainly helps to see a living example of the fact that gay parents have been doing this for generations.  Below is a video I came across today that filled me with pride for my community and hope for what the future holds. 

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