Why People Believe Weird Things about Charlottesville

The violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12 has prompted a variety of responses from people across the United States. As a mother and a woman whose grandfather was interned during WWII, I have my own reaction to the death of an innocent woman and two police officers. It baffles me that white men (and a few women) can pretend the Civil War was solely about state rights. It terrifies me that so many young white men feel their rights are taken away by insuring rights to others. And it horrifies me that anyone can justify the actions of one man driving his car into a crowd of people.


I have found this PBS News hour segment on racism in the United States today to be informative. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/videos/#224639


In addition to all of this, I want to highlight something that has caused me great concern for the state of our country: this conversation about race has revealed to me people’s ignorance. I don’t mean that in the, “people who are racist are ignorant” cliché. I mean this in the way that so many people are making comments that reveal their lack of critical thinking skills. Simply read the comment section of a newspaper article covering Charlottesville or scroll through the twitter responses to Trump’s statements regarding the events. As reporters and political scientists have pointed out, Donald Trump and others who excuse the death of an innocent women do so based on faulty logic.


Terms like: “slippery slope,” “false equivalence” and “whataboutism” can be confusing if you’ve never heard of them before. Indeed, “whataboutism” was a new one for me, probably because I did not study the Soviet Union in great depth in college.


One book that made a profound impact on me is Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. This was mandatory reading for my degree and I’m thankful for it. One chapter is actually titled “How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-Five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things.” This book, or at the very least chapter, should be mandatory reading for everyone, regardless of education level.


I’m not sure how long we’re going to last as a democracy if we cannot begin to have intelligent conversations with each other. One of the foundations to having a productive conversation is having a set of words based upon meaning that we all agree upon. Another is to have a goal that we agree we’d all like to reach. But perhaps most importantly we need to recognize that there are facts we can use to inform our opinions, our thinking, and our solutions.


Facts do exist, racism is real, and our lives are in each other’s hands.

Growing a Love of Gardening

We bought a house last year and it’s the first time my husband and I have had an opportunity to garden. As first-time gardeners, we were lucky enough to buy a house from a couple who are excellent gardeners. This means all we have to do is try to keep up their amazing work and add to it according to our own preferences and lifestyle.


Over this year, I’ve been able to figure out a little bit on my own. But while I’ve used google to figure out how to prune our rose bushes and what our city’s rules are regarding rain barrels, knowing when to plant new flowers and how to put in a vegetable garden is dependent on where we live. I’m never quite sure if a blog or website I’m looking at is right for our location.

Luckily, we have an aunt and uncle who are expert gardeners; Sue is a Master Gardener. When I asked for some advice, she was kind enough to send me a couple of books specific to our climate zone and region. These books have been incredibly helpful in offering information geared toward our geographic area. As a novice, I didn’t realize how important it was to consider our soil make-up, our climate zone, and our growing season.

Sue’s garden was featured on an episode of Growing a Greener World, on PBS. My husband and I finally got a chance to watch it and we were blown away by all she, and her husband Bill, have accomplished. Our garden will never be as big as theirs, we are contemplating only one garden bed, but we will certainly use some of the tips they shared in this segment.

Here’s a link if you’d like to see their beautiful garden too.


Do you garden? What is the most helpful advice you’ve been given as a gardener?

5 Favorite Children’s Books

5 Favorite Books for Children


While my reviews are from my perspective as a parent, these are all books that my children have asked for time and again. This means that while the descriptions are mommy approved, they are all time-tested by my two kids. Note: Some of these books we were given, some we borrowed from the library and later bought, but they are all loved.


My kids are allowed to read books in their bed when they wake up in the morning. This is my 2 year old’s bed one morning when I got him up for the day.

Little Blue Truck

The Little Blue Truck enjoys the slow pace of life as he says hello to all of his farm friends. But when a big dump truck gets stuck in some mud, the dump truck learns that having friends can be really important, maybe even more important than getting big jobs done.


This is a very lyrical book and I love reading it to my kids because of the fun sounds. I also love that it teaches children to be nice to everyone, because you never know when you’re going to need help. We also have the Little Blue Truck’s Christmas book, but I don’t care for that one as much.



We found this book by accident in the library. My son just randomly picked it out and it quickly became his favorite. Cloudette is a small cloud and had always been happy to float around and play with her friends. But when larger clouds go off to do big and important things, Cloudette feels left out. When a storm blows her to a new place, she find an opportunity to make a small difference and realizes that a little bit can go a long way.


Everyone can make a difference, no matter how big or small, may seem like a naive way of looking at things, but it’s true. My dad always told me that I was successful if I could make one person’s life a little better. Hearing him say that got me through a lot of tough times in my life and I hope that my kids will remember Cloudette’s lesson as they begin to realize how big the world is around them.


Giraffes Can’t Dance

The animals in the jungle have one night a year where they all come together to dance. While all the other animals have special dances that they can do beautifully, Gerald is seen as awkward and a poor dancer. As Gerald walks away sad, a cricket teaches him a lesson about listening to the music of your heart.


The moral of this story is so simple and elegant that I wish every child could have it written on their heart. We are all good at something; it is simply a matter of finding the music that moves you. What a great reminder for children as they grow up and begin to understand competition.


Love You For Always

This is a sentimental pick. My mom read it to me and I knew I was going to read it to my children. The storyline is pretty straightforward—as the child grows older, the mother reaffirms that she will always love her child. Even though I’ve read this book a hundred times, I still tear up at the end. It never fails.


This is a little silly and over the top with how long the mother continues to sing her song to her son. I made up a little tune so I can sing it to my kids, which I still do every night even if we don’t read the book, but I actually saw an interview with the author who sang the song. I promptly forgot the melody so I still sing it the way I imagined it to be, but in case it’s been a hug mystery to you, here’s the video.


Where is Robin, USA

Follow Robin around the continental United States as she explores her country. While she sees historical and cultural sites, she makes sure she always returns home to her mother.


This book is for slightly older kids, approximately 5-12, but both my 4 year old (now 5) and 2 year old enjoy looking at the pictures on their own. It’s beautifully illustrated and contains highlights of major cities throughout the U.S. Since my children are younger, I don’t always read every word, since it’s a little history heavy, but I like that it will grow along with my kids.

5 favorite children's books PIN


Recipe of the Week: Pork Handpies

I’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Baking Show lately. This inspired me to make some handpies. Since I’ve never made a handpie from scratch, I wanted to find something easy that everyone in my house (including a picky 5 year old and a less picky 2 year old) would like. So I decided on this one, a Louisiana-style fried pork pie. You can find the original recipe here, but as I looked at the recipe, I knew I had to change a more than a few things. So here’s what I wound up with:



  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp sal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 large egg beaten (keep separated)


Make filling: heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork and garlic. Cook all the way through until there is no pink. Add salt and flour until all of the oil is absorbed and mixture is dry. Transfer the cooked pork to a bowl and cool.

Make pastry: Shift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut cold butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Add egg and milk and stir until a ball forms. Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Using a bowl or other round object, cut dough into circles. Fill each circle with pork. Fold over dough to create half moons. Seal edges with a fork dipped in water.

Put the assembled pies onto a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan in the refrigerator. You can keep them here until you’re reading to bake them or until the oven is preheated. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When oven is hot, take out pies from the fridge and brush each one with the beaten egg. Place in oven for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


  • I don’t like extra tools hanging around my kitchen unless they pull double duty. So instead of a pastry cutter I use two knives. Once it feels like I’m spinning in circles with the knives I use my hands.
  • It’s important to throw your assembled handpies into the fridge. Since we’re using butter instead of shortening, you need to keep the butter as cold as possible to make a flaky dough.
  • I hate wasting dough after cutting the circles. So I rolled up the extra dough up and stuck them in the oven with the rest of the handpies. They are relatively ugly, but they taste good. I had them with jam. They taste just like biscuits.

    Lessons my Grandfather Taught Me

    Dear Grandpa,

    It’s Father’s Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to write you a letter. Spending a couple of weeks every summer with you and grandma taught me a lot of about life, love, and people.

    I have never been very tough, at least, not emotionally tough, but spending time with you was emotional boot camp. You were the quintessential grumpy old man getting angry at the drop of a hat.

    Read More HERE

    Grandpa and me

    7 Summer Activities for the Indoors (AC Included)

    My son finished preschool less than two weeks ago and we’ve already been hit by one summer cold and more than a few days of rain. Plus, we have a six-month-old in the house who needs to nap regularly, so while summer should be about sending our kids outside to play, it doesn’t always happen that way. So here’s some ideas I have for my kids that I’m holding in my back pocket for those days when we have to stay indoors.

    Read more herehttp://redtri.com/7-summer-activities-for-the-indoors-ac-included/

    Recipe of the Week: Spam Musubi + Bonus recipe

    I am so excited to share my spam musubi recipe, a Hawaiian staple. This is a spam sushi for those of you who have never had one and it’s very simple to make. I usually have all the ingredients on hand, which is great because my son regularly asks for it. They are great for a party because you can prepare them in advance and you don’t need to keep them hot or cold.

    My husband had to make them for work so he took the tools I’d usually use to make them, but this turned out to be a positive thing because my musubi mould is difficult to find. I buy mine at Longs Drugs Store when I visit my family in Hawaii. So, if you aren’t going to Hawaii anytime soon, you can use the method I used while my husband had my musubi mould.

    For those of you who may be familiar with spam musubi or are from Hawaii, my version is very simple. Here’s a few quick notes:

    • I do not like teriyaki sauce on my spam. I will include a simple teriyaki recipe here in case you like it, but I don’t.
    • I do not use sushi rice. I like the simple taste of the white rice with the salty spam.
    • Keep a bowl of water near your workspace so you can get your hands/fingers wet. It helps to keep the rice from sticking.
    • These should be kept at room temperature. Bacteria grows on rice rather quickly, so you want to eat them within a day or two, which isn’t hard in my house.
    • My secret ingredient IS difficult to find, at least on the mainland. If you live near an asian grocery store, you will probably be able to find it no problem. But if your asian grocery store doesn’t have it, then you might have to do without it, like I did.
    • I’ve included pictures at the bottom of this post to help explain the instructions.


    1 can of (low sodium) Spam – it doesn’t have to be low sodium, but this is what I buy

    1 package of Nori or dried seaweed

    3 cups of cooked calrose or medium grain white rice – cooked according to package

    1 can of furikake – this is my secret ingredient and the one I’m currently missing 😦


    1. Cut Spam into approximately 8 thin slices.
    2. In a non-stick pan, fry slices of spam over medium heat until lightly browned.
    3. When spam are cooked, put them on a plate with paper to drain grease. (If you’re using teriyaki sauce, you want to brush some sauce on the spam after it’s been fried). When cooled slightly, cut each piece of spam into 4 long thin strips.
    4. On a non-stick mat, wooden mat, or piece of parchment paper, have one sheet of nori. Cover the nori in rice, pressing down slightly. Leave about 1/2 inch of nori without rice at one end.
    5. Place 4 thin strips of spam about 1/3 of the way on the rice & nori.
    6. Sprinkle furikake over the spam.
    7. Roll rice over spam, pulling tightly. Continue to roll tightly till the end of the nori.
    8. Use your wet fingers to get the nori to stick to each other to seal.
    9. Repeat until all of your spam is gone.

      Bonus points if you noticed the half eaten spam musubi in the back. It’s hard work making these and NOT eating one while you work. 

      Simple Teriyaki Sauce

      Mirin (japanese sweet cooking wine)


      Soy Sauce

      Sauce Instructions

      There are no amounts listed in the ingredient list because you can make any amount, the trick is that all the ingredients must be in equal proportions. So if you want to make a half cup of sauce, then you can do 1/4 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of mirin, 1/4 cup of sugar. I usually make 1 cup or more each batch, put it in a glass jar, and keep it in the fridge to have on hand for a quick tofu stir fry or baked teriyaki chicken. You can, of course, add minced garlic and freshly grated ginger to this recipe. Either or both of those would be a nice addition, but I keep it simple and use this family tested recipe.

      1. Simply combine the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.
      2. Let simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is the consistency you prefer. I like my sauce thick, so I usually let it go for about 10-15 minutes. Just make sure you watch it so it doesn’t boil over. You can burn this sauce!

      BONUS RECIPE: I made teriyaki chicken with this teriyaki sauce this week. I bought about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I put the chicken in a ziplock bag and added about 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce. I let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. When I was ready to cook, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Lined a glass pan with foil and placed the chicken thighs in the pan. I baked for about 20 minutes, then checked to see if it reached 165 degrees internally (we live at a high altitude so you may have a different cooking time). I let it rest for another 5 minutes on the counter. I served it with white rice and steamed broccoli. My kids loved it!


      Memorial Day Weekend

      I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. It’s an especially hard weekend for those who have lost families, friends, or brothers/sisters in arms, but I hope that by enjoying our freedom, we pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

      Our family spent the day out at a local festival. Our boys had tons of fun, but as luck would have it, when they were next in line for the bounce house, the bounce house had to shut down due to rain. So of course we went back the next day so they could cash in their tickets and enjoy themselves. That day also coincided with my husband tweaking his back and me coming down with a cold. That meant my kiddos had a quiet Monday with little outside fun.

      My fallback activity when I’m sick is letting my kids watch tv. Since it was both my husband and I who were sick/injured, we couldn’t really help each other the way we normally do. The only other time this has happened is when we both got food poisoning. Luckily, we only had our oldest son at the time, and he was about six months old so he was still sleeping a lot and not very mobile. Now that the kids are older, being sick takes on a new heaviness.

      What do you do when you’re sick or out of commission? I’d love some ideas so the next time this happens, I have some alternatives to television.

      Recipe of the Week

      I’m giving you another vegetarian recipe this week. As you can tell, I try to cook vegetarian a few nights a week. I’ll tell you a little secret too. I’ve never made the more classic version of this recipe: chicken pot pie. But my family and I adore this vegetable pot pie and it’s easy enough to make.

      You’ll find the recipe at the blog, What do I Eat Now? Here’s the link: http://whattheheckdoieatnow.com/2015/11/25/the-tastiest-veggie-pot-pie/

      Here’s my notes:

      –If you use unsalted butter instead of the vegan replacement suggested, then you’ll need to add a lot more salt. Make sure to taste test your filling before adding it to the pie shell.

      –If you use chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth, then you won’t need as much salt. Again, tasting your filling is important.

      –Make sure you chop your celery into small pieces. So I’d suggest chopping them through the length, and then chopping them normally. I’ve chopped them without cutting them lengthwise and the celery overpowers the other vegetables.

      –I’ve used Lactaid milk instead of almond milk and the recipe still tastes great.


      Have you made pot pies before? If so, what have you filled them with?

      Getting Outside

      Today was a beautiful day and since I had checked the weather report yesterday, I knew it was the perfect time for all of us to get out of the house. We also had to mail a couple of cards and since our mail person is not very nice, I have to drop them off at a post office box (those pretty blue ones that I’m always afraid are defunct since they look abandoned). In an effort to multi-task an enjoyable activity with a practical task, I decided to take all of my kids on a walk to the mail box. It’s a little less than a mile and the mail box is right in front of our local grocery store. We also pass our neighborhood park on the way to and from the mail box.

      So I loaded my boys in their double stroller, but the baby in my bali wrap, and we walked to the store. The bonus for my boys was they each got a donut from the grocery store, as did I, and on our way back home, we stopped at the park. We ate our donuts at the park and then played until it was time for the baby’s nap.

      It was so relaxing to chat with my kids, while they relaxed in the stroller and enjoyed the sunshine. It was great to get a little exercise in without worrying about what the kids were doing. And it was nice for all of us to get a special treat of donuts. The donuts only cost us $2.40 all together (I got 4 for $0.60 each), so I think it was a relatively inexpensive way to create a special occasion for the kids.

      Really though, I love combining a task I must do with a task that is enjoyable. Anytime I can balance to two out, makes the “chore” into something less “chore-like.” Do you have any tricks for making your day more fun, while still getting things done? What type of activities do you and your kids enjoy doing together?