Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Candid Cook: Easy Pasta / Pizza Sauce

In our house, we really like tomato sauce.  From spaghetti to lasagna rolls to pizza, it seems like I am always whipping up a quick batch to use for a meal. I agree that your best spaghetti and pasta sauces are going to be those you can cook for hours on end in the crock pot to get the flavors properly blended.  However, with 4 kids, a home business, and home school going on, I don't always have the luxury of getting things made in advance.  Hence, my "quick and easy" version that I use for everything last-minute.  Not only is it often cheaper than the jars / cans of tomato sauce you can buy in the store, it tastes much better, too. I bought a jar of the "good stuff" the other day in the store.  I had a mutiny on my hands.  Trust me, you're going to want to keep this recipe handy.

Easy Pasta / Pizza Sauce

2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dried, crushed oregano
1/2 tsp dried, crushed basil
1/4 tsp onion powder

If your tomatoes are diced, be sure to puree them in a blender before getting started.  If they are crushed, you don't have to do anything to them before cooking the sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until heated through.

Challenging, right?

Okay, I'll give you a bonus recipe, just because you asked.

We like to use this sauce on our lasagna rolls.  If we have pepperoni in the house, we call them lasagna pizza rolls to make them sound fancier.  Either way they are some kind of good.

Here's how to assemble:

Break your lasagna noodles in half (use the edge of the counter to get a clean break) and boil until tender.  Drain and let cool slightly so you don't burn your fingers.  Lay out on the counter or a piece of foil.  Sprinkle cheese and other toppings in the middle, such as turkey sausage or pepperoni.  You can also cook up some mushrooms, onions, pepper, and zucchini.  That would be so amazing...

Roll up your noodles and place seam-side down in a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Top with a generous amount of your pasta sauce.

Sprinkle with a little more cheese.

Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.  When the cheese is all melted, they are done.

Try not to drool before eating.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm baaaack!

Or, at least I will be as soon as I get a good night's sleep and take some pictures worth posting here. So what's happened lately?

  • The house is on the market (see the link here)
  • We had a contract on another house and lost it
  • We have to keep our house really, REALLY clean
  • Summer is here
  • Olivia mowed the grass
  • We have a new computer to replace the one that died
  • We have a new washer to replace the one that died
  • We're broke now
  • We survived our first true tornado experience
    Our neighbor's tree that missed our house

    Our old shed that blew into the neighbor's yard
  • I'm still very sad about the tornado heartbreak on May 19th and 20th
  • We've had our last official Girl Scout meeting
  • I didn't lose my mind in May, no matter how close I may have come
  • I think my hands are finally starting to get back to normal after the recent beating I gave them (Translation: I have carpal tunnel and it was really aggravated)
  • Maddox and I have been going to PCIT (Parent Child Interaction Therapy) and seeing great success
  • Olivia got all A's and one B (in science)
  • Kelsey had her first piano recital
  • Connor has started kissing me on both cheeks, my forehead, and my eyelids when I tuck him into bed at night
  • Ben has hung his first screen door and done a dang good job of it
I think that about sums it up for now, don't you?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Girl Scouts and WAGGGS: Part 2

Do you recognize this symbol?

As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently done some research into the Girl Scouts, WAGGGS, and the allegations that have been made regarding WAGGGS participation in promoting legalized abortion throughout the world.  As the mother of a Girl Scout and local Volunteer with my Council, I took this research to the Council and asked for answers.  Last night, the Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, Ms. Shannon Evers, met with me and several other concerned parents from our troop to discuss these issues.

First, I have to say that I was very pleased with the way the meeting took place.  There was no animosity, and each of us had the opportunity to state our concerns and receive respectful answers.  It was a positive experience for me and I believe for everyone else that was there.


The Girl Scouts has acknowledged WAGGGS's participation in Bali Global Youth Forum, and the resulting declaration that came out of that event.  Ms. Evers acknowledged that WAGGGS appears to be participating in other events of a controversial nature, in addition to the other activities they are doing.  She said that when the Girl Scouts USA initially joined WAGGGS, it was an organization created for the betterment of women and girls everywhere.  It was a logical choice for them to be part of this group.  Although the Girl Scouts USA is a member of WAGGGS, individual girl scouts are not considered members of the organization.

Her advice to us as parents is that if we have a problem with the GSUSA's membership in WAGGGS, we should try to be part of the "democratic process" and change it.  As a parent I can attend the local CST meeting and bring the issue up there.  I can try to be elected as a delegate that would eventually be sent do the National Convention in November 2014 and propose the change be made there.  Our girls could also fight from "the inside" and take the issue to the GSUSA office.  But that was all we could do.

As a pro-life, Christian parent, I have decided that the GSUSA is not the organization for me and my daughters.  This is not a time in my life that I can fight that fight "from the inside".  To be honest, I do not have much hope that we could win it.  At best, the leadership on the national level are aware of what WAGGGS is doing; at worst they are supporting these decisions, either by silence or acquiescence.  

However, I am not going to do nothing.  My task is one of education.  If you ask 100 girl scouts or their parents if they know what WAGGGS is and whether they supported it, 90-95% will probably say no.  Personally, when I did all this digging I felt very deceived. I don't want anyone else to feel that way.  I plan on drafting an article to submit to the local paper highlighting these issues so that local parents of Girl Scouts know what the issues are.  It will be posted on this blog, my facebook page, my homeschool group page, and anywhere else I can get it.  It will not be a "hate piece". 

I am not saying that is the right decision for everyone.  I firmly believe that in order for change to be effected, it is going to take parents making one of two choices: they can either choose to leave the Girl Scouts and withdraw their financial support as I did, or they can fight from the inside as members of the organization that deserve to be heard.  But first, they need to know there is a choice to be made.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Girl Scouts Part 1: WAGGGS and Abortion

I know I'm opening up a hot topic here.  But I feel the need to share with my friends the issues that are coming up in our lives and what is being done about it.  All I ask is that if you are going to comment that you are respectful to my feelings and beliefs. This is, after all, my blog.  I can delete any comments that I want to.  Or even just disable them all together.  So be nice.

A couple of years ago Olivia was invited to join a local Girl Scout troop with a friend.  Because I had heard that the GSUSA supported Planned Parenthood, I did a little reading on their website and found that they claimed neutrality on issues such as abortion and did not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood or any other similar agency.  I accepted their comments, and let Olivia join.

It's now been two years.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a list of organizations (identified by a pro-life group) that were supporting abortion rights.  Girl Scouts was on that list.  So I debated the point with them, since I knew what the Girl Scouts had to say on the matter.

Unfortunately, we were both right.

The GSUSA is a member of the WAGGGS, the World Assocation of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.  As a member of WAGGGS, it pays a "quota" every year to the organization based on the number of girls that are members, and makes up almost half of their membership.  I will explore this relationship in more detail in another blog post later this week. 

I began corresponding with the local Girl Scout Council a little over a week ago.  We are having an open meeting with them next Monday to discuss our concerns, and I will keep you updated on the outcome of that meeting.

The purpose of this post, however, is to demonstrate the concerns that I now have with WAGGGS and what they are doing in the world arena of "social justice".  Here is a large portion of a letter that I just sent to Shannon Evers, the Executive Director of our local Council.  I deleted sections that were in response to other areas of our discussion that are not directly relevant to this material.


Ms. Evers,

Thank you for your response to my email.

I understand that officially WAGGGS takes no position on abortion or birth control.  However, it is what they are doing (and recently) that concerns me. I can SAY many things, but it’s what I DO that really counts.  I hold WAGGGS to the same standard. 

So what are my concerns?  I will be specific:

1)     Despite the Girl Scouts’ neutral stance on a woman’s right to an abortion, I came across information tonight that I consider to be evidence that WAGGGS is actively involved in demanding abortion rights throughout the world, as well as getting involved the issue of gay marriage.  I know that none of our membership dues is used for WAGGGS.  But I also know that the National GSUSA has to pay an annual “quota” to WAGGGS based on our membership.  I know that my daughter has been wearing a WAGGGS pin as part of her uniform.  I know that the WAGGGS flag was flown immediately next to the United States flag during the awards ceremony this past weekend.  So a logical conclusion is that membership in the Girl Scouts means - at the very least – supporting and promoting WAGGGS.

2)     The most recent article I sent you claimed that WAGGGS was involved in the drafting of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration.  Here is the evidence I found on the WAGGGS website and the ICPD Website that verifies this claim: 
a.     The WAGGGS website and found a series of blog entries from the delegates that attended this event:

b.    The ICPD website lists the organizations that were part of the Steering Committee for this event; essentially, this is the committee that generated the Declaration. It states:

The International Steering Committee is the decision making body for the ICPD Global Youth Forum and is co-chaired by two youth advocates. The International Steering Committee has representatives from: the Government of Indonesia, USAIDthe UN Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Globo Media, the Youth CoalitionInternational Center for Research on WomenYouth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER), CHOICE, Alianza de Juventudes Rumbo a Cairo + 20, Rio Twenties, RESURJ, Restless Development, ARROW, IPPF, AfriYan, CIVICUS, WYWCA, Taking IT Global, World Assembly of Youth (WAY), Africa Young Positives Network, GNP+, Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association, Astra Youth and the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides

(Note: the organizations I highlighted in RED are generally accepted as being involved in funding or advocating abortion rights.  In most cases, I was able to get to pro-abortion statements within 2 clicks from their home page.)

c.     I printed out the full text (20 pages) of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration, and there were NUMEROUS statements made which I found greatly concerning.  Following are a few of those.  I have added bold text to bring attention to phrases that are particularly disturbing, and you will see that this encompass much more than the “abortion issue”.  It should be noted that the sections addressing these sexual and moral issues take up at least half of this document, indicating that it was a major objective of the Forum.

“As part of this basic package governments must provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that include safe and legal abortion…”

““Cultural and religious barriers, such as parental and spousal consent, and early and forced marriages, should never prevent access to family planning, safe and legal abortion, and other reproductive health services – recognizing that young people have autonomy of their own bodies, pleasures, and desires.”

“Governments must ensure that international and national laws, regulations, and policies remove obstacles and barriers – including requirements for parental and spousal notification and consent and age of consent for sexual and reproductive services – that infringe of the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and youth.”

“”Governments must repeal laws and regulations that permit violence and/or discrimination against young people…including laws that limit same-sex marriage and criminalize YPLHIV (young people living with HIV) and LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex)”

“Governments should decriminalize abortion, and create and implement policies and programs that ensure young women have access to safe and legal abortion, pre- and post- abortion services, without mandatory waiting periods, requirements for parental and spousal notification, and/or consent or age of consent.”

“Comprehensive sexuality education should be developed in partnership with young people and include information on sexual orientation and gender identities that is free of religious intolerance.”

“The concept of the family is constantly evolving and governments must recognize this by adapting legal, policy, and programmatic frameworks that embrace every form of family and ensure the right of everyone to form a family, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

I have to admit that the information I have uncovered tonight – particularly this Bali Global Youth Forum declaration – has convinced me that WAGGGS is pushing a very liberal agenda.  It’s not just advocating abortion, but it’s advocating a “no-questions-asked-no-consent-needed” abortion, even from a spouse.  It’s not just advocating a person’s right live an alternative sexual lifestyle, but demanding that they be given equal rights and acknowledgement in terms of marital and family (adoption???) rights. 

Because of this and the relationship the GSUSA has with WAGGGS, I am concerned about my daughters' participation in this organization.  The Girl Scout Promise does say “to serve God and my country”, yet both of these issues go against the religious beliefs of most of the world’s religions.  There is no tolerance for either in the Islamic faith, and at best, it’s a very controversial issue in the Jewish, Christian, and Hindu faith.
I am also concerned because the Girl Scout Law states that we should be “honest and fair”, yet there is no transparency concerning the role that WAGGGS plays in the world’s arena of abortion and homosexual “rights”.  I understand that there is more to WAGGGS than those two issues, but I cannot stand with an organization that holds those views.  There are many other groups that I can support that are fighting for women’s economic and educational rights, decreasing violence against women, and proper access to healthcare.  It is my feeling that WAGGGS is not upfront and “honest” about their involvement in these issues because they know that many parents, such as myself, would object to them.

Anita Ervin