Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Plan B

Posted in abortion, Christianity by Kathy on April 30, 2008

What to do when your plans don’t coincide with God’s plans? This couple had to face that challenge when their baby was diagnosed prenatally with lethal birth defects. The doctors suggested she have an abortion. They refused. Although they didn’t plan on having a baby with a birth defect, or any abnormalities, they graciously accepted what God gave them. Their baby was born and died on April 7, 2008. Yes, just a few weeks ago. Yet they tell their story with more smiles than tears. While they prayed for a miracle until the end, they accepted “Plan B” (which is always God’s “Plan A,” as the mother said), as what was best from them, given to them from the hand of a loving Father. I’m in awe.

That’ll wake you up in the morning!

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on April 29, 2008

Yesterday, I noticed that the coupling that joins the cold-water pipe for the washing machine to the rest of the water supply was leaking, so I fixed it. Apparently, I dislodged just enough the coupling that joins the hot-water pipe. Sometime in the middle of the night, the pressure from the water made the CPVC pipe slip out of the coupling, so all of our hot water ran out (although the water heater was, I am sure, desperately trying to heat the running water, so we should have a nice gas bill for this month). This morning, there was almost zero pressure for hot water, so my husband got a very cold shower. It’s about 41 degrees right now, so I’m guessing the water temperature was about that. Brrrrrrrrr!!! And I got to run next door to the neighbor’s house to get the water-meter key to turn our water off. Which I did in bare feet. Brrrrrr!!! Hopefully, everything’s fixed now, but I’ll be checking it often to make sure the couplings are still holding. I had just replaced the hot-water coupling a few months ago when it started leaking, so I know it shouldn’t be worn out. Adventures in home ownership!

Dr. William Jennings Bryan Henrie

Posted in abortion by Kathy on April 28, 2008

The RealChoice blog makes an excellent point on her post today. Just had to link to it!

Recipes, schmecipes!

Posted in frugal by Kathy on April 26, 2008

This morning I made pancakes that call for buttermilk (which I still don’t have, and might not buy, since I can make my own yogurt which substitutes very well!), and used the last of my yogurt with a little milk to thin it out (since this recipe tends to be thick anyway). The recipe also called for two eggs, but I only had one (although it was jumbo-sized). I did measure my dry ingredients (since I didn’t want to have way too much or not enough baking powder, for instance), but just eye-balled the liquid ingredients. The pancakes turned out just fine, and it got me to thinking about recipes.

I’m a stickler for recipes — at least the first time I try a new recipe. That way, you can know what the finished product is really supposed to look like and taste like, so if you don’t like it, you know it was a bad recipe, and not something you did. But I’m trying to branch out, and get away from using recipes as strictly as I usually do (within reason, of course). I’ve decided that recipes for meals can be considered as a rough guide or a template, rather than a blue-print. Blue-prints are good and sometimes necessary (especially for finicky foods like cakes), but they can also lead to added expense — in this case, I would have had to make a special trip to the grocery store (at $3.50 per gallon of gas and rising) to get eggs and buttermilk…. or just look in my fridge and pantry to see if I could find something else that would work. Having workable food substitutes may also allow you to make a cheaper meal with ingredients you have on hand, rather than eating out, ordering in, or making more expensive home-made meals.

Here are some other substitutes:

  • applesauce for oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg
  • yogurt, milk, and buttermilk can many times be exchanged (adding a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk will let it have that sour tang)
  • grind oatmeal into a flour (if you have a food processor) and use it instead of wheat flour, for recipes that don’t require gluten
  • 1 c. white sugar plus 1 Tbsp. molasses for brown sugar
  • white sugar plus cornstarch (ground in a food processor) for powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda plus 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar for 1 tsp. baking powder (do not mix before-hand)

Some recipes may not lend themselves to easy substitutions, but if you don’t have an ingredient, use your imagination to see what you can come up with. Exchange lemon juice for lime juice and see what happens. How would this recipe taste with more potatoes and less corn? Would it be okay to use ground beef instead of chicken if I change the seasonings?

I know there are a lot more substitutions than the ones I’ve listed above, so if you have any to add to the list, feel free to put it in the comments.

Square-Foot Gardening

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on April 25, 2008

My brother got Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening book, and decided to do that this year (my mom has a big garden spot, and he has a small yard, so he’s gardening on her property). When he explained it to me, it intrigued me, so I borrowed my library’s copy. He actually got the old book, while I got the All-New Square Foot Gardening book. Since neither of us read the other’s copy, I can’t say what all is different; although I do remember one thing the author said — in the old edition, he advocated digging out the dirt in your garden and replacing it with “Mel’s Mix” (compost, peat moss, and vermiculite); and in the new book he said “Why dig down? Why not just build up?” — so he now suggests building boxes on top of the ground and filling them with Mel’s Mix to plant your garden. It sounds like a lot less work!

Well, I got the book too late to do it this year, but I did implement what I could. It’s not a “Square Foot Garden” — not only is it not nice and neat like Mel’s, but there isn’t a square-foot grid in sight. [We’re considering moving in the next few months, so we didn’t want to put in a lot of work, time, and expense cultivating ground we’re leaving, if you know what I mean. Nor did I want to build boxes and fill them with Mel’s Mix, and have to leave them behind nor try to transport them.] We didn’t have the materials on-hand to do it, and my husband balked about building the boxes, and I didn’t want to try to tackle the project myself with two helpers less than 3′ tall (including driving at least half an hour one way to get everything).

So, enough of what we didn’t do, now on to what we did. Because of what we bought or grew from seed, and when, our garden is kind of mottled — a section of peas here, broccoli there, tomatoes over here, etc. I dug out the garden soil and filled in the areas (trenches/rectangles for the peas and broccoli, big squares for all the jalapeños, and holes for the tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs) with a mixture of compost, peat moss, garden soil, sand, and partially composted leaves. I couldn’t find the vermiculite when I looked for it, and didn’t want to drive all over town with two little kids. So far, so good. Nothing has died yet, anyway. 🙂

My mom and my brother both transplanted broccoli at the same time — they were grown at a local nursery and were from the same batch, so were virtually identical. My mom used traditional gardening, while my brother followed Mel’s advice from Square Foot Gardening. My brother’s broccoli looks better and healthier, and is bigger than my moms, although they’re only planted a few yards apart. But my brother’s is planted in Mel’s Mix, while my mom’s is planted in her regular garden soil. She’s already a convert, and we’re only about a month into the growing season!

The biggest “light bulb” that went off in my head while reading the book is what Mel said about trampling down soil you’ve just tilled up. That’s one of the things I remember from childhood is my feet squishing down into the freshly-tilled soil while helping to plant beans, corn, etc.

Put one way, Why walk on soil you’ve just cultivated? Put another way, Why cultivate ground you’re just going to trample down?

It was interesting to notice that when I dug out my garden and replaced it with good, fertile soil, the ground I was standing on was hard; but if I strayed off of the beaten path (literally!), I could immediately tell it because my toes or heels sank down. As a child, I kind of relished walking in the soft soil; but after all the work I did to the garden areas, trampling down the soft soil was quite the opposite! It was a warning to me that I had strayed too far.

Yogurt Update

Posted in frugal by Kathy on April 24, 2008

I needed to make biscuits yesterday. (My husband likes a sausage and biscuit every morning as a late breakfast, so if I don’t send him one, he buys one. It’s most definitely cost-effective to make them and freeze them!) This recipe is the best that I’ve ever made, but to be honest, I’ve not tried all that many other recipes — once I found this recipe, what was the point of making any others? (If you think you’ve got a better recipe, try mine and if yours is better, let me know!) The recipe calls for buttermilk, which I didn’t have. I did, however, have home-made yogurt that I needed to use, so I decided to try it to see how it worked. Here’s the original recipe:

Old-Fashioned Biscuits
2&1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. chilled butter
1 c. buttermilk
Combine all dry ingredients; cut in butter until it is cut into small pieces. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture then add the buttermilk all at once and combine with a fork just until mixed. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into biscuits. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. These biscuits are best warm from the oven. You can make your own biscuit mix by combining everything except the buttermilk and storing the mixture in the refrigerator until you want to make the biscuits, and then use part of the mixture. This makes about 3&1/2 cups of mix.

Since the yogurt is a lot thicker than buttermilk, I used a heaping cup of yogurt.  It did great! In fact, I think they might have even been better. They were a bit more golden brown than they usually are.

Forced Pregnancy?

Posted in abortion by Kathy on April 23, 2008

I promised another post about the woman who is upset about the funeral procession in Knoxville for aborted babies. This is it.

In her post, she wonders aloud where the crosses and funeral processions are for women who died due to pregnancy, and then she linked to a site that shows the U.S. maternal mortality rate. She uses the emotional term “forced pregnancy” — as if the only women who die from maternal complications are those who were raped.

My definition of a forced pregnancy is one in which the woman was, you know, forcibly impregnated. She calls it “forced” pregnancy, when women are “coerced” into not having an abortion [but of course, I guess women are never coerced into having an abortion (p. 37)?? And, so much for having a “choice,” huh? Isn’t remaining pregnant a “choice”, or is abortion the only “choice”?], or do not have easy access to an abortionist. I don’t consider a pregnancy that results from consensual sex to be “forced,” and furthermore, I think it is a slap in the face to victims of sexual assault to speak of a consensual act as being “forced.”

Just for what it’s worth, this website says that in 2004-2005, by extrapolating known (or is it suspected?) rape cases (64,080 women) and the medical estimate of one-time sex resulting in pregnancy 5% of the time, yielding 3,204 pregnancies as the result of rape. They admit that these numbers are not known for sure, because of the different factors that may have prevented pregnancy, including women being on birth control, rapists wearing condoms to avoid DNA detection, and sexual assault with objects or on women too old for pregnancy. This figure is probably higher than in past years, but just for the sake of argument, let’s say that this number has been constant for the past 35 years (since Roe v. Wade), and that none of these women had an abortion. The latest figures for the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate is 13/100,000 live births, although the number is probably actually higher. Let’s say that it is 20/100,000, and has been for the past 35 years (although the reported number has varied, and was below 10 for over a decade at least). Let’s also say that none of these deaths was due to abortion (although many women do die from abortion). That means that approximately 22 women would have died from a “forced pregnancy.” So 112,140 babies would have to die to save 22 women.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that our MMR is horrible when compared to other industrialized countries. But this is something that abortion advocates conveniently forget — maternal mortality includes deaths due to abortion. Maternal mortality (depending on the country) is the death of a woman within 42 days or within 1 year of pregnancy, regardless of how the pregnancy ended (abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or live birth) — and this death due to something related to pregnancy or childbirth (dying in a plane crash wouldn’t count). But, abortion-related deaths are more likely to be covered up or coded as due to something else (for example, an abortion might cause a deadly infection or hemorrhage, and the death would be listed as due to infection or hemorrhage, rather than abortion); and even the government recognizes that maternal deaths are under-reported by 30% (and very likely higher). [This under-reporting is primarily due to coroners not knowing or not checking to see if the woman had recently been pregnant. When researchers have undertaken the task of matching death certificates with health records, they uncovered quite a few deaths that should have been reported as “maternal mortality” when they weren’t.] So, when pro-abortion people start talking about how abortion should remain legal because “maternal mortality” is so much higher than women’s deaths due to abortion, they’re either deceptive or ignorant. “Maternal mortality” is the whole pie, but abortion-related deaths are a slice of that pie.

And I read something recently that showed that when deaths due to abortion are compared to the rest of maternal mortality, it’s not a fair comparison, because almost all pregnancy-related deaths in the first half of pregnancy are due to abortions. Women just don’t die because of pregnancy in the first half of pregnancy. The only exception would be ectopic pregnancy, but these pregnancies are rare (and more likely if the woman has had a previous abortion); and while they can be deadly, they usually are not because they’re diagnosed and treated (with abortion if caught early enough; with another surgery if the fallopian tube has already burst) before the woman dies. It’s possible for a woman to bleed to death following a miscarriage, or a D&C procedure after a miscarriage; but, again, this is extremely rare, and also the D&C is exactly what happens during an abortion (it’s just that it removes a living fetus, instead of a fetus who has already died), so if a D&C can be dangerous after a miscarriage, then it certainly can be as an abortion.

Most maternal deaths happen in the late stages of pregnancy, or during or after childbirth ( complications of diabetes, blood pressure, etc., hemorrhage, C-section wound infection, or the doctor accidentally severed a blood vessel during a C-section, etc.). In the late stages of pregnancy, if the woman’s health is being severely compromised (and by extension, her child’s health would be suffering too), then she can be induced or have a C-section, rather than an abortion. And this is what happens. I’ve read a lot of birth stories, including some in which women got severely ill; and none of them chose an abortion. I’ve heard of women who were diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor pressed them to have an abortion so that they could begin chemotherapy, and they refused. Knowing that their chances of surviving cancer were slim to none if they continued the pregnancy until the child was far enough along to have a good chance of survival, they chose life for their child and death for themselves. “Forced” pregnancy?? Give me a break!

Help me understand…

Posted in abortion by Kathy on April 22, 2008

A recent wordpress blog talked about a funeral procession in Knoxville, the day before Mother’s Day, to remember all the babies that have been killed by abortion. The author of this blog is extremely pro-abortion, and uses emotional language that is designed to raise the hackles of fellow liberals.

I’ll talk more about other parts of the post later, but I’m just plain confused (and quite sickened) by some of what she had on this blog.

She complains about there being no crosses or funerals for women who die of pregnancy-related complications, nor for babies who die from inadequate health-care. But here’s what’s confusing to me — the answer seems to be to kill all these babies before they’re born, to prevent some of them from dying after they’re born. Why is it better to kill them prenatally? I just don’t get it.

She also says that adoption is emotionally harder on women than abortion. The reasoning behind this according to her post, is that carrying a baby to term, terminating parental rights, and then wondering for the rest of your life if the baby is going to track you down in the future is somehow harder than living with the knowledge that you murdered your innocent unborn child.

There was a link to another website that said that there is no “adoption vs. abortion debate.” The reasoning behind this is that they are two separate decisions — to have an abortion or to give birth; once women choose to give birth, then they are faced with the choice of keeping their baby or giving them to adoptive parents. That sounds like splitting hairs to me. Yes, technically, those are separate choices; but the reality is that most girls and women will not make that distinction. The choices are to abort the baby, raise the baby, or give the baby up for adoption. Yes, some mothers will decide to give the baby up for adoption, and then change their minds after the baby is born. But the decision to have an abortion is permanent. Check out the South Dakota Task Force Report on Abortion, page 55, which compares and contrasts the procedure in that state for a birth mother to terminate her rights to the typical procedure for a mother to terminate her baby.

The title of this post is “help me understand,” but in reality, I don’t really want to understand the mind-set of abortion advocates.


Posted in frugal by Kathy on April 21, 2008

Are we really worse off than our parents or our grandparents? I don’t think so.

The problem with comparing ourselves to those in the past, is we’re making a false comparison. This is because we’re not looking at our parents at our age (or the number of years we’ve been on our own), but we’re looking at the way our parents are living now (having been settled for 30 years). I’m 31 years old now; I was a baby when my mom was 31, so I obviously have zero memory of the way things were for them then. But I’ve heard their stories, and I know that my parents had nothing when they were in their 30s. The lifestyle my husband and I have now is more similar to my mom’s lifestyle now (CDs, DVDs, computers, food, etc.) than it is to the way my parents used to live. They sacrificed. Quite a bit. I think of something that was in the book The Tightwad Gazette about living on one income — if we’re willing to live like past generations did, then we will be able to make it on one income. The problem is that we’re wanting to step out of our parents’ home (which has taken 20-30 years or so to accumulate all of the amenities) and step into our own home with the same lifestyle.

I never hear any more of people sacrificing and living on nothing as newlyweds. Whatever happened to the “starter home” of less than 1000 sq. ft. (or being in an apartment for a few years)? I used to hear about “early married” furniture, which was basically whatever you could cobble together. Nowadays, newlyweds expect to have a 1500-1800 sq. ft. house to start with, fully furnished with Ethan Allen furniture. But they complain about the bills that go with it. Simply ridiculous! Our parents didn’t start out like that, which is how they were able to eventually afford the larger house with nice furniture. We’re sacrificing our future to have baubles today.

Do this for a month: write down everything you spend, and what you spend it on. You can have somewhat broad categories (one category for food vs. categories for each type of food — although it might be eye-opening to see how much you spend a month on junk food and eating out), but they need to be specific enough so that you can see what you’re really spending your money on. Just saying “household stuff” and having everything from toilet paper to the complete DVD collection of Friends or 24 is too broad. And then compare that in your mind with what your parents likely spent at that same era of their lives. Did they buy clothes like you do? Did they eat out like you do? Did they go out to movies like you do? Did they buy as many records as you buy CDs? They didn’t even have the option of buying movies on tape, much less DVDs. Was cable even an option? What about phone service? There were no cell phones; and long distance was very expensive. What about cars — did they have two cars? Were they bought brand-new, or were they clunkers? They didn’t have computers (much less top-of-the-line computers needed for on-line gaming, complete with flat-screen LCD monitors, printer/scanner/fax machines, DVD burners, etc.). How many TVs did they have in the house? What about stereos? With surround-sound speakers, so you can get that “theater experience” in your own home?

As Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette said, even if you are worse off than your parents, complaining about it does nothing productive, and simply drains energy from what you could do to improve your life. If you have time to sit around and mope about how you don’t have enough money, why can’t you go get another job? Or put some time and effort into saving money with frugality? (If you need some ways to get started, go check out The Tightwad Gazette from the library. It’s free — you don’t even have the excuse of not wanting to spend the money.) You can save money (which equates to earning the equivalent amount of money, tax-free) and net yourself quite a good hourly wage, by just practicing active frugality. You can save even more, by practicing passive frugality, which is more-or-less defined as foregoing activities or things that cost money (not buying junk food, not eating out, basically just living simply).

All I’m saying is, before you whine about what you don’t have, be grateful for what you do have. Before you complain that you have it worse than your parents, you need to really sit down and make sure that they didn’t have it worse than you. Maybe they could more easily afford a “middle America” lifestyle than you can; but it’s not because the essentials are so much more expensive, nor that your income is so much less. It’s because what the “average” American now has, what “middle America” now is, is so much more affluent than the way your parents (and certainly your grandparents!) lived. So you might not be able to afford all the DVDs that your friends and neighbors have. Big deal. Even one movie is more than your parents had when they were young. Get over it!

National Day of Silence

Posted in Christianity by Kathy on April 20, 2008

Next Friday, April 25, schools all over the nation are observing this pro-homosexual event in which students and/or teachers are encouraged not to speak the entire day at school, as a show of solidarity with homosexuals who “suffer in silence” on a daily basis. Click here to find out if your child’s school is participating. I’m proud to say that not one school in my state is on this list! Somehow it doesn’t seem as if the homosexuals and those who support them are ever very silent about it, so this event rings hollow with me.