Sunday, February 27, 2011

Breakfast Bake


My dad came to visit this weekend.  We had gotten him tickets to see 1964: The Tribute, which is a Beatles tribute band.  I grew up listening to the Beatles with my dad, and literally cannot hear a Beatles song and not think of him.  The show was great, and if you're a Beatles fan (especially of their early "touring years" music), I highly recommend you check out the show.  Last year we saw The Fab Faux, which was as good as, if not better than, 1964.  We had so much fun!

Anyway.  He spent the night, so this morning, I made breakfast for the 3 of us.  I made a blueberry french toast bake.  It was the first time I'd ever made it, and I must say, it was pretty yummy!

The recipe calls for:

8 slices of bread, cut into cubes
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup of blueberries
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups of milk

Spread 1/2 of the bread cubes on the bottom of a greased 9x13" glass dish, then add the cream cheese.  Sprinkle the blueberries and top with the remaining bread crumbs.  Finally, mix the eggs and milk, then pour overtop.  You can cover and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours, then bring it out and bake it covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for another 30 minutes (the bread on top should be puffy).  Serve with blueberry syrup for a truly yummy experience!

It was pretty yummy, and it was nice because I could put it together on Saturday and then just cook it on Sunday morning.  It seemed to go over pretty well with my 2 favorite guys, too!
*all personal photos

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fun Fact Friday

So the weather in PA this past week has been kiiiiind of ridiculous.  It was nearly 70 degrees last Friday, then on Saturday we were almost blown off the road on our drive to Baltimore (thanks, 60mph wind gusts!).  Then on Tuesday, it snowed 4 inches and was 22 degrees out.  Now, today, it's windy, rainy, and currently 56 degrees.  I can't keep up!  Neither can my poor immune system.  I always get sick when there are big weather changes, and I can feel something trying to get its hooks in me.  Not to mention, all the fluctuations in the barometric pressure are wreaking total havoc on my Migraine Brain.  I've had a headache for about 5 days straight. 

Anywho.  In honor of the wacky PA weather, this week's Fun Fact Friday is all about weird weather!

~The hottest temperature ever recorded was 136 degrees in Al'Aziziya, Libya in 1922.  The coldest was -128.6 degrees in (where else?) Antarctica in 1983.  July 1983.  The largest recorded swing in temperature over a 24-hour period occurred in 1916 in Montana when the temperature dropped from 44 degrees to -56 degrees.

~The most rain to fall in 1 minute was 1.23" in Unionville, MD on July 4th, 1956.  Bet that made for some interesting picnics!

~Silver Lake, Colorado once got 75.8" of snow in a 24-hour period.  The largest snow amount ever recorded for an entire season was in Mount Rainier, WA at 1122". 

~In 1986, Bangledesh had a hailstorm producing hail stones weighing up to 2.5lbs!  In January 2000, Spain had a "freak" hailstorm that lasted 10 days and dropped hail stones weighing up to 2.25lbs.  10 days!

~Mt. Washington, NH once experienced a wind gust of 231 mph.

~In Fort Keogh, Montana, a snowflake measuring 15" fell from the sky.

*Facts found here and here

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dinner Time!

So I love to cook.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before.  I like to try different recipes and make yummy, nutritious food for me and Matt.  So tonight, I tried dijon and hazlenut crusted pork tenderloin with brown rice and brussel sprouts.  Mmmm...

So I bought a Hatfield port tenderloin at the store.  Sprinkled it with a little salt and pepper, then put it in a frying pan and browned it.  While it was browning I mixed together:

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
~3 Tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt

I put those 4 ingredients in our food processor and pulsed till the hazelnuts were finely chopped.  Then I mixed 2 egg whites and about a Tablespoon of dijon mustard.  I spread the dry mix onto one plate, then put the egg white and mustard mix into a shallow dish.  I took the tenderloin out of the pan and let it cool for a minute or so, then dredged it in the egg mixture then into the dry mix.  I put it on broiler pan (sprayed with cooking spray) and cooked it for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

While that was cooking, I added 1/2 cup red cooking wine, 1 1/2 Tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup beef broth, a dash each of thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan I'd used to brown the tenderloin (without washing it).  Brought it to a boil then let it cook until it was the right consistency.  You can choose whatever consistency you want - I made mine about the consistency of ranch dressing.

I cheated on the rice and veggies - used the steam-in-the-bag brussel sprouts and the Uncle Ben quick-cook rice.  But it was delicious.

*all personal photos

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Wish I Had...

Don't get me wrong.  Our wedding day was fantastic.  Best day of my life thus far.  It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty freaking close.  There are just a few things I wish I had done/said/fought for that, looking back now, certainly doesn't make or break the day or the memories, but still...

First up.  Music selections.  I really wish that I had pushed a little bit harder to be able to just use an iPod or something for the ceremony.  We hired the organist from the church, and he did a great job, but classical organ music is not very "us."  I would've chosen things like Joshua Radin's "They Bring Me to You" to walk down the aisle to.  And Jason Mraz's "Lucky" for the recessional.  Stuff that fits our personalities a bit better.

Kind of along the same lines, I would've hired a videographer.  My step-dad recorded the entire ceremony and most of our first dance, plus a few other random moments.  And I'm absolutely thrilled that we have it.  But I would kill to see video of our wedding party entering the reception - everyone did their own thing and I have no idea what most of them did because we couldn't see them.  I also wish I had video of my dance with my father and of doing the special line dance with all my best girlfriends. 

I also would've asked David to save us a few slices of wedding cake.  And some of the hors d'oevres.  Matt and I were so busy taking pictures that we didn't get a single one of our cocktail foods...and I was looking forward to those the most!  I would have asked David to box something up for us. 

I wish I would've tried harder to convince Matt to do a first look.  Not only because of time issues (maybe then we could've had some of our cocktail food!) but also because I would have loved a few moments alone with him before the ceremony.  I think it would have calmed us both down a little. 

And I have admit, I'm a little disappointed in our photographers.  The pictures we got are great, and I love what we have, but I wish they would've capture more of the moments of the day.  There is only one photo of my dad walking me down the aisle, and only one photo of Matt and I walking back up the aisle, newly married.  There are no pictures of Matt's reaction to me coming down the aisle.  We dismissed our guests from the church, row by row, which would've been a great opportunity to get photos of our guests, but the photographers were nowhere to be found.  Same with during cocktail hour.  We had two photographers, and one was with us, so...where was the other one? 

But, even still, when all was said and done, it was a great day and a beautiful wedding and a super-fun reception.  But if I could go back and re-create it to be everything I wanted, I would change those things. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Fact Friday

Keeping with the travel/Italy theme, a few fun facts about Italy!

~ Italy is only slightly larger than Arizona ~ The average Italian makes $26,700 a year, but residents of Northern Italy can make as much as $40,000
~ Italy's unemployment rate is 8.6%, but can be as high as 20% in the Southern part of the country
~ Italy is the 4th most visited country in the world with 40 million tourists per year
~ The average Italian consumes 26 gallons of wine per year
~ The area around Venice is the wealthiest in Europe
~ "Ars longa, vita breva" means "Art is long, life is short" and refers to the Italian's love of leisure.  (*I could totally adopt this way of life)
~ The colors of the Italian flag represent three virtues: Hope (green), Faith (white), and Charity (red)
~ Italy has 3 active volcanos: Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli
~ The Vatican City (at 108.7 acres large) is the only nation in the world that can lock it's own gates at night
~ There are currently more than 500 types of pasta eaten in Italy today

*facts found here and here

I'm a Planner

Like, Big Time.  When I start thinking about a vacation, I immediatley start looking into flights and hotels and excursions and rental cars and...well, you get the gist.  When I went backpacking through Europe 7 (!) years ago, I didn't really have the "real" backpacking experience of showing up in a random town and just finding a place to crash.  I carefully researched and booked all my hostels before I left the country.  I bought my EurRail pass ahead of time and knew what trains to take when from which station.  But that's what I needed to do.  The "real" backpacking experience would've made me anxious and uncomfortable, and I fear I would have enjoyed my trip much less.  I can roll with the punches, but I can't fly by the seat of my pants. 

What's the point?  Monday night, when Matt and I were at a nice Italian restaurant having our first married Valentine's Day dinner, we were seated facing a huge fresco of a Tuscan vineyard hillside.  I said to Matt, "I wish I was actually looking at that right now."  We started talking about taking a trip to Italy.  It's not the first time we've discussed it.  His family is from a region in Italy called Abruzzo, and we've forever been talking about going there to see where they lived.  I've told him about a hundred times that I'm going to take him to see Rome and the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel.  I experienced all of that and want to share that with him.  I quickly calculated in my head approximately how much I thought I spent on my backpacking trip, adjusted a bit for inflation, and added flights (my mom paid for my flights as a graduation gift).  I came up with a number and presented it to Matt and it was like a lightbulb went off in both of our heads: "Uhh...we could totally do that."  So we talked about taking a trip to Italy next Spring - May or June.  That would give us 14 months to save up the same amount of money that we saved in 8 months for the honeymoon.  Even with Matt's hours cut back at work, we can definitely put that away.  And then some. 

So, how early is too early to start making actual, concrete plans?  I mean, now that we've really talked about it and put down a financial goal, to me, it's time to plan.  It's time to look into hotels and start figuring out flight options.  It's time to look into discount tickets to museums and day trips.  We can't book flights yet (I can only book up through February 2012 right now).  But is this Spring too early to book flights for next Spring?  The earlier you book, the better deal you get, right?  If we wanted to travel in January 2012, we could get 2 flights to Italy for $880 right now.  That's insanely cheap for flights to Europe.  Especially for multi-city flights. 

Here's what I'm picturing: Fly into Florence, and spend 3 nights.  To me, Venice is a day trip from Florence; not worth spending a night there.  Rent a car in Florence and drive to Pescara (it's in the calf of the boot, in Abruzzo) and spend 1 or 2 nights there.  Not sure what all there is to do is Pescara, so I have to research that a bit more.  Then drive to Sorrento and spend 3 nights there (the Amalfi Coast was the one thing I really regretting missing on my trip there).  Then drive up to Rome, spend 3 nights, and fly out from there. 

I've found some pretty good websites for booking cheap hotels and b&bs - and  I found Cross Pollinate because I was looking at the website for my favorite hostel in Rome (The Beehive, an absolutely fantastic place!) and they are part of this community of B&Bs, guesthouses, and apartments in Rome, Florence, Paris, Barcelona, and London.  They are cute little places and they are cheap.  Like, $80/night cheap.  Matt and I are not fancy people and figure we'll only be using the places to store our things and sleep, so all we need is a bed, bathroom (preferrably ensuite, I mean, we are going to be 33 and 35 years old, a bit old for sharing public showers!), and safe place to store our luggage.  We don't need a whole bunch of amentities.  The beauty of the places on Cross Pollinate is that most of them include breakfast!  So that's one less meal we'd have to purchase every day! 

I also found (through the fabulous Weddingbee) a website for cheap car rental in Europe -  Their cheapest cars (by, like, $200/week) are manual.  I learned how to drive on an old VW Jetta and have driven a VW bus and a Porsche (for those not in the know, that means sticky German clutches!), so I'm pretty comfortable with that idea.  It's the driving and parking in Rome that makes me nervous!  Have you seen people drive there?!  Yikes.

The best guidebook I ever found was Mona Winks, by Rick Steves.  I still have pieces of it from my first trip, and if you send the pieces and $5 back to the publisher, they'll send you a brand-spankin-new copy!  Hopefully they'll still replace it, seeing as my copy is now 7-8 years old and they no longer print that book. 

So anyway.  When is too early to start making real plans?  Any websites or guidebooks to recommend? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So, About Charlie Sheen...

I read this blog post yesterday and found it very interesting.  Charlie Sheen has issues.  Big Time Issues.  From the drug use to the domestic violence to the apparent lack of remorse or personal concern about either one, there's something going very wrong inside that man.  That makes me sad.  Sad for him.  Sad for his family.  Sad for his daughters.  But what I find even sadder (more sad?) is that his so-called friends and colleagues aren't recognizing the problem and taking action to make it stop. 

Look, I've never watched Two and a Half Men.  The premise of the show never appealed to me.  And I found that kid obnoxious.  So I can't say if it's a show worth saving.  I'm not here to make that decision.  I also never watched it because I refused to support a man who admitted to abusing not one but two of his wives.  And then this happened.  And this.  Then he went to rehab.  Then he left rehab after deciding he could be treated at home.  And most recently, he gave an interview stating that he thinks he needs to get back to work.  Whoa.  That is some heavy heavy stuff. 

That interview is scary.  I mean, he's basically saying that crack is ok, as long as you can still function on a day-to-day basis.  Is that what you'd call a "functioning crackhead?"  Like a functioning alcoholic?  And then he's essentially threatening CBS like "If you don't put me back to work now - right now - this sober moment isn't going to last forever."  He claims that he never showed up on set drunk or high, but often was so "tired" that he had to ask the director to move his mark closer to a piece of furniture so he could lean on it. "tired" from all those binge/orgy parties he's been attending.  Not only does he have serious substance abuse problems, but the man is in some major denial. 

It's time for CBS to take some action.  Cancel the show.  Or at least suspend filming until Charlie Sheen is actually sobered up.  Or replace him.  Addicts have to hit bottom in order to realize they really need help.  If CBS continues to employ him (and pay him $1.8 million per episode!), they are only contributing to the problem.  They are enabling his drug use and erratic behavior.  And yes, I realize that there are hundreds of crew members whose actual livelihood depends on this show.  But if it were me, I'd rather know that the show is ending and start to try to find other work than continue to wait around, wondering if my job is actually going to happen on a day to day basis.  Because, despite what anyone says, he can't possibly have been a reliable member of the team. 

If Charlie's not willing to admit the problem and do something about it himself, then the people around him are going to have to do it for him.  And sometimes, that means abandoning him (the addict) and letting him fall to his absolute rock bottom.  So be it.  Something needs to get through to him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Celebrate Love

Ahhh, Valentine's Day.  That precious Hallmark and Hershey's holiday.  I love Valentine's Day.  I have since I was a child.  Every Valentine's morning, my sister and I would open our bedroom doors to an array of red items - socks, cinammon hearts, chapstick, etc - with a note or card signed "The Valentine's Frog."  So sweet, my parents.  My mom still sends us Valentine's Day cards in the mail.  

I came home from work on Friday to a lovely bouquet of Stargazer Lilies and purple Irises.  Matt ordered them early so that I wouldn't have to carry them to dinner and home on the train on Monday.  Such a thoughtful boy.  We have dinner reservations at a restaurant we've been wanting to try in Philly.  It's an Italian restaurant that specializes in the cuisine of the region of Italy that Matt's grandparents came from, Abbruzzo.  We're really excited to give it a shot and throw some respect to past generations of his family.  

I got Matt a new iPod Shuffle.  He's been hemming and hawing about getting an MP3 player to use at the gym, and so I just bit the bullet for him and got him the Shuffle.  I figure that will be perfect for him.  He can load it with gym songs and just hit play while he's working out.  Seems like he's really excited about it, which I always love.  Nothing makes me happier than making him happy.  

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This weekend I picked up the book Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  [I joined the Millionaires Club at Books-A-Million - can't wait!]  Today on the train I finished the second chapter.  It provoked some pretty serious thinking for me.  I know, dangerous, right?  Seriously, though.  I finished the chapter and really reflected on her words.  The end of the chapter she talks about people's expectations for marriage:
Life is hard work and work is hard work - I'm quite certain they would agree with those statements - but how does marriage become hard work?  Here's how: Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one mere person. (pg. 48)
Whoa.  That is heh-vey.  I mean it!  Do we put so much into our spouses, fully expecting that they are going to be the one and only reason for our total happiness?  Yikes!  

I thought about this one.  Long and hard.  I thought about my expectations for my marriage and future with Matt.  And you know what?  This is not how I think: "...we should somehow be answerable for every aspect of each other's joy and happiness.  That our very job description as spouses was to be each other's everything" (pg. 49).  I don't expect Matt to be my everything.  I'm not putting all my happiness eggs into his basket.  I expect him to work as hard as I do at continuing to grow in our relationship and to make sure that we are meeting each other's needs.  But I am more responsible for my happiness than Matt is.  It is up to me to recognize what I'm not getting or doing or whatever and fix it from my end.  

Maybe this is because of my age.  Maybe it's because I've always relied on myself.  Maybe it's because I've always been a strong and independent person.  Maybe it's because I'm an introverted, introspective, deeply philosophical person (ha ha).  Yeah,'s probably just because I'm old and after pouring everything I had into past relationships and then losing myself entirely when they ended, I realized that my happiness depended on me.  No one else. 

I am capable of being happy on my own.  With or without someone else.  Having someone else (Matt) to enhance and deepen and share that happiness with is awesome.  But I can achieve it on my own.  And I think that's why Matt and I have always had a pretty easy way in our relationship.  Cuz he's the same way.  While we love our time together and treasure the moments we share as a couple, we also enjoy our time apart.  I like escaping to the window seat in our bedroom, putting on some of "my" music, and reading a good book while Matt plays Tiger Woods on Playstation in his "man room" (with lavender walls, crack me up!).  I'm proud of that.  Better yet, I'm proud of us.  And I think (and hope) that we will continue this way and continue being happy - with, within, and without each other (for brief periods of time, only, of course!). 

This is, of course, not to say that I wouldn't be devasted if our relationship ended.  It killed me when it was briefly suspended a few years ago.  But that is when I learned this valuable lesson - I will survive.  While I invested time, energy, love, and whatever else into our relationship, I still had my sense of self.  I still knew who I was.  I didn't have to spend a year traveling around the world to "find myself" (a la Eat, Pray, Love).  I never let myself completely become "us" or "we" - it was always very important to me to understand that I needed to have that me-ness in tact at all times.  Because things happen.  Like it or not. 

I can't wait to delve deeper into this book and keep reflecting on our relationship and why it's soooo awesome. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

*Started this on Sunday.  Got busy and distracted.  Sorry!*

It's game day, bitches!  To start, here is my all-time favorite picture of the Steelers.
It's from the locker room before Super Bowl XL (which, yes, the Steelers did win!).  And it features one of my all-time favorite football players, EVER, Jerome Bettis.  A monster of a running back.

Anyway.  Time for some more recipes.  Up first, the Spinach Dip.  It's super easy. 

2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonaise
1 packet Knoll's vegetable dip pack
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, sliced
3 green onions, diced
1 box (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained

Mix all the ingredients together.  I like to serve it in a pumpernickle bread bowl - use the bread you cut out to create the bowl as the dipping pieces. 

Stromboli.  I freaking love this stuff.  Like I said, it's a recipe I snagged from my mom.  It's pretty easy and people tend to love it.  First up, you make the dough:

5 cups flour
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup oil
1 packet dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Knead it together (or, get excited, and use the dough hook on your KitchenAid stand mixer).  Place it into a greased oven-safe bowl and let it sit to rise for 2 hours.  The trick here is to preheat your oven to the lowest setting, then turn it off and put the dough in there for 2 hours (covered).  This ensures the temperature is right but doesn't "bake" it.  The first year I made it, I didn't know I should turn the oven off and I ended up with a crust on the top.  It made for a texturally weird boli.

After the dough has risen, you punch it down and split it in 2 halves.  Spread it out on 2 (large) cookie sheets.  Lay out the fillers.  The fillers are a 1/2 pound of each of the following: hard salami, provolone, pepperoni, mozzarella, and boiled ham.  I get it all from the deli counter, though it is possible to get it pre-packaged.  I just like the fresh deli counter stuff better for this.  Feels more authentic.  Then top with mustard and oregano (there are actually amounts in the recipe, but I just eyeball it).  Bring the sides up to wrap the filling, spread some milk on top, then bake it at 350 for 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the finished products.  Of anything.  People started showing up and I was way distracted.  But trust me, everything was delicious.  I got tons of compliments on the chili, and the cake balls were destroyed.  I thought Christina Aguilera (honestly didn't even catch the lyric flub) did a pretty good job.  The halftime show was terrible.  The commercials were pretty awful, except for the one where they showed all the different tv characters in various NFL team gear.  I enjoyed that one more for the blasts from the past than anything else.  And even though the Steelers lost, it was a really good game that definitely kept me on the edge of my seat (or kitchen counter, where I was perched all night long). 

And now, I'll leave you with the only other commercial that I actually enjoyed...

*all photos without source code are personal

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Chili

I made the chili last night.  It looks (and smells) soooo good.  Unfortunately, I was a bad blogger and didn't take many pictures.  Just a before and an after.  There are so many ingredients in it, though, and you (or at least I) feel like they have to be put in quickly or the recipe is ruined.  I'm weird like that.  So I kind of felt like I was hurrying through getting the ingredients in and forgot to take pictures of the process.  So...sorry 'bout that. 

Anyway.  The recipe is from a restaurant called Redstone Grille.  Matt and I had it one day at the restaurant and thought it was so awesome.  And you know, sometimes you can find restaurants' recipes online.  So I took a shot, Google'd it, and lo and behold - found it!  I made this for our department Christmas party and it was a huge hit, so I thought I'd make it again for the Super Bowl.  It's pretty easy, just that it has a ton of ingredients and some of them were kind of hard to find. 

To start, all the ingredients:

1 1/4 lbs ground beef (80/20)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh garlic
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup green peppers, diced
1 Tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon beef base
1 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 bay leaf
2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh Roma)
1/2 cup tomato juice
4 cups tomato puree
1 cup chili sauce
2 cups kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Start off by browning the beef in a skillet, then drain it in a collander.  In a 1 gallon pot (I used my 6-quart stock pot), over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil then saute the garlic, celery, onion, and green pepper until tender.  Add the chipotle puree, water, beef base, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes.  Then add the ground beef, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, tomato puree, chili sauce, and kidney beans.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  Stir ever 5 minutes (or so) to prevent the kidney beans from scorching to the bottom.

Finshed product?

I made 1.5x the recipe, since we're expecting about a dozen people (the stated serving is 6-8).  You're supposed to make it a few days in advance so that flavors have a chance to marinate and marry.  The day of, we'll have it on the stove with a toppings bar, including shredded cheddar jack cheese, sour cream, and green onions.  I hope it's as big a hit as it was at the Christmas party!

*all personal photos

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You Want to Redefine WHAT?!?!

Warning: Politics Ahead

Last week, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced a new bill to the floor: the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  The bill is meant to move forward on a ban on taxpayer money being used towards abortion.  This means that patients under the new health care plan would not be able to have an abortion covered by their insurance.  This echoes the Hyde Amendment, a law that has been in place since 1976.  The Hyde Amendment has banned coverage for abortions under Medicaid and Medicare, with exception for cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life. 

The new bill, however, changes the wording just slightly.  Slightly enough to make it completely offensive.  The new bill, as introduced yesterday, adds the word "forcible" in front of the word "rape" in the exceptions.  So it would read "...except in the case of forcible rape, incest, or to save the mother's life." 

Say WHAT?!?  Since when is any rape not forced?  Color me confused, but I thought that was very definition of rape.  Seriously.  I looked it up.
Rape: 1. an act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person; 2. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse; 3. statutory rape; 4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation
Say You: What's the big deal?  It's just one little word. 

As a rape survivor, I can tell you that it's insulting.  And scary.  In my situation, it was not a violent act.  I was not held down.  There was no knife to my throat or gun to my head.  It was not in a back alley.  It was not a stranger off the street who grabbed me from behind.  It was at a party, by a guy I'd just met, who wouldn't take no for an answer.

And it fucked. me. up.  I couldn't sleep for months.  I used to be a social butterfly but I spent most of that summer locked in my bedroom with the lights out, watching DVDs on my computer.  I moved to Pittsburgh to start grad school and started having panic attacks.  I started dating a really great guy in Pittsburgh but would completely shut down when he tried to get intimate.  Once I finally realized that my anxiety and fear was preventing me from meeting people and having a good time in a great city, I started seeing a counselor.  It helped, but it took 6 solid months of weekly exposure therapy to get me to where I was comfortable being in large groups of new people.

I struggled for a really long time with being comfortable calling what happened to me "rape."  In my mind, rape was something happened in big cities down dark alleys to women held at gunpoint.  Not in a well-lit apartment in a small town in Pennsylvania.  But it really came down to the fact that I said no.  A lot.  And loudly.  And he didn't stop.  And that's rape.  Gun or no gun.  Who are these politicians who think that they can tell me it's not?  Or the 13-year-old who is frightened into having sex with her 24-year-old uncle?  You're going to tell us that since it wasn't "forced" you won't pay for me to abort the child of a monster?  Excuse me, but fuck you!

It's scary to me that politicians are looking at this and thinking it's ok.  It's scary that they are trying to, on a federal level, redefine the meaning of rape.  That's not good, you guys.  

As it turns out, Rep. Smith retracted his original wording and today he resubmitted the bill as it was under the Hyde Amendment, removing the word forcible.  But this kind of thing cannot even be allowed to be considered in the future.  We have to be vigilant.  We have to take a stand.  As women.  As human beings.  We owe it to each other.