Tag Archives: holidays

Merry Christmas from the coastlands



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It’s Christmas time once more

Since having dogs and then kids, my husband has been kind of anti-tree. I finally got him to cave this weekend though. We got a nice tabletop tree last night. I actually kind of like it better for a number of reasons. One being that I don’t have to crawl in awkwardly to water the tree. I also was able to decorate all around the tree.

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Year of the Ox

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

We’ve been celebrating this holiday with my sister-in-law ever since Half-Pint came along. It is so much fun. We dress up and then make and eat good food shared with lots of friends. I really love that Ruth started this tradition!

Of course, Bean has to participate in the dressing up for this festivity too. I pondered many options and even coveted a few Etsy items. In the end I was good on our budget and just wound up embroidering a onesie for her to wear to the big feast next weekend. Mmmm dumplings. I can hardly wait!

The design sketched out:

Completed laterns up close (I still haven’t washed the onesie just yet to get the Crayola marker off, so you can still see it peeking out from behind the stitches here and there):

The ox (I just love this little guy!):

Bean happily modeling my needlework:

And of course she spit up all over the front of it just after these pictures to show her love most ardently. Guess that solves the marker problem. :)

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Eye Candy Friday: 2008 in pictures

I wanted to get my shot in for Exposaroonie’s latest challenge and I decided that I would do what I’ve seen a lot of the other participants do: chronicaling the year in pictures while also revealing the favorite.

So here goes…

January


Knitted elephant made for Paula. Jan. 5, 2008


Trip to Redding for Paula’s graduation. Jan. 11 2008


We’re PREGNANT! Jan. 18, 2008


Rockin’ the Sea Bands. Jan. 22, 2008


Morning sickness is no joke. Jan. 23, 2008


Dehydration during pregnancy due to morning sickness is really no joke. Jan. 28, 2008

February


There’s really a baby in there. Feb. 7, 2008


PICC line inserted Feb. 28, 2008

March


Another ultrasound Mar. 6, 2008.


Clothes are falling off me Mar. 13, 2008.


Patchwork blanket completed Mar. 26, 2008.


First belly shot taken Mar. 28, 2008.

April


I “popped” Apr. 5, 2008.


Feeling better celebration. Paramore in concert Apr. 6, 2008.


We’re both bulging! Me & Mt. Shasta Apr. 26, 2008.


The Enchanted Forest Apr. 27, 2008.


Waterfall in Oregon Apr. 28, 2008.


End of the Oregon Trail museum in front of a real covered wagon Apr. 28, 2008.


Our love affair with Seattle began. Pike Place Market Apr. 30, 2008.

May


“Space Neenle!” (Kaela speak for Space Needle) May 1, 2008.


Snoqualmie Falls May 1, 2008.


A real lighthouse May 2, 2008.


I heart trains and the California State Railroad Museum May 4, 2008.


It’s a GIRL, May 7, 2008.


Cardigan completed May 18, 2008.


Knitted dress completed May 21, 2008.


We landscaped our backyard and added roses! May 21, 2008


Knitted onesie completed May 28, 2008.

June


My first Exposaroonie challenge June 14, 2008.


Last Disneyland trip for a long time June 20, 2008.

July


Vintage Exposaroonie Jul. 3, 2008.


Airy Fairy completed Jul. 11, 2008


Getting bigger Jul. 13, 2008


A bird made a nest in the wreath on our front door which I documented for Exposaroonie by using one of my lens attachments. Jul. 16, 2008


The best diapers ever arrive Jul. 18, 2008.

August


Could have fooled you that I actually like being pregnant. Aug. 9, 2008.


Baby shower Aug. 9, 2008


Happy birthday to us Aug. 10, 2008.


Made my own diaper bag Aug. 13, 2008.


Knitted bird mobile completed Aug. 18, 2008.


Stephen got a new baby Aug. 20, 2008


I am so huge! Aug. 30, 2008.

September


Nursery is basically finished Sept. 1, 2008.


Getting impatient Sept. 19, 2008.


Bean is here (born Sept. 24), picture taken Sept. 25, 2008 at 3:30am.


Tiny little feet and skinny legs Sept. 30, 2008.

October


Nap time Oct. 3, 2008.


I can’t believe how much I love this little girl Oct. 29, 2008. Definitely my favorite shot of the year.


Vampin’ it up on Halloween. Oct. 31, 2008.

November


Nov. 11, 2008


So funny. Nov. 18, 2008


Exposaroonie’s lines challenge… not my greatest photo ever. I wasn’t feeling very creative for this one. Nov. 20, 2008

December


Bean makes an appearance in my Exposaroonie texture shot. Dec. 8, 2008.


Snuggling with the doggies Dec. 9, 2008.


My poor baby is teething Dec. 11, 2008.


Pink fluffy robes Dec. 14, 2008.


My little rocker Dec. 16, 2008.


New stocking Dec. 18, 2008.


Keeping the tradition alive. Dec. 20, 2008.


Christmas is almost here! Dec. 22, 2008


Sisters on Christmas Eve. Dec. 24, 2008


A kiss from Auntie Andrea Dec. 30, 2008.

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Happy holidays means 4 Christmas celebrations, 2 birthday parties, 1 New Year’s Eve party and 1 baby shower

OK so all the festivities are pretty much finished now so I’ll just get this taken care of with one big post. I didn’t take quite as many pictures this year as I have in years past. I usually don’t take many pictures when we are with Stephen’s side of the family because there are just SO many photographers that I don’t want to add to the picture request list and the thousands of clicks/flashes/fake smiles/posing etc. So you’ll notice as the post goes on that pictures taper off.

Christmas Eve my family came over to celebrate and open presents. Paula didn’t come down, but Cherie and Andrea were there as well as my parents. I baked a ham with a yummy molasses and brandy based glaze and we also had mashed potatoes, wild rice stuffing, green beans with soy nuts and bacon bits, and glazed carrots. Then we opened presents and took some pictures.

Bean of course got the most presents because I’m the first one to have kids on my side.

That day was actually a pretty rough day for us. Bean was having a REALLY hard time with the teething and being around extra people. She had two huge meltdowns where I just couldn’t get her to stop crying. I tried everything. Finally, the second time around I had Stephen run to the store and get some Tylenol Infant Drops and we gave her some of those. She was so much happier after that. I’m not one to get into the habit of drugging up my baby, but her teeth were really causing her pain and the other remedies we tried just weren’t cutting it.

After things were wrapped up with my family Stephen and I packed up the car and headed to Ruth & Eric’s for more celebrating. Eric’s family always does this big Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. We weren’t sure if they’d be finished by the time we got there. We got to their house and they still weren’t home. We’d been to Eric’s parents’ a few times before, but we usually followed another driver or rode with someone. So we went on a little adventure to try and find their house. We made a couple wrong turns, but eventually we found it. I was pretty apprehensive after the day we’d experienced bringing Bean into a house packed full of boistrous Italians, but she actually did really great. We didn’t have any melt downs at all. Things finished up there about an hour or so later and we headed back to Ruth & Eric’s house.

All of our girls went down for bed and then we stayed up for a little longer to chat, help Santa eat rum cake and make sure he left a note for the girls to read the next morning. The next morning it was time for presents. Stephen’s family does one-by-one present opening so we FINALLY finished that up around noon. Luckily Santa left us some sustanence in our stockings in the form of fruit roll ups, Odwalla bars, and Teddy Grahams because I think we would have been famished otherwise.


“Lizzie” helping to pass out presents.

Santa brought “Half-pint” her very own princess castle tent, which she very much enjoyed:

 

I think we all spent the whole day in our pajamas.

Some of Eric’s family came over and we had Christmas Dinner before Stephen’s parents headed back to Bakersfield.

The next day Ruth and I braved the post-Christmas crowds at their mall. I bought a couple cute shirts for Bean at Nordstrom, I found my bridesmaid dress for Paula’s wedding, and I got some cute jeans. We also had lunch at Tacone (I’m so sad ours closed!) where I enjoyed the United Steak of America sandwich (their Rosemary Chipotle mayo is the best) and some sweet potato fries. After the mall we headed over to Borders to spend some gift cards. We found some really great deals in the bargain bins to beef up our growing libraries. I seriously could have spent hours and thousands of dollars there, but I managed to walk away with $12 still on my card.

Saturday Ruth and I took Bean to check out a new yarn shop and a baby store in T.O. before heading to Target to pick out a present for Morgan’s baby shower. Stephen and I headed back to Bakersfield later that afternoon. When we got home we then hit up every Target in town to see if we could find a fake 7 1/2 ft Douglas Blue Fir because all the Christmas stuff was 50% off. We had no luck so we bought clothes and Disney movies instead.

This really doesn’t have anything to do with the holidays, but that Sunday we left Bean in the nursery for the first time ever and she did great. I didn’t get paged the whole time and she fell asleep right before we picked her up. She really is one of the best babies ever.

Monday and Tuesday were spent cleaning up the house and washing all the laundry from our trip. Tuesday night our friends Grant and Megan came over for dinner. I finally got to see her engagement ring and we all hung out for quite awhile. I made yummy split pea soup with some of the left over ham.

Wednesday Andrea came over for most of the day. I’m not sure if I’ve said it here yet, but I absolutely love that I get to see my sister once a week now. She is such a HUGE help with Bean on the days that she is here. It’s like the only time I get a break. Basically on the days she is here all I have to do is feed Bean. Andrea will hold her, calm her down if she’s a little fussy, change diapers, etc. So I took complete advantage of Andrea being here so I could do some errands with an extra set of hands to help. We went to Macy’s to take back something I got for Christmas which was quite bulky and I would have had a hard time getting it and Bean into the store. Then she hung out with Bean while I tried on some clothes and helped me find the perfect jeans in a “short” length. After that we went to Target to get some more wrapping supplies and then to Albertsons to get stuff to make my contribution to that night’s festivities. The line at Albertsons was ridiculous. We were standing there for 30-40 minutes.

I was texting Ruth throughout our day because they were stuck on I5 in traffic and fog. The original plan was for them to get to our house around 1pm, but between leaving late and all the traffic mess they didn’t get to Bakersfield until much later and wound up going straight to my in-law’s house instead. Stephen got home from work and we packed up all of Bean’s stuff, the spinach artichoke dip for the New Year’s Eve party, fed the dogs and then headed over.

My mother-in-law wanted to do a very small and exclusive family party for their dad’s birthday apart from the slight chaos of the extended family. So we had a very quiet 3rd Christmas and birthday with Ruth & Eric’s family, Jim, Della and Jim’s parents.


Bean got to meet her Great Grandma Cay for the first time.


Happy Birthday Jim!


Della accidentally bought those trick candles. “Lizzie” and “Half-pint” tried to help grandpa blow them out, but eventually some water was necessary.


Ruth is sporting a pair of the wristwarmers I made for Christmas presents. One of only three knitted gifts I actually managed to get done this year.

After the birthday festivities were finished, we went to Stephen’s Aunt Nancy’s house for some New Year’s Eve partying. My spinach artichoke dip was a big hit. So here’s the recipe for those of you that missed the conversation:

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Ingredients
-8oz container of sour cream
-16oz cream cheese, softened
-16oz shredded parmesan cheese
-1 small bag/box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
-1 small bag/box frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted or 2 cans of artichoke hearts in water (not the marinated kind)

Directions
Preheat oven to 400. Dice artichoke hearts or place them in a food processor. Mix with remaining ingredients and then place in a baking dish. Cover and bake 25 minutes, removing cover for the last 5 minutes of baking. Serve with sliced baguettes, tortilla chips or veggies.

Sorry I don’t have a picture, but I’m sure you’ve all seen this dish enough at restaurants and such that it really isn’t necessary. I’ve tried a few other versions of this dip and then came up with this one which combines a couple of them without including mayonaise which tends to make it really oily.

Anyway, after we rang in the New Year we headed back to our house with Ruth & Eric’s family for the night. Thursday we went back over for chilli and college football.

Friday Ruth and I ran some errands together and then the boys went to the music store for a bit. Then we went back to Aunt Nancy’s for another round of Christmas and birthdays.

Saturday morning I made Stephen do chores with me which he wasn’t too excited about. Things brightened up though when “Lizzie” and “Half-pint” joined in on the laundry folding action. Every time we came across a pair of “undies” during the folding process “Lizzie” got quite the kick out of it. At one point when she dived into our laundry pile she found one of my nursing bras and swung it around her head rodeo style while giggling.

After that we had a shower for Morgan and the babe. I won baby present bingo which means I get Starbucks a couple times this week. Bean was such a good baby and had fun hanging out with all the ladies. We can’t wait till Morgan’s babe gets here. They are going to have so much fun at Mammoth together this year.

After the shower Ruth & I went to Barnes and Noble for more book shopping. I got a really nice version of a compilation of Jane Austen’s works. I pined over more books, but managed to resist most of the temptation.

Then we went home so they could pack up and head back home. Stephen and I hung out at home for a couple hours before one last visit to Aunt Nancy’s for a little more time with the family. Today we still haven’t gotten out of our jammies and I’m planning to keep it that way unless Megan calls to say that she won the dream wedding package at the Bridal Show in which case there will be much celebrating at Rosemary’s later.

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Drool.

My neice is adopted from Taiwan. Ever since my SIL decided to do this we’ve celebrated Chinese New Year together. Which is my favorite because homemade Chinese feast = yum-o!

I even dragged myself, IV in tow, down there for the celebration last time around when I was having pretty awful morning sickness. This next year I’m looking forward to actually enjoying the food, not being knocked out from Zofran, not puking, not having puffy IV rejection arm stuff going on, etc.

Anyway, I really want to make Bean (and maybe me) something cute to wear. I was looking on Esty for inspiration which is always a bad idea due to the temptation. So I thought I’d share:

Chinese Fans Kimono Booties

Chinese Fans Kimono Booties

 

Dim Sum Outfit For Baby

Dim Sum Outfit For Baby

Baby Bib - China Doll

Baby Bib - China Doll

Traditional Baby Girl Party Dress

Traditional Baby Girl Party Dress

New Baby Girl Party Dress

New Baby Girl Party Dress

I also found some cute embroidery designs in my new embroidery book that I got for Christmas. So I’m ruminating on these things and trying to come up with something…

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More praise for my cloth diapers

Over the holiday Bean was in disposable diapers because I thought it would be easier for us since we were going to be out of town for four days.

Well, it wasn’t easier.

For one thing I felt like I was changing diapers around the clock. We went through a whole package of Pampers and about 10 Huggies during our trip.

There were two blowouts.

And Bean developed a diaper rash the last day of our trip which was completely gone 24 hours after putting her back in her BumGenius diapers, no creams or other treatments were necessary.

I was willing to overlook the blowout problem for future vacations, but I am not willing to overlook the diaper rash. Bean has never had a case of diaper rash before and it doesn’t seem fair to put her through that discomfort for the sake of a “convenient” vacation.

I know some people would probably say that diaper rash is just a part of having a baby, but it really isn’t. Prior to the introduction of cloth diapers, diaper rash was a very rare occurance. If I remember correctly it occurred in under 10% of the population. Once disposables came along it skyrocketed to 90%.

As such I’ve decided to never buy a disposable diaper again. Future vacation planning that occurs while Bean or other kids are in diapers will just have to include planning for washing whether it is researching laundromats or staying somewhere that has access to washing facilities.

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Week thirteen, month three and Christmas Eve

Dear Bean,

Today three months, thirteen weeks and Christmas Eve all came on the same day.

Last year at this time Papa and I were cleaning our house in preparation for a huge family feast with 25 people. I didn’t even know I was pregnant with you yet, but I was already so very tired. Papa kept getting frustrated with me because I was sitting down on the job every 10 minutes. As I watched your cousins open presents the next day I remember feeling kind of sad because I thought I’d never get to see kids of my own excitedly tearing into wrapping paper. We didn’t find out for another month that you were already growing in my tummy.

You got ridiculous amounts of presents from us, stuff I’ve been buying basically all year long. The funny thing is you aren’t going to remember this Christmas or what you got. I’ll also probably be the one to open back up the presents I spent hours wrapping last night. Oh well, it is your first Christmas and there won’t be another one like it.

 

The past week you’ve been quite the grump. Every day from about 4:30pm until we put you to bed for the night you are pretty much inconsolable unless you are sleeping. I guess this is what is known as the “witching hour”. I have to admit that all the fussing has me pretty frazzled feeling lately. I don’t know how people with even fussier babies do it. I think I would go insane.

You are still teething and have your hands in your mouth almost all the time. There doesn’t seem to be much progress on the teeth though. Still just a bulge on your right bottom and bulge on the bottom left with tiny bit of white peeking through. I’m really ready for the whole teething thing to be over with, but I know it is going to last awhile. I just hate to see you uncomfortable and upset.

With the holiday upon us, that means we are going to be out of town for the rest of the week to be with family. As a result, I’ve got you in disposable diapers so that we don’t have to commandeer Aunt Ruth’s washing machine and so we can pack a little lighter as your diapers take up quite a bit of space.

I have to say that I still don’t know how people use these diapers regularly. Aunt Andrea said that Huggies are better and thicker than Pampers, but I can’t tell the difference. I think they both suck. You’ve had diaper leakage problems maybe three times in your BumGenius diapers. Two of those times could have been averted if I had changed your diaper a little sooner. You are rarely in disposables, but you’ve had at least 10 blowouts when you have been in them.

It seems like whenever I put one on you I am just asking for it. So while we won’t be packing our entire stash of massive diapers to take with us, we will be packing plenty of outfit changes.

In a few hours my family will be here to hold you and love on you. Hopefully you won’t get overwhelmed like you have been around lots of people lately.

Standing has become one of your favorite things to do. Sometimes it is the only way to make you happy. You’re probably going to be an early walker so I guess I’d better get to childproofing this house soon.   

You are getting so big! I did your monthly measurements this morning and this is what I found:


You are about 23 inches long.


Your head is 16.25 inches around.


And your chest is 15.75 inches around.

I haven’t weighed you, but you definitely feel more chunky. Your cute little baby fat rolls on your arms and legs seem to indicate this as well. Something funny I noticed today is that you have elbow skin. I’m not sure when that showed up, but it definitely used to be smooth right there.

Overall you are still a really sweet and happy baby. You also like to sleep in late in the mornings which is very nice for me. When you do wake up we have lots of cuddle time too. That’s one of my favorite things.

Love you baby girl,

Mama

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Gourmet Lisa: Cheese Raviolis and Meat Sauce

Just kidding dad, I won’t be sharing the secret family ravioli and sauce recipe with the world here on the Internet. :)

I will say that ravioli making is how I got my “Gourmet Lisa” start. Growing up each year I watched my dad not really use a recipe, but put it together based on the taste until the right amount of salt, pepper, basil, parsley, etc. blended together for the sauce, dough, and cheese filling. Oh, and calls to his mom each year also helped.

So for me, nothing quite says “holiday” like ravioli or lasagna making. It was definitely just the thing I needed to put me into the Christmas spirit this year too.

Oh and John or Cara, if you are reading this, the raviolis we owe you for those keyboard tracks are finally coming your way.

Ravioli making is pretty much an all day process and yeilds hundreds of the scrumptious little cheese packages at the end. So here’s a photo essay to show what goes on:


First up is sauce. We got to my dad’s house after church and it was already simmering on the stove. So we walked in and were pleasantly greeted by the aroma. Mmmm. This sauce is like the meat sauce of all meat sauces. There is ground beef, meat balls and Italian sausages in it. Plus various veggies. It is pretty chunky. My dad always starts it in the morning and slow cooks it all day long. We  take “breaks” throughout the day to stop and snack on sauce and bread.

The next step is to make the filling. We usually do a pretty simple Ricotta cheese filling, but last time we made raviolis my dad said he wanted us to experiment with a spinach filling. So this year a small portion of the batch has this new spinach filling I came up with. Purely an experiment.


New spinach filling.


Plain filling. The little green specks are herbs.

Next up is to make the dough. I don’t actually have pictures of this process because Bean decided to be a little fussy at that point and so I had to tend to her needs. Once the dough is made, my dad pulls off chunks of it and rolls it out really thin. He spoons the filling onto the dough and then starts cuting out the raviolis.

And then that’s when the rest of us get in on the action using forks to seal them all up. It becomes this flurry of hands cutting, forking, reaching, grabbing, and handing off.

As each one is finished we put it on a plate. When the plate is full I take it into the house.

We have a clean sheet spread out on one of the beds and we start laying out the raviolis. I’m not really sure what purpose laying them out serves other than it is a place to put them while we work on the rest and so we can count them all. This year we made 83 spinach and 198 plain cheese.

After we’re all done making them, we divy them up into foil packages to be passed out and shared with various friends and family members. We also are sure to enjoy the fruits of our labor.


Cooked spinach raviolis.


With sauce.

So the spinach filling was pretty good. Not much different from the plain cheese though. You can kind of taste the spinach, but the Ricotta is pretty overpowering. Definitely needs a little more experimentation to bring out the flavor, I think. I was satisfied with the first round of experimentation though.

Anyway, mostly the day is about being with family. My dad and his friend (pictured above) did the raviolis one year all by themselves and it only took about 2 or 3 hours. Somehow when we all get together and are talking and hanging out it takes a bit longer. I think it is probably more fun that way though.


Bean and her grandpa on her first ravioli making day.

This is definitely a tradition I hope to keep alive. While I won’t share it here, I actually do have the basics of the recipe written down and tucked away in my recipe box. Hopefully I can pass the tradition along to our kids and they will do the same.

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Tamale Night

I’ll have another post as soon as we get home about Ravioli night, but I wanted to write about last night before I forget.

So last night we went to the annual Barrios Family Tamale Night. I love this event. Love this family. It is the best. It is so good to catch up with old friends and faces we don’t often see. People come from all over to hang out on this very special night and enjoy the yummy tamales.

I think one of the things I love the most about it is that we always feel so comfortable just opening up and talking about anything while we are there.

There were several news people there because Henry is a photog at TBC. It was good catching up and seeing them. But jeeze the news industry is really going through hard times, especially here locally. There have been so many layoffs. Everyone kept commenting on the fact that I was lucky to get out of the business when I did. They’re all afraid of losing their jobs. Things are changing every single day.

Many of the talented journalists I know are having to figure out ways that they can diversify and try to do other things.

I think one of the frustrating things, at least from my perspective, has to do with what I last did in the industry: citizen journalism. For those of you not familiar, citizen journalism is where average people basically are the reporters.

More and more news organizations, from CNN to our local paper are relying on this type of “journalism”, if you can even call it that. My last job was to edit citizen journalism stories for two entire publications dedicated to it.

After dealing with citizen journalists from the perspective of editor, I definitely have some thoughts on the subject.

As a professional writer, I can say it is really frustrating to see news organizations basically get this stuff for free. Citizen journalists are not paid. And often they are all too happy to give up their writing for free for the 15 minutes of fame, a byline, etc. The two papers that I edited really didn’t have much of a staff. I edited the stories as did a part time copy editor and we had a graphical artist that layed out pages. The bulk of the staff was sales people. So rather than pay a staff of writers and reporters to report on things going on in various neighborhoods, you get that information for free. I don’t like it from that perspective.

Also, I noticed that at times the papers were becoming free PR for various events, businesses, etc. There were many times we published straight press releases as stories, giving the PR person the byline. I think the potential for abuse here is so huge.

Then, from the perspective of someone that had to deal with these “volunteers,” it definitely wasn’t my favorite experience. It’s like once you give these people a “voice” and platform, for the most part they do let it go to their heads. I can’t even begin to tell you how rude people were to me over dumb things like comma placement. Like suddenly because you’ve had stories in the last three issues it makes you an expert on AP style, reporting, etc.

But I think in general, what people are consuming and deeming news just isn’t what it used to be. Too many people take what Keith Oberman, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reily and others say as “news” when it is really commentary. Things that used to be major offenses in the journalism world, things you could lose your job over, we now let slide.

Sensationalism is huge, as is “getting the story” before anyone else. Even if that means not verifying sources first and just taking “analysis” from Joe Blow on the street.

Watching from the sidelines the past year has been interesting to say the least. I’m just so frustrated to see where the industry is going, what is being given priority, what is getting covered, what is slipping, and what is getting funding.

I know I’m going to want to write again. I have a few stories that I’ve been simmering, actually. But I also know that I won’t do these stories for free. I didn’t get my degree in journalism so I could do that.

My fear though is that even trying to pitch these story ideas I’ll just be directed to the citizen journalism section. Like the saying goes, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

I guess that just like my former colleagues, I have serious concerns about the future of the industry and I don’t think that current news consumers are doing much to help the situation. They should be demanding better information and more from journalists. Why else give the press first ammendment protection?

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