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31 Aug 18:53

Blackberry Shortcake

by Elise
Blackberry Shortcake

Who says strawberries have a monopoly on shortcake desserts? In serious denial regarding the end of August and the daylight hours that get shorter and shorter, I bought a huge basket of blackberries at the market today. I tossed them with a little lemon juice and sugar and let them macerate while I made a batch of butter and cream biscuits.

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15 Aug 14:10

Littwin: A sudden calm in Ferguson

by Mike Littwin

THE story isn’t over. A young man is still dead. We still don’t know what happened. A community is still outraged. The protests will no doubt continue until there are some answers in the questionable police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

But even so, the story line has changed dramatically.

This doesn’t happen very often in real life. Real life, even when moving quickly, doesn’t move at this kind of pace.

One night in Ferguson, Mo., the world – or at least the world as we understood it — seemed to be coming apart. A police force in little Ferguson had morphed before our eyes into an army of occupation — and the enemy, this time, really was us. The police chief overseeing it all had conceded it didn’t look good, as if it were simply a matter of optics. He was right about it not looking good, though. It looked like Iraq. What it didn’t look like was America.

The very next night, a new guy was on the job. The overwhelmingly white St. Louis County police force was out, and the Missouri state troopers were in. Not only did the optics change, everything seemed to change. Instead of tear gas, there were hugs. Instead of cops marching on the protesters, Capt. Ron Johnson — an African-American who grew up in the area and who now heads the police operation — was marching alongside them.

The flash grenades were gone. The tear gas was gone. The smoke hanging over the town was gone. The mine-resistant ambush-protected armored vehicle — yes, really — was gone. Everything was tamped way down. Cops took off their gas masks, revealing their faces. Camo outfits were replaced by cop-on-the-corner blue. Reporters weren’t being arrested. Film crews far from the protests weren’t being gassed. The barricaded streets were open to traffic.

No one, finally, was pointing a gun at anyone.

And Wesley Lowery, the reporter from the Washington Post who had been arrested, would Tweet: “I do not recognized the Ferguson I am in currently.”

What happened was glaringly obvious. It was obvious as the nonstop coverage on your favorite cable network news channel.

It took a few days for people to understand what was actually happening. But in a sudden jolt of recognition — in a Bull Connor, firehoses on the kids moment — millions watched and saw the whole thing differently. The Kevlar-jacketed, gun-pointing, armored-vehicle-riding cops weren’t facing full-blown riots. As one Iraqi vet put it, this wasn’t crowd control; it was intimidation. The protesters were being faced down by an absurdly — in another time, it would be almost comically — overdone show of force.

And the question quickly became: How could this be the proper response in a community torn up by the fact that a white cop – as yet unnamed — had shot and killed an unarmed African-American teen?

The story of race is hardly a new one. But the story in which Rand Paul is way ahead of Barack Obama on race is a different one.

We got the jolt, and Obama called for peace and upbraided the cops. Obama is clearly unhappy with the lack of transparency and with the show of force. But it was Paul who got to the point, writing an op-ed in Time magazine decrying the militarization of police forces in general and noting that race was the obvious factor here. He blamed big government for the military-style response, which may be a stretch. But on race, he got it exactly right: “If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.”

You don’t have to know much about modern policing, or much about crowd control, to know the cops in Ferguson were doing everything wrong in facing the protests. There was some looting and one store was burned, but the protests eventually became, as much as anything else, about not being able to protest. It was obviously a time for outreach, not for overreach.

And it was the overreach that shocked. And the fact that someplace like Ferguson has this kind of firepower at its disposal. The stories have been written for years, dating back to the ’70s and the emergence of SWAT teams, about the militarization of the police. But the change since 9/11, when the Pentagon ratcheted up it program of giving away excess firepower to police forces, has gone basically unnoticed until now.

But now that people are noticing, they can’t help but see that the numbers are shocking. According to an ACLU report, 63 police departments have taken on 500 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles in 2011 and 2012. That’s just for starters. Since 1997, the Pentagon has transferred something like $4 billion worth of equipment to the cops.

That’s how the streets of Ferguson came to look like the streets of Gaza. As someone put it, these guys give out traffic tickets by day and dress up in Kevlar by night. And that’s how a lot of suddenly outraged Americans came to understand that if this happens in suburban Ferguson, it can happen anywhere.

[Photo of Capt. Ron Johnson in Ferguson by Michael Calhoun via Twitter.]

03 Aug 12:18

Homemade Flour Tortillas

by Angie Tee

You could easily buy flour tortillas at the supermarket, but making them at home is not that difficult either. If you have the time try making them because the recipe is very easy to follow. You don't have to have a perfect round tortilla but try to roll out the dough as thin as you can.

Homemade Flour Tortillas


3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ¼ tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Sea Salt
4 Tbsp Shortening
¾ to 1 Cup Warm Water


Combine flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a mixing bowl.

Add shortening and rub with your fingertips until it looks like fine crumbs and well incorporated.

Gradually mix in the warm water to form a soft dough. Then knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 14 to 16 pieces and flatten it slightly into small rounds or disc. Cover the dough for another 10 minutes. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, roll it as thin as you can to about 6 ½ to 7 inches circle with a rolling pin.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Place the rollout dough and cook for about 25 to 30 seconds on each side, flip over, and cook until the underside is lightly browned in spot and bubbles are formed.

Flip over one more time, cook for a few more seconds, then remove, wrap in a clean tea towel and set aside.

Makes 14 to 16 Flour Tortillas

01 Aug 18:06

Fantastic cookbook of extremely inexpensive meals

by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 1.49.39 PM

Good and Cheap is a free/donation-based ebook filled with recipes geared toward helping you eat on $4 a day — which is the average amount SNAP (food stamp) recipients have to spend.

31 Jul 16:20

blueberry crumb cake

by deb

blueberry crumb cake

Theoretically, we are supposed to move this Saturday, but evidence is mounting — in the form of a kitchen without countertops or appliances, a toilet in the middle of the living room, and a peeling, black bathtub that looks like the kind place you’d find a horror movie victim — that it might not happen. Did I mention the great plume of drywall dust from the doorway they’re sawing out of a wall today? Nothing that 48 hours can’t sort out, right?

new york's finest blueberries
what you'll need

It’s a good thing, in Opposite Land, that we are not the kind of people who plan every element of a big event like a move up to a month out, with each detail, from sending the kid to his grandparents for a couple nights so he doesn’t have to watch all shh, most of his toys get boxed up, or ordering furniture to be delivered that morning, furniture we have exactly no space for in our current overfilled apartment. I realize that I sound like we’re at Stress Level: Hip Flask this week, but it’s not so bad, mostly because I’ve chosen instead to focus my energies this month on blueberry crumb cake studies.

lemon zest

... Read the rest of blueberry crumb cake on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to blueberry crumb cake | 237 comments to date | see more: Blueberries, Everyday Cakes, Photo, Summer

01 Aug 04:01

Linguine and Clams with Almonds and Herbs


Recipe from Bon Appétit

24 Jul 14:30

You Know What Emoji Needed More of? NEWMAN!

You Know What Emoji Needed More of? NEWMAN!

Yep, the Seinfeld version of the Emoji app is here. Because sometimes, a smiling pile of poop can't convey what a fluffy shirt will.

Tagged: emoji , apps , seinfeld , failbook , g rated
18 Jul 13:00

Rude: A Dad's Perspective

Submitted by: (via Benji Jenna Cowart)

Tagged: parody , Music , parenting , rude , Video
18 Jul 03:14

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17 Jul 20:53



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15 Jul 11:42

Beware of Bear Attacks!

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14 Jul 20:00


by Tr Mann

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10 Jul 08:20

Man of Steel!

09 Jul 12:00

This Dog Nose Humor!

This Dog Nose Humor!

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Tagged: dogs , funny , puns , smelly
02 Jul 03:48

01 Jul 17:11

Informing Ourselves: The 2014 Social Media Marketing Report

by Debra Askanase

I love benchmarks – it guides our industry and those of us working in it. A good set of benchmarking data informs future social media marketing decisions and helps us to rethink others. Social Media Examiner recently released the 2014 Social Media Marketing Report detailing how 3,025 business marketing professionals conduct social media marketing activities. The report reveals what platforms marketers are using, how much time they are spending on them, the perceived return on investment, what marketing jobs they outsource, and which marketing activities complement social media.

How much time should we spend on social media?

I’ve written that the “minimum viable” social media presence for an organization is a .25 FTE.  NTEN’s 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmarking Report confirmed that the majority of nonprofits using social media commit 25% of one employee’s time to social media. So did this report. Of those surveyed for Social Media Examiner’s report:

  • 66% spend six or more hours a week using social media
  • 39% spend 11 or more hours a week using social media

Time commitment for social media marketing SM Examiner 2014

Which social media platforms are the most important to marketers?

Social Media Examiner asked marketers to select the single most important social media platform for their businesses. Only one choice was allowed.

Not surprisingly, marketers chose one of “the big four” platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging. The interesting aspect of this is the difference between what B2C marketers chose and B2B marketers chose.

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging play a much more dominant role than for B2C marketers. Two interesting observations:

  • The stronger role of Twitter for B2B marketers than B2C. It might be because B2B marketers are narrowly focusing on targets and referrals using Twitter, similarly to how they would use LinkedIn, and finding that effective.
  • Don’t let the relatively small priority of using YouTube fool you: in the next graph, you’ll see that 57% of marketers use YouTube — but it’s only a top marketing platform for 2-3% of marketers. With all the noise on YouTube, this isn’t surprising to me.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.19.01 PM

What does social media do for an organization?

Social Media Examiner asked marketers how strongly they realize specific benefits from social media marketing. Those who spend at least 6 hours a week using social media reported these benefits:

  • 92% report gaining increased business exposure
  • Over 50% reported gaining new partnerships
  • Over 66% credit social media with lead generation
  • 61% saw a rise in search engine rankings
  • 84% found increased web traffic

Benefits of SM Marketing SME 2014


Where are marketers planning to increase their efforts and time? Social Media Examiner asked marketers to indicate how they will change their social media use in the near future.

  • Keep on Keeping On. Marketers plan to increase their already heavy investment in the “big four”channels (plus blogging). They indicated they will increase use in blogging (68%), YouTube (67%), Twitter (67%), LinkedIn (64%), and Facebook (64%).
  • 68% of marketers responded that they would increase their blogging efforts, making it the top choice. This may or may not surprise you, but when you think about the SEO and web traffic benefits to blogging, it is an obvious choice for marketers. I am surprised, however, that short-form video or graphic-based channels were not at the very top.
  • Podcasting use will jump three-fold among marketers surveyed. Overall, a small percentage of marketers podcast, but this group indicated a drastic increase in use, jumping from 6% to 21%. B2B marketers are more likely to increase activities than B2C marketers. For creating signal through the noise, podcasting can be a great tool.
  • Short-form video (Vine, Instagram). 35% of marketers plan to increase their use. It’s a relatively new mode of visual communication, and I predict the jump will be even higher two years from now.


This is a benchmarking report, and for that purpose, there are a some great benchmarks for nonprofit marketers who are either working in-house or consulting to mission-driven organizations. Reading the entire report (I only highlighted a portion in this blog post ), I offer this analysis:

  • Invest time in social media. At least 6 hours, more like a minimum of 10 hours a week to see pretty good return on investment.
  • Benchmark against the benefits marketers are already realizing. Are you generating leads, forming partnerships, increasing web traffic and views, improving SEO, deepening loyalty? If you’re not, start today, because this report shows there are tangible benefits and you can benchmark how effective your social media marketing is against this group of business marketers.
  • Social media activities are going in-house. Not that many marketers outsource activities, but this report offers a list of what activities companies are paying for…and what they are not.
  • If you’re advertising on Facebook, you’re not alone. 90% of those who pay to play are doing so on Facebook.
  • B2B vs. B2C social media marketing approaches. There are some real differences in how B2B marketers and B2C marketers use social media– primarily the channels used and benefits realized from using social media.
  • Experience changes the approach. Experienced social media marketers (5+ years) are focused more on time-heavy original content creation (blogging, YouTube, podcasting) than less experienced marketers. What does that tell us? A few things: these folks may be more efficient at creating this content, they understand how to utilize video and podcasting platforms well, and they see a return on using these platforms. A note to consider.

For more trends and information, read the full report online here.

01 Jul 17:55

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