Monday, 29 November 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers, Barbies, kitchen strikes, football and prayers

The Thanksgiving gluttony is over. Hallelujah! Now, what to do with those leftovers? Thankfully, I didn’t over cook this year like I usually do. I kept the menu small and simple. As a result, I had just enough leftovers to make a couple of meals with.
For leftover turkey I made turkey salad. I diced up a couple of cups worth of turkey and added 1 stalk of chopped celery, one handful of dried cranberries, one diced apple, a few chopped pecans and about ½ cup of mayonnaise. I lightly salted and peppered it.  Then I made little sandwiches with the leftover bread from dinner. It was great and I didn’t feel like I was eating leftovers.
I also used leftover dressing with leftover turkey and gravy. I cut up about 2 cups of turkey and placed it in the bottom of a small casserole dish. Then I topped the turkey with leftover dressing and covered with foil. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I served this topped with the gravy. For sides I made a green vegetable and used the remaining bread dough I had to make fresh parker house rolls.
For leftover mashed potatoes I handed “J” a large bowl and a fork. I had him mix in ¼ cup of cheddar cheese, a sprinkle of garlic powder, ¼ cup of milk, crumbled bacon and ¼ cup of softened butter. I put this in a casserole dish, covered it and baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. I served this with fried pork chops.
There were no leftover Brussels sprouts. I told you they were good!
Friday night was a good night. We hung out with my lifelong friend Sara and her family. Sara let me make chicken scaloppini for her family. I was tickled to death when even the kids loved it and cleaned their plates. Then we played cards and talked about women who should learn to pluck their eyebrows and about silly things we did when we were kids.
For the record, I still insist that all Barbie dolls are built exactly the same and there was no reason whatsoever that Golden Dream Barbie’s pants should have ripped when I put them on Pink and Pretty Barbie. It’s been 29 years and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. *sticks tongue out at Sara*

 Golden Dream Barbie...1981
Pink and Pretty Barbie 1982

The remaining pie was finished off Saturday night. Don brought me more pecans because he wanted another pecan pie. The pecan pie was amazing. It was blissful. It was beautiful. It was the most perfect pecan pie I’d ever tasted. Then….then….I topped it with the whiskey maple cream sauce. I can’t even describe how good it was. There just aren’t words to describe “better than perfect”. It was so good it was sinful.
In the past four days I have spent so much time in the kitchen and washed so many dishes that I’m pretty sure I won’t be having any new recipes for at least a week. I don’t care to see the kitchen again. In fact, I’m letting the crock pot do my cooking today. They’ll get roast beef tonight. Tomorrow, and possibly the rest of the week, they’ll be lucky to get bologna sandwiches and red kool-aid. I’m on strike.
This was a fantastic football weekend! The Saints won. The Hogs beat LSU! AND! AND! AND! …. For the first time EVER little J insisted on watching football all weekend, and knew what the heck was going on, and kept up with the score, and loved it! 
*happy dance* I’ve created a football fan!!!!!   Yipee!!!
Speaking of football…There are a couple of football players that I’m just sick to death of.  These are supposed to be “men” (used lightly) that our little boys look up to. They are viewed as role models. Most of them are pretty good guys.
However, you also have guys like Michael Vick who is a completely disgusting life form. I don’t care how good he is on the field. He’s abhorrent enough off the field that I feel that off the field is exactly where he should stay. Why does the NFL keep singing this sub-human being’s praises? Send him back to prison where he belongs. Better yet, inflict upon him some of the abuses he inflicted on those dogs.
Or, let’s talk about the Tennessee Titan’s cornerback, Cortland Finnegan. He’s another disgusting life form. He is currently ranked the sixth dirtiest player in the NFL. He has openly stated it is his goal to be THE dirtiest player in the NFL. Read this: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Texans-coach-gives-Andre-Johnson-a-game-ball-de?urn=nfl-289983  and then watch the video and decide for yourself.
Now there’s something to be proud of, huh?
What kind of raising did these idiots have? Who taught them that this was acceptable behavior? Where are their mothers? I’d like to have a word with them.
In other news… Don is trying to bid on a big job. It would be just the boost we need to get the business moving along. I can’t provide any more detail than that. We’re just asking that you please pray on that for us.
That’s all I’ve got today. I hope I wasn’t disappointing. I have surrounded myself in a drama free zone. It’s paying off. However, it can be a little boring sometimes. Sorry.


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner....new recipe

I'm making dinner tomorrow. I have to. Jack loves Thanksgiving and he would be heartbroken without turkey and cranberry sauce.

The menu?

Roast Turkey, homemade dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, brussels sprouts, homemade Parker House rolls.

Dessert: Pecan Pie with Whiskey Maple Cream Sauce. Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman and
             Nantucket Cranberry Pie also Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Now, I can hear you saying, "Brussels sprouts? Really? ewww....Why? Well, I'm about to share. These are good even for the most picky eater. J asks for more when I make them.

You will need:

Fresh Brussels sprouts Let me stress again... FRESH! FRESH! FRESH! If you use frozen I will know.

See this?

I have one of these here wooden spoons. I will find you and smack your hand with it!

So...let me start again....

FRESH Brussels Sprouts
4-6 slices of bacon
1/2 an onion diced
2-3 teaspoons or so of Balsamic Vinegar (depending on how much you like. I never measure)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup of chicken broth
salt and pepper
oven proof skillet with a lid

I use one similar to this:

It's cast iron and belonged to my grandmother. It's one of the few belongings of hers that I have and I treasure it. It's coated on the outside with a beautiful turquoise gloss. It makes amazing pot roast and great fried chicken!

First, clean and trim your brussels sprouts. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise. Preheat your skillet using medium heat. Cut bacon into small pieces and place in skillet. When bacon begins to brown  add the onion and cook until translucent. Remove bacon and onion from the skillet leaving enough drippings in the skillet to coat the bottom.

Increase heat to medium high. Add brussels sprouts cut side down in a single layer. You may have to do it in batches depending on how many brussels sprouts you have. If you need more oil just use a little olive oil or the remaining bacon drippings you previously removed. I use the drippings. Emeril says, "Pork fat rules" and I believe him.

Set your oven to preheat at 400 degrees. Remove the sprouts and set them aside. Add the bacon and onion mixture back to the skillet (with heat still on).   Add the broth, sugar, and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes and reduce a little. Remove from heat.

Add brussels sprouts back to the skillet and salt and pepper to taste. Stir the brussels sprouts well to coat with the liquid.

Cover skillet and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes. You want the sprouts crisp tender. This simply means soft enough to chew but not mushy. Mushy vegetables are gross and have no nutritional value. Mushy green vegetables are exceptionally nasty. Plus it makes them that ugly "army green" color. If you make mush out of them I will not share any more recipes with you. Please don't disappoint me. Vegetables should at least slightly resemble what they started out like.

These are great and my family actually gets excited when I make them. Even the 18 year old and Dylan  hates most green vegetables. Of course, they have bacon on them and he thinks bacon makes anything taste good.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wild thing I think I love you....

I have neighbors.

My neighbors have milk goats.

When my neighbors go out of town I milk their goats and feed their chickens. In exchange I get to keep the milk and the eggs for my trouble.

It works out nicely.

Up until now I have only encountered their female goats.


This is Latte'. She's not been bred  yet. She's incredibly sweet and she always thinks she's starving.


This is Lucy. She can't be bothered right now. She's eating. She is standing on a stanchion. It's a milking stand. You lock  her head between the slats of wood while she eats so you can milk her.


This is Carmella. She can't be bothered either. I used to think she was evil but we have an understanding now and get along just fine.



Chocolate was always with a friend of theirs because they didn't want the goats who needed to be milked to kid.

Chocolate is back. This is Chocolate. A.K.A Billy D. Goat.

We weren't properly introduced. I met him while I was tethering Lucy. He walked up snuck up behind me. He then proceeded to nudge me in the behind.

He followed that with rubbing his head up and down my leg.

I didn't understand why.

I googled it.

Male goats have scent glands next to where thier horns are.

(his horns have been removed for the safety of other goats, human caregivers and himself)

He is in "rut".

This means he's ready to breed.

He was marking me.

I need therapy now.

You want WHAT for Christmas???

It’s almost that time of year. It’s almost time for Christmas. One more month and I will be sitting in the floor next to the Christmas tree after wrapping gifts and thinking to myself that I spent too much money. Then, I will promise myself that it won’t happen that way next year, even though I know it will. I will eat half the cookie left on the plate for Santa, drink the little bit of eggnog in the glass, crumple the napkin and then climb into bed exhausted.
But, for now, I am busy compiling my mental list of what to get for whom. I’m trying to keep myself motivated to knit and crochet those few projects that I want to give away. I’m looking at my husband like he’s completely lost his mind.
“What do you want for Christmas?” I ask. I was in bed. I was exhausted. I wanted to be asleep and he wanted to talk. Asking him what he wanted for Christmas was what I thought would shut him up. I figured he’d need time to think on it.
“Night vision goggles,” he says.
“WHAT?!?” I ask, opening one eye to stare at him. “Why in the world would you want night vision goggles? What are you going to do with them?”
“But, they’re cool. I NEED them!” he says.
“You NEED them? For what?” I ask while rolling my eyes. “You don’t hunt and when it’s dark you’re sleeping.”
“But, do you know all the cool stuff I could do if I had night vision goggles?” he says while jumping into a ninja like pose. “I can see you in the dark!”
“Whatever. Go away.” I say. I’m trying really hard not to laugh and at the same time just a little annoyed because I want to be sleeping. I close that one eye.
“No, seriously.” He says. “Do you know how happy I would be if I had night vision goggles? I wouldn’t need anything else if I had those.”
“You don’t NEEEEED night vision goggles. I’m getting you a GPS. Now, go away.”
“But…”
“Shut up.”
“But…”
“Go away.”
“OK, fine. I WAAAANT night vision goggles. I really, really, really want them.” He says. “If you got me those I would be so happy.”
I open that one eye to look at him again. Then, he does it. He really does it. He begins to do the Carlton dance while singing, “I’ve got night vision goggles. I’ve got night vision goggles. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!”
“Good grief! I’m not buying night vision goggles. Go away!” I say while stifling a giggle.
He sighed and walked around to his side of the bed and climbed in. “Night vision goggles are so cool.”
“Sshh.”
“They…”
“Sshh.”
“But..”
“Stop it.”
“But…”
“Shut up.”
“NightvisiongogglesarecoolandIwantthem.” He says quickly and in one breath.
“OK, fine.”
I have no intention of buying night vision goggles.

Monday, 22 November 2010

I'm tired

It’s Monday and yet I’m still feeling the wear that my weekend put on me. My body is screaming today. I would kick myself this morning but my legs are begging me not to move them and threatening to revolt if I do.
I’m staring at the Tylenol Arthritis and battling with myself about whether or not to take it. The migraine doctor says to get off over the counter pain meds. Apparently they contribute to headaches? I find this confusing. I want to kick the migraine doctor.  But, again, my legs beg me not to.
I took an entire bathroom apart and put it back together again. I scrubbed the walls and I scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees. I baked cookies. I washed, dried and folded 1,672 loads of laundry. I took my kitchen apart and scrubbed the cabinets and floors. I took everything off of every shelf in the living room and dusted it. I moved every piece of furniture in the living room and vacuumed. I spot cleaned the carpet and then cleaned the carpet machine. I cooked dinner (with photographs) so I would have a recipe to blog this weekend. I washed dishes again. I folded 4 more loads of laundry.
By the time I did all of this I was too exhausted to perform the final touches and put those last few things away. What’s the result? I cleaned and my house looks like a mess.
The shoes are still in the middle of the bedroom floor where I tossed them when I took them out of the living room. My bed isn’t made. I still have 20 loads of unwashed laundry in the laundry room floor because I decided to wash runners that were on shelves and bedding in addition to all the clothes I washed.
I almost washed curtains. But, I told myself to shut up and I listened.
I have dog food and dirt on my freshly scrubbed kitchen floor. Those girls always ruin my clean floors. But, they’re cute. Aren’t they?
I didn’t put the dishes away or wipe off the stove when I cleaned the kitchen after dinner.  There is flour, splattered olive oil, and spinach on my stove from the pasta recipe I made last night.
Now I want to kick myself again because it doesn’t look like I did anything at all. I could’ve been knitting or crocheting and saved myself the trouble. But again, my fibromyalgia plagued body begs me not to kick myself.
I fell into bed at 9:00 last night and immediately fell asleep. I woke up at 5:00 this morning and am so tired that I could easily go back to bed for a few more hours. Sitting here at my desk I could easily close my eyes for just a minute and drift off to sleep.
I hate days like today.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Muffin Top Cookies?

I don't quite know what to call them. But they're good. They were supposed to be cookies. The first batch came out more like muffin tops. The second batch I cooked a little longer and they're more "cookie-ish". You try and decide.

You will need:

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Additionally, you could add dried cranberries or raisins. I didn't, but only because I didn't have any on hand. Personally, I think the cranberries would be awesome. At any rate, here's my play by play of the adventure.



Gather ingredients and set  your oven to preheat at 350 degrees. Remember that you’re supposed to be taking pictures and go get camera.


        Realilze you’re gonna need coffee for this because you're too old to stay out until 3 am and you're tired but you promised to post the cookies.  Make coffee. Nevermind that it’s 1:00 in the afternoon.
       
 Note: Please do not look at my outdated wall paper. If you happen to accidently see it,    don't comment on it. In order to avoid periodic episodes of convulsing in the floor it is imperitive that I'm unaware it exists.

      
       Stop making coffee because J wants ramen noodles. It is lunchtime after all. Finish making coffee. Go back to gathering ingredients.

 Realize that you forgot to soften the butter first.Turn the oven off, get butter out of fridge.
Go play bejeweled blitz on facebook until butter is softened.
Ok, finally. On to the good stuff.
      cream together brown and white sugar, salt, vanilla, applesauce, and 2 eggs. In a seperate bowl, combine flour, oats, and cinnamon. Add dry mixture to wet mixture a little at a time. The point here is to add a little, mix, add a little, mix, etc. It makes life easier and ensures that it's well combined. Don't question me. Just do it. It's important because I say so.
      I used my mixer with the dough hooks for this because I'm lazy. I hate stirring cookie dough by hand. And bread dough. And cake batter. And...Oh, sorry. I seem to have gotten off topic.
      Next, grab yourself a spoon. I used my larger spoon. You know, the one D calls a cereal spoon. He's a big boy. With a big mouth. He also uses a Jethro sized bowl for cereal. And 1/2 a gallon of milk and....*sigh* Off topic again.
      Using good sized spoonfulls (Remember I have people with big mouths. They like big cookies. You can make them smaller if you like.) Place them on a cookie sheet a couple of inches apart. Like so...

Do not pay attention to the scratches on my cookie sheets. They look like that because I actually USE them!
The first batch I baked for about 10 minutes. They looked like this:


The texture of these were more like muffin tops. They're good. But not quite what I was going for.

The second batch I baked for 25 minutes. Not on purpose. It was because I was playing on the computer and forgot that I had cookies in the oven. At least I think it was 25 minutes. It could have been longer. Like I said, I was preoccupied. Yikes! They looked like this:



These were ok. They were a little more crisp. I'm not so much a fan of a crisp cookie. But if this is what you like, feel free.

The final batch I went for somewhere in between. I baked them for about 20 minutes and they were the batch I preferred. I pulled these out just as the tops started to brown. They looked more like this:


So, give them a try. Feel free to take liberties with the recipe. I know I sure did and probably will again. I really think the craisins would make all the difference though and if you like them I suggest you add them.

Now, I'm off to clean up the flour bomb that went off in my kitchen....


Friday, 19 November 2010

If I had a genie...



We’ve all done it. We’ve sat and wondered, “What would I wish for if I had a genie?” In all fairness, I suppose if I’m going to ask the question then, I should be willing to answer the question.

Note: I’ve thought about this often enough that I’ve even given thought to how to express my wishes in a way that a sneaky genie couldn’t trick me.  LOL  I’m extremely nervous now. Each and every one of you now knows that I have a serious mental deficiency because, after all, normal people just don’t do this. Do they?

I guess, first and foremost, I would wish for good health and well being for all of my family members. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that all the people in your family were in good health? It’s the one wish that always outweighs all the other wishes on my list. It’s always first. This is the one thing that, no matter how many times I wonder, I always have on my list.
            
               Ok…honestly, I almost always have a Kitchen Aid artisan mixer on my list too….just sayin’.
My other wishes vary depending on my needs at the time. Sometimes I wish for money, or a new car, or a perfect figure, or a new house. I’ve wished for a re-do of many events in my life. I’ve wished for a daughter. I’ve wished that I had a baby. When I was single I sometimes wished for a partner. I’ve wished for an easy button.

What kinds of things do you wish for? What’s always on your list?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Is it or ain't it? A look at Asperger Syndrome...

I don’t know who is aware that I have a special needs child. Just exactly what all the special needs are may be undetermined as of yet.
“J” is my angel child. Having him is like having a bright little light always shining in my world. He is my constant. He is my will and determination. He is my moment of peace at the end of the day. He is my encouragement when I don’t feel like I can do another thing. He is clueless that he is any of these things. If you ask him, he’ll tell you, “I’m just J”.
Several times I have had someone responsible for some aspect of J’s care come to me and ask, “Has he ever been tested for Asperger’s?” J is quirky. That’s what I’ve always called it. He doesn’t care if his underwear is on backwards, sandwiches must be cut in triangles (never squares) and he is VERY literal.
How literal? Here’s an example…
J is playing barefoot in mom’s yard in the summertime.  Somewhere in the process he steps on some manner of flying insect with a stinger. He immediately begins to wail and scream. While nursing the injury mom and I are having a discussion about what it was that stung him.
“I think it was a bee,” I say.
“I don’t know. I’ve seen yellow jackets,” says mom. “Maybe it was a yellow jacket.”
Says J between whimpers, “Yeah, a yellow jacket and don’t forget the yellow pants”.
At two years of age we started with Developmental Delay, Oral/Verbal Apraxia (this is a speech problem), Sensory Dysfunction and low muscle tone.
Officially, at the moment, the diagnoses are ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder and Sensory Integration Disorder. In Europe and Australia these disorders, when co-morbid (existing together), are known as Deficits in Attention Motor control and Perception (DAMP).
Upon further research, I’ve learned that DAMP and Autism have many overlapping symptoms. This leads me to believe that perhaps J doesn’t actually fall anywhere on the Autism Spectrum but, more accurately, just has other disorders that mimic the appearance of Aspergers or Pervasive Developmental Delay.
J is currently being screened to find out if he falls on the spectrum. It’s a process that takes some time. I’ve been told months.
Does it change anything for me if he is diagnosed with a spectrum disorder? Not really.  If he does fall somewhere on the spectrum he is VERY high functioning. There are a lot of people in the world who have gone on to do great things while falling on the spectrum.
Examples:
Vernon Smith –Economist who won the Nobel Prize
Gary Numan – an electro pop rocker
Craig Nicholls – Frontman for The Vines
Satoshi Tajiri – creator of Pokemon
Temple Grandin – Colorado State Univ Professor and author
Bram Cohen – inventor of BitTorrent (although it said he may have self diagnosed)
It is also speculated that people like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstien, Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon Bonaparte also may have had Aspergers.
I don’t believe J will ever be any other way than the way he is now.  He’s been very fortunate. It was realized early on that there was something different about him. As a result, he’s had early intervention.  From the ages of 2-8 he received Speech, Occupational, and Physical therapies. He tested out of PT at age 4, Speech at age 5 and Occupational at age 8.
It occurs to me that you might be wondering what I mean when I say, “Autism Spectrum”. Well, there are three “types” of Autism.
They are:
*       Autistic disorder (also called “classic” autism)
*       Asperger Syndrome
*       Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (or atypical autism)
Overall, I guess all of this just to say that it really doesn’t make a difference if the label is attached or not. J is a cool kid. I like him. I’m proud of him. I wouldn’t change a thing about him.
So, lick the back of that label and stick it on if you think it applies. We’re ready. We’ll just keep on keepin’ on the way we have been and we’ll be fine. J


Rules of Engagement --

Side note: there will be two posts today. At least I hope I'll have time for another. I just felt like this one needed to be done seperately.
So, you may (or may not) have noticed that a post disappeared from this blog and you may (or may not) be wondering why. Either way, I’m gonna ‘splain it to ya.
I had a talk with someone last night about what was, or was not, acceptable information to share in a blog and when the right time would be to share more sensitive posts. After giving it a great deal of thought, I decided that I probably needed to lay some ground rules and stick to them.
Rules for me to follow:
1.       I think I realize now that not every truth needs to be told and not all knowledge needs to be imparted.
2.       Always consider how shared information may reflect upon the people who are mentioned.
3.       Keep in mind that there are some things that most people just don’t want to know about
       me –regardless of how entertaining I might think it is.
4.       Before posting an entry I must think of how I would perceive the information being shared if I were just a reader and not the poster.
On a final note – I would ask that any of you who read this PLEASE feel free to tell me if you think I’ve overstepped. This is a learning process for me and I hope that you will help me along in the process.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia – it sucks. Just in case you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it to you the best I can.
Fibromyalgia is described as a disorder of “chronic widespread pain” that, while sometimes secondary to some other disorder, it most often cannot be attributed to any other disorder or illness.
What does fibromyalgia feel like? Well, your bones and muscles ache all the time. Have you ever had body aches associated with a fever? That’s what it feels like. You can’t alleviate it. You’re just stuck with it and you learn to cope.
I’ve had days when the pain was so bad I didn’t feel like I could get out of bed in the morning. Prior to finding treatment to help me manage the symptoms I would sometimes sleep for days at a time and never feel rested.
Fibromyalgia is known to disrupt sleep patterns. Most people who suffer from fibromyalgia never get that important REM sleep. We wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as we did when we went to bed. The focus of the entire day is just looking forward to the end of the day where much coveted sleep awaits. The morning always comes too soon.
Sleep is very important to successful management of fibromyalgia. The lack of sleep flares the symptoms. The flared symptoms make it difficult to sleep. What you end up with is a vicious cycle of poor sleep and pain. The sleep and pain feed off one another and each causes the opposing symptom to worsen. So, you’re in pain and you’re unbelievably tired and there’s no end in sight.
Today is what I call a “Fibromyalgia Day”. I’m tired. I’m irritable. I hurt. It’s one of those days when I don’t want to be touched. Even a hug hurts. What I want more than anything is to be home where I can take a muscle relaxer, climb into bed and cuddle with my dog.  Oh well.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dad...

First things first; I love my dad. My dad loves me. It’s as simple as that.
Where am I headed here?  I feel like since a couple of posts ago I basically blasted my father, I should take an opportunity to let you know where things stand now. I should also let you know that it was in no way my intent to “blast” anyone.
That excerpt actually came from a book I had started writing. Memoirs I suppose. The title was “The Men in My Life”. The purpose was a journey of self exploration. I needed to understand what made me who I was, what directed the choices I made and what things led my behavior patterns.
My dad and I had a rough start. At some point though, we were able to talk it out. Sometimes I even feel bad because I feel like he’s still bending over backwards to try and make up for the rough start. I’ve tried to convince him that everything is ok now but, I think he’s still dealing with regrets.
As it turns out, we ended up becoming very close. I can tell my dad anything and I never have to worry that he will somehow think less of me, or judge me, or even chastise me. Once in a while I get the proverbial, “Do you think that’s a good idea?”  Or, “Have you thought about trying ___?”But, that’s about it. Mostly he just listens.
I probably don’t talk to him enough. Scratch that. I don’t talk to him enough. Once or twice a month just doesn’t seem to cut it. *sigh* Ok, I’m gonna work on that.
I really need to see him. I feel bad that he hasn’t met my husband. I worry about him a lot. I don’t think his health is that great and I know he’s sitting up there alone in Missouri and doesn’t get out much. *sigh* I’m gonna work on that too.
He’s being the best dad he can be and I now feel like I’m not being the best daughter I can be. *sigh* I’m gonna work on that.
But the bottom line is – I love my dad. My dad loves me. It’s as simple as that.

Daily Fiber, Ballet, Empty Nests and Lemon Zesters

It’s funny to me. I try sometimes to think of something to write about and find myself thinking, “Geez, I’m not that interesting. How am I going to keep this up?”  Then I remember all the things I’m doing and realize I am fairly interesting. At least I think so. Even if you don’t. But, you’re reading this. So, you must think I am. Maybe just a little…
What’s new this week? Let’s start with fiber. No, not that kind you eat. I mean yarn – all kinds of yarn. I am currently working on (hang on, let me count) ….. Six projects.  I am knitting a hat, a scarf and a dishcloth. I am crocheting two wraps and a market bag. Fiber Arts…that’s the term for what I do.
You’re probably thinking, “Why not just start a project and work until you’re finished?”  Well, sometimes I get tired of reading k1 p1 k1 p1 yo k2 etc and would rather read k4 p5 s1 k5 s1 p5 k4.  When I get tired of knit and purl I switch to dc5 ch5 dc 5 and so on…
I used to be a knitter – that’s it. I thought I couldn’t crochet. The stitches always looked too complicated for me to crochet. Then, my dear friend Stephanie brought me a book that taught crochet with simple, easy to use steps and diagrams. In no less than 10 minutes I was crocheting a market bag. Now I seem to have lost the will to finish those few knit projects hanging in the air. Crochet is so much faster. It’s instant gratification. It’s the difference between having one row done (knit) compared to the equivalent 3, or so, rows (crochet) done in a span of a few minutes. I believe that knitting will now be simply restricted to dish cloths.
Have you ever used a knitted dish cloth? They’re amazing. That was my first knitting project. I couldn’t imagine at the time why in the world someone would want to use a dishcloth made from yarn. Then, I tried one. Oh my goodness gracious! The difference is amazing and I hereby promise to NEVER EVER EVER buy another store bought dish cloth! *note to self--post picture of dishcloth at some point in the near future*
The two wraps I’m working on are absolutely gorgeous! They are gifts. That is, if I don’t talk myself out of giving them away. One, in particular, crocheted with Naturally Caron Spa yarn in Misty Taupe, is so amazing when you hold it in your hand. It will be the hardest to give up. When they are finished, and have been given to their intended recipients, I will post pictures of them along with links to the patterns I used. Expect that sometime after Christmas. Sorry, I can’t spoil the surprise. J
What else is interesting? Hmm…Oh! Who has ever been to the ballet? It’s my new love! Stephanie (that amazing friend again) makes costumes for Ballet Arkansas. As a result, she gets free tickets as one of the perks for helping. She has been gracious enough to share tickets with me. Then, when she realized how much I loved it, she invited me to come with her to do fittings at the studio. Now, I have earned my own free tickets for the upcoming Nutcracker show on December 11th and 12th. PLUS! I get to be known as “The Lovely Assistant”.  *curtsies*
I’ve never seen The Nutcracker in its entirety. I know the basics of the story and that’s about it. *makes a note on her list of things to do to Google The Nutcracker*
The dancers are so sweet and so easy to work with. I think they’re just excited that someone loves what they do and appreciates it. While they’re sitting there thinking I’m doing a favor for them, I feel like they’re doing a favor for me! Plus, I got to help fit the cutest little “party girls”, “party boys” and “snow” dancers. It’s win-win in my book!  (tee hee)
At home…It’s back to just me, Don, and Jack…and the dogs…oh my goodness how can I forget the dogs? I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. On some levels I’m really happy and relieved. On others I now feel like something is missing. Empty nest syndrome maybe? Except that my nest isn’t really empty. It still has a man, and a little boy who smells funny…and dogs. Don’t ever forget the dogs!
Ashes went back to live with her mom. This makes me really sad but, I understand. I just miss her. She’s the closest I ever came to experiencing having a daughter.
Dylan has been staying with friends and will be leaving in a couple of days to go to North Carolina. He doesn’t know how long he’s staying. *sigh* He needs to do this but it doesn’t mean I won’t miss him. We grew up together. Well, I grew up. I think he’s still working on it. He’ll get there eventually. I’m hopeful. Really. I am. *sigh*
Oh, lemon zesters! This is what they look like. Except this one is with an orange. Maybe I should call it a citrus zester? But who cares? You get the picture, right?

I will stress again. If you don’t have one, get one! And a garlic press. And a food processor. And a mandolin. These are my favorite kitchen items. One day I’m hoping my dear sweet husband (hint) will get me a kitchen aid stand mixer.
What’s your favorite kitchen item?

Monday, 15 November 2010

Writing prompts, recipes, and such...

I keep thinking about what I want to write about today but just can’t seem to settle on anything. So, over the next week or so I would like for you guys to post comments about what you would like to hear about. Writing prompts, if you will.
I was craving something sweet and decided last night to make cookies. I didn’t have a recipe. I just winged it and added ingredients until the consistency looked right. I’ll post that for you sometime this week. They were a hit. I may still have to tweak them a little. I didn’t have brown sugar and had to use all white. I was, at least, smart enough to write down how much of each ingredient I added. When sharing the recipe that seems to be better understood than, “Add some ___ until it looks and/or tastes right”. 
In the meantime…here’s my Lemon Pasta recipe. I adapted this from two other recipes. I combined my favorite parts of each and ended up with my own creation.  Darn, I should have taken pictures. Give me time guys.  I’ll pull it together. J

So, again I tried a recipe, liked it, and then altered it to make it my own. I served this with eggplant parmesan. Guess I should give you the recipe for that too?

Lemon Pasta
1 lb Angel Hair pasta                                       1 tsp capers
1 pint heavy cream                                          salt & pepper to taste
2 lemons (zested)                                            parsley
3 cloves of minced garlic                               parmesan
2 tbsp olive oil                                                   2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil 1 pound of angel hair pasta; drain and set aside. I usually put the water on and when it starts to boil, add the pasta and start the sauce. You want the pasta al dente. VERY al dente…It’s going to soak up a little more liquid when you bake it and you don’t want mushy pasta.
In a non-stick skillet heat the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic and sauté about a minute. Add the lemon zest, the juice from the two lemons, and the capers. If you don’t have a lemon zester I have two things to say to you –
1: for the immediate purpose of this recipe you can use the fine grate part of your cheese grater.
2: The next time you’re in a department store buy a lemon zester or a microplane!
Let the sauce cook another minute.  Add the heavy cream and cook about 3-5 minutes to reduce it a little. Add about ¼ cup of parmesan.
Don’t use that icky powdered parmesan. You want real grated parmesan…you know, the kind actually grated from a block of cheese.
Cook another minute and salt and pepper to taste. This doesn’t mean put in salt and pepper and hope for the best. Salt and pepper it…then taste it. Add more if needed. Repeat until it’s right.
Toss pasta and sauce together and place in a lightly greased casserole dish. (I just use a little bit of cooking spray. It makes clean up easier.)
Sprinkle with a little more parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. The parsley makes it pretty. That’s about it. If you don’t want it you can leave it off.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until the top just starts to brown.  Good stuff.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A letter that could be given to any female friend...

I just wanted you to know I’ve been thinking about you. My heart just aches for you. I wish that I could just swoop in and fix it. I wish I could make you see what an amazing and beautiful woman you are and that you don’t need a man to affirm that for you. I wish I could make you stand up tall and proud and show the world that you know your value.
You’re an amazing person and it frustrates me that you can’t see it. I’m hurt for you and want you to know what you’re worth.  As women, if we spend our lives waiting on some man to make us feel like we want to feel, we will always find ourselves coming up short and being disappointed.
If you want to feel good about who you are then you’re the one with the power to make that happen. And, as long as you’re not feeling good about what you’re doing then you’re not going to feel good about who you are.
Whatever you do, don’t apologize for sharing with me. As your friend it’s my job to be there for you and help you carry whatever burdens you. However, as your friend, it’s also my job to tell you what I think. I hope you will always feel like you can come to me…especially when you feel like you can’t go anywhere else.
 I want so much for you to realize what you’re worth and to be able to be proud of it. I want you to be able to look at yourself and say, “I am smart. I am beautiful. I am worthy of love.” No man on earth, no matter how much you want to believe otherwise, will ever be able to convince you of that until you believe it yourself.
For all my physical flaws, I get up in the morning and fix my face and my hair and then look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I am pretty.” Then, I realize that it’s not something coming from my outer reflection. It’s coming from the inside – the part of me that I know is smart, talented, honest, a good mother, a good wife, etc. Those are the things that make me desirable.  It’s something that no amount of makeup or nice clothes or the perfect haircut or some man can ever give me. It’s something I give to myself. It’s my gift to me.
I love you. Keep me informed. Let me know when you’re not feeling OK or you need a hug and a lap. And, stop kicking yourself. When you do you’ll find that other people won’t feel the need to kick you either.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Livin' it up at the Hotel California....

I’ve reached this place in my life where I really have to make some big decisions about what to do next.  I just don’t know where to go from here.
I’m not happy with my job. What do you do with that in a time when good jobs are hard to find? I don’t enjoy the work I’m employed to do. I’ve asked my boss for help with this on numerous occasions but there just doesn’t seem to be anything that anyone can do. The job is what it is. You can’t change that. It’s one of the downsides to working in this place; along with the headache of all the bureaucratic nonsense, the resistance to change and the impenetrable red tape one must get through to accomplish anything.
It’s frustrating to be stuck in a job you’re not satisfied with. I often feel like I must surely be employed by “The Hotel California”.  You can check out any time you like but you can never leave….
My next big decision? How do I gently and lovingly push my eldest child out of the nest and into the world without leaving him feeling like he’s been abandoned? It’s as if he finished high school and came to a screeching halt. He won’t budge. It reminds me of watching him play football and seeing other linemen fail to get around him. Once he plants his feet in the ground you can’t budge him and Lord help you if he decides to push back. I love him a bunch and just want him to succeed in life. How is  he gonna do that if he continues to hang on to my apron strings? I keep checking him out but he never leaves....I guess my home is another Hotel  California.
There are really only two things that I’m really happy about these days. The first is my 9 year old. I love that kid. One has to be really hard pressed to find anything to complain about when it comes to him. He is truly the one of the most genuinely sweet people that I’ve ever met. He’s thoughtful, not at all selfish and manages to find ways to please other people without sacrificing himself or allowing himself to be bullied in the process. I’ve said since the first time I looked at that boy that he would be something special one day, that God has big plans for him. I’m so anxious to see that come to fruition.
The second is my marriage. I’m often in awe of how healthy the relationship is. I’ve never in my life had a truly healthy relationship. We are so normal and so compatible. I keep wondering where this stigma that marriage is work came from? There’s no work to our relationship. It just is. Sure, we disagree on occasion but it’s so easily resolved and we always seem to be able to just move on afterward without it ever being mentioned again. And, here’s the kicker…we actually LIKE to spend time together. *chuckles* Wow, I’m awed again at how lucky I am.
I have other big decisions. However, I think they may be TMI for a blog though. I’m working on other stories for you. Please be patient as I work to get the hang of this.

Monday, 8 November 2010

How I met my husband -- Red Dress Writing Prompt

This week's memoir assignment is from this week's guest post author, Kate Hopper.

If you didn't read her post about how to create creative nonfiction, go read that first.

Here is her assignment for you:


 

Writing Prompt: Memory and Reflection
Our memories are powerful—whether they actually happened the way we remember them isn’t as important as what we remember and why. So something I would like you to try this week is to hone in on a memory and then interrogate it. One way to incorporate more reflection in your writing is to constantly be asking yourself questions.

This is a writing exercise in two parts:

Part I
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.)

Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)

Part II
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)? (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.)

I look forward to hearing how this exercise goes for you!

Link up will be Tuesday!  Happy remembering and writing!
Part I
How I Met My Husband
What it was like to be Grandma's Girl
The end of a friendship
Summer in Louisiana

Part II
How I met my husband means the world to me. It was the beginning of an eleven year journey that would eventually bring us full circle, back to each other. In the story of how I met him there is a defining moment. I swear the angles sang...

NOTE: There is a "she" mentioned here. Because many of my blog readers are people I actually know, and may know "her", I didn't feel it was appropriate to name her -- Especially since she will most likely never read this and wouldn't have an opportunity to defend herself. I hope that helps clear up the confusion.

The Memory...

I wonder how many people remember the details of the moment they met the person they’d spend the rest of their lives with? So many things about that day are fuzzy to me. But there’s the one moment that’s very clear to me…
Even though we had been best friends since we were fifteen, the day was awkward.  We had been estranged for about a year and had only recently gotten back in touch. The rawness of the hurtful wound was renewed and seemed to bite a little more with the fear that, once again, I would be disappointed.
I wasn’t sure how much more disappointment I could handle. I had just pulled a hasty “exit stage left” from a nasty and abusive relationship. I was living on xanax and Mountain Dew and stopping to draw a deep breath before rounding corners; afraid of what nasty beast, or ex-boyfriend, might lie in wait for me there. Michael is another story though and not one I’m sure I’ll ever tell again.
But, here we were out on another adventure. She was so reckless and I was always the voice of reason in our relationship, carrying my nagging sense of dread like a weight around my neck. She insisted I had to meet him. But, I really didn’t want to. These things always ended badly. I just knew that, once again, I would be bailing her out of some terrible happening.
“Oh, you have to meet Don. You’ll love him”, she said. It was spoken with such verve but, what I heard and felt was impending doom.
I remember thinking, “Oh great – another jerk to add to the list of all the other jerks you’ve ever introduced to me”.
Most of our friendship happened just this way. We seemed to jump from one crisis to the next.  Usually crisis of her own making and always leaving a mess that she would beg me to clean up for her. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would finally call her on it, say “enough” and mean it.
When we arrived, I remember looking around at the house; however, what I observed must not have been that remarkable because I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember if we knocked before going in. If we knocked I don’t recall who invited us in. I only remember what I saw when that door opened and we stepped into the kitchen.
He was beautiful. Honey brown skin and no shirt. Jeans that hung just right along his hips and the most beautiful brown eyes I’d ever seen. He was dancing with a broom. His socked feet moved over the floor, flowing to some techno sound, and he seemed unaware that anyone else was in the room.
“Wow, you’re in your element”, she said.
Then he looked up and he smiled-- Oh, that smile. The whole world came to a gorgeous crashing halt in that moment. I suddenly became completely incapable of cognitive thought processes. I’m sure I stammered when I said, “Hello”.  Actually, I can be quite certain that I didn’t even say “hello”. I was so stunned that I couldn’t have been capable of putting together that many syllables.
Have you ever experienced a moment when the entire world seems to stop and you can’t focus on anything but the person you’re seeing? I’m sure I must have melted into the floor.
I probably recall this much more vividly than it actually was. In my mind there is almost this cartoonish memory of some shirtless hunk cleaning. You know, like the ones you see on TV? Then, the shirtless hunk smiles and there’s the sparkle special effect on his perfect white teeth and he winks. Sounds like an Orbit commercial, doesn’t it?
Now you’re laughing at me. Don’t deny it. I can hear you. 
That’s the one memory that is always fresh with me. It was nearly 12 years ago. I never would have guessed that day that I was meeting my future husband.
We’ve had so many other great memories in the years we’ve been friends but, that one –that one is the one that always seems like it was just yesterday. It’s the one that still makes my heart flutter when I think of it. It’s the one that still makes me blush deep red. It’s the one that I hold on to when I’m annoyed with him. It’s the one I think of at least once a day. It’s the one that would define everything that ever happened between us.

She packed up her Barbie Dolls and went home...

As a wife and mother I’m here to tell you that it’s very difficult to be friends with someone who is not married and has no children. Compound that with someone who befriends you with all the expectations of a spouse or partner and fireworks are bound to ensue.
So, a friendship was ended last week. I could go into all the details of why but it wouldn’t serve any purpose except to look like I was bad mouthing her and pouting. I will say though that the end of the friendship doesn’t hurt, isn’t disappointing and I really don’t feel like I’ve lost anything. That says a lot, doesn’t it?
It’s not the first time she’s done this so I shouldn’t be surprised. In a way I feel sorry for her though. I was her only friend. But, at the same time, I’m not the one who ended the relationship. So, I guess that makes it her issue to deal with, not mine. Right? I guess I’ll never know since this will certainly be the last time she does this with me.
In the meantime I have a multitude of other friends and an amazing family to occupy my time. And now, I have this little blog.
I think this week I will work on uploading the story of how I met my husband. Maybe I’ll throw a couple of recipes out there for you and try and make this page presentable. I know absolutely nothing about designing a web page though. Be patient with me.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Here we go....

Well, here it is. My first post. I haven't decided yet how often I will post but, will try to keep it often enough to keep you interested.

I'm a mom. For all of my adult life I've been a mom. Until a few months ago I was always a single mom. Let me tell ya ....I've had some adventures. I'm raising two boys and various wayward children that show up on my doorstep.

I am a wife. I am a wife who is married to the best guy on the planet. He lets me be me and almost never complains.

I knit, I crochet, and I cook. I'll share some of those adventures with you too.

 So sit back, relax, and share the ride with me.