Monday, 31 January 2011

The gluten free shopping adventure

So, I had my gluten free shopping adventure this weekend. Some things were really hard to do. Other things, that I expected to be really difficult, weren’t as bad as I thought they would be. I was even able to go to lunch with mom on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised that Market Place Grill had a gluten free menu. This made my life so much easier.
I didn’t plan my meals for the week like I usually do. I knew there would be a lot of label reading and I wasn’t sure what I would be able to find gluten free.
This week’s menu:
Spaghetti -- (regular pasta for the other folks and rice pasta for me. If the rice pasta doesn’t work out I’ll get spaghetti squash or make polenta next time)
Mexican polenta  – I’ll share this one with you some time.
Potato Soup
Polish Sausage with Sauerkraut and Mashed potatoes
Pork Chops, Rice, and green beans

I was really shocked at some items that contain traces of gluten. Many of them were the Great Value brand made by Wal-Mart. As a result, there were many things that I had to buy name brand. I found gluten in peanut butter, grape jelly, lunchmeat and canned tomatoes. Seriously? What purpose could the gluten possibly serve?
In addition to shocking items containing gluten, I also had some pleasant surprises. If I can dodge the expense of a health food store I’ll be happy. Here were some of my surprising finds:
Gluten Free Bisquick 1 lb box for $4.19 – I’ll let you know if this is any good.
Mom’s Best Naturals Oatmeal 16 oz. $1.00 – Ingredients? Rolled Oats. Period. That’s it.
Progresso Soups – $1.25 When they’re gluten free they’re clearly labeled. I bought Chicken Cheese Enchilada and French Onion
DeBoles Rice Spaghetti -- $3 give or take. I’ll let you know if this one’s any good too.
Hunts canned tomatoes – all varieties
Chex cereals – clearly marked gluten free
Hormel Naturals Deli Ham -- $2.50, 8 oz. pkg

At another store I found:

Swanson Chicken Broth, 16 oz carton, $1.00
Luigi Giovanni Gluten Free Pasta Sauce – clearly marked, $1.00
Quakes Chocolate Rice Crisps -- $3 give or take, great chocolate taste and satisfying, made by Quaker

Overall, it’s not that bad. I’m not feeling like I’m doing without either. Then again, this is only day three. *laughs*

I knew this would be a challenge, but I also knew there are many products, marketed as gluten free, which are normally gluten free anyway and without the hefty “gluten free price tag”. For a week’s worth of gluten free meals, including snacks, I was able to stay within my grocery budget. It simply took a little extra time to read labels and think through my current recipe stash to determine which meals were already within the diet.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to tackle bread yet. I’ve heard about two brands which are supposed to be really good. There is Udi’s, which is pre-made at about $6 a loaf. There are also Pamela’s bread mixes that come out more like $3-4 a loaf. For the moment I’ll be swearing off bread completely and once I’m more comfortable with the diet I’ll move on to bread.

Things I’m going to miss the most?

Sonic cheeseburgers
Oreo cookies
My pecan pie
Orowheat Oatnut Bread
Pita Chips
Flour tortillas
Homemade cinnamon rolls


Seriously though, it's not that bad and shopping wasn't that hard. I think I can do this. If it works, then great, I'll stick with it and I'll feel better. If it doesn't work -- I'm going to sonic for a cheeseburger and an oreo cookie blast....

Thursday, 27 January 2011

My Inner Circle

Believe it or not, in spite of overflowing with angst, sarcasm and overall weirdness, I have friends. They are those chosen few who  have remained loyal, stood by me even when I was wrong, helped me pick up the pieces when everything fell apart and let me know when I was being a total jerk face.

The funny thing, and often commented upon, is that my inner circle of friends, with one exception, do not know each other. Each friend has a unique purpose, a unique meaning for me and each with equal importance in my life.

You see, I’ve often been called a chameleon. It’s a trait I believe I acquired from my mother. Put me anywhere and I’ll find a way to blend.

So, this blog is going to be to tell you a little about each of my inner circle friends. An introduction, if you will. I’ll work chronologically. I can’t see another way to do it. As I stated previously, they are each equally important to me for different reasons.

Let’s start with Sara:

We’ve been friends for just over 30 years. We’ve seen each other grow up, we’ve curled up in a bed and cried together – even as adults, we’ve lamented over breakups and crushed on the same little boys, I held her when her mother died and we’ve shared secrets that we’d never tell another soul.

Sara is my freedom to feel like a child when I need to. She’s cheese dip and sweet tea when we feel the need to soothe our hurts with a snack. She’s a childhood story to laugh about when the world looks glum. She has been my conscience and I have been hers.

This is Sheryl:

She makes me smile. She’s my freedom to say and do whatever I please and not worry about being judged. She gives me peace when I’m angry and consoles me when I’m broken. She feels sorry for me and comes and cuts my grass when I’m pregnant and unable to.  She’s my defender, and my will not to allow people to walk all over me. She encourages me to be strong when I feel weak. She’s my hiding place when I need to get away from the world. She’s my super hero and I don’t know how I’d get by without her.

This is Stephanie:

She’s my newest friend. I’ve known her just a little over a year. She encourages me to try new things and presents the opportunities for me to try those things. She nurtures my creativity. She offers heartfelt compassion and realistic advice when it’s needed. She makes me laugh. She lets me feel free to let my hair down and have fun like a teenager and alternately, dress up and act like a lady. She accepts me wholeheartedly for everything I am – and everything I’m not.

This is my mom:

Now, I imagine you’re wondering why I put her last if I’m doing this chronologically. I guess it’s because my mom and I were a little slow figuring this one out. For a long time I was just way too dependent on her for the relationship to ever develop into what it was intended to be. We struggled a little to find proper footing now that I’m not so dependent. But, I think we’re there.

She is coffee and girl talk on Saturday mornings. She is my advisor when I don’t know what to do. She advocates for my children when it’s needed. She’s the memory keeper. She’s my constant -- the one thing I know I can count on at any given moment of any day. She lets me talk when I want to and keep my mouth shut when I don’t. She is the one who helps me put everything into perspective and move forward.

She’s the one who knows all my friends. She’s the one who can see exactly what I love about each of them and love them for what they are to me. She’s my other chameleon – the one who can be anything needed at any time. The one who I’m most like.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Under Construction

Bear with me over the next week or so. I've finally figured out how to create page tabs to categorize everything. Now I just have to figure out how to move everything to the correct page. Yikes!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Comfort Food (since it's a cold and nasty winter weather day)

This is going to be a quickie. Not because I don’t have time, or because I’m not clever enough to come up with more, but because it’s simple; and simple is good.

Dinner last night was one of those dishes I remember from childhood. It was one of my mom’s “go-to” recipes. Those are the meals I define as comfort food. They make you sit back when you’re done, belly full, and sigh contently, they’re meals that make you feel good and they’re meals that bring back memories.

Dinner as a kid was always served at the table. There was no buffet style at the stove or counter. Meals were prepared, placed in serving dishes and served at a table that had been set with appropriate silverware, dishes and napkins. We talked about our day there, the pitcher of tea sat on the corner of the table and we often had a loaf of bread and the tub of margarine to go with.

Starting with what I made last night, these are two of my working mom’s cheap and easy weeknight suppers. Try not to be overly shocked by the simplicity. These were always so good and meals that we looked forward to.

Green Beans with Ham and New Potatoes

You will need:

1 large can of cut green beans undrained
1 small can of sliced new potatoes undrained
2 cups of water
1 lb of deli ham cut in 1” cubes
½ of an onion chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

You ready for this?

Sauté the chopped onion in the bottom of a soup pot until it starts to get tender.
Grab your handy dandy can opener and open your cans
Dump in the green beans and potatoes with the liquid
Add the cut up ham and the water
Salt and pepper it according to your taste
Boil the heck out of it (just til the onions are done)

Really, it’s that easy. It’s so simple and so satisfying. My favorite part was always the liquid in the bottom of my bowl – the peppery goodness was the best end to the meal and I would dip my buttered bread in to soak up what mom refers to as the “Pot Liquor” and what made me into a “Pot Licker”.  *giggle*

Sauerkraut and Polish Sausage

Again – so easy! Mom always served this with real mashed potatoes made with lots of butter.

You will need:

1 lb of polish sausage cut into bite sized pieces
1 large jar of sauerkraut

Dump it all in the pot and boil the heck out of it. That’s it! It’s so good with mashed potatoes.

Mom made other stuff too – things that were equally good. Things like pot roast, chicken noodle soup, potato soup, mini pizzas made with english muffins...oh, nevermind. You get the point.

But those are the two meals that stuck with me and that I carried over to my own family meals.

I tend to spend more time in the kitchen preparing meals but, I’m an admitted foodie and am always trying to find the next best thing.  Never trust a skinny cook and all that jazz.

Give these a try.  Unless you’re a sauerkraut snob, you should like them. If you are a sauerkraut snob….I’m sorry for you. *wink*

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Interrupting your regularly scheduled program for a public service announcement...

Today I’m using my blog to make a public service announcement. Most of you know I’ve been looking for work to supplement my current income and, if I happen to find something else full time I’ll take that too.
So, I responded to this ad:

Office Assistant/Front DESK! We are searching for the right candidates to work within our team. This is a crucial role for the company and a great opportunity for a strong candidate. Our team is creative, dynamic and dedicated to doing good work. We are looking for someone who feels the same way about advertising that we do. We also try to have some fun every day, and usually do. The Office Assistant will function as a receptionist sitting at the front desk and directing calls, visitors, etc. General office support will be required as needed. The candidate must have experience within an office environment. PLEASE EMAIL RESUMES TO:
Looks  pretty run of the mill, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.
Here’s the response they sent me…

 Reply |Buhler Industries Inc. to me
Dear Applicant,
      My name is Craig Edwards from BUHLER INDUSTRIES, i link suppliers who have been personally tested to buyers and can stand for 100%. I source for buyers and suppliers at the same time so I can link them to make profit. On every actual purchase made, I have a profit of 20% .I source for buyers and suppliers within and outside the United States of America. I am always busy organizing seminars to bring buyers and suppliers together. I need someone that can complete billings, invoicing and payments on my behalf and get them to the vendors, as well as being capable to receive payments from my buyers from time to time, so the linking is effective and immediate.

        The only way I am entitled to the 20% payment is if the actual deal is concluded through me.. When suppliers and buyers go head to head, I am at a loss as they can transact directly with one another without my knowledge. This position offers you 10%, you're offered a very good pay as transactions are steady, continuous and constant. An average transaction is for $2,000.00 and over and you can handle as many as 3 transactions in a week as most payments are made in installment. The pay is good enough to encourage you to work hard and be efficient while it's more than enough for me to stay in business while encouraging me to source harder and link more suppliers. I travel a lot and when buyers want to make any purchase, when i'm on company errand, he\she has to hold-on till I return, to place an order, on the long term. The effect is our customers start sourcing for suppliers on their own, so having an assistant/representative easily reachable has its numerous advantages. We have lost too many deals due to this and i'm trying to put an end to it.

 The best form of payment used are business checks and direct bank transfers they are readily available and confirmed on the spot, they are not the only means used but they are the best for our process. Most of the buyers we work with are those we've previously handled successful transactions with in the past, new buyers are verified and confirmed before the linking process occurs. You have nothing to worry about. The mode of operation is as follows; you receive the payment directly from the individual buyer, in your mail, usually via ups and have them cashed. You send the payment to our suppliers/vendors when I need you to, or directly to the company and your pay is 10% of the amount sent to you.  All charges during cashing, sending of payments and transaction completion will be deducted from the balance after you have deducted your pay and not deducted from your own money so your pay is fixed on the amount cashed per transaction. You can handle as many as 3 or more transactions per week, but you'll be handling one (1) initially to see how efficiently and how quickly you can carry out the completion.

On 3 transactions you're sure of nothing less than $600 weekly. The hours are flexible and you can decide when you want to work as what you'll be doing initially is cashing the payments and completing the transaction to the supplier. I don't need you online 24/7, just to be online on a daily basis and at least check your e-mail regularly. Working with me will also not disturb your other jobs, (If you have any) as I require that applicant only have easy access to the internet, be reachable easily and respond/carry out instructions sent as soon as possible.
 Please show your continued interest in this position by sending me the following info.
First Name:    
Last Name:
Mailing Address:
Zip Code:
Mobile Phone #:
Contact Phone #:
Alternative Contact e-mail address:

Craig Edwards
(248) 434-8974

Well, if you’re not wondering already what it was that raised my suspicions, I’ll point it out to you.

1.       This is an extremely wordy response to a simple resume and cover letter. What prospective employer gives that much information without asking for an interview?
2.       Ah, so there actually is no existing office for me to work the “front desk” that you mentioned in your ad.
3.       You want me to cash checks from unknown sources using my bank account? That means I’d have to give you my account information for those “direct deposits”.
4.       I looked up Buhler Industries on the net. What Buhler Industries does has nothing to do with what this guy is talking about.
5.       I looked up the phone number on the net. This phone number is associated with more than one “business” and more than one “person”. It has been reported on numerous occasions as a check cashing scam.

People, researching a company you are applying to work for isn’t just so you can have something clever to say in your cover letter or interview. These people placing these ads know that there are people out there who are desperate for work and will fall for ridiculous stuff like this.

I immediately took a copy of the ad and a copy of the email correspondence and forwarded the information to the newspaper I found the ad in and also to the Attorney General’s Office.

Be smart. Do your research. If it seems too easy  it’s probably a scam.

Just sayin’…

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

*singing* Someone, call the doctor. I got a case of a love bipolar....

This is Iva. Isn’t she cute?

Sometimes, I look at this face and think, “You are the cutest ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, and you’re precious, and I love you, blah blah, blah…”  

Then there are those other times. Times when she does things like this….

That’s when she looks like this….

And I won’t like her for a little while.

But then she’ll do something cute. Like this….

or this....

And it will be ok again.

It’s bipolar love….

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Gumbo Story

*singing* Come and listen to a story ‘bout a man named Neil..

Please don’t tell me I’m a dork. I know this. Thanks…

So, how did I come by that gumbo recipe? It started with my eldest child. My dear sweet boy….How much sweeter can you get than 265 pounds of man child cuddled under a Hello Kitty Blanket?

My dear sweet boy who loved to play football and was good at it… I miss those days.

So, being the ultimate high school football fan that I am, I registered for a local message board to keep up with what folks were saying about our town's pride. Oh my goodness, these boys were good that year. They went on later to be the district champs and had a fairly decent run in the playoffs. My boy even got an all state nomination.  *sigh*

Ok…gumbo.  Sorry.

A big rival game was coming up. Our boys were playing the conference team to beat. Those Wildcats give our boys a run for their money every year and we were playing in wildcat territory this time. But, this time was different. Our boys were undefeated in conference play. And so began the banter on the message board.

This team truly has some of the classiest fans I’ve ever encountered. They are all a pleasure to interact with. In the midst of the banter I was reminded of something my grandmother was said to do with her children who didn’t behave on long car rides. She was brilliantly evil. She would give the offender a cookie.

A cookie? Really? Read on. I assure you she wasn’t rewarding bad behavior.

The problem was offenders weren’t allowed to eat their cookie. Instead they had to hold it in their mouth while sitting on their hands for an indefinite period of time. Brilliant isn’t it?

Then WildcatDad got cute with me. I told him I was bringing cookies for him and that every time our team scored he had to put one in his mouth and hold it until the next score. He said, “I like Oreos.”

Alright then, Mr. Smarty-pants . Prior to leaving town for the game I stopped at the local grocery and bought a package of Oreos. When we arrived at the field I marched my behind over to the homeside and walked right up to WildcatDad. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a minute and then I handed hi m the Oreos and he laughed.

Then, do you know what that precious man and his wife did? He reached over between them and they handed me a container, still warm and wrapped in foil, along with a spoon. It was gumbo he told me. He brought extra knowing I would be coming over to say hello.

I was so grateful for the gumbo. I had just been rescued from soggy nachos and cold hamburgers from the concession stand. Then I opened it up and started eating. It was brilliant and still steamy hot from his efforts to keep it warm for me.

This alone would have been one of the best football memories I ever had. However, our boys went on to win that game. I went out on the field afterward and watched those kids cry with pride and relief over their accomplishment. The gravity of that win was everything to them. It was the moment when all their hard work paid off and they had pretty much just sealed the conference championship.

I went home and emailed WCD and told him how wonderful the gumbo was and then asked for the recipe. Without hesitation he sent it and without hesitation I marched my tail to the grocery store for the ingredients.

Our coaches got wind of the story and asked me to make it for the linemen’s next meeting.  I was happy to oblige. I made a huge pot and a ton of rice. I still don’t know how I managed to get it over to Coach’s house without spilling any.

Those boys ate every last bite and fought over the last bits in the pot.

And then mothers called me or stopped me at games and asked me for the recipe.

With exception of a few I played dumb. J Occasionally, boys D played ball with will hear I’m home making gumbo and ask to come over for dinner.

I’m always glad to make it and it gives me an opportunity to think fondly on that football year and my message board friends.  Over the last couple of years  I have refined the recipe that WCD shared with me.  I make it for people I love and until now have been pretty guarded with the recipe.  Now I’ve shared it with you.  Hope you like it.

My Inner Justin Wilson

OOOh-weeee! How Ya’ll Are?
I’m going Cajun on ya’ll today.  Ahem….Excuse me.  I seem to be channeling Justin Wilson. Give me a sec to shake him off.
*sigh* All better now. So, Cajun – It’s a favorite at my house. Don is a Louisiana native so it’s home cooking for him. For me, well it’s just good stuff. Louisiana is as well known for food as it is for Boudreaux jokes, bayous and crawfish boils.
Imma start taday wit Gumbo an finish wit da jambalaya.  I done shared wit ya’ll my grillades. JUSTIN! I taut  I tole you ta git on outta here!
Ahem…Gumbo.  There’s a story behind this gumbo. It’s a long one and I’ll tell it in another blog post. But, thank you Mr. Neil for giving me the base for a dish that would become a favorite at my house and in many others. It’s a warm your body and soul kind of good. I warn you though – You’re going to dirty every pot and pan in your house and you’re going to spend about ½ a day working on this.
You will need:
1 pound chicken thighs
1 pound andouille or smoked sausage cut into bite sized pieces
1 tube breakfast sausage *any variety is fine*
1 pound peeled shrimp
Large can of low sodium chicken broth
3 stalks celery chopped
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
Chopped okra (I use ½ of a 16 oz bag of frozen)
1/3 cup of flour and/or some Tony Chacherez Roux mix (Which one I do depends on how much time I want to spend standing over the stove to make that roux magic happen)
Big can (it’s 28 oz I think) of diced tomatoes
2 ½ to 3 tablespoons of Creole seasoning.

First, place chicken in a large pot and cover with the chicken broth. Allow chicken to cook at a low boil for about 1 ½ hours. Remove chicken to cool and set the pot with the broth on a back burner. At some point during this entire process you will need to find time to allow the chicken to cool enough to debone it and shred it.

Next Рsaut̩ your veggies in a couple tablespoons of butter. When tender set them aside. Brown the breakfast sausage, drain and set it aside.

Let’s talk roux. (roo) This is important folks. It’s the base of all quality Cajun gravies, sauces and bases. Cajuns don’t thicken with cornstarch. They use roux. You can’t skimp on it. You can’t rush it. You burn it and you’ve ruined everything.

So, follow closely here. Don’t sully my good kitchen reputation by ruining the roux. I will never speak to you again, I will hereafter refer to you as a jackwagon and you will be forever banned from creating any Cajun dish ever again.  Besides, I still have that handy dandy wooden spoon I mentioned a few recipes ago and I still know how to use it.

Understood? Good. Now let’s get on with the show.

In the bottom of a large stockpot, add your sausage drippings and a few tablespoons of butter. Now, grab your handy dandy wooden spoon, a 1/3 cup of flour and make sure your arms ain’t tired.  Stirring CONSTANTLY (yeah, I just yelled at you for emphasis) with heat on MEDIUM, slowly add the flour to the melted butter. You want to add flour until you are just past paste consistency. You  might not use all the flour. Use good judgment. I’m watching you. It still needs some of its liquidity but still needs to be able to properly thicken your gumbo too.

Stand over that pot and stir until your roux gets really dark brown. I’m not talking khaki brown here. I mean good and brown. Almost like milk chocolate. It’s an art to be able to do this so that your roux is just cooked into brownness and not burnt into brownness. Burnt roux is terrible. So, keep your heat around medium and keep stirring.
NOTE: You’ll be standing there a long time so make sure you pee and wash your hands before you get started on it. Just sayin’.
When your roux finally reaches the right color slowly add (stirring constantly) the broth back to the pot. Increase the heat to medium high.  Now, add the tomatoes and creole/Cajun seasoning and give it a good stir. This is the point to test your seasoning. You may find you like more or less of the seasoning. However, if you choose to use more, keep in mind the salt content of all the items you’re using. This can really mess with the overall flavor of the finished dish.
Next, add your sauted veggies, the sausages, chicken and the okra. Give it another good stir. Just before serving add your shrimp.
Serve over rice.
The thing with gumbo is you don’t have to use all these meats. I always use the sausages and the chicken.  The shrimp is hit or miss depending on whether or not I can find it on sale. Some folks like to add some crawfish. Some folks don’t like sausage. Do what you like. That’s the cool thing about gumbo. It was a dish that was made from using a little of whatever you could find. Gumbo means “mixture or hodgepodge”.
So get out there and get creative. You’ll be a hit. I promise.
Next is Jambalaya.
Now, my jambalaya isn’t traditional by any means. Who cares though. It’s good and it’s easy. The best part? I do it in the crockpot.
You will need:
1 lb of boneless skinless chicken cut into 1” cubes
1 lb of andouille or smoked sausage
28 oz can tomatoes
1 sm can of tomato paste
3 stalks chopped celery
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
½ t basil
½ t oregano
½ t thyme
1 bay leaf
3 t. Cajun seasoning
1 can beef broth

Dump it all in the crock pot. Turn the heat to low. Give it a good stir. Go to work. Come home. Make rice. Serve jambalaya over rice. Beg your husband to do dishes.

See, I told you it was easy. Besides, you deserved that after reading the gumbo recipe.  I'm looking out for you. Really! I am! 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Somebody Has To Say It Part II

Internet Pet Peeves –

There are so many little “net thingie habits” that really annoy me. Some amount to common courtesy; others amount to common sense. As I am certainly your most knowledgeable and ever-willing to help friend, *pats self on back* I’m going to give you a little “net-ucation”. Accordingly, I expect all of you “offenders” to know who you are and thereby proceed to correct your annoying behaviors.

In no particular order:

1.       Using all caps – Those of us from the era of chat sites that were frequently used in the late nineties (Jo, I know you’re following me here) recall how rude it was to use all caps in chat and other postings. I still don’t understand why people do this. Are you too lazy to hit the shift key for capital letters at the beginning of a sentence?

It’s chat. Formality is out the window and so are caps. Besides, your use of all caps has two downfalls. First, all caps make your post difficult to read. Second, it’s considered yelling. The use of all caps is intended for emphasis. 

The result? When you use all caps I’m most likely not reading anything you have to say. Sorry…

Well, not really THAT sorry. See? That was correct usage of caps. I was emphasizing “that” because I’m REALLY not that sorry.

2.       Not using short paragraphs in long posts – I don’t think you realize how difficult it is to follow someone who writes long superfluous paragraphs. It demonstrates a disorganized thought process and makes it appear as though you are rambling. It also causes the reader to lose their place often because it all runs together. I don’t read these either. They make my head hurt after a few lines and I give up.

3.       Those stupid alarm status updates and emails—Good grief! Facebook is not going away! HAVEN’T YOU PEOPLE EVER HEARD OF SNOPES???  Yeah! I’m yelling!

4.       Complaining about what other people post in their status updates by ranting in your own status update.  You know what? It’s their page. Let them post. If you don’t want to hear about the game updates or the play by play of their day then ignore it and move on.  You know, kind of like I tend to do to yours when you rant like that.

5.       Do not post the intimate details of your relationship woes for me to read. It’s none of my business. I don’t need to know that your husband is a jerk face and you can’t stand him and I don’t want to learn about it on facebook. If we’re close enough for you to discuss it with me at all we should be discussing it in person.

Besides, the ugly truth is, when you’re using your status to openly bash your current partner or air your other dramatic dirty laundry, the only thing you’re accomplishing is to make yourself look like a jerkface who just graduated from middle school.

Besides, if Jane Doe slept with Joe Blow and contracted herpes, that’s between Jane, Joe and Dr. Schmoe.

There you go, you just made yourself a jack-wagon. Are you proud of yourself?

If you need lessons on how to bash someone without being an in-your-face jack-wagon, hit me up, text it, send me your digits. I’ll teach you to sing, Yo.

That’s just a start. I know I have more but I forgot to write them down. When I’m not seeing it I forget that it annoys me. I would like to keep it this way.  We can just start with this initial list though. I fully expect to have no way of remembering that these things annoy me other than the fact that they are posted here on this blog for me to read at a later date.

Your cooperation is deeply appreciated.

The so called "pattern" for My Hat and Scarf

This is  how I spent my snow day.

I'm always knitting or crocheting and then giving away everything I make. I decided it was time to make something for me.

I don't have a pattern for these but I can kinda tell you what I did. Sorry, I didn't have one to work from and just figured I'd give it a shot. There was a lot of pulling out and starting rows over; either because it curved too much or didn't curve at all. Anyone who already crochets should understand it.

For the hat and scarf both I used two strands of fiber. One was a Bernat Boucle and the other was a standard soft acryllic in winter white.

For the hat:

I ch 4 and joined with a ss
work 8 dc in center of ring
ch2 and turn
Row 1:
dc1 ch2 in  top of each dc around (10 pattern repeats)
ch2 and turn
Row: 2
dc2 ch 2 in each ch2 sp around (10 repeats)
ch2 and turn
Rows 3-6
dc3ch2 in each ch2 sp around remembering to ch2 at the beg of ea row
Rows 7-9
work hdc in ea st around remembering to ch1 at the beg of ea row
Row 10:
work repeating pattern of
2hdc 2dc 2tr 2dc in each stitch around to form a scalloped edge

for the scarf
work across in hdc ch 1 at the end of each row before turning the work. Crochet a border around the scarf if you like. I didn't have enough yarn left to do so or I would have.

Soup Anyone?

I’m on a soup thing lately. Maybe it’s the cooler weather? There was the Vegetable Soup, the Potato Soup, I’ve made chili and then last night was….Hmmm…what to call this one? My best guess is…OH!  I got it!

Forget Campbell’s Chunky! My Chicken Corn Chowder Is Better! 

Too long you say?  Well, guess what?  This is my blog. This is my recipe. I can do what I want.  *sticks out tongue for emphasis*

 You will need:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ a large onion chopped
3 small or two large potatoes diced
3 chicken boullion cubes
3 stalks celery chopped
3 small or two large potatoes diced
3 large carrots sliced
1 stick of butter
2 cups of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can of corn
2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
½ cup of COLD water

Place chicken breasts in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onion, boullion, and celery.  Add water until just covered.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Allow to cook for about an hour. Remove chicken breasts and add potatoes and carrots to the pot.  Cut chicken into bite size pieces or shred with a fork. 

I prefer to shred so I don’t have big chunks of chicken. I like to have a little of everything on my spoon when I go for a bite. It’s a ‘me-thing’. You do your ‘you-thing’.

Add the chicken back to the pot and increase heat to high. Return the mixture to a boil and add the stick of butter and salt and pepper. When the butter is melted add your cream. Honestly, my guess here was that I added two cups of cream. I just poured until it looked creamy enough. *shrugs* Sorry….that’s another one of my ‘me-things’. I’m sure you’ll find a way to cope.

Add the can of corn with the liquid. Mix together the corn starch and ½ cup of COLD water. I cannot stress enough the COLD part! For you non-cooks…the reason is when the mixture is hot it will clump. This is why people have lumpy gravy and soups. COLD water is essential. It doesn’t have to be ice water. Water from the COLD water side of the tap is fine. Good grief.

One more time…only COLD water with cornstarch!

Add the cornstarch mixture slowly to the pot, stirring constantly.  Allow to cook at a boil for about 5 minutes. If, at this point, you feel your soup is not thick enough then mix a little more cornstarch with some COLD water and add it to the soup.

Just before serving test the salt and pepper content. Don’t just stand there and look at it! Taste it!

And -- If you want to be pretty you can sprinkle a little parsley in there. But, seriously? Why bother? Parsley just sits there pretty. I don't think it really adds much to the taste.

Seriously, all sarcasm, dry wit and insulting humor aside --This was perfect for our snow day yesterday. I dumped Goldfish Crackers into mine and a little shredded cheese – croutons and/or garlic bread go great too.

Then, after enjoying my culinary wonder do you know what Don had the NERVE to do? He asked me how to make liver and onions. So I told him. Then I made the gravy for him gagging all the while. Then I nearly got sick as he ate it. In fact, I think I’m gonna go get sick now. But you enjoy your soup, OK?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A Look At Past Relationships

What do you feel when you look back at past relationships? Are you still angry or hurt? Do you find yourself stomping around thinking, “I’d like to punch that jerk-face right in the schnoz?”
Let me tell ya – I’ve been involved with some of the worst kind of jerk-faces. But, you know what? I’m thankful. Yeah, you read that right – thankful. Every one of those jack-wagons taught me something and has my heartfelt gratitude.
Jack-wagon:  I’d love to know who coined that expression. It’s my new favorite ever since seeing “J” imitate that commercial.
"Maybe we should chug on over to mamby pamby land where maybe we can find some self confidence for you, you jack wagon!" (Geico commercial asking does a former drill sergeant make a good therapist?)
Oh, sorry…back on topic…
Every one of those jack-wagons (giggle) … (clears throat and tries to keep a straight face) (ha ha…I said “jack-wagon”) …every one of them taught me to be a stronger and better me. They taught me my limits. They contributed to my journey of discovering what I’m worth. They taught me that I don’t deserve every negative thing that comes my way.
Through high school I didn’t date. Oh sure, I had a few so-called boyfriends; but really, nothing special. I would like to say here (though I doubt any of these guys will read this blog post) that I certainly hope none of you past relationships who happen to read this will take offense to anything I have to say about you. What was then is not what is now.
MW -- My first long term relationship came about a year after high school. We were together two years. Honestly, I think my involvement with him just came from seeing all my other friends with someone and taking the first thing that came along. We had such a rocky relationship. We were both pretty young and really stupid. The one thing we got right was “D”. *sigh* I miss that kid but that’s another post.
He gave me “D” and because of that I learned to look past myself at how my actions affect another person. I learned to be less self absorbed. Notice here I said less… I was still somewhat self absorbed. I was 19 when D was born. For any of you who remember being that age you are painfully aware that I still had a ways to go… I was such a shrew.
We split when D was two. Sometimes I think the aftermath of the breakup was worse than the relationship itself. I was never fair to him. I don’t think I really loved him. I think I just wanted someone to love me. Wow, when I put it in print like that it sounds so terrible. What a crappy thing for me to do to him.
I’m sorry. I’m glad you finally found the right girl for you and I’m glad that we’ve been able to build a friendship in order to benefit D. I love your wife. You did good. J
BJ – There are so many things to say about this guy. We only dated briefly but I ended up with one of the first real friendships I would ever have and we maintained that friendship the entire time I lived in Misery…oh, umm, I mean Missouri. It was the first time I ever experienced real love – the kind that meant something. He held my hand through so many things and I still smile when I think of him. He showed me what it meant to be a true friend and he taught me that you can’t make someone love you back.
IR – Oh my goodness! This guy… *laugh*. I don’t know if I can actually call this a relationship. It was more like an….ummm…involvement? It wasn’t traditional, that’s for sure. At any rate, he taught me to live in the moment. He taught me not to take life so seriously. He taught me to laugh with everything I had. He could be a jerk sometimes but what made that ok was the fact that he was up front about it. He never claimed to be anything other than what he was. Now days when I refer to him as a jack-wagon, it’s with fondness.
He hurt me…but only for a minute. I knew better and ignored the reality. I’m glad I didn’t do any permanent damage when I pegged him in the head with that full beer can.
Michael – I’m not going to go too far into this one. He was abusive and I’m glad it’s over. I hope you understand if I’m not willing to relive details of this story.
Here’s what he taught me – He taught me to stand up for myself. He taught me that if you don’t let people know how to treat you then you have no business complaining when they walk all over you. He taught me that being alone was much better than being involved with a jack-wagon.  (giggle…I said jack-wagon again) He taught me not to ignore the warning signs when presented with a loser. He taught me that baby blue eyes and a pretty smile don’t make a good relationship. He taught me that love doesn’t hurt the object of its affection. He taught me that the most dangerous things are often wrapped in the prettiest packages.
Don came next – But, for obvious reasons, we’ll skip over that one for now. See previous blog post “How I Met My Husband”…  ----> here

RS – Believe it or not, this one doesn’t hurt anymore. I’m not even mad. Sometimes I wish I could say I never married him though. He hurt me twice but he gave me J.
He taught me that leopards don’t change their spots. A relationship that didn’t work the first time is probably not going to work when revisited. Like my good friend Brian says, “If you put spoiled milk back in the fridge and go back for it a week later, it’s still going to be spoiled when you pull it back out.” He taught me that when someone loves you they don’t put you on a shelf to take down when they have time for you or need you. He taught me that love sticks around when things get tough. He taught me to recognize the expressions of a liar.
EH – This one still makes me roll my eyes a little. He wasn’t a jack-wagon (giggle, I said jack-wagon). He was passive, indecisive and unsure of himself. He made it easy for me to walk all over him. That’s really all I can say. He taught me that I need a man who is stronger than me. He showed me how exhausting it can be to date a woman…*giggle*. Sorry there fella…It really was a lot like dating a woman.
Don – never a jack-wagon (giggle). Not in a real sense -- although he does have his moments. He’s taught me how comfortable and easy love is when it’s real. He’s taught me to share my life with another person. He’s taught me compromise. He’s taught me what it means to really be happy with someone. He’s taught me that love is something you do, not something you say. He’s taught me to smile from the inside. He’s taught me that love understands and appreciates the imperfections of its object. He’s taught me that when you really love someone you can be mad at them and still think, feel and say, “I love you”.
I could go on and on with this one; but, you all know that he makes me a big blob of mush. Can you believe that the one year anniversary is only 4 months away?
Ok, I’m signing off before you all start gagging…