Ugh! I am so behind! I have images I need to work on. I have a utility room that needs sorting through. I have a laundry room that needs reorganizing. My laundry is piling up. My refrigerator needs cleaning out — again! I have a garden that’s never been weeded and made ready for planting, so now it’s overgrown with a season’s worth of weeds. I need to clean out drawers and give away clothes no longer used. And that’s only part of the list. Where am I suppose to find time for it all?!!
I love blogging, but I’m so used to incorporating my images into my posts that I feel like I can’t post unless I have a few photos to go along with it. So that’s put me off my usual schedule. I did a semi-major cleaning (hey, there is so such a thing!) a few weeks ago when my son had his late (the party, not his graduation) graduation party because we had a ton of kids over–some, of which, ended up spending the night. That was totally unexpected. After all that cramming-cleaning, I felt I needed/deserved a break from at least a couple of weeks cleaning. Hence, the laundry piling up, and the utility and laundry room still needing to be cleaned and organized.
And I’d forgotten how tiring it can be to work 8 hours a day and try to come home and do anything that requires me to stand, chop, sort, or wash for more than 20 minutes. I always did it before, but it tired me sometimes then, too. Of course, it would help if I went to bed earlier. But when would I find my ME time? That Mahjong game isn’t going to complete itself. And after I finish the first one, you know I just have to be challenged and do the remaining 5 games till I win. …I just have to. The same thing goes for solitaire. It’s a good thing I’m not on Facebook and know nothing about that farm game I hear so much about.
By the way, I’ve rediscovered Starburst candies. I love those things! Now I remember why I was so addicted to them before. I should save the wrappers and make some of those cute little purses or wallets. Wait. See, now. This is how I end up getting distracted and not accomplishing the things around here that I need to do. Of course, who doesn’t want to be distracted when there are too many chores staring you in the face?
I wish someone would invent a self-cleaning refrigerator.
Well, at least I can blame the inability to work out in the yard on the 100 degree plus weather we’ve been having the past few weeks. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Besides, the grass has almost completely died, saving me the bother of trying to get it mowed. I tried watering it a couple of times, but I’m not paying a $100 plus water bill for the month. Sorry, grass; it’s survival of the fittest. I have to save the water for the plants and flowers. I spent way too much money on them.
I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I’ve accomplished some things these past weeks. I cut out two pair of pants to sew and wear. Finished one already. Going to start sewing the 2nd pair this week sometime. I did some laundry tonight. On my way to put the last of it in the dryer when I’m done typing here. Went to the grocery store this past weekend and picked up all the necessities and food supplies for this week. Half-completed cleaning my own bathroom. The other half will have to wait till tomorrow. So I’m not a complete failure, I guess!
And anyway, there’s always going to be housework and yard work. So what if I get a little behind and need a lazy break and just want to kick back and watch some good shows. Somebody make me some popcorn! Please…?
The other day my daughter and I were talking about her friends. She says that most of the time, she has to tell her friends to eat, that it’s okay to eat, or that they need to eat. Her friends don’t understand why she is seemingly obsessed with food and eating. She thinks this is funny, because to her, they are obsessed with not eating.
Let me explain. Because I totally get it and why they have opposing views about food. It’s how she was raised. It’s how I was raised. Our family life centers around food. Okay, well, maybe it doesn’t center around food exactly, but food it so much intertwined with what we do–no matter what it is.
For instance, if one of us is getting a headache, it’s because “you need to eat.” If we’re celebrating a birthday, it’s “what do you want for your birthday supper?” If someone wins something, graduates from something, or gets a raise, we go out to eat. If someone is sad or had something bad happen to them, we go get ice cream. When it’s bedtime and anyone is having trouble sleeping, it’s “go get a little something to eat so you can sleep better.” When we come home from school or work, it’s “have an after-school snack” or a “little something before supper.”
When we’re getting ready to go shopping or know we’re going to be out for more than an hour, it’s “better eat something before we leave the house.” If we have to do some housework or chores for any length of time, it’s “let’s eat something before we start.” (All right, that one might just be pure procrastination, but we choose food as the means to which to procrastinate.) For Christmas, I often bake things to give out as presents. I use to spend days making up goodies to box up and give to my siblings and their families, and they always looked forward to that box!
My son’s friends are dumbfounded whenever they come over because I always make food a part of their visit. Once, my son had a couple of friends over and I had said I would barbecue some hot dogs for them. I’m sure they thought there might be some chips and something to drink along with those hot dogs. But I know they weren’t expecting the corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, crudites and dip, homemade cookies, and cucumber salad to be spread out on the table, too!
Another time, his best friend was coming over to spend the day, so I wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat. I made homemade pizza for lunch, rice crispy treats for a snack, and fed them the enchiladas and rice I had made the day before for supper — before I gave them some cake and ice cream. I even made his friend take home some cake.
Food is love. It’s how we show our love, our emotion, our togetherness. I have many happy memories of going down to the local Sonic when the kids were younger and just sitting there in the car, our feet hanging out the window, listening to the music Sonic always plays while sipping a yummy ice cream drink and eating corn dogs. The summer winds would usually be blowing, and we’d laugh and talk while just enjoying the weather, the casualness of the day, and our precious time together. The kids can recall those same memories. Many times, I would pick the kids up from grade school for lunch (they hated eating in the school cafeteria because it was always so noisy) and drive to the park where we would pop the back of our van open and sit there eating a lunch of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn (Grandy’s, why did you ever leave town?! We loved your food!). The trees were so big and would blow in the wind, while people walked their dogs or parent’s were hanging out with their young ones by the swing set and the slide.
So, to my daughter, getting together with your friends is a very good reason to eat and to show your appreciation for each other and to share your love for one another. I mean, why not? We’re not gluttons about it, and none of us is obese. We don’t abuse food or how we eat it. We use it as a part of our celebration of life and living. It makes us feel grounded and centered and all “homey.”
Maybe that is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Actually, we make food a big deal at every holiday!
My daughter’s friends asked her why she is always telling them “eat!” She said, “Because it’s what we do in my family!”
Alone and lonely. These are two words that might sound the same to some people, because they think of them both in the same negative way. But they are not the same. Most people conjure up sad images of someone who is “alone,” and think of such words as cold, isolation, despair, or misery.
People are alone for a variety of reasons — some by choice, some by chance. And while I am sure that it is depressing to some to be alone, it doesn’t mean it is that way for everyone who finds themselves eating their dinner alone at night. I have some friends who I know would never go out to eat a meal alone. They find it sad and depressing and are embarrassed, for some reason, to eat alone. I, on the other hand, love it. It makes me feel independent and capable. I don’t need a book (but it’s okay if you do or you just like to read while dining), but sometimes I will take a magazine. I prefer to use that time to think about myself and what it is I am wanting to accomplish next or any little project I have going on or just watch other people and couples. Sometimes, I just sit and completely enjoy my meal. And anyone that’s been a mother for any length of time knows what a treat that is in itself!
The other day I had errands to run and it’s been so cold and we’ve had such bad weather for a while that we’ve been shut-ins for a bit. Everyone was back at school and I was alone. I thought how nice it would be to just sit alone with a cup of hot chocolate and my favorite doughnut (cherry cordial) at the donut place down the street. I grabbed a magazine, some pen and paper, and my camera and headed that way.
The girl at the counter asked me if it was for here or to go, and I proudly said, “Here!” Then she asked if I wanted whipped cream, and with a big smile on my face I said, “Yes!” I got my treats and headed for a table in the main room. There was one customer with his laptop near the back, so I chose a booth facing the window where there was some light to read by.
I sat there and flipped through my magazine, reading an article and looking up now and then at people occasionally walking by. I was so happy to have time to myself outside of my home, to just enjoy being alone and independent. I’m not scared to be alone — unless it’s dark, but that’s a whole different thing. I’m not sad to be alone because I have good friends and family that I see and talk to when I can, want to, or feel the need. I feel peace when I can enjoy being with myself doing what I want or just relaxing or taking some time for slowing down and remembering the important things in life that matter.
I think everyone needs to learn how to be alone at some point in their lives. I definitely think all young people need to learn how to live alone before they live with or marry anyone. It gives you a chance to really get to know yourself and what it is you want out of your own life so you can feel solid in your decisions later in life.
I’ve been in a relationship before (a past marriage) where I felt so lonely toward the end of it. I remember the feeling and know I never want to feel that way again. I could not imagine how anyone could be living with someone and, yet, feel so lonely. I can honestly say, while there have been times since I’ve been single now and then that I wished I had someone to go out with or just spend some time with, I have never felt lonely the same way I did when I was married when things were at their worst. That’s a horrible feeling and one I like to make the distinction between when I talk to my kids about being alone.
Lonely has its degrees of lonesomeness, and a little bit lonely is bearable. But feeling totally alone (especially while in a relationship) is not something to be tolerated. And while I’m certain my experience with loneliness never reached the depression stage, I can see how that could quickly happen if one was susceptible to that condition.
Maybe I like being alone and feel okay with it because I have so many hobbies and things I want to do. I love learning anything new and will seek out information anywhere I can to obtain a new skill. I think it’s important for couples to be able to be alone in the same house even. Just knowing the other person is nearby in another room enjoying their alone time with a hobby or the T.V. is comforting to me. I don’t need them anchored around my neck to feel close.
So, learn to be alone and be okay with it. Learn to enjoy your time with yourself and contemplating the things in your life that matter. Use your time alone to relax and recharge. Spend some time alone doing something you love and can do alone, like a favorite hobby or reading a book. Being alone is great and is okay and is not a bad thing. Being alone can be a good way to get to really know your own self and to think about an important decision you need to make. The ability to be alone with yourself speaks about how comfortable you are with yourself. Do you like yourself enough to spend some time with “you?” I do.
I read a post last week from a woman who I have never met in person, but who sometimes inspires me and sometimes makes me chuckle with her writings. You can read her post here at http://pamelahutchins.com/2011/01/12/i-can-be-your-hero-baby/ I’ve been thinking about that post everyday since I read it. It’s about one of those things that you know you should do, but you sometimes get busy with the work part of living — the hard stuff — that you forget to do the good things that make others feel loved by you and that lift them up as often as you should. It had to do with words and praise.
It was a good reminder for me to remember to praise my own children more often and use kind words to encourage them, and not think that the only way to get them to do the things they should is by using more harsh words in the way of scolding or chastising them for not doing better on something. Because the truth is, my children are a blessing to me. They are, in fact, the greatest blessing of my life. I couldn’t have asked for two better kids. They are the loves of my life and what truly makes me the happiest in life.
I always knew I wanted to have children and be a mother. But for a long time, I didn’t know if I would even be able to have any at all. And I was trying to make peace with the fact that maybe it would never happen for me.
When it finally did happen, I was elated and knew my dreams of being a mother would now make my life more fulfilled. …and it has, indeed.
I never thought I would be a single mother, but that’s how it’s ended up. I’ve raised my kids alone for the past almost 9 years now. It’s not been easy, either. But I would NOT trade my motherhood or my two children for anything in the world.
My kids are almost grown now. My daughter is 19 and in college, and my son is 16 and will be starting college in the fall. They both still live at home with me, but I know that won’t last forever. So, I do try to cherish every moment with them now, while they are here with me everyday, while I can.
Like the other night when they offered to make shrimp tempura with zucchini and carrots. I’d been having kind of a rough morning, which they noticed. So, of course, I took them up on the offer. I’ve taught them both how to cook (as well as how to do their own laundry, which they do) and they do a pretty good job of it. I took a peek in on them after they had started, and my heart just sang at the sight of them! My daughter was in one corner of the kitchen dredging the shrimp in flour
… and my son was in the opposite corner battering up the ones his sister had already done.
Then my daughter brought her laptop into the kitchen so they could listen to their own music. I have my kitchen radio turned to some station that plays classic rock and 70’s music, and they know not to touch the dial!
After she started the music, she went right back to flouring the shrimp, while my son continued to work his magic.
Then it was time to start the fry pot. In the meantime, my daughter made a zucchini tower. Afterall, there still kids!
I stood there and watched them work together, while they laughed and talked about things that mattered to them. I felt so lucky and so blessed to have these two wonderful human beings in my life. They were trying to give me a break from everything and some time to do what I wanted while they made supper. They’re caring and thoughtful, and they will pull together when they have to in order to get something accomplished.
Before long, the food was ready. They had let me sample a few of the shrimp, and it was tasting really good!
We laid a blanket on the floor in the living room and made a sort-of picnic. (Yes, we do have a dinner table. But, sometimes, just for old time’s sake, we like to pull our picnic blanket out and do like we did when the kids were little and make a picnic in the living room.) We talked and enjoyed our meal together. I was truly happy, as I am anytime I get to spend time with them together.
I told them thank you for making supper, and that I would do the clean-up. I felt so much better than I did earlier in the day. And I couldn’t help but think how good my life is because of these two kids. We’re very close, and I hope we always will be. And whenever I count my blessings, guess what number one and number two are?!
Do you have recipes in your family that have been handed down from generation to generation? You know, the ones your mother or grandmother would not give you until you could prove that you were mature enough to guard the ingredients with your life? Like Colonel Sanders secret mix of spices that make that Kentucky Fried Chicken taste like no other.
What is it about my mother’s generation that made women not want to give out their recipes — especially to anyone outside of the family? It’s like it was some kind of competition that made them the “Queen of Cooking” if they had a food item that no one could quite figure out what exactly all the ingredients were and what made it taste so much better than anyone else’s version! I think it gave them something to feel special about in a lifetime where women stayed home and kept house and made delicious suppers every night and baked all kinds of homemade goodies. The kitchen was their domain and home life centered around that room where delicious aromas wafted into the living room and upstairs into our bedrooms from the hall. They needed something that made them stand out from the rest of the housewives and that made everyone sing their praises when they entered the dining room or a neighbors potluck, all eyes on them like they had just won the Miss Universe contest or something.
And, hey, I’m not knocking it. I love to cook, and I learned a lot of my cooking from my mother. But, often, I take her recipes that I watched her make throughout my time growing up at home and give them my own twist. Something that I can hand down to my own daughter.
This is a recipe that my mother use to make (with my own added ingredients) on cold, winter nights when you thought you just couldn’t stand one more miserable day or night of too much snow, too many layers, and too much used Kleenix. It’s basically a stew. We never called it Caldo (we never really gave it any name), but when I got older I realized that’s what it’s called by many Hispanic families who had this at their own table on those same cold nights.
I hope you make it for you own family to help keep them warm this winter and enjoy it as much as I did when I was growing up. But just remember, don’t give it out to just anybody. It’s a secret!
You will need:
Beef stew meat, about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs.
3 medium potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
cilantro – just a few sprigs
2 cloves garlic
1 can stewed tomatoes
Spices – salt (or spicy combination mix), pepper, garlic POWDER (not SALT)
2 tbsp oil
**I’m just going to tell you right now that if you don’t like to cook, don’t attempt to make this. It takes a lot of time and work — at least, if you want to make it right. I gathered all my ingredients and my pots and pans around 3 o’clock or so and we didn’t sit down to eat till a little after 7 p.m. that night. I did a lot of chopping, dicing, peeling, cutting, and “watching.” This is good for a Sunday evening meal or on a day when you feel relaxed and want a good home cooked meal. Just make sure you have the time when you start. It’s well worth it!
How – To:
First, put the oil into a frying pan and let it heat up on medium heat. Add your stew meat, sprinkling it with your spices, and brown, keeping an eye to not let it overcook. You just want the meat seared and most of the oil cooked off (by turning the heat up higher toward the end).
While the meat is browning, take a pot and start boiling water for the Caldo. Use a big pot, at least 3 quarts, but 5 is better. I used 3 because my other pot was being used for something else. (We won’t talk about it, okay?) It was filled to the top by the time I put everything in, so try to use a bigger one if you have it. Only fill it half-way with water so you will have room for all of your ingredients. Add some more of your spices.
When the meat has browned, add it to the boiling water. Also, add the can of stewed tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, and let it continue to boil for about another 20 to 25 minutes. Then, turn it down to a low boil and cook for at least another hour so the meat will get tender. The thing about beef stew meat is that you have to cook it very slowly for a long time for it to get tender. If you cook it too fast, it gets tough. So, don’t be in a hurry. Just keep testing it with a fork every 30 minutes or so after the first hour. Keep the lid on tight, but watch for boil-over. (I hate it when that happens!)
Now cut your cabbage in quarters. Keep the stem intact, cutting right through it as you slice your cabbage. Rinse as thoroughly as possible, without separating the leaves.
Your going to start boiling it to cook while your meat is getting tender. Use a small pot that will just fit the size of the cabbage because you don’t want it to fall apart too much while you are boiling it. You can add a little salt if you like. (I, personally, don’t use any because I watch my salt intake and have gotten use to not using much anyway.)
Let the cabbage boil for about 5 minutes or so, then place cover on pot and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes more. I boil this in a separate pot from the stew for two reasons. First, cabbage is so tightly contained that even though I rinse it well before cooking, I’m always worried that there might be little bugs in between the leaves. Boiling it in a separate pot allows me to see if any bugs are in it as it starts to gently separate as it cooks. I wouldn’t see them, if there were any, if they were swimming in my big pot of beef and red tomato water. And, secondly, I don’t like cabbage. I don’t like coleslaw or sauerkraut on anything to do with cabbage — except in Caldo. But, I don’t want my whole stew to taste like cabbage stew. I just want some of that flavor. Therefore, I cook it in a separate pot, then place two of the quarters in my stew to cook with the meat and tomatoes to add that little flavor of cabbage. Then, I will add it to the stew later, as you will see.
While your cabbage is cooking, start cutting up your onion. Cut it in big chunks. This whole stew is based on it’s “chunkiness.” I used about half or less of a medium-sized onion. (I love onions!)
Dice up your garlic, too. Just small pieces, it doesn’t have to be tiny, little diced pieces. It’s going to be cooking a long time in the stew anyway, so no one is going to be getting a nasty piece of garlic in their mouth that’s too big and horrible tasting! I don’t have a picture of the tiny, little diced pieces that you didn’t do because I told you not to dice them so small. You don’t need to see that, do you? If so, just use your imagination here.
Okay, now it’s been about the right cooking time for the cabbage. So take two of the quarters out of the pot and place them in the big pot that has the stew meat in it. Add the onions and the garlic at this time, also. The meat has probably been cooking for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half at this point. It still needs to cook much longer to get tender. Put the lid on the pot and let it continue to simmer. I cooked it for probably another hour or so. It was about 4:50 at this point. Continue to cook the remaining cabbage quarters in the other pot until tender.
Now everything is starting to look and smell good! You should have your potatoes, carrots, corn, and cilantro left. You can peel and cut your carrots and potatoes now. Remember, cut them into big chunks. Put your cut potatoes into a bowl of cold water until you are ready to use them. This will prevent them from getting brown. (Yuck!) Wash your cilantro and place aside. Cut your corn into thirds.
Check the meat tenderness. If it’s starting to get tender enough that you can cut it with a fork without it falling apart too much, then it’s ready for you to add the last ingredients. This is kind of tricky, getting the meat just right. Because you don’t want to overcook it so that it falls apart and shreds in the water. So you must have some experience with cooking meat in stews. You want to time it so that if it cooks for about another hour with the potatoes, corn and carrots, it will be done perfectly and not underdone or overdone. If you cook a lot at home, you should be able to gauge this okay.
Take the cabbage out of the stew and place in small bowl to the side. Cover it with foil so it will stay warm. Now this cabbage looks good to me!
Add in your potatoes, carrots and corn. Also, add more water if needed. Tear off the small leaves of the cilantro and drop these onto the top of the water. It looks and smells so good! Cover with the lid and you’re going to let it cook about another hour so everything will get tender. (It was about 5:30, maybe later, when I put these in the pot.) Keep watch because you don’t want to have the potatoes overcooked and getting mushy and falling apart. Just keep testing with your fork every so often.
I checked my potatoes for doneness and they were ready. I cut up some lemon wedges and placed on a small plate. Then, I warmed up some flour tortillas in the oven. We were so hungry and ready to eat at this point! It was just smelling so good throughout the whole house.
Spoon the soup into large bowls, making sure to get a little of everything into the bowls. Leave enough room for the cabbage. I just cut the cooked quarter pieces into two or three smaller pieces and added some to the bowl of soup. Now butter your tortilla (Mmm … memories of childhood!), roll it up and serve with the soup. Add some lemon (this is probably why I like the cabbage in the soup because the lemon makes it taste just right.) and warm your tummies! My son says this is “hibernation” food. He eats it and just wants to go climb in bed and sleep for two days!
I don’t know about you, but there are days when I am running late and need to fix something quick and easy in the morning for my family. Everybody loves muffins, so I try to keep several different kinds of mixes on hand when we want something homemade in the morning, but don’t have much time.
There are many different brands out there. You can pick the ones you like the best and keep a few in stock in your cupboard. We like chocolate chip, and apple the best. There are also poppy seed, blueberry, strawberry and many more.
Many times I will add my own extra ingredients to give them a touch of my own. These apple muffins have an extra crumb topping that is so simple to make and so delicious!
You will need:
1 pkg. store-bought Apple-Cinnamon muffin mix–any brand that is your favorite.
2 tbsp butter
Brown sugar — dark, medium, or light (use whatever you have, it really doesn’t matter)
First, prepare the Apple-Cinnamon muffin mix as directed on the package. I buy the kind that all I have to do is add milk. How simple can it be?!
Spoon the mix into individual paper muffin/cupcake holders. Turn the oven on according to the package directions to preheat. Set the uncooked muffins aside.
Then I take the 2 tbsp of butter, put it in a microwavable bowl, and zap it for about 45 seconds or so.
If the butter is not melted down all the way, just stir it with a spoon until it all melts.
Now you’re going to add the flour and brown sugar to make your crumb mixture.
And, anytime I put a recipe on here that I have made up or partially made up myself, you will probably here me say this over and over, I don’t really measure my ingredients. Basically, only if I am doing a new recipe from someone else or from a cookbook for the first time will I follow the instructions as far as exact measurements go. So for this part, I probably used the same amount of flour and brown sugar as I did the butter. Approximately, 2 tablespoons of each. Although, I did have to add a little more of the flour and maybe a tad bit more of brown sugar to soak up the butter.
This is how it should look.
Now, gently stir the ingredients in together. You don’t want to mix them thoroughly, just enough so it forms little balls or lumps of the ingredients. Like this.
You’re almost there. Take the already spooned uncooked muffin batter and add about two spoonfuls of the crumb mixture on top of the batter. You should have just enough crumb mixture for six muffins.
Place your muffins inside the oven and follow directions on package for time needed to cook. Keep an eye on them toward the end so the crumb mixture doesn’t overcook. Remove and place on wire rack or plate for cooling. Serve warm with a glass of cold milk.
These are so good, I promise you, and you will feel good, too, for taking the small amount of time to fix a warm-from-the-oven breakfast snack for your family. I think I’m going to make these on Thanksgiving morning when everyone keeps asking, “When will the turkey be done?”
Having trouble thinking of what to make for supper? When you’ve spent a long day at the job, or had too much to do with the kids all day, you need something quick, easy, and nutritious for your family. …and you don’t want to have to make another trip to the grocery store for more ingredients that you don’t normally stock in your refrigerator.
This meal is inexpensive and uses things that you might just have right in your own cupboards already.
You’ll find the recipe here https://rtcrita.wordpress.com/creative/broccoli-bacon-and-cheddar-quiche/
Then make some Cheesy Tomato Bread https://rtcrita.wordpress.com/creative/cheesy-tomato-bread/ to go with it for a really filling meal.
Serve with a nice, cold glass of O.J. and you’ve got a quick, delicious, satisfying meal that’s appropriate for supper or brunch!
Happy eating! Enjoy.