How Can Time Fly So Fast…When It Used To Crawl So Slow?

Yes, once again, I forgot.  I forgot I had a blog!  Most days, my brain tells me, “Girl, you are a teenager!  You’re not an old adult!”

Then I realize that for the second time…I forgot I had a blog!

Yeah, life gets in the way of things, doesn’t it?  And it goes by so fast and before you know it…a year has gone by!  Or two.  Or 10!  When did time speed up?  I swear, when I was a kid, time went sooooo sloooowwwwllllyyyy.  Waiting for 3:15 for the school day to end.

Waiting for June for summer to come along.

Waiting for the holidays.

Birthdays.

And even waiting for school to start back up in the fall.

It seemed to take forEVER for occasions to come along!  But now?  Bam!  Back to school!  Thanksgiving!  Christmas!  New Years!  Birthdays!  School’s out! Back to school! And so on, and so on.  Before I have time to catch my breath from one thing, another has already shot past me.

When did waiting for something to come along switch over to being shocked it already happened?  Was it when I got my first job and realized there were no more summer vacations?  Or was it when I had kids and it was all about planning things for them?  Is there some magic age when this just happens?

I don’t like it.

But I wonder…when I get even older, and the kids have grown and gone…will I once again be watching the clock and the calendar, waiting for the phone call or the visit?  The holidays, when we are all together again?

I don’t think I’ll like that, either.  And that’s Food For Thought.

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McIntosh Apples and Pumpkin Flavored Everything

It’s that time again…yep!  It’s officially Fall.  People are losing their ever-lovin’ minds over the possibilities of sweaters and boots and crunching leaves and pumpkin flavored everything! Rah!  Fall!

Rah. Fall.

Blech.  Fall to me means things dying.  Morbid, I know.  The leaves DO turn all pretty colors…and then they fall off the trees and die and the trees look all nekkid and cold.  Sweaters are nice…unless you have hot flashes and need to GET IT THE HELL OFF OF ME BEFORE I EXPLODE ahhh that’s better.  Oops.  Forgot to wear a tank top under it today.  Crunching leaves turn into slippery little suckers when it rains.  Which it does.  A lot.

I’m not going to bitch about pumpkin flavored everything.  Even I am not that cynical!

Hurry up! We don’t have much time!

Although, honest to God, people!  Draw the line somewhere, okay?  Somewhere BEFORE we get to this:

No. Just…NO!

But today, I ate an apple.  Not the Granny Smith apples I usually eat, but a McIntosh apple.  I have truly, honestly, not had a McIntosh since I was a little kid!  I don’t know why…I used to only buy Red Delicious until my brother turned me on to the tart, crispness of a Granny Smith.  But the other day at the store, they had McIntosh, and they were $2 cheaper a bag.  So, guess what went home with me!  The taste of that apple…that McIntosh apple, specifically, transported me back to a place in Upstate New York from when I was a kid.  I am pretty sure it was Schutt’s Cider Mill.  We would go there and pick apples, or buy apples, and they had a cider press and you could buy gallons of fresh apple cider.  They also had these wonderful hot fried cakes (I would call it a cake doughnut, but what do I know) – crispy on the outside, melty on the inside.  I have vague memories of going there with my parents and brothers…but more memories of going there with my next door neighbors (I was best friends with their daughter).  You could actually watch the process of making the cider, and watch the workers making the donuts.  Everyone was smiling and happy, because there was the smell of apples and sugar and cinnamon in the air, and all the kids knew without even asking that they were going to get some kind of treat by the time they left for home!

My mom would make homemade applesauce back then – I don’t think it was from those apples, though.  I think we knew someone who had an apple orchard and would let her pick bushels of apples for the applesauce.  I remember the person who owned the land passed away, and his kid or kids were not as magnanimous and wouldn’t let folks pick apples anymore.  But still, we had the yearly treat of going to the cider mill.

Well, in honor of today’s memories, I’m going to give you TWO, yes TWO recipes!!  Ready?  Here we go!

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 8 “sweet” apples, like McIntosh, Jona Gold, etc (mix  them up, don’t use all one kind
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • White or Brown Sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook water and apples together on medium high heat until apples are beyond soft and right into the mushy stage.  If you like your applesauce chunky, stop a little sooner than this.
  2. Add Cinnamon and mash apples with a fork or potato masher.
  3. Taste the applesauce and decide for yourself if it needs further sweetening with sugar.  With using naturally sweet apples, it may be sweet enough already.  However, if you decide you need to add sugar, start with small amounts of either white or brown sugar and mix thoroughly while the sauce is still warm, so the sugar will dissolve.  
  4. Eat!  Nom nom nom!

Next up (and you knew it was coming, right?)

Pumpkin Flavored Coffee Creamer (a little shout out to Shugary Sweets, from whom I stole this recipe)

Ingredients

mmmmmmm……coffeeeeee……
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup heavy cream, cinnamon, allspice and pumpkin puree. Simmer over low for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, whisk in the remaining heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. Pour into mason jars. Keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.
  3. **SHAKE WELL before using

Hey – did I say TWO recipes??  Guess what?  Here’s a little bonus coffee creamer for you if you don’t want to cook:

Vanilla Caramel Coffee Creamer

Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups milk (whole, skim, 2%, whatever your little heart desires)
  • 2 tsp REAL Vanilla extract (you CAN use artificial, but it can taste mediciny)
  • 1 Tbsp Caramel extract

Instructions

  1. Place all items in a container that has a tight-fitting lid.  I like to use a 1-quart mason jar.
  2. SHAKE THE EVER LOVIN CRAP OUT OF IT.
  3. Pour desired amount into your coffee.  Stir.  Enjoy.  Refrigerate remaining creamer.  Will keep for as long as your milk was originally good for.  However, mine usually doesn’t make it for more than a couple of days around here – I drink lots of coffee.
  4. **SHAKE WELL before using each time

Another memory that was forgotten, and brought back to life by something so simple as an apple.   Sometimes, food really is Food for Thought!

Pinterest and the Pintester Movement

So, since I have a blog, I can now take part in

The Pintester Movement

Pintester?  What’s that, you ask?  Well, there is this totally rad chick named Sonja, who has this totally hilarious blog called http://pintester.com/.  You have GOT to go check her out.  She is wonderfully… colorful… in her language, just warning ya, lol!

This brave woman picks various things off of Pinterest that look easy or tasty or like they could be fun, and tries them herself.  Her tagline USED to be “F-ing up Pintester pins so you don’t have to”…but since she went full-time blogger and has advertisers, she changed her tagline just a bit to “FAILING at Pinterest pins so you don’t have to.”  However…she still has full use of her language skills in the blog posts, which makes me smile.

Now – the Pintester Movement.  What is it? Basically, I had to pick a Pinterest pin, try it, and blog about it…oh, and link it to her blog!  You can read more about it, and other folks Pinterest tries here:  The Pintester Movement Category.

So, after cruising around Pinterest and pinning all the things, I found something I could thought I could do easily, quickly, and…most importantly…cheaply!  Here is the original pin:  Bright Green Door Blog: Chalkboard Paint Your Crockpot!  This kind of excited me beyond what it should have.  But you need to understand…the crockpot excuse me…slowcooker my husband brought into our marriage is FUGLY.  Not ugly.  FUG-LY.  Don’t get me wrong!  It works great!  But dudes.  It ain’t pretty.  It’s fugly.

However, when I went to buy chalkboard paint, I realized I could just go buy a new, pretty slowcooker for not much more than the stupid can of paint!  So, back to the (sorry) chalkboard for another idea!

Next, I found this pin:  Thrifty Inspirations: Spray Paint Furniture Tutorial

Last year, I bought some chairs from a local second-hand store.  I LOVED the style of the chairs, but I’ve never been overly thrilled with the paint and distressing job that the store-owner had done.  Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job; I’m just not a “distressed” furniture kind of person.  I’ve been wanting to do something with the chairs, and this pin and the Pintester Movement inspired me to get moving on changing things!

Here is the before picture of one of the chairs:

Icky I didn't choose it distressed chair

Now, according to the pin, you should first sand or use deglosser.  This chair is not glossy to start with.  So, in true Pintester tradition…I decided to skip that step.  I also don’t care if there are scratches/gouges because I have kids and cats.  If the chairs don’t have scratches and gouges now – trust me, they will in a day or so.  So, all that led to me skipping the sanding, puttying, wiping down and letting dry.

See all the time I saved?

Next, I chose a fun color.  Hell, if you’re going to paint, make it worth your time.

Pretty "Mystic Sea" Paint AND PRIMER

Note it says “Paint AND PRIMER?  Guess what step I skipped next?  You bet your butt I did! I’m all for saving time and money, people!!!  If a can of paint is going to say it has primer in it, it for diddly-damn sure better do what it says.  Granted, spray paint is not expensive (surely not as expensive as new chairs) but still, a dollar is a dollar, am I right?  I know I am!  Plus…good LORD holding a paint nozzle down for that long HURTS!!!

So!  I moved my car out of the garage, laid out a huge plastic tarp, removed the seat from the chair (easy – four screws unscrewed) and went to town with the spray paint!   I started out following the directions from both the pin and the can, which direct the user to utilize long, even strokes to get good coverage.  Using this technique, the ONLY thing that got good coverage was the TARP.  Seriously, it is a fantastic Mystic Sea Blue color now!  Because there is so much empty space in a chair, you really need short, close bursts to get good coverage.   Unfortunately, it took me until the second or third coat to figure that out, so I wasted a crap-ton of paint.  In other words, it took me a whole can of paint to do this one chair.  I realize the original pin states you need TWO cans of primer and TWO cans of paint. but I think if you need that much, you are wasting WAAAY too much damn paint!  You know why she needed four cans of paint?  Because she was using the long, even strokes technique that is so great for painting your tarp, that’s why!!!

So, here is the fully painted chair:

chair after

Note the LOVELY blue tarp!  That’s half a can of paint there, folks!  Yeesh.

After letting the chair not only dry, but cure for a couple of days, I reassembled the seat, and returned the chair to my kitchen!  As you can see, I still need to recover the seat.  When I bought the chairs, the lady I bought from recovered the chairs from me, asking me first what colors I wanted.  i said I had kind of Tuscan-y colors in my kitchen…red, gold, sage green, burnt orange and the like.  She did my chairs in the black pattern you see here.  WTH was that about??  Does that in ANY way say “Tuscan” to you?  And before you comment, yes, I realize that the blue is not Tuscan either. I’m going in a different direction now.  Anyway, the material looks “okay” with the blue, but not great.   But, that is another craft for another day!

Finished chair

So, in summary – short bursts of paint at close range, fun color, paint and primer in one…oh, and, for heaven’s sake, do a shoe check before walking back into the house onto your hardwood floors:

feet

Just…trust me on this.  And I’m not even going to discuss how my gray garage floor is now Mystic Sea blue with a big gray rectangle in the middle of it…

Anyway;  I say, go forth and spray paint!  It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s fun!  And that’s some Food for Thought!

Birthdays and Realizations and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

There have been a LOT of birthdays in our family lately – and by family I mean our round of friends, too.  I mean a LOT.  Seems like every time I turn around, someone else is having a birthday!  I know all families have different traditions, but one tradition we’ve always had was, that the birthday child was allowed to choose dinner on his or her birthday.  The girls usually pick pizza, or maybe going to a Chinese restaurant…last month, Lillie decided HER choice for birthday dinner was … wait for it… a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

pbj

It was Lillie’s choice of birthday dinner that jogged a memory for me.  Like another member of my family, my childhood memories are shadowed.  I don’t have a lot of them.  I remember some not so great stuff, but most of my life before my 20’s is …it’s almost like it’s behind a veil.  But once in a while, something will trigger a memory.  And her peanut butter and jelly reminded me of when I was her age – that’s five years old, for those who don’t know.  When I was five, do you know what I asked for, for my birthday dinner?  A full Thanksgiving dinner!

DinDin

That’s pre-microwave, people!  And my mother would get up at 5 in the morning to get that dinner going before heading off to work, come home from work, and finish the dinner up for me.

God bless her.  I asked for that dinner EVERY YEAR until I was 12 and finally realized the amount of time and effort it took for her to do it, and changed my meal of choice to homemade fried chicken!  She never said no.  She never said it was too much trouble.  She never rolled her eyes, sighed with exasperation, or looked pained at the amount of money it would cost…even when money was severely tight.

That request for a peanut butter sandwich discharged a flood of stuff I had forgotten:  I had forgotten the effort that my mom used to make.  I had forgotten that, once upon a time, she was a mom that all the other kids in the neighborhood used to be jealous of, a mom that was a cub scout den mother, a mom that planned cool sleepovers, and haunted houses for the neighborhood.  A mom that made clothes for my barbies.  And took me roller skating every Tuesday.  A mom who stopped what she was doing one day to make cookies with me because I said I wanted to, and she had never done it before.  A mom who studied up on sea shells so we could have a super cool presentation at school (my gosh, people were impressed as HELL at our stuff!) when I was in elementary school.

For so many years, I’ve always said I learned to be a good mom by doing the opposite of what my mom would do.  With the memories that have been flooding back, I’m ashamed of myself for saying that.  Once upon a time, my mom was a good mom.  A great mom, as a matter of fact.  I let years of living with her disease hide who she used to be from me.

mom n me

Alcoholism is a horrible disease.  People make jokes all over Facebook and such about drinking and passing out, and there are all these memes out there and ha ha ha, isn’t it funny?  Well…no.  No, not really.  It takes a wonderful person and turns them into someone that nobody wants to be around.  It makes the wonderful things that a person did in her life fade to black, when all that those around can remember is the yelling and the disparaging remarks that aim to hurt.

All this from a PB&J sandwich?  Yep.  Now that, my friends is truly Food for Thought.

Planning to Plan

So, the last few weeks have been…weird. Unsettled. School started, James had major abdominal surgery then got shingles, I got sick…the list goes on and on. Every day, I “planned to plan” meals – dinners and lunches. And every day, I would fall asleep. Or just be lazy, to be honest! And it’s costing time and money.

Meal planning is something so simple, takes hardly any time at all…yet it just seems like pulling my own teeth to get it done! Let’s be honest – what’s the worst thing you can hear at 5:45 p.m. and nothing is out of the freezer? “What’s for dinner?” You’re then left with scrambling to come up with something tasty out of nothing…or spending money on takeaway, or (and this happens more often than a mama should admit) you tell your kids “make yourself a bowl of cereal or a sandwich, will you?” Meanwhile, there’s food in the fridge going bad, food in the freezer getting freezer burn…and the kids are eating bowls of Crunchberry cereal. I am hanging my head in shame…

So, today, I’m planning. Actually, first, you kinda have to plan to plan. In other words, I’m not going to make a dinner plan THEN go to the store…I’m going shopping in my own freezer, fridge and cupboards, then make meal plans based on what I have ALREADY. This saves money and time – money, because I won’t be buying things I already have, but don’t know about. And time, because…well, shockingly enough, I have found enough stuff to come up with about 10 dinners, without even having to step foot in a store! So, no running to the store for forgotten ingredients!

Tonight’s meal will be…Chicken Awesome! I found this recipe on Pinterest (my favorite place to find stuff) – it didn’t have a name, so my Sissy and I started calling it Chicken Awesomeness in a Crockpot…which eventually got shortened to Chicken Awesome. And now, I’d like to present to you the first Food for Thought recipe!

Chicken Awesome

Chicken Awesome
Chicken Awesome

5 -6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (frozen is FINE and actually works best!)
1 12 ounce jar salsa or picante sauce
2 cans of corn, drained
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 8 oz block of cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese)
Tortillas OR cooked rice

Place frozen chicken breasts in crockpot (note – those plastic slow cooker liners? FABULOUS!!!) Plop the cream cheese block on top, then pour corn and beans around cream cheese block, and top with salsa. Cook on HIGH for one hour, then stir. Lower to low and cook for another 4 – 5 hours, stirring occasionally. When chicken is done, remove from crock, shred and stir back into bean/corn mixture. Serve wrapped in tortillas or over rice.  This also is WONDERMOUS the next day (leftovers) with tortilla chips!!  And trust me, unless you have a houseful of teenagers who eat like…well…teenagers, you WILL have leftovers!  My family of five has enough left over to have a full meal the next day.

This recipe is a hit for my entire family – any time you can get 5 people to like one meal, with NO complaints from anyone, it’s a keeper of a recipe!! Note – if you want to cook this while you are at work, omit the 1 hour at high, and just cook it on low for the whole time. You don’t need to worry about the stirring unless you remember to do it, and are available to do it 🙂 It still turns out…AWESOME!

I highly suggest meal planning. Just this week alone, meal planning could have saved us over $60. How? Well…we had Chinese takeaway this week. I could have made my own for a fraction of the cost. That’s another post and another bit of Food for Thought!

God Blessed the Broken Road…even after I broke it again.

So, today is my Anniversary. My seventh, to be exact. It almost wasn’t. James and I got married seven years ago. Six years ago, our Bella was stillborn. Then we started on the merry (HA!) go round of hormones and medications and shots to try to get pregnant again…with no success. Then, I gave up. Well, rather, I gave up trying to do it ourselves. Sitting in the bathroom one day, I told God that if He wanted us to have another child, HE was going to have to do the work, because I was done. Two months later, Lillie was on the way. That began months of pregnancy hormones. Then after her birth, there was postpartum hormones and a nutty work schedule…then a layoff. And a foreclosure. And a bankruptcy. And I have depression. And bi-polar II. All this together? Not a good mix. Poor James took the brunt of it. Really, he still does. Back then, I wasn’t medicated right. At all. Nobody ever said “hey, if you have bi-polar II, you shouldn’t just take Prozac. You need something to go with it to keep it from setting your Bi-polar Ii nutso!” This would have been a good thing to know. Seriously. A really, really good thing to know. Did my psychiatrist mention this? The one who DIAGNOSED me as bi-polar II? Nope! Did my psychologist mention it? Nope. My regular, plain old GP doctor asked me in passing “have you ever been diagnosed as bi-polar II?” And suddenly my life changed.

It could have been too late. I had already told James I was done. I didn’t care enough to even try any more. God had blessed the broken road we had both traveled to reach each other…and I went and broke it again. I said the “D” word. Divorce.

God works in mysterious ways.

I needed several surgeries in the next year. How does that play into things? Well…James has great insurance, and I needed the insurance. I needed a hysterectomy and a repair of a bowel herniation. Then I needed my spine fused. Then I needed carpal-tunnel surgery on both wrists. It was like one thing after another after another! Looking at it at the time, you’d think “Jeez, this poor woman can’t catch a break!” Looking at it now, I think “thank GOD He kept breaking things in me, to give my meds time to work right! Thank GOD by the time it was all working right, my friends decided to move to Indiana and were willing to rent their house to us, and James was willing to move into the downstairs and we became close again.

Thank God James still loved (loves) me…even when I didn’t love myself.

We never take the time to look back.  I’m always telling the girls when I’m walking with them, “look where you’re going, not where you’ve been” because they tend to turn around and walk backward, or dawdle or whatnot…but sometimes you HAVE to look backward and see how far you have come. If you only look at how far you have yet to go, it can get discouraging.

James and I still have a way to go.  Maybe we’ll always have a way to go, just for different reasons at different times.  Maybe that’s why people say marriage is work.  I don’t know; I’ve never been in a marriage that worked out!  All I know is, God blessed the broken road we were on before we got together, He blessed the road we were on together, He blessed it when I broke it again.  As long as we keep our faith in Him, I reckon He’ll keep on blessing our road together.

So. What is this new blog about, anyway?

That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Is it food? Is it thought? Is it stuff that feeds your brain? Is it just random brain dumps? Yep, yep, probably not, yep! In other words, I’ll talk some about food (what we eat, what i cook, recipes, grocery stores), some about how my mind works (here’s a thought – who EVER had the idea, “hey, that white thing that just came out of a chicken’s butt? Let’s eat that!”), rarely will I cause you to say to yourself “Wow, self! That was deep. I should sit here and contemplate on the beginnings of the cosmos after reading that deep stuff!”, but i will, occasionally (a lot) just dump a lot of random thoughts here. But you know what? It’s my damn blog. I can do whatever I want to here!   Oh, and here’s a little tidbit to keep in the back of your mind – sometimes…just sometimes…Mama has a potty mouth.  Welcome to Food for Thought!