Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Skin a Cat?

Do you remember the phrase ‘There are many ways can you skin a cat”? Ok, I’m not skinning any animals, so don’t go all PETA on me, but it’s an analogy to say there are many different ways of doing things, right? Sort of like using a roadmap. If you’re taking a road trip, you plan it out with a map, right? Or mapquest or Google Maps. And when you do, you see multiple routes to your destination (most likely). Some are shorter, others longer, maybe scenic or historic. But there are many ways of reaching the same location, none of them wrong, right?

So why is it, when someone does something differently than we might, or differently than we think they should, we think it’s wrong? Why would we ever think we know better than they do? Yes, we may have different experiences, and want to offer advice as to what happened when we traveled that route. But what we did, or would do, is not necessarily better or the right way of doing things. Even if you are an expert on the subject, there are always more ways of doing something.

And that’s all fine, fine, just fine. I offer that type of information to my children daily. It usually starts out as,
‘Hey mom, I want to blah blah blabbity blah’.
Or ‘I did this and this and that today at school.’
‘Ok, that sounds great, but here’s what happened when I did that….’
And I share with them my experience so they understand that if they write a note that says something less than complimentary about a classmate, it could very well make it back to the person it’s written about, for example. You get my drift. Or ‘when I did that, this happened, what if you try it another way?” And they can make their own decisions from that, because clearly, I can’t control what they do, all I can do is share what happened to me when I did it and hope that they don’t make the same mistake if it was a negative experience.

Don’t condemn someone based on these things, as being inferior or ‘wrong’, because it’s not for us to decide, really, is it? My best friend has been attending a financial freedom kind of class. She wants to achieve some goals for herself and her son. In the class this week, she shared with me that the class instructor (who teaches someone else’s method & material) told her that what she was doing was wrong. Flat out. Not that it was a different path to the same location, but plain wrong. He was trying to force her into a cookie-cutter mold that the developer of this method has created, and in so doing, he dashed her hopes and made it sound as if she would never achieve her goal, simply because she was taking a different route. He refused to accept the thought that she could reach her goal without applying these strict principles in an absolute manner, as if this way was the only way to get where she wants to go. Rather than trying to help her use their method in a way that would work for her, he essentially shut her down. She was very distraught and upset about this, who wouldn’t be?

Please please please, before telling someone what they’re doing is ‘wrong’, think about what you’re saying and do this: DON’T, because you do not know for a fact that it is wrong. You may not agree with it, and it may not be what you’d do in the situation, and please HEAR ME: that does NOT make it wrong. Don’t be the one who makes someone feel badly, just because it’s not what you’d do. Don’t be that person.

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Penne with Ham & Asparagus

Yum. That’s all I can say. I’ve been making this dish for years (and yes, my children whine about it! Well Done!) and we really enjoy it. I snap up as much fresh asparagus as I can when it’s on sale. LIke last week. When I bought 4 lbs. Don’t judge. Seriously, we put away 2lbs on Easter. My favorite way to prepare it is to flash steam it for about a minute or so in about 1/4″ of water. Although I’ve heard grilling is good too, I’m so trying that this summer.

In the meantime, I’ve been putting my best asparagus recipes to use. I bought a ham at HoneyBaked Ham for Easter and guess what! I have leftovers, and yes that was intentional. I love their ham, besides it freezes well, so I’ll have some for later. I broke out this recipe a couple of nights ago and I’m telling ya, the HoneyBaked Ham really made a difference. It’s natural ham, not the processed stuff from the deli. The flavor and texture was amazing in this pasta dish. And….I took pictures! Don’t everyone applaud at once! 🙂 We had leftovers, which hubby usually takes to work. After eating it Monday night, and yesterday for lunch, when I tried to give it to him again, he gave me the face. Oh, ok. He’s had enough. So I took it to work and shared w/my boss & my cohort in crime. Cohort – Nikki loved it. Boss, not so much. He’s a meat & taters kinda guy and even though there’s meat in it, there’s no taters, AND there’s green stuff! But he did say it was good, minus the green things.

You’ll be so proud of me….I took pictures!

Penne with Ham & Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed & cut into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
2-3 fresh cloves of garlic
4 C uncooked penne pasta
1/2C half & half
4oz cream cheese cut into chunks & softened
1/4 – 1/2 C freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the bottled stuff)
1 lb HoneyBaked Ham ham – cut into bite size pieces
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cook pasta according to directions on pkg.
2. While pasta is cooking, sauté the asparagus & onions approx. 5 min or until tender. Press garlic cloves into pan (you can just mince it if you don’t have a garlic press) cook another 2-3 minutes.
3. Pour in half & half & add cream cheese, stirring to help cream cheese melt.
4. Add ham & stir, salt & pepper to taste.
5. Drain pasta, tossed to coat all with sauce. Sprinkle parmesan over the top & toss to mix. Serve w/a salad & some crusty bread & you’re good to go!

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It’s Never Too Late…..

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Life gets crazy sometimes. And even though you might like to deny it, I know I’m not the only one who feels like my life is running me, rather than the other way around. And sometimes in that craziness, we let other people’s thoughts substitute for our own good judgement. What I’ve learned is sometimes you just can’t take someone’s word for it, because even though they may think they know what’s what, they really may not.

Other times, they have ulterior motives and for whatever devious reason, plant seeds of discord and suspicion. We allow those seeds to fester and germinate and grow and suddenly we find that the other thoughts have magically become part of our own. This I know, as I’m sad to admit, it has happened to me a few times. These festering seeds pollute and cloud our thinking.

At different times in my life, people who I cared about were distanced from me because of these cancerous seeds, planted in my mind and in others. What is to be gained from this action, I truly do not know, as I am certainly not the type to sow those seeds. However, what I can tell you, is until one of you is dead, it is never too late. I reached out to the first person this happened with, simply congratulating her on her latest accomplishment, something she labored long and hard over, and wishing her my best. I was not expecting much from this action, but she was very receptive and we patched up our friendship and moved on. Once again, I reached out to another, not knowing what reaction my contact would evoke, but feeling the need to do it anyway, if for nothing else, to have no regrets about not trying to reconnect. My efforts were reciprocated and I’m happy to say that stepping out on the limb has had happy results in both cases, and I’m very glad I took the chance.

So I say to you now, if there is someone whom you were close with and you had a falling out or disagreement and broke things off, but continue to think of them, why not give it a try? If nothing else, you can have no regrets if the person you are reaching out to doesn’t return your efforts. Like I say, it’s never too late. Don’t wait until you see an obituary, then it really is too late. As for me, I’m extremely glad I took the chances, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed them until we were back in touch.

Go for it. Take the chance. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll know that you tried.

If you’re reading this and you know who you are, I am so happy to have you in my life and I will never allow those seeds to take hold again.

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Country Style Pork Ribs for Dummies

Do you ever see something in the local grocery sale ad and think ‘Wow! That’s a great deal, but I have no idea what to do with it.’ So, you pass on it, not having it in your wheelhouse. Understandable, I do it regularly. Being in the midwest, we have ribs all around us. St Louis style ribs. Kansas City style ribs. Memphis style ribs. Country style ribs? Hm, not so much. Not unless you know what to do. I wanted to share this b/c one of our local grocery stores has country-style pork ribs for $1.69/lb this week which is a good deal.

Wanna know what to do with country-style ribs? Are you easy? Me too. Well, no, not like that, get your mind out of the gutter. I mean do you like easy to prepare meals? Yep, I thought so, me too! So, if you’re into easy meals, read on!

*NOTE: This is kind of an as-you-go recipe, hence the lack of specific quantities. You can add as many or as few onions, use as much or as little bbq sauce, alter it to your taste.

Easy Country Style Ribs
1 pkg ribs (any size)
1-2 med/large onions
barbecue sauce

1. Place ribs on a broiler pan and place in a preheated oven (300F). Cook 2 hrs, turn ribs, cook another 1-2 hours, depending on the time you have.
2. Slice onions and place in bottom of large slow-cooker. Lay ribs on top of onions. Pour barbecue sauce on ribs. Cook on low for 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until tender.
3. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

The leftover ribs make great sandwiches if you chop up the meat.

I’m making these today!

*PS I forgot what happens to bbq sauce when it cooks too long, it burns. Nobody likes burned tasting food. Next time I make them I’ll cook them on low in the slow cooker for about 3 hours first, then pour on barbecue sauce, so they’re good and saucy, but not burned. Enjoy!

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A White Tiger, A 50 Pound Gold Nugget, and a Surly Teenager

Our kids were out of school on Friday as well as Monday for President’s Day weekend. My hubby can’t get any time off over spring break, the whip cracking bosses are making him do inventory. In a clothing store. The weekend before Easter. Yeah, I don’t know which calendar they’re looking at, but have you been clothes shopping right before a holiday where new clothes are not required, but encouraged? Tell me, what did the stores look like? Were they well stocked and neat, or did they look like the closet threw up? Right, see what I mean? Well, anyway, since he can’t get any time off then, he was able to get this weekend. We decided to send the mutt to doggy jail, load up the offspring and head south to the booming metropolis of Dallas, Texas.

It’s an easy drive, one I made hundreds, maybe thousands even, of times when I was in school there. We went straight to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science, with a pit stop at In N Out for lunch! The Perot is a new museum in downtown Dallas and is a really interesting structure. At first glance, it looks out-of-place. All the other buildings around are symmetrical and beautiful, but this building is none of the above. They have exhibit halls on several floors ranging from gems & minerals (our favorite), petroleum extraction/refining, fossils, birds, engineering, the human body. It was very fun and interesting. In the hall with the gems and minerals, we saw a nugget of gold that was over 50lbs! And a geode with amethyst inside that was at least 5feet tall! Outside was a water feature and xylophones as well as a ‘gravel chime’ that made music when you drop gravel into the openings.

Oh.Em.Gee. I mentioned living in Dallas, which has a reputation for crazy traffic, and it’s very well deserved. It rivals LA, seriously. It seems there is always road destruction construction. You’d think they’d get finished some day. Nope. I think they just like digging in the dirt and causing more headaches. Highway 75 (AKA Central Expwy) has always had construction on it at some point. On this trip, there was more than I’ve ever seen. The interstate btw Dallas & Ft Worth, I30. And 635. In addition to Hwy 75. They like their elevated highways in Dallas. It’s really astonishing to see roads being built 70 feet off the ground. The interchanges, and now even the roads are that high, at least, there are some that are even taller! Another reason I’m glad to be outta there!

From there we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, which was walking distance to the museum. It’s in a new location and looks like it’s straight out of the 60’s. The bar is surrounded by gold chain mail & glass bubbles hanging from the ceiling.

I hate to say it, but this trip was sad in many ways. SAd in the realization that some places we used to visit have now become abandoned and decayed. In the 80’s & 90’s, the West End was the place to be in Dallas. I went numerous times and it was a blast. There was a ‘market place’ that was in an old factory with all sorts of shops on multiple levels and attached to it was the Dallas Alley. it was the night club to beat all. There were about 8 or 10 different clubs of all types, piano bar, blues, country, classics, dance, you name it. Pay one price and get entry to all of the clubs. My friends and I had so much fun there. We saw the building and the sign on the side so we decided to take a stroll over and check it out. Sad sad sad. Not a soul in sight, well, besides the business people scurrying home and the random vagrant. And another location that had been called ‘Restaurant Row’ in Dallas in the 80’s & 90’s has now become vacant and abandoned buildings, a nudie bar or a car dealership. I guess time moves on and not everything progresses or stays the same.

Our hotel was not fancy, but it was clean, had an indoor pool, and a free breakfast. All bonuses. And it was centrally located in regard to where we were planning on going.

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House was our dinner of choice on Friday night. The last time we’d been there was 3 years ago and our children have not stopped talking about it since! Seriously, if you get an opportunity, you should go, they’re scattered around the DFW metro area. You choose your meat and the sides are served family style. Three of us ordered the fried chicken dinner and they brought out 12 pieces of chicken and let me tell ya, they weren’t all wings. We took home probably half of them!

Saturday was clear, sunny and 50 so we decided to go to FtWorth Zoo. We’d never been and the weather was perfect. All I can say is, if you get the chance, go! It was a really beautiful zoo. I’ll tell you right now I’ve never been to San Diego. I’d love to, but this was pretty incredible. Nice, wide open enclosures that were well-kept and laid out. The white tiger was a stunning creature and just breathtaking. The giraffes were fun to watch, we were mesmerized by them. My kids both loved the reptile house with all the snakes & gators. We spent 5 hours there and only left because we didn’t want the food they had available. Why would you want to eat the crummy hot dog/pizza when you’ve got all the choices available in DFW?

Oh, the surly teenager. Yeah. Still not quite ready for that one. My son, my oldest, has always been a happy guy. I knew he wasn’t feeling well if he woke up any other way than smiling. He’ll be 13 this summer. We were talking about this trip. His response, ‘I don’t want to go.’ He wanted to stay home & play on his computer. Not even the temptation of an indoor pool or Babe’s chicken was enough to shake his resolve. He was this close to staying w/my folks. I told him if he was going to be grumpy the whole time he could stay here! He went, a little grudgingly. Today I asked him if he was glad he went. Guess what response I got. Shoulder shrug, aaah. Good times.

http://www.perotmuseum.org/
http://www.fortworthzoo.org/
http://www.babeschicken.com/

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Lessons From Middle School

Oh yes, it has begun. My precious 12yo son is rapidly morphing into a teenager. I hear it regularly, “I’m bored.’ Ok, I counter, you can clean up your desk, walk your dog, dust, rake leaves, and on and on. And always the response is ‘No, I don’t wanna do that.’ Uh huh. Ok buster. That’s how you want to play it.

Last week, actually the past few weeks, my boy got a few of the hard learned lessons of middle school. Gosh, can you even remember middle school? I can, and it’s not pretty. It’s all awkward and gangly, pimples and squeaky voices. Trying to figure out where you fit into the scene.

And then you go and mouth off to a teacher. Well, ok, she was a sub, but in the eyes of the principal, they’re one and the same. Did you know that they really don’t care to be spoken to like that? Yeah, they don’t. When I picked him up from school he was acting a bit odd. More than usual, so I asked what was up. He refused to say anything til we got to the car. Ok boy, spill.

‘How mad would you be if I got detention?’

‘What? Detention? For what?’

Then he goes into great detail about the scene and what he swears he didn’t do, but the sub says he did. It was in PE of all classes! He argued her call on a ball game, and wouldn’t let it go, to the point of receiving detention.

Detention at his school is 45 minutes. On Friday. And no, they cannot do homework, they have to write a letter of apology to the teacher when they are rude & disrespectful, then sit there the rest of the time. Hmm, sounds like fun.

He was mad about getting detention (duh), he was mad at her for giving it to him, he was mad at the world.

So, seeing all of this I distilled it into a few points. Here goes.

1. When you mouth off to a teacher you get detention=not fun.

2. When you get detention, you get in trouble at home too.

3. Don’t be mad at someone else for something you did.

4. Don’t try to blame someone else for something you did or said. Accept responsibility for your actions, learn from it and move on.

5. Accept the consequences of your actions-detention- and move on.

If everything were that simple you know. Well, wait a minute, it kind of is. Don’t blame someone else for something you did or said. Accept the consequences of your actions. Accept responsibility for your actions. Learn from it and move on. Hm, I think I can do that. Now, if he will just learn from it and not get another detention!

 

 

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Tools of Torture AKA Chicken Piccata

Remember I mentioned the short ones in my house and how they like to complain? I thought maybe they’d be getting old enough now to try new things and like them, they’re 9 & 12. Honestly. We took them on a cruise 3 or 4 yrs ago and my daughter was brave enough to try octopus, and claimed to like it. Fast forward to mom’s home cooking, nothing doing!

My husband loves capers. Any time we go to an Italian restaurant, or any restaurant for that matter, he gravitates toward menu options containing artichokes or capers, or both if he’s really lucky. We recently spent a weekend in Eureka Springs, AR and tried a new restaurant which got me thinking about changing things up, as I am wont to do. I decided it was time I try my hand at chicken piccata. It’s not really as intimidating as I’d thought. I suppose it was the capers I was afraid of. So not scary, they’re just little pickled flower buds. Hah. I never knew that. They’ve been around for thousands of years. Interesting.

Here is what mine looked like. Please refrain from licking your monitor. 🙂

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Super Simple Chicken Piccata

3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened to about 1/2″ thickness
1/2 C flour
salt & pepper to taste
2tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers drained
1/2 C white wine
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C water
3 tbsp butter cubed
hot cooked angel hair pasta

1. Put oil in skillet and heat on med-hi.
2. Dredge chicken breasts in flour, season with salt & pepper and put in skillet. Cook approximately 5 min on each side, or until chicken is browned and is no longer pink inside.
3. Remove chicken to plate & keep warm.
4. Put capers in skillet, slightly smash to release brine & heat through (about 30 seconds).
5. Pour white wine into skillet & deglaze, scraping browned bits from the bottom. Heat to a low boil and allow wine to reduce for approximately 2 minutes, or until wine is reduced to half.
5. Pour in lemon juice and water, bring to a boil again. Add in cubed butter. Stir until sauce thickens.
6. I used angel hair pasta just because the sauce is a lighter sauce. Put chicken on pasta & top with sauce. Be sure to eat the capers too!

Husband and I were quite pleased with the resulting meal. It was delicious and different from my normal repertoire. My kids, who will eat a jar of pickles or pickled okra faster than any human should (they’d even drink the pickle juice if I let them) refused the capers. Flat out. And they didn’t care much for the sauce either. My son refused to eat the pasta and my daughter developed a sudden belly ache. We thought it was a perfectly lovely meal, they missed the boat. Some day they’ll appreciate my kitchen experimentation!

Enjoy!

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A Fire, A Rowdy Beaver, and a Bubble Bath

Wow! This has been one busy week! Crazy. It seems we hardly go anywhere for a long time, work and school keep us tied to the grind stone. And then BAM! we’re going and doing lots. No real vacation in 2011, but this past summer we had about three! Feast or famine I suppose.

I recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of the greatest day of my life. Yes, my husband is a retail manager and we got married two days after Christmas, what on earth were we thinking? Obviously not about celebrating our anniversary in January I”m sure.

This weekend, we snuck away to Eureka Springs. I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but in case I haven’t, it’s a lovely 1880’s era Victorian village in the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas. We love staying at the bed and breakfasts that are scattered throughout the town. There are several we’ve stayed at. Our favorite is the 1884 Bridgeford House. Like most houses in Eureka Springs, it’s got gingerbread decoration and the whimsical period painting (it’s pink!) as well as being furnished mostly with antiques. We’ve stayed in three different rooms and enjoyed them all. The breakfast is wonderful and the innkeepers are very friendly and accommodating.

We chose to stay in their suite this time and I’m so glad we did. It’s a really gorgeous room with a gas fireplace (that really cranks out heat), a bubble bath for two and a separate bathroom. The bed is hung with lace curtains that can be released for a really romantic setting.

Our trip is about 3 hours, really easy. Friday night was the Cotton Bowl. Being Oklahoma State fans, we cheer for teams that play OU,and since Texas A&M (a former Big 12 team that moved to SEC this year) was playing OU in the Cotton Bowl, we wanted to see the game. We also wanted to see what Johnny Football is all about. Unfortunately for us, most of our favorite restaurants are closed for the season. What? There are places that do that? We were surprised to find that out too. They close from Jan 1 to Valentine’s day because business is just so slow there, they are heavily dependent on tourist traffic. We found a bar that had tv’s and a decent menu and ordered some food and settled in to watch the game.

Have you ever been to a place that really has potential, but someone ruins it? Yep, that was the Rowdy Beaver. It was a small bar in downtown Eureka that we went to eat & watch the game. Before the game started, we were literally the only people there. Then, in walks a local, a regular, who starts plugging the juke box. I know, they really still have them, but they’re digital now. The music starts (random crap that’s really LOUD), and we can barely hear each other speaking. Then the local sits at the corner of the bar and begins a conversation w/the bartender. They apparently knew each other. Well. The local, I’ll call her Lobby (loud & obnoxious), had a very limited vocabulary, all centering around the term ‘effin’ (I won’t burn your eyes with the whole word, but you get my meaning). As in ‘Effin this’ or ‘Effin that’ or ‘My effin brother got a dui’ but when she’s having this conversation, she’s saying everything AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS, SO YOU CAN HEAR HER, IN CALIFORNIA OR NEW YORK.

FINALLY, the music stops. (sigh) I asked the bartender to turn up the sound on the football game that had just started. She obliged, nearly. We could almost make out what the announcers were saying. We got almost through the first quarter before the karaoke started in the next room. Ok, that’s our cue. Packed it in and watched it in our room. Which was fine, but it just can be more fun in a bar sometimes.

Saturday found breakfast brought to our room on china. i was so full when we finished eating, I literally went back to bed. I never do that. EVER. I laid there dozing while hubby watched a movie. I was just full and warm and content. The fire was crackling away and it was so cozy and relaxing. Probably around noon we decided to go and see what shops we could find open.

Eureka is an artist village. Most people there make something in some way, shape, or form. Paintings, photographs, pottery, glass blowing, jewelry, all sorts of really interesting & beautiful things. We wandered around just taking it all in, enjoying being there without the crowds that are normally present.

We finally decided to grab a bite and went to a reliable joint called The Balcony. It’s on a balcony, can you imagine? It’s in one of the oldest hotels in town, The Basin Park. Had a quick bite and decided to go warm up with a bubble bath. There’s nothing like a crackling fire and a hot bath on a cold winter’s day to make you feel completely relaxed. Throw in a glass of wine and you can understand why I was ready to fall asleep before I got out of the tub! When I finallydid get out, I envisioned a piece of overcooked pasta!

Dinner was a new favorite called Local Flavor. It’s one of those placed that you’ve driven past a million times but for whatever reason, never stopped. It was packed out, mainly because so many others were closed, but it was a good place to eat as well.

It was just what we needed, rest and relaxation. A perfect weekend to cap off 15 years, and another busy Christmas season, to get us ready for a new week and the second semester of school.

If you ever get a chance, these are a couple of the places I mentioned.

http://www.bridgefordhouse.com

http://www.localflavorcafe.net

http://www.ermilios.com

The last one, Ermilio’s is amazing Italian & was closed til Valentine’s day for this trip. We’ve been several times, it’s wonderful. I highly recommend it.

 

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A Baby, a Bunch of Cowboys, and a Double Double in 24hrs

Wow! Is it really a new year already? Someone please give me the remote that will slow things down! Sheesh. My boy will be 13 and my girly will be 10 this year. So not ready. But before that happens, I’ve got another adventure to share!

I know you don’t know this, but I’m a huge Oklahoma State University Cowboys fan. Having gone there in the late 80’s, at the same time as the best RB ever, Barry Sanders, when Mike Gundy was the QB. Needless to say, since Gundy’s taken over as head coach, things have changed for the better and the Cowboy Nation couldn’t be happier. It’s nice when you get to step out of big brother’s (OU) shadow and show the world what you’ve got.

That said, I’ve really loved screaming at my tv every Saturday afternoon this football season. Yes, I really do scream. To the point my children gripe at me and tell me to be quiet! I tell them to go outside or join me! When we were chosen for this bowl game, the Heart of Dallas, we were pretty disappointed, feeling our bowl should’ve been better. There was actually a chart listing which teams should go to which bowl, based on their ranking in the conference. That chart showed us potentially heading to one of two, the Alamo or Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Heart of Dallas is a new bowl game, only been around 3 years, and not high on the list of bowls. I’ll stop there, because I go off on a tangent and get really upset. So I’ll spare you my rant. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of it, Heart of Dallas bowl takes proceeds and uses it to help the homeless in Dallas, which is a terrific thing. I haven’t been to a game in a very long time. The ticket prices are ridiculous, being a stay at home mom w/two kids, it’s difficult to spend $200 on two tickets to a football game when I can watch on tv, right?

Here’s the cool part. I was on the Heart of Dallas facebook & twitter pages. They had challenges and different things and they were giving away pairs of tickets. I did several things, but didn’t win. Then they posted a question, ‘Tell us why you love your school’ and they were giving away 25 pairs of tickets. So, being me, I answered it and told them why I love Oklahoma State. This was on Sunday evening. Monday morning, New Year’s Eve morning, when I looked at Facebook, I WON! I ran upstairs to my still sleeping husband and asked if he wanted to go bowling. He lifted his head, cracked an eye and said, ‘what?’ I excitedly told him my news. Needless to say, he was not as excited as I was. He didn’t go to OSU. Don’t get me wrong, he cheers for them, but just not with as much enthusiasm as I do.

So we packed our kids off to my mom’s house and hit the road for the 4 hour drive to Dallas. We got a hotel room no problem. As if all the hotel in Dallas would be full. If you haven’t been to Dallas, it’s incredibly enormous and very spread out. We had plans for where we’d eat. First we wanted to go to Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. OMG. The best fried chicken on the planet. You choose your meat and all the sides are served family style. We ate there a few years ago, there was so much chicken on the platter, that three of us ate dinner that night, and it fed all four of us lunch the next day! Amazing. But when we hit Dallas, it was 7PM on New Year’s Eve. There’s no way we’d be able to get into Babe’s. It’s a very well known and loved establishment. So, we picked the next best thing, In N Out! Double Double Animal Style and fresh cut fries. Yum-o-rama!

Checked into our hotel and set off in search of beer. What? Yes, I said, it. I do occasionally drink beer. My favorite we can’t actually get in Oklahoma b/c of archaic liquor laws. Fat Tire. Love love love it. Surely it wouldn’t be hard to find a liquor store and get some, right? Yeah, so wrong. We drove around for 15 minutes and stopped at some ‘convenience’ stores that were a little on the seedy side. The kind that have the huge bars on the windows and the ‘Pay your bills here’ signs in the window. After a couple of those, we decided to head back on the other side of the tracks, thinking getting mugged might not be the best end to our year. I think we were in a dry part of the city (Yes, they have those too, in the DFW metro if you can believe that). Finally found a decent looking gas station and found my Fat Tire. Yea. New Year’s Eve was in a hotel room with my favorite beer, my favorite guy, and watching the ball drop in NYC. There was a huge party in downtown Dallas, but it was cold and damp out, and we had to be up early. So we just packed it in. Happy New Year!

The game was an 11AM kickoff in the Cotton Bowl. We debated, train vs car, and ended up just driving there. Parked and were inside the gates by 10. Holy crap it was cold. About 40-ish, cloudy, damp, windy. I had on three layers under my down parka, scarf, down mittens, & stocking cap. It was a blow out game, and really cold, but we had fun. I’m so glad we got to go.

We thought after the game, we’d hit Babe’s for an early dinner and get back on the road home. Yeah, it was just not in the cards this trip. We’d seen a Babe’s on the map near Garland. Stopped for gas, and this is hilarious, asked for a pen & a PHONE BOOK. The girl behind the counter looked at me like I’d just arrived from another planet. ‘I have a pen, but no phone book.’ What? Seriously? I know I’m old school, I don’t own a smart phone, but come on! Everyone has phone books. I have a feeling I’m not the only one refusing the smart phone thing as long as I can. Fine. I called 411 and was put thru to the Babe’s we were trying to find. The cheerful voice on the other end told me they were closed until 5!! Now I felt like Charlie Brown just after Lucy picks up the ball. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH. It was 3:15, we were starving and had a 4 hour drive ahead of us, waiting 2 hours was not going to happen. Crap. So we headed home, and found a place to eat on the way, it was ok, but not nearly as good as Babe’s. Oh well, we’ll just have to make a return visit, right? Ok.

It was an exciting end to 2012 and a terrific beginning to 2013. And now, in a few days, we’re off on a quest for rest and relaxation, to a bed & breakfast in Eureka Springs to celebrate our 15th anniversary.

Happy New Year to you! I hope your holidays were merry and bright and 2013 brings you much happiness and prosperity!

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Delicious Holiday Appetizers

I’ve been working, for the first time in 9 years. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been working the last 9 years, but it was not for pay, other than kisses and crayon-drawn pictures. But now I’ve got a job working for someone outside of my home, and for a real live paycheck! I’ve been in sales for our local HoneyBaked Ham store. I go out three days a week doing marketing, increasing knowledge of our services and products to businesses in our community. It’s been fun and interesting. One of the things I wanted to do was to increase exposure and thinking of the products beyond just Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. One of our local tv stations does a segment on Fridays with local chefs demoing one of their recipes. Yes, that’s me, I managed to get my boss on a few weeks ago. But it required me coming up with some recipes that would be specific to our products. I have to apologize for the lack of photos, I’ll work on getting some. I came up with one recipe and another of the employees came up with another that’s kind of based on one of the seasonal sandwiches offered.

HoneyBaked Ham Holiday Appetizers

1 lb HoneyBaked ham cut into bite sized pieces
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
1 small wheel of brie, sliced
1 jar HoneyBaked Ham Cranberry Walnut Chutney

1 lg HoneyBaked oven roasted turkey breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
bleu cheese
1 jar HoneyBaked ham Cranberry Walnut Chutney

HAM APPETIZER
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. On a cookie sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Next place a slice of ham and top it with a slice of brie.
3. Pop cookie sheet into 350F oven for 5 minutes or until brie begins to melt.
4. Remove from cookie sheet and put on serving platter. Top with 1tsp of Cranberry Walnut Chutney. Serve warm.

TURKEY APPETIZER
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. On a cookie sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Place a slice of turkey on baguette and top with 1/2 to 1 tsp bleu cheese. (be careful b/c the bleu cheese is a very strong taste).
3. Pop cookie sheet into 350F oven for 5 min.
4. Remove from cookie sheet and place on serving platter, top with 1 tsp Cranberry Walnut Chutney.

These are a great way to use up left over turkey/ham from the holiday, and the look beautiful on the platter, very elegant and delicious.

Any of the HoneyBaked Ham products can be ordered from the online catalog.

Enjoy!

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