Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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It’s a God Thing

Not to get all religious on you or anything, but you know, some times things happen in your life to make you understand there’s a higher power at work that you may not realize. I’m not in your face about my faith, it’s very personal to me. If you ask me questions, I’ll be happy to share my beliefs with you, but I’m not going to push anything on anyone. I just don’t go for that. I’m of the school of thought that there are three general things in life that I don’t discuss: politics, finances and religion. It seems to avoid a lot of disagreements and overall bad feelings.

I’d been working as a sales manager part-time since last fall. It was a fun job, I liked the people I worked with, but there wasn’t a ton of money to be made. But let me back up for just a tic.

I was a newly licensed health care professional when my first child was born. I went back to work. It’s what you do, right? Then a few years later, my next child came along. We were all thrilled with the addition to our family. However, when the baby got a little older, I realized I needed to be with my children. I mean, who better to take care of my precious babies than me, right? No $7/hr day care worker would or could give them the time & attention they need. So I closed my business and became a stay at home parent. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and have regret over something I could have done, but didn’t. In case you haven’t guessed by now, it was the second best decision I ever made. The first, marrying my husband.

Yes, it is difficult. I will not sugar coat it. It was a decision made with much love and consideration. And one that I continued because of my sense of duty to my children. Please don’t misunderstand my words. That decision is personal and what I did wouldn’t work for everyone. My best friend never understood how I was able to be at home all day with my kids. Many parents would love to be able financially to be stay at home parents. And I think there are equally as many thinking “No way could I do that. I’d go nuts!” Again, something very personal.

Fast forward to today. I have been praying for a long time for God to lead me in the direction I should go. Where I needed to be. I was unsure about going back into healthcare because of the amount of time & expense required to get relicensed and established. My children still need assistance with homework. And if I’m being honest, refereeing at times. Soon enough they’ll be in college and won’t need any assistance, but while they do still need me, if possible, I want to be here for them.

Last year, one of my cousins went through an ugly divorce. She is a school teacher and grew up here in my hometown. I hadn’t asked her (I didn’t want to be one of those nosy family members) but I thought maybe she might be considering a move back here, closer to her mother & sister (she’s currently several hours away). I went on the website for one of our local private high schools to see if there happened to be a teaching position open that she would be qualified for. We have several private high schools here, but this is the one we’ve been planning to send our children to all along.

In fact, I’ve looked at their websites many times, in search of a position that I would be qualified for, since I’m not a certified teacher. Certifiable, maybe, but not a teacher.

This particular time, when I went on their site, I found a receptionist position. It was like I heard angels singing. Truly! I was floored to find it and just elated at the possibility of not only working where my children will one day go to school, but also at the opportunity to earn more money for our family.

I sent in my resume, and waited. I followed up. No dice. They’re offering it to someone else. Well, ok. I was disappointed, to be sure. But I also tried to remember that if this was the case, then it simply was not meant to be.

But then….I got a voice mail. From the principal, asking me if I was still interested and would I be available for an interview. I was so excited, I could hardly breathe and I was running in circles in my house! literally! I called my husband and thought I might pee everywhere like one of the little yippy dogs that tinkle when they get wound up!

I went in for the interview & felt good about it, but as the days ticked by, I resigned myself that once again, it just was not meant to be.

I am one who really tries to see those kinds of signs and accept them for what they are. If a house I was interested in, sold before I was ready to buy, I might be disappointed, but I would also realize it wasn’t meant to be and I would find the right house when the time came.

When I received the phone call with the job offer, I was beyond ecstatic. It was the answer to so many prayers. Not only to be in the same place my children will be, but to have the same days off they do, to be off early enough in the day to be at home & available to assist with homework. And to be in a place, an institution that believes in not only educating the children, but to help them become the best people they can be, and focusing on them as individuals, not simply test scores.

I have felt so much love and joy since I have been there. Before the beginning of school, we had orientation for the new school year, each grade had their own specific time. I would be lying if I didn’t say seeing them gave me warm fuzzies. The boys were hugging each other. Seeing their friends after a summer apart, just to see their genuine affection and camaraderie was just wonderful. When I say hugging, I don’t mean the one arm guy hug, but real hugs, like you’d give a long lost friend or family member that you were truly happy to see.

I know without a doubt this is where I’m supposed to be. I was led here for a reason. Is it anything beyond my family and children? Who knows. But right now I know I have found where I belong. Yes, the early mornings are kicking my butt. Yes, there’s a lot to learn for me still, to the point sometimes I feel like a total moron, but I’m still learning & there is quite a lot to it.

I suppose the point of this post is to not give up on your dreams. And even when you aren’t sure anyone is listening, keep repeating it. And be open to the thought that what you thought you wanted may not really be the right thing for you.

“Lord, guide me where I need to be. Show me the way.”

This was the simple prayer I said every night as I went to bed.

**NOTE: I started writing this post in August. I’ve now been at my position for two months and I am settling in and learning the ropes and routines. I am thrilled to be working there and part of an instution of that caliber. To be part of the real love and caring for the students and families as a whole, not simply test scores. In the faculty lounge a few weeks ago, we had this very conversation, while this post was on the back burner.

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The Life of a Retail Manager

In case I haven’t shared that part of my life with you yet, my husband is a retail manager. Has been since he walked across the stage in the funny hat way back in the day. I won’t totally out him on his age, but it’s over 20 years. In his early years, he worked for a company that liked to move him. A lot. He lived in 11 cities in 10 years. Seriously. A crazy amount of moving around. Is it any wonder that he can’t recall anyone from those times? When you’re in a city for scarcely 4 to 6 months, give or take, making friends is tough.

Yes, we met in retail. We were both working at a store, long story, another post. If you’re lucky enough to never have worked retail, it’s a difficult and thankless field to be in. The customers are cranky. Management is cranky because your payroll is through the roof or sales figures are in the toilet. It’s not for the faint of heart for sure. There are moments of happiness, when someone expresses their gratitude when you help them in some way. But mostly, it’s people just looking for someone to bitch at when they can’t bitch at their spouse. It’s difficult to be someone’s whipping post when what they’re dealing with truly has nothing to do with you. Or maybe even the store you’re at.

One day last week, my husband was on his way out the door when a customer stopped him. His name tag reads ‘Store Manager’, so it’s not much of a stretch when someone asks. Here’s how it went down (pretty much)

Man: ‘Are you the store manager?’ in a growly and very unhappy tone.

hubs: ‘Yessir. I am. What can I help you with?’

Man: ‘I have shopped at this store for years and never, NEVER have I been treated the way I was treated today. I am extremely unhappy.’

hubs: ‘What is it you need? I’ll be happy to help you.’

Man: ‘I was in the shoe department and I asked one of your employees for help. AND THEY JUST WALKED AWAY!’

Hubs doing a mental headshake at the possibility. preparing for the ugliness that will surely follow. ‘Alright, let’s go see if we can find what it is you’re looking for.’

They head to the shoe department, hubs mind is going 90mph all the while. They arrive in the shoe section, the man gives my husband the name of the product he’s looking for. They walk to where the shoes should be.

Man: ‘There are your people right there!’ the man points to a cluster of people at the end of the aisle who are standing around chatting.

Hubs-mental head shaking again, almost becomes a spasm at this point. Keeping a straight face carries a high degree of difficulty right now.
‘Uh, sir? Those are customers.’
The shirts this group of people is wearing is the same color as the store employees uniform! He’d mistaken customers for employees and got mad as hell when one of them wouldn’t help him! Hubs helped the man find what he was looking for and they went back to the front of the store.

When they arrive he begins again on my husband.

Hubs: ‘Is there anything else I can do for you?’

Man: ‘My wife was having trouble getting help too.’

Wife: ‘EVERY TIME WE GO OUT YOU START AGAIN WITH THIS! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE DOING IT HERE!’ and she proceeded to dress him down at the front of the store.

I’m sitting here w/a grin on my face shaking my head all over again. And all I can say is, some people. So the next time you think your job is tough, be glad you’re not in retail. It really is a dog eat dog field.

 

 

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Marisa’s Spicy Pretzels

Hi there! Did you miss me? I know, I know. It’s been way too long. I’ve been working and trying to get myself into a routine of some sort and frankly, it’s kicking my butt!

However, I am thrilled it’s football season! I love spending a Saturday afternoon watching my favorite team grind it out on the field. Have I been lucky enough to attend a game? Nope, not yet. But soon, very very soon, I will get to go see a game live and in person. And I’ll get to go with my honey and hang with my cousin’s boyfriend who’s an alumni, season ticket holder and regular tailgating kind of guy. He’s invited us to tailgate with him, so naturally, that’s where we’ll be going. Of course, we want to bring something to contribute. When I mentioned that I love to bake, it was met with a ‘meh’ kind of face. He said they don’t really do sweets. I suppose he has a point. Chocolate chip cookies don’t really go well with burgers and beer.

I found out that many of my coworkers at my new job enjoy cooking like I do. My cohort in crime, my mentor and overall hand holder, Marisa, shared a recipe with me that will be perfect for tailgating. Or let’s face it, any time you want a tasty snack. This is a super easy recipe and easily customizable to suit your tastes. If you’re a SPICY person or just a spicy person, you can change it up!

Marisa’s Spicy Pretzels

1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1-1/2 tsp garlic salt
3/4 C canola oil
bag of pretzels (I used a 1lb bag of the square pretzels, Marisa used the little stick pretzels)

In a gallon size zipper bag, pour the oil and dry seasonings and mix well.
Add the pretzels and toss to coat. Let pretzels stand approximately 4 hours, occasionally turning the bag to increase coating. Store in an airtight container.

I used 1/2 tsp of cayenne b/c I like spicy, not SPICY! They are tasty and addictive! My husband is ready for another batch!

Enjoy!

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A Few Simple Rules

Yes, I am still alive and causing trouble! I’m sure I’ve got a new recipe to share, but today, I’m going to share some advice, free of charge! Yes, I know, unsolicited advice is always worth what you pay for it. But I had an experience a few weeks ago that inspired this post. that and a few other thoughts that some people (mainly of the male persuasion) may not really know and/or understand when it comes to dealing with those of us who belong to the fairer sex.

I almost want to quote Elle Whatshername from ‘Legally Blonde’. Remember the courtroom scene when shes’ questioning the daughter who has the terrible perm? ‘The rules of hair care are simple and finite.’ But with maybe one little revision. ‘The rules of speaking to women are simple and finite.’

Are you ready? Take notes if you like, or book mark this page for future reference.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot, the inspiration for my post. So I was shopping, and at the checkout, I looked down to get my card out, and the young man behind the register said ‘Are you a senior?’ I must have given him the ‘you go to hell! You go to hell and you die!’ look because he quickly backtracked, muttering under his breath, ‘nevermind, you don’t look like one.’ Um, look. I know it was time to get my hair done and there were more grays in there than I normally like to have, but I still have more pepper than salt. So, I’m not the sweet young thing I used to be, but I’m not in the nursing home just yet! I’m years, YEARS I say, from receiving my AARP card in the mail. You know, that is just one of the things you don’t say to a woman.

Now that you’ve heard the kind of day I was having, here are the rules:

1. Never ask a woman ‘Are you tired?’, which translates to ‘You look like hell.’

2. Never ask a woman ‘Are you pregnant?’ unless you are 100% sure she is, better to keep your mouth shut, otherwise you may find yourself with a fat lip!

3. Never ask a woman ‘Have you gained weight?’ This needs no explanation. Although, you may want to be out of throwing distance because you’ll likely find a lamp, book, or some other heavy object lobbed at your head.

4. ‘Do these pants/skirt/muu muu/table cloth make my butt look big?’ The only way to answer this, and I mean ONLY way, ‘No honey, they make you look hot!’ ‘No honey, they make you look 10lbs slimmer.’ To simply answer with a ‘No’ or a ‘You look fine’ you should also be prepared to duck from flying objects. Or, you could avoid it all together and say, ‘I’m going to get myself a glass of wine/comb my hair/whatever. Do you need anything?”

5. Never ask a woman ‘Are you feeling ok?’ Once again, equates to ‘you look like hell’. And I can almost guarantee you, if she’s not feeling ill, YOU will be very, very soon.

6. Never say to a woman ‘It looks like you’ve had a long day.’ See numbers 1-3 for clarification.

7. Never come home from work, and ask the wife who’s been home with small children all day, ‘What did you do today?’ In addition to having things lobbed at you, including poopy diapers, there’s a good chance you’ll get daddy duty for many hours in return, most likely with a crying and inconsolable child. Rather, say ‘How was your day?’, and pay attention to her when she tells you what happened. I promise, you’ll be glad you did later, as boring and tedious as it may be at the time, and I’m not talking about feeling like being part of your child’s day, if you catch my meaning.

What to say if you want the day/evening to go well:

Have you lost weight?
What are you doing, your skin is glowing?
Is that dinner? It smells delicious (even if it smells like straight up shit)
Let me take care of the laundry/dishes (better yet, just DO IT w/o saying a word. HUGE brownie points)
Is that a new dress? It looks amazing on you.

Any questions? Oh, and yes, at some point, all of these things have been posed to me. Yes, the results were not pretty, and no, the person who said/asked did not make the same mistake twice.

Oh, and one last thought to leave you with. Never. And I mean N.E.V.E.R say ‘It must be your time of the month.’ Or ‘Is it your time of the month?’ I don’t care if she’s levitating over a bed and projectile vomiting pea soup straight at your head, say this or any version of it, and your reproductive future will be in serious jeopardy, you’ll be sleeping on the couch with one eye open, and you can’t say you haven’t been warned. You can think it all you want, but verbalizing this single statement will get you in more trouble than all of the others put together. Combine it with any of the above, and you’ll have some sort of mysterious ‘accident’ never to be seen again.

That is all. Carry on.

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A Pack of Wolves, The Wild Woody, and The Case of the Mysterious Melted Gum

It is summer. Which means road trip & vacation season, right? Well you know, I hate to be left out of these things. Especially when I have a job that is extremely flexible and the boss lets me work around my husband’s schedule.

We have good friends who live in St Louis and we do our best to visit them every summer. St Louis is a very fun city that has so much to do for everyone. Our friends actually own three, count’em THREE haunted houses in St Louis, so needless to say, it’s never a dull moment when we visit! To answer your next question, yes, we’ve been through the houses, but only with lights on and no actors present (I’m a great big ole weenie!).

Last year, they partnered with a friend who had a business in Branson, aka Entertainment Capitol of the Midwest. I haven’t been to Branson in over 20 years, and in that time, nearly every single country star you can think of has opened a theater of some sort. It’s gone from a sleepy little regional kind of vacation spot, to a really jam-packed and popular destination. There is all manner of entertainment you can possibly want for the whole family. Shows, mini-golf, shopping, restaurants, lakes, I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

So this new business venture, Branson’s Wild World, is a really fun & cool place. It’s part aquarium, part zoo, part family fun center. They have sharks, gators, snakes, spiders, fish, and even a pack of wolves! Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a wolf before, but theirs are all black and beautiful. My kids were able to touch & hold snakes (ew, not me) and pet a tarantula. Again, not me! They also have black light indoor mini golf! I know! It was very challenging, but fun!

I took the kids up on Friday and we went to the Wild World, and I took loads of pictures. Saturday, that was our day to go to Silver Dollar City. If you’ve never been, it’s in a very hilly part of the world, and I am always surprised when I see women walking around in heels. Anyway, it’s an old-time western kind of theme park. they have rides, some really huge roller coasters, artisans like black smiths, leather workers, and many other craftsmen. Although, I have to say, it was quite frustrating. The roller coasters are run by software, unlike the ‘olden days’ when they were operated by a switch. The newest ride, Outlaw Run, is a wooden roller coaster and supposed to be a big deal. We went straight there when we got in, and were immediately greeted with a message that the ride was down and repairs were being made, but they didn’t know when, or if, it would be back up. At that point, many people decided to try their luck in other parts of the park. We decided to wait and just see what happened. You never know, it could be 5 min, or 55 minutes for them to get it going again. We waited an hour, they got it going and sent two cars with people through and just when we were in sight of the cars, the people who’d just gotten their seats, were told to get out, and resume their spots in line. Sheesh. We decided to go and do something else and come back later in the day. Of their big rides, they had malfunctions that day on 4 of them that we know of.

Because of my friends’ business, we were able to get discounted tickets. This didn’t make it any less frustrating, but if we’d paid full price to get into the park, and the rides were constantly out of services, I’d be really mad.

So, the gum. My son, whom I love more than air, is turning 13 next month. I’ve been told by parents of teenagers that boys tend to get a little ditzy when the hormones kick in. So far, we really haven’t had to deal with that much, but I know it’s only a matter of time. We rode a roller coaster called Wild Fire. It’s a HUGE coaster on the side of a mountain that does at least two corkscrews. Being an almost teenage boy, he thought it would be funny to spit his gum out on one of the corkscrews. Yeah, I know. So when we get off the ride, he tells me he’s done this, and that it bounced off his foot & disappeared. Great. That’s just charming. Later in the day, we decided to give Outlaw Run another try. After another 45 minutes of waiting, finally, they get to ride (I passed on it, having dealt w/vertigo and not wanting to take a chance of setting it off). When everyone makes their way to me, our friends daughter announced that my son had sat in someone’s gum. Hmmm, really? I think I know whose gum it is! And yes, it was melted to the shorts between his legs. He removed as much as he could and we carried on.

That night, the kids played tag & hide & seek outside our friends apartment. Did you know that high grass hides things like chiggers, burrs and spiders? Yep, everyone had bug & chigger bites on them the next day. My son still has burrs on his socks that I’m going to let him remove.

Sunday morning we hit one of the family fun centers and the Wild Woody! Go carts are so much fun! The Wild Woody is built of wood and has a spiral tower, kind of like a parking structure. Super fun, I was hoping my daughter would be able to drive, but not on the Woody, she rode with me. She was able to drive on one of the other courses. it was her first time, she’s nearly 10, and the look of concentration on her face was priceless! She wasn’t going to let the cart get the best of her! She kept having to shake her hands because she was white-knuckling the steering wheel!

We made our way home after a quick visit and were so glad we were able to go, even for a quick trip. It is really our only vacation this summer, so I’m glad it was fun!

What about your summer? Seen any wolves or found any mysterious gum on your shorts?

http://www.silverdollarcity.com
http://www.bransonswildworld.com
http://www.bransontracks.com

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Margherita Pizza on steroids

Yes, it’s me, I’m back. I have garlic and I’m not afraid to use it! In my house, garlic is a food group, along with chocolate and red wine. Sounds like a party, no? 🙂 Last summer I had a bumper crop of basil. I love me some fresh basil, also a food group. Because I didn’t want to waste any, I ran it thru my food processor with a little olive oil and put it in ice cube trays & froze it to use later. Since pesto is just basil that’s been put through a food processor with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan, I figured I’d have the hard part already done, right? Great. So, now I’m coming up with new ways to use my bounty. And just in case you’re curious, yes, I will have basil in my garden again this year.

Today I was trying to decide what dinner would be and I saw the premade pizza shells at the grocery. I love the thin & crispy crust pizza and was thrilled to see a pre-made thin crust. Pizza Margherita is wonderful and I rarely see it when I go out. Hmmm, thin crust pizza shell, tomatoes in the fridge and basil ready to go? I’m in! But….here I go again, changing things up. You’ll be so proud, I took pictures!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In case you don’t know what Margherita pizza is, it’s a pizza crust with olive oil, minced garlic, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and basil. Yum! It’s a very light & flavorful pizza. Mine, well, mine was essentially pesto pizza with tomatoes. In my fridge, I happen to have some gorgeous fresh asparagus that I picked on Friday at Thunderbird Berry Farm (I so wish they had a website). And a jar of pine nuts in the cabinet calling my name too. Yep, I did it. I added them to my Margherita pizza and, well, all I can say is WOW. amazing! So, if you love caprese salad, you’ll love Margherita pizza! Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!

Margherita Pizza on Steroids

1 pre-cooked thin pizza crust
2 roma tomatoes sliced thin
4 oz shredded mozzarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
5 garlic cloves (you can use less if you don’t want to stink!) finely minced
5 tbsp. chopped basil (or 1/2 C fresh basil cut into thin strips)
6 stalks of asparagus
2 tbsp. pine nuts
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. On pizza crust, spread 1-2 tbsp. olive oil all over crust using a pastry brush to be sure and get all of the crust
3. spread chopped basil over olive oil, sprinkle garlic & pine nuts over basil.
4. sprinkle cheese over basil & top with tomato slices
5. arrange asparagus around tomatoes
6. bake 10 minutes or until crust reaches your preferred crispness
7. enjoy with altoids!

****NOTE-if you don’t want your tongue to slap your brains out, feel free to decrease the amount of garlic and/or basil. If you use fresh basil, the taste will be delicious, but not quite as powerful as my version.

enjoy!

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Happiness?

Forgive me for taking a tiny little break from my usual DG kind of posts, I promise I’ll post a new recipe tomorrow! I suppose I’m feeling sort of introspective these days. With lots of drama and trauma in the lives of many around me (some real, some fabricated), it really makes me take a moment and look closer at my own life.

There are so many adages I’ve heard before and as I’m growing up (not older!), I realize the reason they’re around is because they really are true. Life is what you make it. It really is, and I learned this in my mid 20’s when I moved to LA. On a whim, I followed my roommate out there. I had no job, no apartment, no real reason to say no, so I went. It became a life altering experience. I was completely overwhelmed. If you haven’t been to LA, I can’t begin to describe just the vastness of everything there. Everything you can possibly imagine and even more. My roommate’s relationship progressed to the point of them getting engaged, which left me to find a new place to live. I had some really wonderful coworkers (newly weds, no less) who let me rent a room from them. I was miserable. 1500 miles from home, working full time and sharing a little 2br/1bath house with people I barely knew. Finally, someone smacked me and said “Hey! You are in the most exciting city, everything you’d ever want to do is here, and you’re sitting there feeling sorry for yourself? What’s up with that?’ And after that point, everything was different. I went to Dodgers games, museums, the beach, all sorts of things and really started enjoying everything that incredible city had to offer. I learned that so much of it is within my control. Of course, there are some things I can’t control: traffic, weather, cost of living. The one thing I can control (as I continually tell my children) is myself and my attitude and outlook.

Happiness, that’s a choice. The family we’re born into, our eye color, the weather, these are things that we really don’t have a choice in. We all have our wishes, but in reality, we have no say over these things and cannot change them, no matter how badly we’d like to. I have a friend, we’ve known each other since high school. She is beautiful, was always drop dead gorgeous, but was the type who really didn’t know she was as beautiful as she was. Down to earth is how I”d describe her. She has had some not so nice things happen to her. Her ex-husband & father of her children committed suicide. A different ex was abusive and a total jack-hole. She was brutally attacked and injured. And yet, she continues to look on the bright side of life. We all have our crap days. We all have things go wrong, or happen that we wish were different or better. The difference is how you respond to it. Do you let it defeat you or do you dust yourself off and say, ‘ok, that sucked. What’s next?’

Happiness is a choice. Yes, I’ve experienced adversity, difficulty and even tragedy. But I choose to be happy, because my life is not over yet and I refuse to let anything negative define me or who I am.

So, my question for you is, what’s your choice?

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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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The Cheesiest Scalloped Potatoes….EVER

Happy Easter! I hope you had a wonderful day. From a Catholic family, today is a pretty big deal. The end of a 50 day long journey from Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, to Holy Thursday, Good Friday and today. I always feel so humbled and grateful for the sacrifices made so long ago for people who weren’t even born yet. It’s a very emotional holiday. But even if you’re not terribly religious, chances are, you had some sort of get together today, and it probably involved food of varying types and quantities. I actually toned it down this year and went for a more minimalist approach. I bought an amazing ham from HoneyBaked Ham. Of course there were deviled eggs. And I found some gorgeous asparagus to go with it, that I simply steamed and put some butter on after cooking (it’s delish that way, just clean and simple). The final dish, my piece de resistance, was my first attempt at scalloped potatoes. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous, putting a new dish on the table for Easter not having prepared it before. And yes, I did throw out my disclaimer “It’s a new recipe, if it sucks it’s not my fault.”

I have to apologize. I’ve been such a slacker lately with the pictures. Today, it quite literally was gone before I could even think of grabbing my camera! Well, that and the splatters on the top of the pan were pretty brown and yucky looking. Not exactly what I want to share. So here’s what I did. It was very simple and basic, but you could taste the cheese and the potatoes, comfort food supreme.

Cheesiest Scalloped Potatoes

5 lg russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thinly
4-1/2 tbsp. butter
4-1/2 tbsp. flour
3 C 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
12oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray 2-1/2 to 3QT casserole dish with cooking spray, be sure to spray up the sides as well as the bottom. Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle a handful of the shredded cheese over the potatoes.

2. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in salt & flour. Stir with a whisk and let cook for one minute. Pour in milk and continue stirring, until sauce begins to thicken.

3. Add in remaining cheese and stir until completely melted. Pour half over bottom layer of potatoes in casserole dish. Layer remaining potatoes on top, pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the potatoes.

4. Cover and bake for 1-1/2 hrs.

This recipe makes a very cheesey batch of potatoes that will amaze and astound your friends and family. The dish I made this in was quite literally scraped clean before it even hit the sink!

Enjoy!

Oh, in case you couldn’t tell, this is a very unhealthy, high fat, high calorie dish. It’s oh so good, but just don’t eat it thinking you’re doing something healthy!

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