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L is for… Lollipop… and Lentils

6 Oct

A picture to make you say ‘awwww’ and then a lovely lentil stew to pop into your mouth, how’s that?

 

L is for… LOLLIPOP:

 

And L is also for…

Lentil Stew with Smoked Sausage and Cabbage

(once again, I failed to take a picture)

2 T. olive oil

1 bag lentils

1 onion, diced

1/2 head cabbage, shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 smoked sausages, sliced

1 can Rotel (heat level as you prefer)

4 cups beef or chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 t. thyme

1 t. chipotle Cholula

1/2 t. red pepper flakes (if you want more heat)

 

Heat oil over medium heat.  Saute onion, garlic, carrots and cabbage until tender.  Add lentils, smoked sausage and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.  Add broth, bay leaves, thyme, Cholula and red pepper flakes and bring to boil.   Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about a half hour, or until lentils are tender (watch as the time gets close – depending on the type of lentil being used, this can quickly turn to mush before you know it.)

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if desired and sop up with flat bread or tortillas.

Gooood food on a cold rainy night.

Serves 4-6 depending on appetite.

 

This is good over grains the next day.

 

(this entry for ABC Wednesday)

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Return to Sender

4 Oct

The Today Show today had an interview with the father who got on his daughter’s bus and let loose on a bunch of kids that had been bullying her.  He knows he crossed a line – I know it too, though as a parent I can’t help but applaud.  This is a father who loves his daughter – who hurts right down to his core at the reality that there are people out there who are willing to cause her pain for the sake of a few minutes worth of entertainment.

I honestly hope they spent the day in school with wet pants.

I didn’t sleep well last night and today I indentified why… today is the day I’m due child support – and for the last six months or so, it’s been getting very haphazard… either short, or late, or not coming at all.   And it’s leading to heart palpitations due to stress every couple of weeks.

Worse – and that’s bad, but its just the money part – he’s totally dropped communication with her and with all the other kids. I think they’re connected… if he relates to her as a person, it’s not going to be so easy to pretend that its ok to regard he as an optional expense he can take or leave.

So..she’s lost her dad, who made a whole lot of promises about that not ever happening when he left.  She’s lost the ability to enjoy her last year of high school because finances are so tight that everything is regarded through a filter of ‘can we afford this’ and the answer is always ‘no’ or ‘depends on if the money comes through as it should.

Even when it does get paid on time, in full, I’m afraid to spend it beyond  absolute immediate necessity because there is no safe guarantee that the next payment will happen on time.

So anyway.. not so much a complaint as a basic look at how things are.  I deal with the money, occasionally panic, mainly try to use what we have as wisely as possible… it’s when he makes clear that he doesn’t care what it does to her… when he rejects her attempts to start a conversation, or promises something he doesn’t deliver on and then suggests to her that it’s HER fault she’s not getting it because she ‘nagged’ (because she asked if he was still going to do X…)… that’s when I get mad.

That’s when I’d love to get on the metaphorical bus and put the fear of goddess in him and make him feel what she feels – make him live the shaky life he thinks its fine for her to live when he’s got a BMW that cost him well over $60,000 and the last time he saw her – over two years ago now – all he did was brag about it while she asked in vain if he might take her shopping for a pair of jeans.

I hate feeling this kind of anger.. makes my throat close over in pain… makes me shake… makes my heart start pumping so hard I am afraid it might literally burst right out of my chest.

I try very hard not to wish him harm… and that is hard, hard, hard when he is causing my daughter harm. But I do want him to feel and live with the harm he makes her live with.  I do want him to know, down deep in his core, what doing without feels like.. what having those who should love him show him neglect and disdain.

I want to just send what he offers back to him, where it belongs.

A couple years ago – when I was dealing with an earlier set of conflict with him, I came across this protection spell and stored it away.  I have actually used it in modified form many times –  I modified it because I was… and remain … hopeful that the harm being done might stop.. that rather than offering harm, good might also be offered.  Hopeful that maybe a connection could be learned that when you treat others appropriately, that good comes back to you too.

So this is my modified chant – and I say it to keep myself from frankly cursing him, as once again, he tried to short us by nearly three hundred dollars.  I’m speaking this chant to remind myself that his well being is also my will if he remembers to value the well being of his daughter.

(Note.. this is not a money issue for him.. he makes 6 figures; we live under the poverty level.  This is because he is a very greedy man with a taste for expensive toys and has racked up his credit debt so high that he ends up with little cash left over after bills.  If he looks after her first, I welcome him being showered with abundance – I simply object to the imbalance he’s fine with.)

Return to Sender

All acts of good or negativity

will now return threefold to thee

All harm or help you send my way

upon your own self will hold sway

All acts and words of love or hate

become your own decided fate

By all that’s good and true and wise

by oceans wide and deep blue skies

by day and night, and powers three

as I will it, so mote it be!

I promise, this sort of woe-is-me post will not be the norm here.  I am very blessed… his bailing on parenthood and health problems are the only negatives in my life. My children are lovely people, my grandchildren and a joy, the man in my life is kind and compassionate to a fault.   I don’t want all the stuff my ex has – it always was a chase to try to buy happiness that has never worked for him.  I am surrounded by love, and am ridiculously happy when I’m not panicked over trying to make the edges of living meet.  I have no credit debt so am far less immediately impacted by the current economy than many.

I just want to stop having me and mine being the recipients of the spewing negativity he fills himself up with.  I spent a long time trying to help him find a way to happiness… that’s not my job anymore, but I do believe the only hope he has is looking after the people in his life he’s been blessed with and doesn’t appreciate.

*whew* Ok rant over.

What’s Cookin’ This Week: Oct 4-10

4 Oct

I updated last week’s list to note what actually happened vs. what I planned to do.  Looking at this – and my non-posted menu plans from the past month – I think a couple things are confirmed:

1.  I plan for too much food – I leave myself one non-cooking day a week, but the reality is that there are at least 2 days I needn’t cook.. and often, that’s more like 3 days.

2. Schedules shift often enough that it’s becoming silly to plan which day I’ll be making which meal.  Sometimes it’s obvious, but not always, so I think I’m going to list what I plan to make and not necessarily when during the week I’m going to make it.

That seems like a step back and I don’t know if it will work for me, or if I’ll decide I want the most specific plan even if I do wind up needing to mod it a lot.  But that’s what I’m going to try this month.

I spent most of my life cooking for a crowd – for a long while, mealtime mean a husband, four kids and whoever else showed up at the table.  Until five weeks ago, it included for adult-sized appetites, regular houseguests, and the youngest’s boyfriend of the moment – so I never knew if i was cooking for 2, 4, or 6 and just got used to making a whole lot ‘just in case’.

So, cooking for two is a new thing and it’s not easy!  For the rest of this year, though, it will be my daughter and me and then when she heads to college, I’m moving back to the DC area where I think of as home and in with my extremely patient fiance, Michael. I haven’t mentioned him… he is a saint putting up with long distance so that Deanna can finish high school here.

He comes out here as often as he can, and I go out there as often as I can, and that’s how we deal with that.  When Deanna’s out of school, she comes along – when she’s in school, she goes to stay with a friend while I’m away.

And in fact, this next weekend, I’ll be heading out there for a week – to what I am already regarding as my other home.  We’ve got a busy week planned that includes a lot of socializing with friends, a day at the Ren Faire, and other good fun.

So… dinner planning this week only involves a few days worth – and it turns out that this week, I DO know which days will be which, so I’ll go list that too:

Monday Oct 4 (Meatless Monday)

Corn and Potato Chowder and Homemade Rolls

(UPDATE – Ooorr.. nothing.  Deanna had a last minute offer to go out with friends, and I kind of just forgot to eat)

Tuesday Oct 5

Chicken and Vegetable Crepes and Tossed Salad

(nope… low energy day and we both wanted easy comfort food….wound up making Cheeseburger Turnovers (roll out croissant dough filed with a mixture of cooked ground beef, onion, cheese, a bit of catsup and mustard and pickle relish.  Those were really good by the way.)

Wednesday Oct 6

Enchilada Casserole

(Flipping Wednesday and Thursday)

Thursday Oct 7

Smoked Sausage and Lentils Stew with Acorn Squash

OR

Clean out the fridge and use leftovers before leaving.

Friday Oct 8

Travel Day – Michael plans to cook something simple

Saturday Oct 9

Renaissance Faire!  We’ll be eating out.  Possible turkey legs will be involved.

Sunday Oct 10

Not sure yet – we’ll be menu planning and grocery shopping for the week today.

(this post is for Menu Plan Monday.)

Jasmine Tea, Cross Stitch, and Rain

3 Oct

The title is pretty much everything on my mind today – we had one nice crisp sunny day yesterday, and now we’re back to grey, leaky skies… it almost feels as if the sun forgot to wake up today.  I’ve been at very loose ends – not a lot of energy.  Not exactly achy, but sometimes rheumatoid arthritis creates a bottoming out of energy, like a leaky balloon… everything is just a bit too hard to bother with.

I am glad of the lack of ache – it let me stitch a bit on a perforated paper sampler I’m working on – it’s my own design and I’ll take pictures very soon.  This one will be given to an auction at the UU church I attend late this year, but I can already see I’ll be stitching it again for myself, as I like it very much.

I chose to stitch on paper because I have a tendency to put time into stitching, and then losing steam at the end and never getting them properly finished – with perforated paper, it doesn’t have to be stretched and you pop it into a frame as soon as you’re finished.  Since this piece was for an auction, there’s a deadline involved and I just didn’t want to run the risk of blowing it.

Jasmine tea is my drink of choice today – my son in law came over quite early today, on an errand to pick up a blend of chamomile and mint tea for my daughter who has reached the ‘I-can’t-breathe’ stage of a cold that’s whipping through their house.  While I was putting that together for her, I got a hankering for some jasmine tea for myself.

He brought my granddaughter Hailey over – it’s so neat to have them visit after living with me for the first year of her life – she now gets very excited as they walk in, saying ‘Hi!” and waving to everyone and everything.    She’s also quite fond of pointing and demanding ‘whazzat??’ – and I had a pile of Halloween decorations in a pile ready to find a spot for them, so she was impatient to get down and explore.  This year they’ll all have to be placed with a careful eye to breakable vs. unbreakable and I’ll want to keep a couple plush decorations on hand to let her wander with.

Speaking of, they just got pictures done that they took last month, and one of them includes a t-shirt I cross-stitched for her.  Hailey adores Yo-Gabba-Gabba … I’m not sure if there’s a child alive who doesn’t. It’s a strange phenomenon how this show that has some strange advice (‘don’t bite your friends’… all the kids I know will quickly figure out the loop holes in that thought…especially when you call the peas on your plate friends that want to come to the party in your tummy… but I digress) and pretty good indy pop guest bands also has whatever that mysterious something is that hooks every kid in the universe, including those way too young to get anything about it other than the pretty colors.

But she loves them, and so I designed a little motif featuring Foofa (the pink character) and stitched it on a t-shirt using 14-ct waste canvas.  It stitched up fast – but boy, it’d been a long time since I’d used waste canvas, and I forgot what a long tedious chore it is to ease the  threads out after you’re done stitching.  I’m very glad they got a picture of her wearing it – she’s growing so fast that it’s already being worn by one of her stuffed toys now.

So… other than crafting and sipping and doing a whole lot of nothing, I did get some yogurt strained and thickened (I love Greek style yogurt, but hate paying the price charged for it – a container of plain yogurt, strained over a bowl through a strainer lined with a coffee filter does the trick).  This time, I strained it once, stored away the liquid in the bowl (whey), stirred and strained again, and it came out really thick – just about cream cheese consistancy, and I’ve got almost a full jar of whey to use for the next little while.

I’d meant to start some bread dough today… but.. eh.. there is that energy thing.  And my youngest is in the kitchen making cupcakes, so probably best if i just keep my feet up and wait awhile.. or nap.

TODAY – a Tarot Spread

29 Sep

One of my passions is Tarot – I enjoying reading Tarot, exploring decks (and owned too many of them, I think), enjoy creating interesting spreads although I don’t always read with set spreads anymore.

I created this simple spread as a daily motivator… a peek at the day ahead, with an emphasis on mindfully responding to it.  After the explanation of the spread is a reading I did for myself using it.

TODAY

T –  Theme of the Day

(the overall outlook, the sort of experiences that color the day as a whole)

O – Obstacles and Opportunities

(remember Obstacles are also Opportunities.  This is where you are challenged to step up)

D – Drama

(what pushes your buttons… where the emotional triggers are, positive or negative)

A – Accomplishments

(what you can expect to Achieve if you take Action.)

Y – YES!

(what comes to you – your gift from the universe you can choose to accept)

If you give this a try, let me know what you think!

TODAY – A reading

Deck: Druidcraft


T - Theme of the Day

T –  Theme of the Day

2 of Pentacles

This card shows a woman standing in a protected spot near the water’s edge, juggling a pair of pentacles.  Overhead a solid tree grows out of the rocky soil and in the background a storm tosses a ship about.  In spite of the difficult conditions and the stormy weather, the woman has a happy, serene expression on her face and is not afraid.

This card speaks of the need to make practical choices regarding one’s resources – money, possessions, physical energy.  Here is what strikes me – she is able to keep multiple balls in the air – but she’s juggling 2, not 10 – her sense of safety comes from not attempting to do too much, not stretching herself too thin.  Yes, that storm is out there, but she’s found her protected spot so that she can live a fun and joyful life without undue worry.

For today, I will not think in terms of what I don’t have – but in how I can best use what I do have, and remember that thriftiness can be fun if you let it be!

O - Obstacles and Opportunities

O – Obstacles and Opportunities

Queen of Pentacles

I have to laugh – I am my own worst enemy is what this tells me.  The Queen of Pentacles is she who cares for all things practical, financial and physical.  It is her role to nurture and care for what she has.  Her job is to maintain and look after home, hearth, health.

As an obstacle, she tells me that I need to be careful about doing this – if the theme is thrift, the challenge isn’t just to acquire things in a sane and efficient way – it means that caring for what you already have is the only way to experience abundance during lean times.   Today I need to put in some time cleaning and caring for my home… and the challenge comes, as it so often does, by the competing need to care for myself physically – I have RA, and the weather has turned chilly and wet and that means I’m stiff.  So I will need to be very mindful as I work, to not give in to doing nothing, but take care to rest along the way. (story of my life)

One last thought there – this deck’s Queen of Pentacles has that wonderful big drum… and I think that is my Opportunity.  I can live this day to the beat of my own drum – there is no Right or Wrong other than what I choose to declare right or wrong.  So I can get through my tasks in the way that best works for me. That harks back to miss juggler in the 2 of pents, doesn’t it?

D - Drama

D – Drama

3 of Cups

Can you hear it? “But I don’t waaaannnnaaa work, I wanna hang out with my friends and plaaaay!”    The 3 of Cups shows a trio of friends toasting each other over a good meal – it is the card of comaraderie and social parties – and while it also often means having a good old boozefest, I doubt that is going to happen in my world today.  But wanting to avoid work to play instead? Oh that is my drama every single day of my life.

There is also one thing I will want to be on the lookout for.  Deanna’s been having some issues with friends lately that seem to be on the way to recovery – but she has plans after school to spend some time with them (post-argument, and everyone kind of touchy), and with this card in the drama position, I may need to be prepared to have to support her if it doesn’t go well.  OR it will go great and it will be the release of drama that is highlighted.  Until next time. We’ll see!

A - Accomplish

III – The Lady

Isn’t she beautiful?  The Lady, the Goddess, the Mother, pregnant with possibility, surrounded by creative abundance and the harvest of own creation.

This sort of lush, full sense of abundance is what I can accomplish today by managing my resources and taking care of what I have – this speaks to the creative energy involved in living joyfully during hard times… what you can’t buy, make.  Find ways to repurpose what you already have.  Be creative!

Such a positive card to show up in the ‘you can do it’ position gives me a great antidote to the childish desire to not do anything that smacks of work – without labor, there is no birth, but our urge to create is larger than our desire to avoid anything difficult.

I will be on the lookout today for ways I can generate creative solutions to my home maintenance concerns, and to see what can be recycled or re-purposed to minimize the amount of garbage my possessions and consumer habits create.

Y - YES!

Y – YES!

3 of Pentacles

And this is one step forward from the 2 of Pentacles that is the theme of the day – my gift from the universe today is to get a step forward, to begin laying a solid foundation for the future.

It reminds me that the day’s tasks aren’t the whole project… they are a step along the way.  But also that what I do today is the foundation I can build on.

The 3 of Pents also has a lot to do with professional guidance – bringing in advice and experience from others.. here, they watch the person working but in many decks, they are consulting blueprints, books… each bringing their bit of expertise to the project.

The gift of supportive guidance – that is all those wonderful blogs in the sidebar – all these people each finding their own way, sharing tips and inspiration and support… watching over one another as we each try to create a home environment that can withstand the storms that are undoubtedly shaking the world right now.

Yes to that.  Yes.

End of the Day Update:

So, I put some time into giving the bathroom a good scrub, getting rid of empty bottles and leftover debris abandoned by my daughter and her family when they moved out.  I tossed the shower curtain into the washer, and got all the surface cleaning done except the floors.  Tomorrow, I’ll clean out the medicine cabinet and closet, and mop.  Good chunk of work there.

Was there drama?  As a matter of fact, there was – Deanna and her friend were in a high state of hilarity (troubles forgiven and forgotten), and managed to spook the cat, Frankie.  Frankie forgot to obey the law of gravity and elevated quickly upward, straight into my nicely decorated autumn ornament tree…. which tipped over, very nearly impaling daughter and friend who were lazing about on the floor beneath the table where it sits (the 4 foot tree is composed of shaped metal, so this had all the makings of a gruesome horror movie scene)

Fortunately no one was badly hurt, and the friends are now truly re-bonded after noticing that each one attempted to keep the tree from landing on the other – in fact, it was that dual instinct to stop its path downward that kept it from landing on them.  Just one would have only resulted in tipping it over onto the other.

Frankie meanwhile sat across the room blankly wondering what all the commotion was and absolutely refusing to look apologetic.

K is for… Kissable Kids

29 Sep

(grandkids, that is…)

Elizabeth

Emily

Anthony, David & Anastasia

Hailey

Charlie

(post linked to ABC Wednesday)

Play Date

28 Sep

My 21 year old daughter Jackie has always been very shy – she isn’t reserved so a lot of people don’t notice this… she’s outspoken around those she knows, but it is tremendously difficult for her to meet new people.

A few days ago, she was approached via Facebook by an acquaintance who invited her to a local area Mom’s group Open House … there would be lots of moms and kids and door prizes and a peek at what sort of activities they do through out the year.

She panicked – she very much has wanted to meet more parents, as her unattached friends no longer have much in common with her. She’s wanted to get her daughter – now 14 months old – around some other children to begin learning to socialize. But… a room full of strangers?

She said no. Her husband asked her to please say yes, instead. She asked me if I’d go with her… then said no, she couldn’t go, because of X, Y, and Z. I told her I would go with her, and she should go.

We went through this for a few days – right up to last night, in fact. And I was starting to think this morning that she’d be backing out, because they were a bit late in picking me up.

But finally she showed – sheepishly confessing she’d changed clothes a few times trying to strike just the right outfit that said “I’m a good mom” and would allow her to nurse as needed without it being a big deal.

For me, this was full of flashbacks – it’s been many many years since I’ve had a play date of any sort on behalf of my children…. and here I was again, gently coaxing my (adult) daughter to go say hello, to not wait until others approached her, because they were as nervous as she was. Some things never change!

Meanwhile, her own daughter was down and running – quickly showing a preference for the 3 year old boys.. the rowdier the better.

We met some nice women – ages ranging from early 20s to mid-40s, and lots of children from about 10 months old to about 4. Jackie will be going back – they not only have lots of activities and field trips with the kids, but they have mom-only time in the form of monthly Mom’s Night Out dinners and a scrapbooking club she was interested in.

I still don’t quite know how to interpret her perception – she spoke with a lot of women (I helped begin conversations where she couldn’t, and then receded into the background so she could talk with them without me as a crutch), seemed to enjoy it.. and then later declared that ‘no one’ talked with her. And oddly, at least three of those we met were women who shared that they had this same sort of stagefright when it comes to meeting with people. There were times when I thought it had a whole 7th grade school dance vibe.

Here’s the thing – I am not shy about meeting people, so I know I can’t say it’s easy to someone who finds it very difficult. But I do think that there may be some grossly heightened expectations in play. What I know about meeting people in group settings is this:

– you aren’t likely to instantly find that friendly soul mate with whom you can share everything. Oh.. she may be there, but you’re not going to figure that out in a sea of conversations and kids running about.

– that’s why you want to follow up. In this case that means remember at least a couple of the names, and ‘friend’ them on facebook… start a conversation on the group’s discussion board, and otherwise begin laying some groundwork so that at the next meeting… you know a couple people.

– built in conversation starter when you’re gathering with your kids. ‘how old is your son/daughter?’ and then compliment the child! They are beautiful, have a fun personality, are walking so well…. It doesn’t matter. Just say something nice. At this point, they’re going to continue the conversation and ask the same about your child… find the connections! If you need to toss out another question to keep the chatter going, ask something that isn’t yes or no. It doesn’t have to be deep or meaningful conversation… small talks keeps the connection going long enough for you each to decide if you’d like to speak more with each other.

– seriously.. the other person IS as nervous as you are. Especially in a play group, these are often women who haven’t been around any adults they aren’t married to for months. Socialization is a skill that takes continual practice. A good way to forget how shy you feel is to help someone else who is feeling shy.

– someday, you’re going to be in this group long enough to be comfortable.. you’ll have met your closeknit friends, and when you get together you’re going to want to cozy up to them and catch up on all the interesting things in each other’s lives. And someone at that meeting is going to be new, and see you with your heads together, and feel like they have no place there. Don’t do that – make a commitment to say hello to newcomers.. to ask them about their kids so they have something comfortable to talk about. Tell them how hard it was for you that first day. Welcome them.

– your children will learn to reach out by watching you do it.

Edited to Add: I almost forgot to mention the door prizes! Both Jackie and I came away with some treasure… she received gift cards for our wonderful locally owned ice cream stand (currently featuring mad delicious pumpkin pie avalanches), and for a local fun park… I don’t even know how to describe it.  It’s got an indoor area with arcade games and small child rides, a bowling alley, laser tag space… outside is a water slide (in the summer months), miniature golf, and this time of year, there’s a haunted house.  So between the two of those, that’s one nice free date night out for her and her husband.

For my part, I got a gift bag full of Mary Kay goodies – 3-in-1 cleanser and moisturizer and a set of hand care products.  Sweet!

Tuesday Tag-Along

Tackle It Tuesday Meme