A is for Apple…

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Fall is such a nice, crisp time of year.  It’s nice to see the changing colors of the season.  With autumn brings pumpkins, but it also is the time of year for apples.  Pies, cobblers, candy apples and carmel apples – they are everywhere.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away, so they say.  It’s easy to focus on apples when they are all around us now it seems.  There are a lot of interesting facts about apples – both silly and smart ones.

Apples are a super fruit.  They are (obviously) good for you, and an average apple only contains between 80-95 calories.

The skin of an apple contains healthy fiber, and apples themselves contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that protect against many ailments, including the effects of asthma.

Did you know that most apples these days are still picked by hand?

Do you know what the science of growing apples is called?  Well, I will tell you – it is pomology.

Apples contain no fat, no sodium and no cholesterol.

It takes approximately forty apples to make one gallon of cider.

Apples are hard core energy, and they really can fuel a workout.

If you start a meal with apple slices, you can expect to eat about 200 calories less per meal than if you don’t.

Apples aid greatly in digestion, and they are rich in iron.  People suffering from rosacea need to be careful when eating apples.

The best time to eat applies is in the morning, as they act as a metabolism booster.

A great snack is apples slices with peanut butter.

The states producing the largest amounts of apples are Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California and Virginia.

Apples have been referred to as the “forbidden fruit” but nowhere are they mentioned in the Bible.

Apples symbolize health, love and fertility.

The fear of apples is called malusdomesticaphobia.

Apples symbolize teachers.

New York City is the Big Apple, but the world’s biggest apple was grown in Hirosaki City, Japan in October of 2005.  It weighed 4 pounds, 1 ounce.

Apples are America’s most popular fruit, yet Apple Pie is rated as the number one pie on only a few websites.

The life expectancy of an apple tree is about a hundred years.

And there you have it – apple facts.  I actually just ordered some apple candles and apple air fresheners.  I can’t wait to light the candles and plug the fresheners in!

 

I would do anything for love…

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…but I won’t do that.  Anyone remember that Meatloaf song?  Am I dating and aging myself here?  Maybe, but…there are some things I will do, in the name of saving money.  I want to keep my finances in check so I can accomplish all I want to do.  But there are things I won’t do, extremes I won’t go to in order to reach my goals.  I am not sure who will agree with me, but there are lines that I just can’t and won’t cross.

I will always have cable television.  There is no sense in thinking that getting rid of it is a reasonable option, because it is not one for me.  I think people are “television people” or they’re not, and I clearly am.  That being said, I will try to get the best deal I can – and I will leave a service or provider if I don’t think the deal I’m getting is a good one.  In fact, I just did this the other day.  I enjoy certain programs that I’m just not willing to forego.  I fall asleep each and every night to Forensic Files.  My local ABC station is just the best, and I couldn’t be without it.  I need to have certain channels – I just do.  I have to be able to see my crime shows, and of course wrestling.  I’ve purchased the NHL Center Ice package for the entire season.  I live in Scranton, PA and being here, it is hard to follow the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders, the Washington Capitals and the Colorado Avalanche – none of these teams are exactly local.  I am glad that the availability of watching them is possible to me.

My friends and family will always get gifts from me.  I enjoy buying things for those I love.  I take extra care to try and buy things I know (or at least hope) they will like.  Getting a good deal on gifts is important to me.  Preparing and planning is key – I am always on the lookout for items I know will be good gifts.  Recently I am becoming organized, and I’m happy knowing what I have – and who I still may have to buy for.  I have even gone so far as wrapping things in advance – yet that may not have been the best idea when you have three very active and nosy kittens in your house!

As much as I love buying things for people, I also love just being with them.  And because of that, I will never stop entertaining.  It’s fun just being together.  I am lucky to have very generous friends and family.  When we have a get together, everyone usually brings something.  This makes the cost of having a “party” not fall on one person – everyone pitches in, and it works very good for us.  I love having people to our house.  Especially when they bring a lot of food, which means tons of leftovers and less cooking for me in the days afterwards!

Something I will never skimp on is pet care.  I love our cats so much, and I couldn’t live with myself if I did something that compromised their health or well being.  I do research all different ways to cut costs – I purchase their food wherever I can get the best deal, and I am not brand loyal – they are really good in that they are not picky.  At all.  I do stick with the 9 Lives Urinary Tract formula – because years ago, Stan had an infection and I never, ever want to go through that with any of them again.  If they get sick with something that looks like we can’t handle – off to the vet they go.  I do try home remedies with them, just like I do with myself.  If what I do isn’t working, then we consult the professionals.  I have thought about pet insurance, but just as I was about to make a decision – I heard about a different kind that might be a better fit for us.  So it’s back to the drawing board with this, so to speak.

Wrestling is another essential interest for me.  I have been a die-hard wrestling fan since January 4, 1999 (yes, I do remember the actual date).  Since that time, I have attended countless events both close to where I live and far away.  I have been lucky enough to attend fifteen WrestleMania’s.  For an interest that for the most part started on a whim to satisfy my oldest son, it has given me so much more than I had ever thought.  I have made friends and I have made memories.  My mother had once told me she always wanted me to do “that trip you take” because she said I looked so happy describing it to her, and all the fun I had.  Despite the costs and despite the fact that the WWE is in a real downward spiral (why, I don’t know – they have such good talent) it will always be an important part of my life, and therefore will always be fit into my budget.  It is essential.

Traveling is important – I enjoy seeing new places, and visiting places that I’ve enjoyed before.  I don’t want to give that up.  We are trying to use our money towards experiences and not things.  We have so much that we own.  It’s fun to go away – it doesn’t have to be far, and it doesn’t have to be fancy.  I use a travel site that I earn points on.  I get email coupons that give us discounted rates.  I choose places that have decent ratings – we don’t look for perfection.  The places we decide to stay at have to be reasonably priced, clean and safe.  Reviews on travel sites really do help.  One time though, they were way wrong – my nephew and I stayed at a place that really was like a no-tell motel – not sordid with people, but…dilapidated!  It was a horrible place, but it gave us laughs and many memories which made it money well spent!

Looking good is important to me.  I want to look clean, put together and presentable.  I don’t buy what some people would call “high quality” items.  The items of clothing and shoes I own that are what would be referred to as “good” labels have come from thrift stores.  I care for my clothes as if they cost me a fortune.  And it’s because of this care that my clothes last for a long time.  My t-shirts are washed inside out, and hung on hangers to dry.  The only things that go in the dryer are the more durable items I have.  I have washed sneakers in my washing machine to make them look new again.  Yes, you can do this.  I take small risks to see if I can continue to look good for pennies.  It doesn’t cost a lot to wash a pair of canvas shoes and perk them up.  It would cost much more to buy a new pair.  When it comes time to retire an item (that no one else would wear) it goes in the trash.  If it is still in good shape, and I just decide I don’t want it anymore – I will donate back to the thrift stores, which is usually where the item came from in the first place.  It’s the circle of life in thrifting.  As long as there are reasonably priced options for me to look good, I will take advantage of these ways.

I am thrifty.  I want money for experiences, as I’ve stated – not necessarily for things anymore.  Even though, there are bottom lines that I just can’t and won’t cross.  What things do you refuse to do, in your financial quest for a comfortable future?

Close but no cigar (yet, good enough)…

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Close but no cigar.  A classic phrase I heard way back during my Freshman year in High School.  I had never heard it before, and I don’t know why it made me laugh the way it did (probably because of the teacher who said it).  To me, this statement meant that things were close, yet not exact.  That was always ok.  I have a few things that to me are…close enough.

I like to entertain.  I like to make people’s birthdays special, and to celebrate special days.  Something that usually makes people smile is ice cream, and cake too.  What a perfect match when these two things are combined.  Purchasing an ice cream cake can be pricey, so why don’t you make your own?  The only part I’ve found difficult while doing this is clearing out a space in my freezer that is big enough, and flat enough.  I like to make ice cream cakes in a spring form cake pan.  You have to eye ball how much you think you’ll need to use.  I started off with two half gallons of ice cream, and let them soften.  I sprayed the bottom and sides of the pan with “butter spray.”  Then I spread the bottom layer (I think I used chocolate).  I smoothed it all out.  On top of this layer I spread crushed “Oreo” type cookies (processed in one of those small choppers).  Then on top of the crunchies I spread vanilla ice cream.  At this point, the finished product should go into the freezer in a flat, fairly spacious area.  Once the ice cream firms up a bit, you can add sprinkles or some kind of toppings for decoration.  When the cake is frozen, you can cover it with clear plastic wrap if you won’t be serving it soon.  Remove it from the spring form, and place on a serving platter.  It is SO good.  Of course, you can use whatever flavors of ice cream you want.  If you want to get creative, fancy – you can try more than the two layers.  Is this as good as a store bought ice cream cake?  Some may think it is not, yet some think it is better.  For me, I think it tastes good – and that makes it good enough.

I’m a thrift store shopper, as you know.  I buy many things in these stores.  I will take a chance on all different kinds of items.  I have bought clothing that I found to be very nice, yet very reasonable – even though some have labels that say “dry clean only.”  Some of these garments can be washed by hand or washed in your machine on the gentle cycle.  Then they need to be hung on hangers to dry.  It always pays to take a chance, especially if the item was purchased for a good price.  Of course, there are exceptions – like the gown I wore to my niece’s wedding.  That cost me more in dry cleaning fees than the dress itself did!  I bought a sports jacket for my middle son Kevin.  It was in very good condition, and really did fit him like a glove.  I sprayed it with a “Febreze-like” kind of solution, and fluffed it in the dryer (no heat) for about 10 minutes.  It came out crisp and almost new looking, and Kevin looked great at the wedding he wore it to.  The tricky part of this is the ironing.  You need to iron these items kind-of precisely.  It is always best to start with a low temperature and adjust up slowly if you think you need to.  I have always tried doing this, because I cannot see paying high prices to care for clothes that you got for a bargain.  Go slowly, go gently.  I think you’ll be happy with the results.  I almost always am happy.  I think my results are good enough.

When I was a child, I didn’t really care for mashed potatoes.  I do like them now.  I’m not really sure why I changed, but I did.  I will make them from scratch from time to time, but I really do like the instant ones.  I know, a lot of people shy away from them.  But you really can get them to taste pretty good.  At least I think so.  I usually add a little more milk in place of the water that the instructions suggest, and I will use butter (not margarine or spread).   Another advantage of these potatoes is that they cook really fast.  Once they are done (average time seems to be about five minutes), you can perk them up even more.  Using grilled onions (also made with butter) is a nice addition.  Cut up green onions or parsley adds a bit of taste, and also color.  Another delicious add in is bleu cheese.  You can make cheesy mashed potatoes by stirring in shredded cheese – cheddar is good, and if you want something with more kick, use shredded Monterey jack (with the little jalapeno flecks).  Jarred, roasted garlic is also good.  Use your imagination – add whatever you think might taste good.  I think these additions make instant mashed potatoes good enough.

I love Dunkin Donuts coffee.  I think it’s the best around.  I will make coffee at home, and I enjoy it – just not as much as the real, legit Dunkin.  The other day, I did something I used to do – to fake myself out, so to speak.  I had a cup from Dunkin that I (for some reason) had rinsed out and kept.  So, that morning I was going to an early doctor’s appointment, and since I am not a morning person really – I knew there wasn’t going to be time to stop at Dunkin (I don’t go there routinely, I go for special occasions, special times when I just HAVE to have it).  I made my morning coffee in the used cup from Dunkin, and went on my way to the appointment.  Driving there, drinking the coffee I made – it was good.  I really believe I psyched myself up however subconsciously to enjoy the coffee as much as if it was the real Dunkin.  It tasted delicious and it was good enough.  And it didn’t cost me $2.59 either.

You can make fried Chicken Tenders that don’t require the mess (and unhealthiness).  Prepare your tenders (or nuggets, if you want that shape) the way you would if you were going to deep fry them.  I dredge mine in flour, an egg wash and then through some bread crumbs.  I place them on a cookie sheet that is sprayed a bit with “butter spray” or I use parchment paper.  As each piece of chicken is done, I arrange them on the pan.  When every piece is done, you can drizzle some oil over the top of the chicken, and bake.  Depending on the size of the chicken pieces, they should be in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Keep your eyes on them, checking frequently because you don’t want them to burn.  This way to make fried chicken to me is good enough (and almost healthy – well, ok not really but…)

My last “good enough” is knock offs.  I like nice looking things, yet I am not really concerned about labels and names.  Though I do admit liking certain handbag lines and types of clothes.  Being a bargain hunter is who I am.  And because of that, I would rather have more in quantity than quality.  That is not to say I would only buy junk, because I wouldn’t and I don’t.  To me, it is more important that I have a pair of flats that look like Tom’s, a denim jacket that looks like it came from True Religion or a purse that looks like it could be a real, legit Michael Kors.  I like the styles, not the names.  Some might want one Coach bag instead of several no name ones – not me.  I do want to really keep scaling down the things I own.  Anything I have that does have a “name” was more than likely purchased at a thrift store, and if it looks like it should have a name, that’s great.  And it’s good enough for me.

What is good enough to you?

I’m scared…

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…of scary movies.  I always have been, and I probably always will be.  Recently we were talking at work about this type of movie.  I don’t mind suspense, but I really prefer comedy over any other kind.  Rest assured, I won’t be attending the showings of “It” and “Annabelle 2” – or whatever it’s called.  I started thinking of other things that I am afraid of.  Some are serious, and some are not.  These things make me uncomfortable if not down right afraid.

My absolute worst fear is something happening to one of my children.  I know people who have suffered this kind of a horrible loss, yet they still manage to somehow survive.  I am sure they can’t be living their lives anywhere close to where they had imagined they would be.  My children have been my greatest joy, and the best thing I have ever done (this doesn’t sound quite right, but…I digress).  I try not to gloat, but I am very lucky with my boys.  Yet, even if they disappointed me and did things I was not proud of – I would still love them beyond words.  I can understand a mother’s love, even for criminals.  They are still someone’s child.  I can only pray that those I love never go through this pain, because the thought of this terrifies me.

I am afraid of possums.  I think they are the ugliest animals (or rodents or whatever they are) on this planet.  I remember seeing one up close for the first time.  It was late on a Christmas Eve.  I had been with the kids and my ex, and came back home to my sister’s (where I was living at the time) to start getting ready for work the next day.  I was working the day shift on Christmas.  Everything was ready – food packed, coffee pot set up, clothes set out.  I decided to put out some fresh food and water for a cat we were feeding outside.  I walked over to the sliding glass door, about to open it when I saw him – the most vile creature.  He just stood there, staring me down.  His long, skinny, narrow face was horrifying.  And that long, disgusting tail!  I screamed in terror, and despite the fact that there were three other people living there in the house, no one heard me.  I eventually calmed down, but I have been terrorized by those “things” ever since.

School violence scares me.  I lived in Colorado (very close to Columbine High School) back on that awful day in 1999.  Ever since then, I feel a little ping in my heart when I hear of another shooting.  Whether there are only injuries or in the worst case fatalities, it is an awful feeling.  It makes me feel very nervous knowing that children are vulnerable to such horrible crime.  Even when the crime is just a threat, it is no less scary.  In that case, you just don’t know.  And no chances can be taken.  We do live in frightening times.

I get a little overwhelmed (and I guess you could say scared) when I look around at all the “things” I have.  I’m very lucky to not really be in need of anything.  Still, I have so much.  I am trying to go through and organize my things once and for all – the right way this time.  I don’t want to be gone one day and have my children really think I had issues, like being a borderline hoarder – when I don’t think I am.  I have tried for quite some time to defend myself, saying just because you have a lot of items does not mean you are a hoarder.  I don’t want to leave anything behind that would let my children be anything but proud of me.

I am afraid, I am scared and I am sad that I cannot do more for the cats of this world.  A year ago at this time, I had three cats.  Between late December and mid-May, four others came into my life.  Fast forward to now, and Jeff and I have seven.  I never imagined myself having this many, but I do – and now I couldn’t imagine it any other way.  In early Spring, I cared for an outside Mama and her four kittens.  None of them are around anymore.  In mid-to-late Summer, I began caring for another outside Mama and her four babies.  Out of the five, only two come around now – and not all that often.  I am determined to save these two, and find them homes.  I know they can’t come to live with us, but through the grapevine I know many good, loving cat owners.  I am afraid to lose these last two.  I am going to do all I can to help them.

I am afraid of this blog.  Yes, there – I said it.  I am scared it won’t turn into what I want it to be.  I am just so not technical.  I want it to grow.  I want it to look professional.  It’s going to take time, and it’s going to take hard work.  I will work to improve things.  I’m just a little afraid I will fail.  Not in all areas, just in some.  And that is where all of you who are reading this – it’s you and your kind words that can calm my fears!  I thank you in advance for that.

What makes some of you afraid?

 

Happy Fall, y’all…

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Happy Fall, y’all…it’s a common term around this time of year.  You see it in ads, you see it on decorations.  We have been saying it for a year or so, when we were sure our Beavis made it up himself.  Don’t ask me how a cat could be responsible for this, or why it caught on and stayed in our minds this whole time – I don’t know.  In any case, that’s what I wish everyone – a good and happy season.

Besides October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it is also the month where Fall gets kicked into high gear.  Everywhere you look, there’s pumpkin.  And it’s not just in decorations.  It’s in the food you eat and the drinks you drink.  Since pumpkin came back in August (so early) I have seen it in coffee, creamers, donuts, cakes, pancake mix, cookies, cereal, bread, bagels, muffins, yogurt and ice cream.  I have even seen a few varieties of pumpkin beer.  I like certain things with pumpkin, mostly pumpkin donuts.  And I will have one or two pumpkin coffees during the Fall.  But really, since I’m not a pumpkin maniac, I think most of it is really overkill.   Oh – I forgot about the pumpkin room spray and pumpkin candles.

It can be kind of nice to wear different kinds of clothes in the Fall (for those of us who live in seasons).  Fall is nice, because you can wear boots and a sweater – it’s been a while since we’ve done that.  Fall is easy, because while it’s cool – it’s not cold.  You can get away with wearing a jacket or a hoodie.  Your long sleeves can be worn again.  It’s nice relaxing in the Fall knowing you still have a few weeks to go before you have to bundle up before leaving to go anywhere.  It is a good feeling to be able to wear your long sleeve Tampa Bay Lightning jersey without, as they say – sweating bullets!  And if you look good in one (I certainly do not), Fall is a great time for hats.

The things we do in Fall are fun, too.  I can spend hours walking around Craft Fairs.  You can find such interesting things.  I am always on the lookout for unusual gifts for people.  I am not an apple cider type of person, but I love going into stores or restaurants and smelling it cooking, warm on a stove.  So great!  The stores have great dresses out for semi-formals at colleges and for homecomings at high schools.  And for those of us shopping for dresses for their son’s upcoming wedding (of which one would be me) this is the time of year (along with before prom time in the spring) that you can find really beautiful things.  Of course, you have to be age appropriate but there really is something for everyone.

One of the best things about Fall for me is – hockey is BACK!  I love hockey, and it’s been hard being without it these past four months (more than five if I’m considering my Lightning’s early and unanticipated exit from the playoffs).  I watched Lexi’s namesake last night as they beat the Senators in OT, and tonight I get to watch Nik’s namesake.  Nikita Kucherov was voted to be the league’s best last year.  That was a vote I agreed with.  For sure.

Fall signifies change.  Fall signifies things to come.  Halloween is fun, for both young and old alike.  There’s something funny and light-hearted about seeing people dressed up as things they would or could never be.  When we lived in Colorado, the parents in our neighborhood would sometimes trick or treat with the kids, they themselves dressed up as well.  And some of the houses, the owners knowing parents went too – would have adult beverages available.  One of the funniest memories I have of a Colorado Halloween is one of the Dads – a large man, he must have been at least 6’3″.  He was dressed up as a giant Dalmation, and he had a clear cup of wine in his hand.  It was so funny, so cute.  This was before the time of cell phone cameras, otherwise I’m sure I would have inserted a picture of him here!  Thanksgiving is a delicious Holiday.  No matter where we eat, whoever we eat with – we all bring something, and it’s usually a specialty to make being together even more special.  As Fall comes to an end, we can start thinking about the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

Fall has just begun, so let’s enjoy it for what it is.  A beautiful, crisp time on our calendars.  This year, I challenge you – take pictures.   Take more pictures than you think you should.  Take more pictures than you think you will need.  And as Fall comes to an end, put them in frames, or a book – display them somehow.  Looking back, you will realize what a gorgeous time of year Fall really is.

 

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Tomorrow starts a very significant month for me.  October is when the awful disease of Breast Cancer is spotlighted to bring awareness.  The Pink – the articles, written reports, media, awareness and remembrance walks, all of it – it is undertaken with a goal in mind – to make the public aware of things to know about Breast Cancer.  With awareness comes knowledge, and knowledge can help find a cure.  Each October begins and ends with the hope that an October will eventually come when Breast Cancer is no longer the threat it is now.

Cancer survival rates have gone up significantly since the 1970s, but there is still a long way to go.  So many good people have been lost to this disease.  We lost actresses Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis.  Breast Cancer also took Ethel Mertz, who was played by Vivian Vance.  Paul McCartney lost his wife Linda to Breast Cancer, and Charles Bronson lost his wife Jill.  Roxie Roker aka Helen Willis of the Jeffersons also died from Breast Cancer.  Men have been lost, too – Rod Roddy from The Price Is Right died from Male Breast Cancer.  Yes, it happens.

Bernice Gemmel died from Breast Cancer in July of 2008.  She was my Mom.  She had a left-mastectomy in April of 1992 and lived cancer-free until February of 2005.  For her last three years, we like to say she lived with cancer rather than dying from it.  I am forever grateful for the last six months of her life – she lived with me and my family.  It was nice having her around us.  And she liked the loud hustle and bustle of living with two older teenage boys, a younger teen, and two kittens…Beavis and Stan, who are still with me today.  She really was only in what they would call “bad shape” for maybe the last three weeks of her life.  She looked gorgeous up until the end – the woman had style!  I am proud to have had her for my mother and proud to have been her daughter.

Tomorrow I will again start something I have done for the last several years.  For every day during the month of October, I will be wearing Pink.  It will either be the dominant color in whatever outfit I’m wearing, or it will be prominently featured.  I might wear a pink blouse with black pants, and carry a pink purse.  Maybe I’ll have pink slacks on with a white blouse.  I may wear black and gray with pink accessories, shoes and a purse.  My jewelry will have pink overtones, or will be pink beads, earrings or bracelets.  My toes are painted Pink.  Everyone who sees me this month will see Pink.  I am spreading the word and bringing attention to Breast Cancer.  I want people to remember their loved ones.  I want them to be aware of the warning signs so they themselves get checked out.  I want Breast Cancer to be no more.

 

Happy, happy joy joy…

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The other day I wrote about things that I didn’t like, things that made me mad and things that in general just aren’t good.  Today, I decided to write about things that I like and that make me happy.  I’m writing about things that make me smile.

I love seeing and hearing people give each other compliments.  I enjoy hearing nice things said to one another.  It’s such a nice feeling when you hear someone likes your shoes, thinks your hair looks nice that day or really enjoys the dessert you made.  It is also nice to see the smile on someone’s face as they receive a compliment for…whatever.  Just a few kind words can affect a person’s day in a really good way.

Holding a door open for someone and having them say thank you.  Such simple gestures, yet they mean so much.  Countless times I have held a door for someone and I got nothing for a response.  That is just so rude.  It makes me wonder how people were raised.  What kind of hard is it to just give a smile and a nod, as a bare basic acknowledgement?

I have met quite a few famous people in my life.  Most of them have been professional wrestlers and sports stars, and some were actors.  Meeting them and finding out that they are nice – to a point, nicer than they have to be – it is a gratifying experience.  It has always made me feel well rewarded by the fact that these individuals show class.  They have integrity and they know how to behave.  I am happy that my entertainment dollars went towards them.

Nothing gets a person (me) pumped up more than a comeback win by one of my favorite teams.  It is gratifying to watch a game when your team is clearly in control the entire time, but there is something special to be said for a comeback.  We had it both ways in one game last season.  The Lightning were up 5-0 by the time the third period started.  Before long, the hated (by me) Flyers had almost tied the game.  And then, boom – they did tie it.  We were going into overtime.  They played that entire session with no resolution.  After five minutes, we went into a shootout.  It came down to one of the last shots, but my Bolts ended up winning.  Talk about excitement!  What a game, and what an experience!

I always smile and have a good day when I know I look good.  I can of course have a good day no matter what I look like, but the feeling of confidence I get knowing I look put together – it makes me happy.  I take pride in how I look, yet sometimes people could possibly mistake me for a homeless person.  I always try to be coordinated with all of my colors looking like they belong together.  I match everything  – clothes, socks or stockings, shoes, purses and jewelry.  I always feel best when I’m matching, and usually I am.  Being made up with nice hair and makeup applied right, it gives me the confidence I feel more comfortable to conquer my day with.

A wonderful feeling is realizing (once again) that your children have grown up to be good people.  My sons are all amazing – they have done the right things their whole lives (with minor bumps in the road).  Their father and I are very proud, and every day we are reminded of how blessed we are to have had such easy and good boys to raise.  They are good young men with level heads and great work ethics.  They have caring hearts, happy dispositions and funny personalities.  I am beyond lucky to be their Mother.

My heart is warm and full when I am doing nothing, or nothing much of anything with the cats by my side.  I just love them.  I could be washing dishes, getting lunches ready for the following day and there they are, just hanging out with me.  Earlier today I was ironing clothes and three of the boys (Nik, Malenky and Boris) were there nearby, watching me intently.  In the late afternoon after work while catching up on the news, Beavis sits on my lap – watching too.  They drive me crazy, they are always under my feet and between the sheer number of them (seven) it is like an insane asylum at times – but they are my babies (actually, they are kittens, juniors and seniors) and I wouldn’t change a thing about any one of them.  They make me smile and laugh every day of my life.

Give some thoughts to what makes you smile, and keep thinking of those things…

 

Here’s Soup for You…

leek and potato soup with bread
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

…and yet another reference to the one and only live (basically the only one) Seinfeld episode I saw.  With the cooler weather coming, it’s time to look forward to soup – soup of all kinds.  You can think of soup as an addition to a meal, or it can be the meal itself.  Your bowl of soup can be a basic broth or a thick, almost stew-like meal.  Supplementing with croutons, crackers or bread will just add to your soup.

Making your own soup is easy.  I enjoy cooking but I have to admit I don’t like recipes that call for a lot of steps.  Most of the food I post will be easily made.  The soups I make have a base of broth – either Vegetable, Beef or Chicken.  Another important part of homemade soup can be bones.  You can simmer bones with your broth.  The bigger and thicker the bones the better.  It is better for removal after your soup is done.  Also important is to keep all leftovers, no matter how small the amount.  Little bits of cooked meat and leftover vegetables and sauces can give some extra flavor to your soup.  Unless you know you will use them soon, just pop them into your freezer.

I usually start a large pot of soup with some butter or oil – and fry/grill some onions and/or minced garlic.  Once that gets going (i.e. they soften and brown a little) you can add the rest of the ingredients that you want your soup to include.  Depending on how much soup you will want to end up with will determine how much broth to use.  You can call my recipes and cooking very relaxed.  There are no hard and fast amounts of my ingredients – I figure everyone can use their own sight and taste to make my recipes more like their own.  It’s very gratifying to make a delicious soup from all leftovers.  This is when you use all your little packages, containers,  etc. of things that weren’t finished during other mealtimes.  Try to group the meats you have with appropriately matched vegetables.  If after you’ve assembled all of your leftovers you need more – you can add maybe a half of chicken breast cut up, or an extra can of bag of vegetables.  Simmer this for a good long time.  Towards the end of your cooking, make your add ins – rice, pasta or whatever else you’re thinking of.  Once done, add to the soup and let them cook together for a bit.  At this point, you can consider it done.  If you’d like you can “cream it up” with the addition of a white sauce, a lump or two of mashed potatoes or a can of “cream up” soup.  Your meal is served!

If you would like Vegetable Tomato Beef Soup, it can be made with some Beef Broth, a can of Beef gravy, a can or two or a bag of Mixed Vegetables – and a can of tomato sauce (or a can of tomato soup).  You really can use whatever you want to get the tomato taste – even ketchup if you’re out of the other ingredients and you just HAVE to have tomato.  Now you can just have beef tasting soup, using these ingredients or you can add leftover beef, a cooked cut up piece of beef or some browned ground beef to perk it up and fortify it.  Either way it will be very good.

You can make Vegetable Tomato Chicken Soup, which is basically doing the same thing as above.  Do the same steps, and when you get to the add in part, obviously use Chicken and not Beef.  And it goes without saying that you can just do a plain Vegetable Chicken or plain Vegetable Beef – just don’t add any tomatoes or tomato products.

You can make a pretty easy yet pretty good French Onion Soup for yourself.  Grill a decent amount of onions, in your choice – butter, oil, margarine – and soften them.  Add Beef Broth and simmer.  After a short while, your soup will be done.  As it cooks, if you’d like – add some wine.  It’s a tasty addition.  The soup can also be ladled into crocks, and you can add a thick-ish piece of bread.  On top of this bread, add some cheese (mozzarella or provolone) and bake them in the oven, or broil them.  Absolutely delicious!

Potato Soup is good too.  It’s one of those stick-to-your-ribs kind of soups.  Mine is not hard to make, and it is not complicated.  I use a base of Chicken Broth and then I either add mashed Potatoes, cans of cooked Potatoes (diced or sliced) or instant mashed Potato flakes.  I start with the Broth in the pot, grilling the Onions.  I add whatever Potatoes I decide to use, and I keep an eye on it.  You don’t want it too thick, so have extra Broth on hand – or Chicken Bouillon and water – as it cooks.  As it gets to the consistency you want, you can decide if you want to smooth it out.  I’ve had good success using one of those immersion blenders.  I take it off the burner to do this.  I play around with it, and then I’ll add my additions – shredded Cheese, Bacon Bits, and Green Onions/Scallions.  Sometimes I don’t want it smooth, so I’ll put in some diced Potatoes (the canned ones).  I will serve these with Sour Cream on the side.  This makes it almost like Baked Potato Soup.  Mmm mmm good!

Another good one is Italian Wedding Soup.  I start mine with Chicken Broth in a large pot.  I then cut up pre-made and frozen Meatballs – use whatever kind you like, or even your own homemade ones.  The ones I use get quartered – they look like little chunks.  Then I will add spinach – either a can or two, or frozen.  Of course, if you want you can use fresh.  I will add a little bit of rice (already cooked) towards the end of the simmering.  This easily made Soup really is good.

I didn’t really include any seasonings in these soups, other than browning onions and garlic when you start the recipes.  As they are cooking and you sample them to see how they are turning out, this is the time you can add things.  You can add salt and pepper, or garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning – whatever you think would be good.  I have frozen these soups and they have done well.  I know you are not supposed to refreeze a second time, but the amounts of things I am using – smidgens, really – I have to say I have never had a problem.  I have survived and survived quite well…

 

What a PAIN!

gray scale photo of cat showing mouth
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

Today has been an annoying day.  I can’t even pinpoint one thing to make it so, but that’s what today has been like.  Irritating.  Aggravating.  You can even say it has been borderline maddening.  Combined with what has been happening today, I have started thinking about other pet peeves of mine.

I am annoyed by people driving slowly in the parking garage here at work.  It is as if driving like a snail will all of a sudden magically make a space appear.  News flash to these people – it doesn’t.

People who talk over you on the phone is super annoying.  It is hard to complete a conversation (or even a complete thought) because every other word or phrase starts and stops in little snippets.  When you decide to just be quiet and listen to their ramble, inevitably they stop – and make it sound as though you are the rude one.  No, you’re not.  It is them.

I enjoy all kinds of Social Media.  I don’t see many mistakes on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.  Facebook is another story though.  I find it hard to believe that people who are supposedly smart and/or educated put out posts that read like (less than) a grade school student wrote them.  I’m all for quick, brief updates.  Not everyone is going to post paragraph after paragraph.  Don’t these people read their words to see if they make sense and have things spelled right?  Especially those who don’t write much, it just boggles my mind.

My ex-husband and I raised three children.  Were they always good?  No, at home boy did they have their moments – as all kids do.  Were they always good in public?  I can honestly say this – yes, they were.  From a very young age, they learned how to behave properly in restaurants, and they also could ride in a carriage through a mall or sit in a shopping cart at the grocery store without taking a fit.  I have seen too many kids acting up – and you can just tell it wasn’t a one time meltdown.  These kids cry and complain and try to run around, and the parents are oblivious that it is bothering everyone around them, or they just don’t think their children are irritating.  Guess what?  They are.  Until your child can behave (and/or you can act like a responsible parent), please do the rest of us a favor.  Keep them home!

Know-it-alls are another irritation to me.  Why is it so important to some people to make it seem as though they know everything about everything?  No one can be so knowledgeable, yet some claim to be.  It is even more irritating to see someone try to tell you something about what you clearly know more about than them.  Depending on my mood, I will either humor them.  Or I will stare at them almost blankly, and then state the right comment.  They know right quick they’d been had.  It is a gratifying feeling when you take one of these folks down a peg.

I don’t like judgmental people.  Unless you are personally acquainted, none of us know the true story of anything.  People voicing their opinion on something they’re really only guessing about opens themselves up to looking like fools.  You don’t know where someone is coming from and where they are going.  Being so opinionated is really very wrong.  Of course we all have feelings about certain things, but if you don’t know – don’t say.  It’s not that hard.

In the public bathroom etiquette leaves a lot to be desired.  From leaving soap and water all over the counters, to throwing towels on the floor, to “sprinkling” on the seat and then not flushing (seriously, who does that?) it’s all just disgusting.  All of these behaviors must go hand in hand with those who don’t wash their hands after using the facilities.  Yuck.

I feel very offended when I read or hear supposedly religious people doing things that aren’t indicative of their faith.  God loves everyone – where does their hate speech come from?  Isn’t honesty a virtue?  Why is it ok for a supposed God-fearing person to perform acts on the job and not perform acts and then lie about it?  Being dishonest about work isn’t the right way to be.  How do these people reconcile their behaviors with God?  I would love an answer from them for that.

No one needs to be impeccably groomed.  Not everyone needs to look as though they stepped out of a band box (that was a favorite saying of my Mom).  I do think that being a part of society means the bare minimum a person should do is be reasonably clean and neat.  Lately I have come across people who are in desperate need of a shower, and a good, long teeth brushing.  I always wonder if these people can smell themselves, and why it doesn’t bother them.  It truly can be a nauseating smell.  From what I can tell, soap is pretty cheap.  And Dollar Tree sells deodorant.  It’s only $1.00.

I’m not a fan of sports fans making others feel as though their team is the only one that’s good and the only one that matters.  Good natured teasing and things like that are all fine, but when some of these fans get all full of themselves, it is very annoying.  Especially because a lot of the time it’s fans of teams who haven’t done much who are the biggest braggarts.  Keep your mouths shut.  Celebrate with your own kind, and if you’re with others – act like a decent person first, a fan of your team second.

I do not like hearing details of things that should be private.  People post things they shouldn’t on social media, or they’ll talk loudly out in public either in person to someone else, or they’re yelling into their phones.  It is not my business and I don’t want it made my business by me seeing or reading things.  Have the decency to keep private things the way they should be – private.

A lot of people have the pet peeve of others being late.  I’m trying to work on this, as I tend to be a late comer.  As annoying though is the person who shows up 45 minutes early.  Most people aren’t ready this much ahead of time, and the fact that they show up at your place is very rude.  You shouldn’t have to entertain someone when you’re trying to get ready.  Everyone should strive to be on time – not late, but not early either.

It is very annoying to send a text and wait for an answer. And wait.  And then wait some more.   What effort does it take if you’re busy to type “got your message, busy here. will text later.”  This way, the sender knows the message was received and the recipient cared enough to at least give a brief response.  And another thing about texting – please don’t type U for you and R for are.  Doing this is annoying, and besides – you’re only saving two letters using these abbreviations.

Open your mouth when you talk!  So many people over the phone get annoyed when you ask them a second or third time to repeat something.  Or they get annoyed and blame their accent.  No, it is not your accent – it is that you mumble!  Speak clearly and all of your conversations will be better.  I guarantee it.

There are more, but I’m getting annoyed thinking of them.  No, seriously – what are some things that just grind your gears?  I would love to know…

 

Copycat!

See the source image

(Photo courtesy of Worldsbestcatlitter.com)

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”    (Charles Caleb Colton, 1820)

Many people agree that it is best to be yourself, to be your own person.  You should be your own person with your own wants, dreams and personal ways to achieve these things.  However, I also believe the above statement.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with liking something and wanting to recreate it.   I try to copy things that I like, things that I am fond of.  Sometimes I get a “version” that is as good as or better than the original.  Sometimes, though I end up being satisfied with getting “close enough.”

There was an Outlet Center near the Stadium in Hershey.  Ellie and I stopped in last Monday before we went to the Backstreet Boys show.  I enjoyed the kitchen gadget store.  They had so many little doo-dads – I wanted so much!  I ended up with cat bag clips, straw pipe cleaners and reusable silicone straws.  While we were there, we went into some of the high end stores.  Some of these stores were REALLY high end.  I love fashion and all that goes with it.  However, my lifestyle and budget would never, ever allow me to spend so much money for just one individual item.  Even if I had unlimited income, I know myself.  I am a bargain hunter, and I always will be.  Still, I went into these stores.  I kept my eyes wide open, noticing as much as I could.  I noticed the styles of purses, and I noticed the colors of the items on most displays.  I observed the accessories in stores, and kept my eyes on the styles of shoes that seem to be popular, current and in style.  I left the outlets with a pretty good idea of what is in, and what I need to copy.  I will try to buy these items in off brand stores, department stores, discount stores and even in thrift shops.  I saw that one style looking popular for the Fall is a black blazer with a button down white blouse.  The pants they paired with this were a medium blue denim.  The choice on the mannequin had rips in the knees, but I am not a fan of that style.  The shoes with this outfit – simple black flats.  There is no reason I cannot copy this style and achieve this look for much, much less money.

When we were having dinner before the show (at a chain-type restaurant) I looked over the drink menu.  And while I went with my usual favorite (beer), I did read the list of ingredients in different cocktails they made.  To get the exact taste of what they were offering, of course I would have to know how much of this and how much of that (of each component).  The combinations sounded so good together that I figured however my version turns out will be good.  Yes, that is right – they will turn out to be good enough!

Since we wanted to get to the Stadium and get settled in our seats, we skipped dessert.  The menu included items that sounded delicious – oh, if we weren’t so full!  They offered cheesecake with syrup over the top (caramel and raspberry).  I can duplicate this at home – even with store bought cheesecake (though I do make a GREAT homemade cheesecake, thanks to my Mom’s recipe).  They had apple pie, warmed – with vanilla ice cream on top.  Easily copied.  The sundae was a warmed brownie with vanilla ice cream, syrup and whipped cream.  I can (and have) done this before.  There was also some sort of Oreo Cake.  Chris and I had seen this in a diner once.  I made one for him, and although it wasn’t as plush and didn’t have seven layers, the sheet cake with cool whip and crushed Oreos on top satisfied our desires for a copy of what we had seen.  You need to keep your mind open – use your imagination!

It’s nice to pamper yourself.  It really is.  That might be the only chink in my “tightwad armor” if I ever come into money one day.  In my opinion, a massage is one of the greatest things you can have done for yourself.  Other than using some kind of brush or something in the shower (with nice warm water) I really don’t know how to recreate a massage.  You can pamper yourself with an at home pedicure.  It doesn’t even have to be a full pedicure with a polish change.  All you have to do to make your feet feel special is soak them.  You can soak them in a bucket of warm water.  Keep them in the warm water until it starts to cool off.  Depending on how much you like how it is feeling, repeat the process.  Again and again if you would like.  When you are done, dry your feet with a towel or washcloth that will also slough off any skin that loosened from the water.  Then it will be time to rub them in.  Rub them in real good, and for a really perky feeling, use some sort of cream or lotion with peppermint.  That will end your feet pampering with a very nice fresh feeling.  And then put on a pair of your favorite socks!

I like decorating.  I am very happy in my home and want it to look nice.  However, I don’t want to (or can’t, at this point) spend a lot on furnishings and accessories.  I go the copycat route with this as well.  I will look online, in different places, sites etc. to see what the hot trends are now.  I like to know the popular colors.  When I look at different sites, I let my mind wander as to how I can copy these ideas to make them for my own home.  I have found ways to make a fruit display stand using plates and accessories from Dollar Tree.  Yet, I found a way to make it even cheaper – because I got the plates, candlesticks, etc. from Salvation Army.  Spray paining it white, it looked as good if not better than the Dollar Tree version – and my ENTIRE purchase didn’t even come to $2.  You can copy the look of a bedroom set (the bedding), making it close enough with solids – if the magazine or online room has red, white, gray and black – you can achieve this look with solid pillows and pillow cases, curtains – maybe even finding a plaid throw rug with the same colors you like.  Keep in mind that any item in the color scheme can be included in your room.  The key to Decoration copying is patience – always keep your eyes open while out shopping for items to help you recreate the look you want.

The key to being successful with copying is to always be aware, always have your mind working.  Jeff made a reasonable alternative to an expensive cat litter box.  It has worked out very well.  With seven cats, we have to always be on our toes with things, both to ease our daily life with them – as well as to ease our pockets!

What things do you copy?  Would love to hear…