Take 5, Tomato…

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It’s soon going to be Fall.  As much as I enjoy warm weather, I am looking forward to the change.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t eat much soup in the summer months.  Unless it’s at a Chinese restaurant, given as part of a special at the diner or, more recently, one I can’t resist here at work, most of my soup consumption comes in the Fall and Winter.  I do enjoy a bowl of soup during these months.  It’s during this time that I make some of my own.

I enjoy Tomato Soup.  I love the classic Grilled Cheese sandwich and a cup of Tomato Soup – it’s a great comfort meal for me.  Since I enjoy Tomato Soup so much, I’ve made a few of my own versions.  I am going to take five… and include five!  Some of my favorites are below.  They are really good and they are really easy!  Good old Tomato Juice is a core ingredient in all.  Use a large stockpot-type pot for these soups.  Note that I have not included salt in any of the recipes.  As with most recipes, use salt at your own discretion.  Serve these soups with your usual sides – saltines, rolls, croutons, or those little odd shaped oyster crackers.

A more Plain Tomato Soup (you can call it Cream of Tomato Soup) can be made with 32 ounces of Tomato Juice, 2 tablespoons of Butter, one small chopped Onion and two cups of Milk.  Simmer for a good while.  Enjoy it!

The one is really a Perked Up Tomato Basil Soup.    The ingredients are as follows – 4 cups of Tomato Juice (which is a 32 ounce bottle/container), a 28 ounce can of Diced Tomatoes (or use 2 15 ounce cans), 4 ounces of Butter, add some Basil (recommended is 12 leaves), and one cup of Heavy Cream.  Simmer this for quite some time, and whenever you feel as though it is done – turn it off, and get ready to serve.

You can make a very nice Vegetable Soup – start with the standard 32 ounce Tomato Juice, use a 16 ounce bag of frozen Vegetables, and – depending on your preference – either two cups of water OR one cup of water and one cup of (whatever kind you like) Broth OR two cups of Broth.  Throw in a pinch of oregano, parsley, Italian seasoning – whatever you feel like at the time.  Cook, simmer, cook some more.  And – you got it – get ready to enjoy.

This one is kind of similar to the one just above, but the different ingredients does change things up a bit.  You take 4 cups of Vegetable Broth, and the usual 32 ounce Tomato Juice.  To that add one can of sliced Carrots, a dash of celery salt, one small chopped Onion, one 15 ounce can of sliced Mushrooms, and one 15 ounce can of diced Tomatoes.  Add whatever kind of seasonings you feel like at the moment.  Cook.  Simmer.  Enjoy.

I have always enjoyed this Ground (Meat) and Tomato Vegetable Soup.  Start with the 32 ounce container of Tomato Juice and add one pound of (previously browned and drained) ground Meat – this tastes good with either Ground Sausage or Ground Beef (or Turkey, if that’s what you like). Whatever kind of broth you prefer goes in next – 4 cups (32 ounces).  Add a small chopped Onion, a heaping teaspoon of minced Garlic, one 16 ounce bag of frozen Vegetables, a 15 ounce can (or two) of diced Potatoes.  Before simmering, add your spices and/or seasonings.  After simmering and cooking, you will have a delicious meal in front of you!

So there you have it.  Soup for you!  I’m not a Seinfeld fan, but that was THE one episode of the show I saw live – the “soup Nazi” one.  Too funny.  Like with any recipe, as you read the ingredients, etc. feel free to add or subtract ingredients – maybe you would like more of a thicker, stew-type soup.  Or a more thin broth type.  The choice is yours!



Never underestimate the power of kind words…

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” – Blaise Pascal
Words matter.  They have the power to make or break your day.  An encounter, a small conversation or just a brief comment can stay in your memory for a long time.  Whether the words were nice or if they were unkind doesn’t matter when it comes to remembering.  It is much more pleasant to think of good words rather than bad ones.
Last night, I was telling a friend at work a story about when I was dating a few years ago.  I said something about not wanting to settle for less of a man, and the fact that I was fifty-something years old gave me the right to be choosy.  She stopped and looked at me, acting very surprised.  And then she says “I had no idea you were that up there in age.  You look younger.”  It was just an innocent comment, a conversation between friends.  Hearing something that I felt was nice – that I look young, at least to her – put a smile on my face and kept me happy all night.
Years ago, actually over twenty-nine years ago – I had just had Kevin.  I was big, bloated, breast feeding – and not feeling particularly pretty.  I had taken the two boys to the mall.  I don’t even remember why we went there.  Maybe for an actual reason, maybe just to get out of the house.  Anyway, I decided to get pizza for Michael and I.  Kevin was asleep in the carriage.  Michael was patiently waiting as we moved up on line.  When it got to be our turn, the cute guy serving us smiled.  He greeted Michael with a “hi, buddy” or something, and then he looked at me and said “hello beautiful, what can I get for you today?”  I am sure beautiful was something I didn’t look that afternoon.  Nevertheless, his smile and the way he said those words perked me up and kept me smiling for a long, long time.  I would imagine he spoke that way to a lot of women – he wasn’t a flirt, he was just nice.  It obviously made an impact on me, as I still remember that all these years later.
Christine and I went to Orlando in the Spring of 2008 for WrestleMania.  I had just had my Weight Loss Surgery that December (actually it was the day after Christmas 2007).  I remember a lot from that trip – a few things stick out in my mind – back then, the Citrus Bowl was an absolute dump, and this was the trip that my hair kept falling out.  This is common after Weight Loss Surgery, due to reduced intake of protein. We joked that it was a wonder I had hair left on my head.  What I really remember though about this trip was what was said to me on the flight – I don’t remember if we were going to Florida or heading back home.  I was sitting in the middle seat – Christine always likes to sit by the window.  There was a woman in the aisle talking with the flight attendants.  They were looking at her ticket.  They told her she had an aisle seat, and she could sit on the side with me or the other side.  The woman looks at that other seat and tells the flight attendant, looking my way “oh, I’ll sit here.  Next to this woman.  She’s tiny.”  And smiled at me.  I had lost a significant amount of weight by that time, but I didn’t think of myself as tiny.  Yet she saw me that way.  I felt so happy and proud of myself that I was looking good.  It was a great feeling.
One time when I was a Transporter, a nurse and I were trying to convince a patient to get ready to go for some sort of test (I don’t remember what kind of test it was).  The patient was reluctant.  She really didn’t want to go.  I never thought this nurse liked me.  She always seemed upset, tense.  And not happy.  Fast forward to years later, we found out that she had some bad personal problems with family members.  Anyway, we went back and forth with the patient.  She seemed to be softening her stance.  The nurse sensed this and said, “it will be ok.  Go with Lisa.  She’s the best and nicest transporter we have.”  I felt so proud of myself when I heard her say that.  The patient did agree to go for the test, and every time after that day I always smiled at that nurse.  And she’d smile back at me.
So if you see someone wearing a cute necklace, say something.  If you see someone wearing a color that you think looks really good on them, let them know.  If you like the cologne someone is wearing, ask what kind it is.  A little, insignificant blurb of words can change things for the better for someone.  And for you too.


Time for some ramblings…of all different kinds


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Today I have had quite a few different kinds of thoughts rattle around in my head.  Some were good, some were just ok.

Ellie needed someone to come and do cement work around the base of our house.  The basement needs to get sealed so no more cats and kittens get inside (or worse yet, maybe a possum – if I ever saw one of those inside, I would D I E die).  I hooked her up with a guy I met through an online selling app.  He seemed legit, and set up an appointment to begin work yesterday.  He showed up, and left almost immediately because he needed more supplies.  That seemed odd, but ok – whatever.  He said he’d be back in an hour.  Well, two hours later he called and said he’d be there soon – his dog was sick.  More hours passed and his next call said he had to take his daughter to cheerleading practice.  But that he would be back – ha!! He left some of his tools, and hasn’t been back.  With no call, no nothing.  He wasn’t paid anything, so he didn’t rip her off.  How is business conducted these days?   The man has no follow through.  No integrity.  I don’t get it.

Yesterday was September 11th.  This was a terrible day for our country, for the entire world.  But for me, it was a wonderful day.  Because way back on this date, in 1988 – I became a Mom for the first time.  That is what I have tried to focus on when talks of September 11th come up.  I will never forget what happened in 2001 – no one will.  I prefer to think of the little blond haired, blue eyed baby boy that came into the world that day.  Michael was an easy baby who was a joy to raise.  As a young man, he developed an amazing work ethic that continues to this day.  He and I are close.  We share a lot of the same interests.  He makes me smile, always.  He makes September 11th a good day.

My youngest baby got engaged last month.  I’ll be getting another daughter.  They are both only twenty-four years old, yet they have been together since they were fifteen.  Literally, they have grown up together.  It is a very happy time for our family.  We love Bre like she is our own, and seeing her parents’ love for Chris is heartwarming.  They are looking at a late Fall or early Winter of 2020 for their wedding.  We couldn’t be happier!

In twenty days, my Tampa Bay Lightning will begin the season!  I cannot wait!  I don’t think they will have the kind of season they did last year.  In many ways, I hope they don’t – losing four straight playoff games in the first round to be ousted, after finishing first overall – no good.  They are a great team with amazingly talented players.  I have scouted out all the away games they will play within a decent drive for us, and we hope to get to a game at Amalie Arena in Tampa – where the Lightning will play the Washington Capitals.  I’ll be able to see my cats’ namesakes play each other – Nik is named for Nikita Kucherov of Tampa and Lexi is named for Alex Ovechkin from Washington.

I’ve been teasing Jeff lately, telling him I love watching my new boyfriend on TV.  I’m getting very hooked on Dr. Phil.  I used to find him pompous, and to a point, I still do.  I find a lot of his advice though to be very simple, yet very helpful.  I get a little irritated by the constant plugs of his podcast, the advertising of his wife’s beauty product line and the promotion of his son Jay’s company, but I can mostly overlook all of that.  He has a lot of help to give people.  His guests seem to really listen to him.  The humor he uses lightens the mood at times too.  I’m glad in our area he is on twice a day.

I am not sure what to do with my hair.  Should I get it cut, or keep letting it grow?  I do want to keep the length, yet I think I need to go get a trim.  I need a shape up.  I was toying with the idea of just leaving it alone, using curlers at night and pinning it up or back the next day.  I have a coupon for a $7.99 haircut.  I’m probably going to go for that trim.  Especially since the coupon expires on Sunday.   I’ve been to that salon before, and I like the work they do.  And of course, I can’t pass up a bargain.

My hospital is opening up an OB Unit next month.  We haven’t had Labor and Delivery here since the 2003.  It will be nice having the littlest patients here again.  It is the happiest department in a hospital.

Enough of my rambling thoughts for now.  What odd things pop into your heads from time to time?


Random Saving Money Tidbits

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As you know, I recently started a job.  I’m thankful and grateful to be at my hospital again, but almost as important – I am so very happy to start back on a more strong financial ground.

I thank God every day for Jeff.  He has kept our little family afloat these past few months.  We have had regular expenses in addition to one-time ones.  It cost money to put our beloved JB to sleep, and it cost money to get our babies “fixed.”  Besides food for the two of us, it costs a decent amount to feed and take care of seven cats.  And this doesn’t include the families I feed outside – since April I have fed two different Mamas.  Each Mama had four babies.

My sister and I had a yard sale.  I wanted to clear out the clutter, turning it all into cash.  No such luck.  I made a grand total of $15.  This was not what I was hoping for.  So, I took out the few items that had decent names – planning to sell these things on Offer Up, Let Go or Poshmark.  Every other thing went into the back of my car to be dropped off at Salvation Army the next time I drive past the place.  I have sold things here and there online, so I’m somewhat familiar with doing this.  I am hoping to be at least a little bit successful.  Wish me luck!

If you can’t make (more) money, the least you can hope to do is to save and economize with what you’ve got.  And I have a lot – I have been going through ALL of my clothes – for each and every season, since that is the weather climate we live in now (year-round seasons/weather).  I try to read online posts about recent and current fashion trends.  And, then…after reading and researching – I put things away.  I must admit, I have many things with tags still attached.  Keeping at minimum the items that can be considered classic, combined with your new items – you will always be able to “go shopping” in your storage, your closet – whatever.  Be assured, this way you can feel happy and well dressed.

With food, you have to…and never should you ignore the “clearance” section.  I have found the most AMAZING deals/bargains there.  And yet, yes…you need to find time to go through the “regular” aisles.  While shopping all aisles in a local Walmart, the soup aisle had incredible finds – for $4.06, you cannot imagine what I got – “Cream of” soups, Hungry Man cans for 25 cents each…I truly hit the mother-load…what amazing, delicious and special work-meals Jeff and I will have!  Don’t ever forget the Bakery Clearance Aisle.  My family is going to have delicious Garlic Bread I plan on making for quite some time.

As you know, I am a big of thrift store shopping.  If you are also this way, great.  If not, I highly encourage you to familiarize yourself with this way of life (because it absolutely is this for me).  Many of my favorite items in our house (both clothing and home furnishings, etc.) have come from visits to thrift stores.  I have bought picture frames and painted them to match in a pretty and matching display.  The desk I sit at while I am typing this very post came from a Goodwill store.  The pajama bottoms I am now wearing – yes, they are a thrifted item.  My filing cabinets – spray painted black and silver to match my desk – you guessed it – great thrift store finds.  The purse/pocketbook/handbag (whatever you call this item) I am currently using is one of many I’ve bought in thrift stores.  If you become a thrift store shopper, and keep your thrifting in check (because the fact that items can be downright cheap can lead to over purchasing) you will find amazing deals for yourself and your loved ones.  Remember, a carefully thought of gift (even though it is “previously owned”) is a gift nonetheless.  I welcome any gift I get that is bought for me with my wants and likes considered.

Saving money and being thrifty needs to be a forefront in your mind, but not in a bad way.  You have to think of how you’re living with money in mind as a positive thing.  Being frugal and careful in many areas will allow you to splurge on things that you value most.  If you eat meals from home for meals at work for a week or two, your bank account will show this effort.  What would make you happier – soup, ice cream or pizza from your company cafeteria, or your bank account being bigger?  Your bank account being bigger leads you towards that vacation you want, or being able to attend the concert you’re dying to be at.  Of course everyone knows this.  You have to think this and believe this.  Watching your money needs to be thought of as positive, not negative.  Keeping yourself in check financially will keep you on the straight and narrow road to comfortable, worry-free living.  Do not think of yourself as deprived.  Think of yourself as motivated and positive.

Always focus on the happy, positive things in your life.  Focus every day on things that make you smile.  If you find a bad thought creeping into your head, immediately replace it with a good thought.  Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.  Full steam ahead with the rest of your life.  My life has almost always been good.  I don’t want to live with worry of any kind (if I can help it).  Watching my pennies and being frugal (not cheap) will insure that this area of my life will be and will stay stable.






Are work friends real friends?

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There’s no such thing as just work friends.  I have always thought this.  And I believe it even more now.

Recently, I started a new job.  Truly though it isn’t really a new job.  It is the job I had before I left for Florida.  I was (after a long wait and an even longer period of being without a job) finally welcomed back home to the hospital where I believe I truly belong.

I have worked here on two separate occasions before.  Each time after I left, I missed it.  I missed it very much.  I didn’t miss the actual building, per se.  I missed feeling like I belonged someplace.  A place that I have come to realize I really do truly belong.  I missed the people.  I missed feeling familiar in a situation, in a setting.  I missed walking through hallways and seeing many faces I knew.  I also missed the friendships.

My marriage blew up one summer while I was an employee here.  I tried and succeeded to not tell any of my family and certain friends the details.  I felt as though they were just too close to the situation.  During this time, I leaned on my coworkers.  I was a Patient Transporter then.  We were a very close group.  They kept me sane, they kept me as happy as I could be.  They were there to listen, and they were also there to take my mind off my troubles.  It was then that I realized I just wasn’t protecting my outside “people,” these were the people I wanted to confide in.  They were the ones I turned to for help, even if I didn’t ask for it in so many words.

There are people here who are coworkers.  These are the people I recognize in the cafeteria.  The ones we laugh together with on the Employee Shuttle.  The people we gripe to each other about the odd choices in the cafeteria.  But, the immediate people I work close to, for hours every day – they are not just coworkers.   They are friends.  I spend more time with them than with my family (Jeff and my cats, not to mention my kids).  These are the people I share silly little inside jokes with.  The people with the faces that make you smile during your shift when you’d really rather be home.  Or anywhere else.  Having the friends I have here almost makes coming to work not really a job.  For that, I am beyond thankful.

This is my third go-round here, as they say.  It’s going to be my last.  I will never leave again.  It took me a while to get back where I belong, and now that I’m here I won’t be leaving.  I realize what I have.  The grass is not greener on the other side.  It’s plenty green right where I am right now.

Is there really anyone out there like me?

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I don’t think I’m really all that unique.  Other than the fact that I am fifty-six years old with seven cats and I’m also a pro wrestling fan, I think I’m fairly regular.  I love my friends and family, and in general I am a very happy person.  I love being home, tinkering around the place and watching the classics on television – and I mean MY kind of classics, Maury Povich being high on my list.  I love to cook when I have time, and I love to thrift store shop.  I am a bargain hunter.  I like to go on the internet, and I try to find tips to keep myself looking halfway decent.  I really enjoy reading blogs about the things I like.  And even if the authors of these blogs claim to not be “all together” – why do they seem so much more “with it” than me?

Lifestyle blogs are great.  This one I’m writing is very real.  It is scattered, with topics all over the place.  That’s kind of like my life.  I’m organized and on top of things one minute, and the next minute something peeks my interest, and I’m off in an entirely different direction.  One of my sons had Attention Deficit Disorder.  It was harder to get him diagnosed because he had it without the hyperactivity part.  I think I may have part of this as well.  I am not hyper.  I am laid back.  I like nothing better than sitting around, lounging – watching television, playing with my cats.  Taking it easy.  So while my mind may be in all different directions, my body slows down as soon as it feels the need to.

I am not entirely sure what has been wrong with me.  I have not felt right since last Thanksgiving.  I have felt off, not good.  Not sick enough to stay home and in bed, but not good enough to be perky and active like I would like to be.  I don’t know if I don’t want to admit it or not, but maybe feeling “off” is my new normal.  And it’s a part of aging?  I don’t know.

Eh, all I want to see if there’s another scatter-brained cat loving wrestling fan out there, or a reasonable facsimile – if you find her, send her my way.  We need to bond!

Does it cost anything to be nice?

Let me start off by saying I like people.  I really do.  I find people of all ages interesting, as I believe everyone has a story to tell.  I try to be pleasant and kind, which has helped me a great deal as most of the jobs I have had in my life have involved dealing with the public.

Because I generally like people, I find it hard to understand why people can’t seem to be nice to one another.  What effort does it really take to use a kind word and a nice tone?  Is it really easier to behave however you feel at the moment?  The saying is true, that you do get more with sugar than with vinegar.  Why don’t people get this?

The job I currently have is being a Switchboard Operator.  I work in a hospital.  We are responsible for all incoming calls to the facility, and we act as an answering service for many local physician’s offices.  I understand that dealing with your loved ones being sick or unwell is not easy, and can cause a lot of stress.  Why do some people rise to the occasion and behave decently?  They behave properly and they speak appropriately.  And the next call that comes in – you can be bombarded and verbally assaulted by a caller who (probably) doesn’t like having to deal with a hospital or having anything to do with us. Sickness brings out vulnerabilities in people.  I try very hard to be understanding.  I really do.  I lost both of my parents in hospital settings, and I never, ever resulted to being a rude and inappropriate jerk.

Most of the callers I speak to (and there are hundreds each day, at the least) are kind, polite and easy to talk to.  They say please and they say thank you.  This is the way human beings are supposed to treat each other.  When I get a caller who is stressed, rude, nasty and insulting (the language isn’t pretty) I do my best to ignore it, and show them – if they can’t be decent, at least I can be professional.  I also have tried “killing them with kindness,” which I guess is a bad thing to say in a hospital setting.  Many times it has turned them around – as if giving them a jump start kind-of shock showed them how they were speaking – and then they shaped up, so to speak.

When I’m out in public, I see things that I like.  And things that I don’t like.  I don’t think there is any reason to be rude to a cashier or worker who is simply doing their job.  I’m smart enough to realize that a young cashier does not set the prices for an item, nor does he or she make policies for the store where they work.  I enjoy seeing customers talking to one another while waiting in line, passing the time.  Just being nice.  And polite.  Why don’t more people act this way?  Last year I bought more things at a department store than I could really carry.  A young girl saw me struggling and helped me with all my stuff to get on the cashier’s line.  We stood there, talking about the holidays, prices, plans, etc.  When it was my turn, the girl turned to me and said “happy holidays.”  I then realized she didn’t have anything she was buying.  She simply stood there, chatting with me.  Smiling and laughing.  Just to be nice and to be pleasant.  This is how we should all treat each other.  Nicely.

I’ll continue being my nice self.  It’s not that I’m always happy go lucky, because I’m not.  I get in moods, I have things going on in my life that could cause me to act wrong.  But I won’t.  Because that’s not who I am.  More people should live by the “treat (and act) towards others like you’d want to be treated.”  It’s a good rule to live by.

Money. Saving. Dave Ramsey?

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I need more money.  I need to save more money.  And because of this, I read.  A lot.  All over the internet, Facebook and Pinterest.  I have read many different tips.  So many people refer to Dave Ramsey.  He makes many good points, as do many other writers.  I am not criticizing nor endorsing, but lately I have been scratching my head with the tips on how to save and how to get ahead.

The first one that made me smile is to amass a $1,000 Emergency Fund.  Really?  Wow.  It is hard enough to pay our bills day to day.  Tell me, please – how am I going to get this in place?  They tell you to have this, yet don’t explain to you how to do it when you’re living day to day, paycheck to paycheck.

Pay all your debts – well, yes.  That’s what I’m heading towards, hoping to do.  Saying this in articles describing your financial life – well, to me it’s almost insulting.  Of course we all want and need to pay our debts!

It’s good to have a 3-6 Month LONG RANGE Emergency Fund – well, hell yes that’s a good thing to have.  But this one goes along the road of $1,000 excess, yada yada yada…If you’re just barely skating paying your regular bills, how in the world can you get more?  No one ever explains this.  No one!

You’re told to invest 15% – again, how is this possible?  How do you do it if your daily expenses are barely getting met?  I would do this if SOMEONE TOLD ME HOW IT CAN BE DONE.  How?

Give to Charities – I barely have enough money for me, for us – but yes, I do donate.  I realize that even in the financial situation I’m in, I am lucky enough that I can still give to people, pets, etc. that need.  Of course, I would like to give more.  And maybe one day I will be able to.  I do also feed many cats in our neighborhood.  I cannot look at a cat and wonder if he or she is hungry.  I just HAVE to put food out for them.  Just in case.

Make an envelope system – good idea, yes.  Right now, currently I have this going on – I have one envelope, and it’s marked CRUISE.  It has $30 in it.  Not a lot considering a more significant deposit will need to be paid by November.

Don’t buy a new car – no worries, none.  I am THRILLED with my 2015 Chevy Spark (in Grape Ice) and I feel no denial, whatever at all.  It is the perfect car for me.  My daughter in law calls it the perfect Lisa-mobile.

Check your Cell Phone and see if you can upgrade, downgrade – change your bill.  Well, I did this, and we saved a bit.  Though last time my phone and my son’s were just paid off, they seemingly, amazingly needed to be upgraded as they stopped working decently.  I swear it is like the phones are pre-programmed to need upgrades.  Right now we have until September to think about changing.  Ugh.

They tell you to INCREASE YOUR INCOME – well, yes.  Of course.  So you sign up to deliver for Door Dash and Grub Hub, and you want to drive for Uber (because all of a sudden, Lyft deletes your vehicle type).  It is not as easy as you think.  You have to consider the area in which you live.  Trust me.  Not as easy as it seems.

Get Free Items whenever possible – I cannot believe anyone in what they would consider a financial crisis would not do this.  Do not be proud.  Investigate what you are eligible for, what programs you can be accepted into.  And take advantage.  But, without a doubt – when your situation changes (and it will) make sure you give back.

Avoid Brand Names – hahaha, who with financial concerns does not do this?  Another tip that is almost insulting.

Eat Less – great tip, if all is good.  If you want to lose weight.  If you are not hungry.  Self explanatory.  No more words needed.

Start a side hussle – yes, I agree.  I have started two – a cat sitting/cat care business – to hopefully make us some money, and to give me my “need” to be with cats.  And I’ve started a home laundry service.  So far both are going slow, but that is to be expected at the new beginning of anything.

These are my thoughts on money, finances, etc. – hate all of it.  I would so very much appreciate any ideas and tips you all have…we need to help each other!