3, 2, 1…Soup!

 

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Let me start by saying the past two days have been unusually warm, weather-wise – and I am loving it!  I know this warm-up can’t last, and it won’t – and for this reason I’ve been revisiting soup ideas in my mind.  Soup is a hearty meal.  The following three recipes are easy, taste good and make you feel good – good as if you’ve slaved for a long time, but you really haven’t.

My first easy soup is Italian Meatball Soup.  The easy part of this recipe is you can tailor it to how you like it, or by what you have on hand.  The amounts can be adjusted to however many people/servings you’re needing.  The ingredients are canned carrots, celery seed seasoning, an onion chopped into tiny pieces (or minced onion), sprinkles of Italian Seasoning.  You’ll need a 32 ounce container of beef broth, and a 24 ounce package of frozen Italian meatballs (again, adjust your amounts).  Use two cups of water and two cans of drained, chopped tomatoes.  Add a splash or two of dry red wine, and if you have it – a can of spinach.  Combine all of these and simmer – simmer for as long as you feel you want or need to.  While the soup is simmering, boil water and cook some ditalini (or other small pasta).  When you determine the soup is done, you can dish it into proper sized soup bowls, add the pasta – and before serving, sprinkle some grated cheese on top.  Done!

I also enjoy Easy Pea Soup.  You don’t have to put in too much effort to get yourself a delicious meal.  Again, like above – use your own discretion as to the quantity of ingredients (based on how many servings you will want).  Use a decent size pot.  Brown some chopped onion and minced garlic in oil, butter or margarine. As they cook up, add three cans of peas and two cups of chicken broth.  To this, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.  Let this warm – let it bubble.  Transfer half of this mixture into a blender or food processor, and puree.  Put the puree into a different pot.  Repeat the pureeing and combine portions.  Simmer.  At this point, feel free to put some add ins in – you can add a can or two of sliced or diced carrots, or a chunk of ham cut into cubes.  Keep simmering, and before too long you’ll have a great bowl of soup!

A hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup is Creamy Baked Potato Soup.  This soup starts with some mashed potatoes – again, in the quantity you think you’ll need.  You can use fresh cooked potatoes, canned potatoes or instant potatoes – any kind you want.  Once they are mashed in a proper size pot, start adding milk, water and chicken broth, alternating small amounts of each.  The idea is to get this mixture to a soup like consistency.  As you’re adding and simmering, you can put in a dash of salt, pepper and garlic or onion powder.  Once you are satisfied that there is enough liquid with the consistency you like, you can simmer some more.  If the soup seems too thick, thin it out with more liquid.  If it is too thin, soup (or many broth based items) can be thickened with corn starch or my favorite, instant mashed potatoes.  Once your soup reaches what looks to you to be almost done, you can add shredded cheese, mushrooms, bacon bits – whatever sounds right to you.  I serve this soup like a baked potato – with a bit of sour cream on top.  It is so good!

You can freeze these soups too – though it may not be advisable with the Meatball soup, since it includes (previously) frozen meatballs.  I hope you enjoy all of these – I know that I do!

Ups and Downs, Good and Bad, Yes and No…

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I feel so very fortunate to be able to say that the Year 2019 was more good than bad.  Being on social media, I see that many others cannot say the same thing.  I did experience some downer moments but for the most part 2019 treated me pretty well.

The year started off great as we had just welcomed Nik and Lexi into our family right before 2018 ended.  What started out as a temporary arrangement turned permanent as we fell in love with them.  They have grown into happy, healthy and funny cats.  We couldn’t imagine our lives without them.  Lexi is our Queen, and except for the fact that she scratches where she shouldn’t she is absolutely perfect.  Nik is a big boy – big and masculine, yet he sleeps so funny – like a baby bunny rabbit or something.

Early to mid January we got news that we would have never expected.  After a few weeks of back and forth trips to the Vet, our JB was diagnosed with a form of nasal cancer.  I have never been so devastated and heartbroken in my life (as odd as that sounds, having lost both of my parents to cancer).  We were told in Florida that JB was around two years old, but during his cancer diagnosis the Vet here in Pennsylvania said he was closer to ten years old.  This was such an unexpected revelation.  The crying I did when I found out, I didn’t really realize it was possible to go through something that hurt so bad.  We were lucky enough to have him with us for almost five months after his diagnosis.  I loved that boy with my whole heart and soul and I miss him every day.  Still.

From good to bad to good – the day after my birthday in April, I was watching the news and I heard meowing.  I thought it was in the basement, so I went down to investigate.  Nothing.  (At this point, I should note that our basement isn’t exactly sealed – there are openings in the foundation, however small.) I then went back upstairs and heard it yet again.  I made a final trip to the basement, to the area where I thought the meowing might be coming from.  Issuing a last-ditch request to come out wherever you are, walking towards me was the smallest little kitten I had ever seen.  His ears weren’t even fully up.  He is my miracle boy – we learned together.  Kittens of three weeks old (that’s about how big he was) need help to do everything – to pee, to poop, to eat – all of it.  Besides being my miracle boy, he is my success story.  His name is Malenky, which means little one in Russian.  Though now at nine months he’s not so little anymore!  He’s black and white, and he is beautiful!

People said to me that where there’s one kitten there’s probably more.  They were right.  About three weeks later, I heard a noise when I was in the basement.  I didn’t think it was anything – this time there was no meowing.  Imagine our surprise when Jeff opened up a dresser drawer and three kittens were in there!  We were in shock!  Initially, the plan was to get these three new additions homes – I was able to find a home for one of the little girls – my ex husband and his girlfriend took a Tuxedo and named her Gilly.  That left us with two – all black Boris and black and white Tuxedo Tasha Jean.  There were no takers, so we kept them.  And I am so happy we did!  Boris is the crazy relative you’d meet at a wedding, acting the fool.  Tasha is quiet, laid back – the absolute perfect lady!  I love them so much, and it’s been great for Malenky to have siblings his own age.  The antics the three of them pull has us laughing each and every day.  Combined with Beavis and Stanley, seven cats seems to be the perfect number for us!

My cats and my family (friends are included in the family term) are everything to me.  Yet my interest in hockey is pretty strong.  The 2018-19 season was supposed to be THE year for my Tampa Bay Lightning.  They finished first overall in the entire league, and Nikita Kucherov (our Nik’s namesake) was on fire.  All the promises of this season ended when they lost in the FIRST round of the playoffs.  And they didn’t just lose – they lost BIG.  Four straight and it was terrible.  It was the worst buzz kill of any sports experience I think I’ve ever had.  For a year that had the promise of a potential Stanley Cup to end the way it did – I think the team is still suffering the after effects of that horrible loss.  I am a Bolts fan forever and for always – some things from last season should be remembered, but some – just no.  Not at all.

My hockey heart is pumped up as the New York Islanders announced they would FINALLY retire the number of my favorite player – John Tonelli.  It certainly has taken them long enough.  Better late than never though.  The banner with his name and number will no longer only be retired on my leg (as a tattoo) but will be raised to the rafters at the Barn – Nassau Coliseum, where SO many Tonelli milestones were achieved.  We have our tickets, and we will be there!  February 21st cannot come fast enough.

2019 brought some bad current events.  There were church shootings, school shootings and bombings.  We had fires and floods and mudslides.  There was a terrible attack that thankfully turned out to be something fraudulent and made up.  Jussie Smollett was a storyteller who caused time, money and resources to be wasted on a sham.  It’s fortunate that this was a farce and it wasn’t real – that something so awful never happened.  We lost many famous people, including Don Imus, Carol Spinney (the voice of Big Bird), Doris Day, Luke Perry, Valerie Harper, Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat.

Yet 2019 had some notable good things, too.  Speaking of Sesame Street (above), it turned fifty.  A 95 year old WWII Veteran in Oklahoma earned his High School diploma.  There is new technology that is able to possibly detect breast cancer five years sooner.  A man on his last day of chemotherapy in North Carolina hit the lottery for $200,000.  And we had little Baby Archie come into the world on May 6th.

It was good Jeff and I were finally able to get back to Florida.  Yet it was bad (if you could even say it) that we were only there from Thursday until Sunday.  I am so very happy to have gotten my old job back here at the hospital.  Yet I just wish Jeff and I had more time off together – it is hard when you work opposite shifts.  We worked on getting our bathroom up to date, yet we still have the rest of the place to go.  Patience, woman…patience!  I have to have my extra large kidney stone removed – surgically, sadly.  The good part of that is I will never get that kidney pain again.  My youngest son got engaged which is a very good thing, and my oldest son graduated from College, which is also a very good thing.  Our oldest cat, Beavis has lost a significant amount of weight.  This could be considered a good thing – since he had been pretty overweight at one time.  But it could also be bad, despite the fact that the Vet said all is ok – how can a living thing lose half of it’s body weight and have things be alright?  The good thing is that his mood and personality hasn’t changed – he’s the same old happy, laid back boy he has always been!

So we will bid farewell to 2019, and will be ready to welcome 2020 with open arms.  I’m lucky – life is good, and I don’t expect anything to change.  Still, though – fingers (and toes) crossed!  Happy New Year!

 

Merry Christmas…

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..and Happy Holidays!  What a wonderful time of year.  And a stressful and tiring time of year, too.  We wouldn’t have it any other way though, right?  I say that now, but each and every night after work was spent doing Christmas-related things from November until yesterday afternoon.  All the hard work put in made the holiday great, but honestly – it will be nice to come home from work now and not HAVE to do something because an absolute time deadline was approaching.

Yesterday was our family’s Christmas get together.  As the boys have grown and gotten married and engaged (and have full time jobs in industries that don’t chiefly operate on a Monday-Friday nine to five schedule), it’s harder and harder to make the day and date decided on work for all of us.  Luckily, yesterday worked out for everyone.  We have certainly come full circle in our family.  When the ex and I separated in 2014, we never let our issues affect the kids and our Christmas traditions.  We have spent every holiday together since then.  It’s worked out very well for all of us.  Our get togethers have included the ex’s girlfriend Lorraine, and for the past two Christmases we’ve also been lucky enough to have Jeff with us.  Things changed as well, and we’ve come to include my sister, her boyfriend and her son.  It truly was a family Christmas.  Hosted by my youngest son and his fiancé, they did a wonderful job and a good time was had by all.

I’m so thankful for my family.  We are all very generous to each other.  Luckily none of us are really in need so the gifts were fun type presents.  Some were practical gifts that had a funny edge.  The kids Christmas stockings had things they enjoyed as little boys despite the fact that they are 31, 29 and 24.  Jeff and I went silly and got Bre and Chris a small wedding dress and tiny tuxedo along with a certificate – we are going to Build a Bear.  I never did that activity with the boys when they were little, so we’re going to do it now – and soon.  Between all the kids, my ex, and my sister (plus Christine and Keith who we will see on this coming weekend) I bought treats (and made gifts) for twenty three cats and three dogs – and that doesn’t even count our seven!

Jeff and I didn’t get each other all too much stuff – but we haven’t exchanged yet, so it remains to be seen how much we actually do have.  His gift to me was our recent long weekend away in Florida, which was wonderful.  I have made arrangements to go to Long Island to see my favorite hockey player’s number retired – finally!  We will have a February weekend away to celebrate this.  One of Jeff’s favorite baseball players is going to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, so a July weekend away will be planned for this time as well.  I have so many things around our house that I really don’t need much.  What we want to do now is make memories, and not buy things.

I hope everyone had, is having and will continue having a Holiday time that makes you and your loved ones happy.  Merry.  Happy.  Celebrate!

Promises. Not Resolutions.

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The phrase “New Year’s Resolutions” brings to mind a few things.  The promise of a new day, a new start and a new beginning.  For those of us who have made many of these resolutions in the past (and didn’t end up keeping them) it also brings up a feeling of a kind of failure.  It’s a reminder of something you didn’t do that you initially had wanted to.  I want to make some changes in the upcoming year, but I am not going to call them resolutions.  I am going to call them promises.  They are going to be promises to myself.

Jeff and I have lived in our house (a rental from our dear friend and landlord, Ellie) for almost fifteen months.  We have taken time to get settled in.  We are very happy where we are.  After all, who else but such a wonderful woman would let us have seven cats?  In all this time, we have done one project.  It was redoing the bathroom, to a minor extent.  We had Jeff’s brother come to help us install a new bathroom sink and vanity, and we painted the walls and ceiling.  A border for the center of the walls has been purchased, and that will be put up soon.  But other than this project, we have done nothing.  Not a thing.  That is going to change in 2020.  First on the list is shaping up the kitchen.  It isn’t going to be a major project – all we really plan on doing is painting the walls and the ceiling, and little improvements (painting the outlet covers, buying new curtains).  Also, we really don’t need to have both a kitchen and dining room set up, so we plan on combining the two.  It remains to be seen how this all works out, but this plan is set and will begin right after the holidays are over.  We bought too much paint for the bathroom – and so we have enough to get a good start on the sink and cabinet part of the kitchen (it’s in an alcove by itself).

The painting of the rooms will continue as the kitchen gets done.  Combined with trying to beautify our place we will be getting organized.  And getting organized once and for all.  When I moved to Florida, I brought with me a whole bunch of things that I never really did anything with.  They sat in a storage unit that I had to pay monthly on.  I brought all of these things with me when we returned to Scranton.  This is combined with things from my sister’s basement that I never even took to Florida.  I have an overabundance of “stuff” and it needs to go.  I like having things – I know I will never, ever be a minimalist. Yet I have realized that a limit needs to be set.  This is not going to be just a promise to myself (and to Jeff)  It is going to be an ongoing project.  I want to get organized right this time.  I am going to discard, donate and declutter.

Some of these promises are going to have to take a break for a time in January – I am scheduled to have kidney surgery on the 20th.  I have been plagued with kidney issues here and there for almost two years, and it is time to get them taken care of once and for all.  I am not a nervous patient at all, and luckily I know from previous surgeries that I have had that I heal quickly.  I am looking forward to having these problems behind me.  I realize that not all aging is graceful.  I have to keep aware of what is going on with my body and my health.  It is irresponsible to the people who love me to do anything less.  This means eating better, drinking more water, and trying to exercise (despite the fact that I detest working out).

Lastly on my list (if I really have a list) is getting this blog up and running more, so to speak.  I am a tech preschooler, I really am.  What makes me think that I can really do this “blogging thing” is that I have gotten quite a few compliments on my writing.  To me, that is the main thing.  I have been told that all the rest of this “technical mumbo jumbo” can be learned.  With some effort, hard work and determination – who knows where I will be a year from now.  Here’s hoping it’ll be somewhere good!

 

I had a dream…

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…that I woke up with green hair.  Yes, green hair.  Just like the girl in this photo.  Why in the world did I dream of such a thing?  Who knows – maybe it’s because I just had my hair professionally colored for the first time in a long, long while.  A cut and color was one of Jeff’s Christmas gifts to me.  My hairstyle was looking a little rough, and the color was, let’s just say…uneven.  I guess the fact that I don’t often pamper myself in this way could have contributed to me dreaming about hair.  But green hair?

I try to do the things for myself that I actually can do.  To me, there is nothing worse than a gnarled up, nasty foot – so my feet always look good.  I soak them, trim my toenails, and always have nice polish on them.  I rub them in with lotions and creams and then put socks on.  My fingernails currently have no tips on them – I am thinking of going back to acrylics and gel polish at my old “nail place” once the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over.  I try to keep them neat and trimmed, but I have no luck with regular polish besides anything but clear.  I shave my legs with an electric razor, and I do my eyebrows with an old fashioned pair of tweezers.  No waxing for me.  I don’t think I would care for the feeling, nor would I care for the cost of these services.

I think something like a facial is wonderful to have done.  In the past, I have had a few of these.  Again, it’s costly so a lot of times when I think my skin needs some help, I’ll do my own version of a facial.  It in many ways is just a more involved way of cleansing my face.  It is not the same of course, but it helps me feel better and more in control of how I look.  The truth for me is that when I look good, I feel good.  For the most part.

The one thing I cannot do for myself is a massage.  Massages are wonderful and they are a perfect way to treat yourself to something you will enjoy.  I had a massage during a “day of beauty” right before I moved to Florida two years ago.  It was wonderful.  I had had a few massages in the past, but this one was incredible.  She made me feel so relaxed that I fell asleep.  I felt so good that I could have cried.  Jeff and I are going on a cruise in February, and it would be a wonderful indulgence for us to do one of those couples massages.  The spas on cruise ships are very expensive.  If we can put aside some money for something special, this is one thing I would like to do.

I always mess up sayings (well a lot of times I do), but there really is a means to an end.  If you save your money and spend wisely most of the time, you’ll have extra cash to use towards something that you need or want – something special to splurge on.  I am so happy with the way my hair came out, and I’m even happier that I have Jeff to spoil me with special things once in a while.  Now I just have to follow what Jennifer (the stylist) told me to do.  Keep up with it by using the spray roots in a can, and resist coloring it myself.  A haircut lasts about six weeks, and Jennifer says I should be able to last that long with the spray.   I would like to just go to her from now on, keeping this as a nice treat for myself.  From me.  I think I can do it.  I hope!

How to REALLY enjoy the Holidays…

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The holidays are a wonderful time.  The holidays are a stressful time.  Both of these statements are true.  With the right kind of attitude (and effort), you actually can have Happy Holidays!

The holidays can bring on financial distress and stress.  We all want to give just the right present to our loved ones.  Those loved ones don’t want to see us in money trouble just because of gift giving.  Part of what will help is accepting your reality.  If you have money issues during the year, you will have money issues at the holidays.  Those issues won’t go away if you ignore them and spend needlessly.  If you do, you’ll end up feeling bad that you didn’t behave responsibly, as well as feeling more debt pressure than you felt before.  The key is planning.  You have to come up with a budget before the holidays and all the preparations are right there in front of you.  You need to be prepared all throughout the year.  When you see something you know would be a good gift, buy it.  Put it away in a spot you will remember.  Forgetting where your hiding spots are is a two-time loss – you’ll lose the money you spent for the lost item, and you’ll still need to purchase a gift.  Be realistic with your amounts.  If you have to cut down, so be it.  I have found that even simple gifts are well received with pretty wrappings – it shows you made an effort.  A cute little upgrade to a bow is a candy bar or lollipop.  Trust me, it goes over real well!

You also need to decide what stays and what goes.  Maybe if doing a cookie baking exchange stresses you out, eliminate it.  Suggest to the people involved that you have just a general get together – to eat cookies, not to make them.  Then again, if this is a tradition that you truly enjoy, make time for it.  And get rid of something else.  The fact is that there is just so much time between Thanksgiving and Christmas – you can’t do everything, nor should you.  If it doesn’t seem like there will be enough time to full on decorate like a Hallmark Christmas movie – accept that and put up a few of your favorite decorations.  And then like they say in that movie – LET IT GO.  The Holidays are a time to be together – you shouldn’t avoid being with family and friends just so you can hang Christmas lights.  You don’t need a perfect new Christmas sweater or outfit.  You can look just as festive with black pants or a black skirt and a green or a red blouse.  If you want, even pair red and green together (not a usual clothes combination).    Use sparkly accessories too.  Being together and thankful at this time of year should be the focus – not what you’re wearing.

It’s also a good time of year to keep both your eating and drinking in check.  It’s the holidays!   It is a special time of year, so yes – you can treat yourself, and you can indulge in treats, etc. that you normally don’t have.  If you go overboard though, it’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll feel bad afterwards.  Normally, if you’re not a big drinker – don’t turn into one just because you’re at a party.  Behave as a slightly more fun version of yourself, but keep your self respect.  There will be no worse feeling than waking up the next day, wondering yet knowing that you were acting ridiculous the night before.  The danger of overindulging in food isn’t noticed quite as quickly.  A day in January might come and you’ll try something on to wear – and it won’t fit, or at least it won’t fit right.  Though the treats and drinks were good at the time, you will immediately regret having them when your clothes feel snug.  Our hospital has a program that a lot of people join at this time of year – it’s called Maintain Don’t Gain.  It’s a really good idea.  It keeps a lot of us honest.  It truly does help in keeping people on track.

The holidays can be somewhat overwhelming with all the togetherness, especially if you’re not used to it.  Or if you prefer time to yourself, even if it is just now and then.  The fact that it is holiday time doesn’t change the fact that you still may need time to yourself.  Maybe you won’t be able to keep up routines that you normally have.  Being busy is not a reason to ignore what you want and need.  I have always been a firm believer in treating myself good in addition to taking care of those around me.  It’s like they say on airplanes – put your mask on first before attempting to help others.  It is the same with the holidays, and life in general if you think about it.

Old traditions are wonderful.  This is such a special part of the holidays – thinking back and remembering all the good times, and being thankful for them.  You can put out cookies for Santa Claus long after you have non-believers in your house.  It will always be fun driving around and looking at the lights and decorations in your neighborhood.  Everyone can get their pictures taken with Santa – old, young and all those in between.  For as important as your old traditions are, it’s always a good idea to add things to do.  You can start some new traditions.  It could be going to a different church for services.  Maybe not on the actual holiday itself, but maybe just before.  Why not start a goofy gift exchange?  There are so many versions of these kinds of things.  The internet is a good source of ideas for new holiday traditions.

Eating and drinking for my family has always been an important part of the holidays.  My sister and I have always loved the special Stuffing my mother used to make, and the one special kind of Cookie she made at the holidays really signifies Christmas for us.  I think it is important to have all of your traditional favorites.  When I was raising my boys, they always loved these certain kind of rolls – it wouldn’t be a holiday for them if I didn’t make those.  I think it is important to include your favorites, even if others could call them “unusual” at holiday time – or for fancy dinners.  My sister loves ketchup, so no matter whether we are eating fancy or casual, on our table there it will be – a large bottle of ketchup.  My middle son Kevin had been a picky eater when he was young.  I was very laid back about it, which turned out to be the right choice.  He grew out of it, and eventually developed a wide variety of food likes.  Back then, years ago – he ate peanut butter and jelly.  A lot.  If I was laid back during the year, I certainly wasn’t going to take a stand on Christmas (or any other holiday).  So while we all ate turkey, or ham, or prime rib – Kevin had his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It was served on the same china the rest of us were using.  Not typical, but it worked for us.

You have to take care of yourself.  It is important to get enough sleep.  You should eat right and try to stick to a somewhat normal routine so you don’t feel “off.”  Don’t neglect to drink water – it is amazing how quickly a body can become dehydrated.  Be as organized as you can be.  It will make everything a lot easier for you.  But don’t be stressed out over it.   Relax and breathe.  As they say, this too shall pass.  And in line with taking care of yourself, treat yourself good.  Buy yourself a Christmas gift.  Since I was old enough to buy presents on my own, from me – I always included myself as a gift recipient of my own.  If money is an issue, I get it.  I would not want to take away from my loved ones in favor of myself, but the fact is…I matter too.  If funds are tight, get yourself something small, something trivial, something fun – to make your own self smile.  You are important as a gift recipient – don’t ever forget that.

The holidays will come fast, and they will go even faster.  So, relax – if you can.  Focus on all of the good in your life.  Ignore the bad, if possible.  Forgive and forget.  Help others, by giving back.  You’ll never have THIS holiday season again – make sure you enjoy it!

It’s the little things…

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The holidays are quickly approaching.  Before you know it, we will all be sitting around the table enjoying Thanksgiving dinner.  And soon after that, Christmas will be upon us.  These are fun times, but they are also stressful times.  There is pressure to have the perfect dinner, to have your home decorated just so, to buy the presents that you know your loved ones will appreciate.  I really try to focus on small things to help me get through the tough times – like food that doesn’t turn out like you’d hoped, or the worry about finances and going over your intended budget.

Last night Ellie and I were out looking at cell phones.  Mine is in bad shape, and she was coming onto our Plan.  We decided pretty quickly about which one we wanted – we both got the same iPhone.  Sounds quick, easy, cut and dried, right?  Oh no, no such luck.  It was the most drawn out visit you could imagine.  It didn’t take me that long to buy my Chevy Spark back in 2016.  There were hardware issues, computer problems, freezing screens, you name it.  Finally after an hour and forty five minutes, we were done.  It was ridiculous.  The little thing that I focused on during this debacle was that we truly did have the nicest salesman ever.  He was funny, yet professional.  Apologetic for the delays yet not in a kiss-your-butt kind of way.  We had a lot of laughs with him.  He made a bad situation (almost) bearable.  After we finally got out of there, we went had dinner at a nice place.  Delicious wings and pizza, which was a great way to end the night.

As you know, we have seven cats.  Thankfully, their flea problem seems to be taken care of.  I am ninety-nine percent sure that this is true.  We have had a newer issue – one of them seems to have worms (gross, I know).  It is hard to figure out who is the infected one when you don’t see who deposits what into the litter box.  The guilty party had decided to pee outside of one of the boxes, and poop as well.  He or she did it no other place in the whole house except in this one spot.   We took Natasha and kept her overnight in our room.  I thought she was the one.  Turns out she was not, because in the morning when I came down – there was the usual “present” he or she left.  In the meanwhile, we gave all seven deworming medication – even though we didn’t think they were all affected.  The medication is fairly mild, thankfully.  Two weeks went by and the gifts that greeted me each morning were still coming.  And then, Monday morning – I guess I got up a little earlier, and put the television on.  I looked – nothing there, no wetness on the pads.  I was watching a few seconds of Dr. Phil when it happened – there went Stanley, into the spot – and he pooped (complete with worms).  I was upset I had to clean it up again, but the bright spot (i.e. the “little thing”) was that I no longer had to give medication to the cats who didn’t need it, and I knew who it was and could properly treat him.  A little victory, but a victory nonetheless.

I loved the Bee Gees, and I love the cover band the New York Bee Gees.  We saw them locally in the summer and we have tickets to see them in December with Christine and her husband.  Recently I had realized that a show they were having in Maryland wasn’t a show with a few acts – it was just them.  I had to find a way so we could go.  It was difficult since I had worked until after 11 pm the night before.  My boss arranged to have me make up my hours, but I had to do it at 6 am the next day.  I got out at noon.  I was exhausted in the car, the drive was over three hours long  and I would end up being exhausted the next day – but we were there!  We saw them, and they were incredible.  The hotel we stayed at was reasonably priced and very nice.  My focus was being happy we were able to attend, and the “little thing” of being tired seemed very minor.  I’m already looking forward to December!

WrestleMania 36 will be in Tampa next April.  Yes, there HAVE been thirty-five of them so far!  Today was the internet presale for tickets.  Ticketmaster on-sale days never really go smooth.  They implemented a new system which at first seemed to work well.  It wasn’t as good as it first appeared to be.  The site was freezing, and jumping – and when I thought I had tickets – I didn’t.  I thought we were going to be shut out and would have to brave the true horror of the regular sale on Friday.  We breathed a bit, took a break for awhile and tried again later on.  I was thrilled to eventually get a text from Christine saying she’d gotten our tickets!  Knowing we will be in the building again was worth the hassle, the worries and the bad words we were saying!  We ended up with what will basically be nosebleed seats – but we don’t care!  The little thing was knowing we won’t have good (or even decent) seats, but that is a minor detail.  She will be attending her fifteenth Mania and I’ll be at my sixteenth!  Roll on, April…

Sometimes it is hard to look on the bright side.  At times there doesn’t even seem to be one.  But there usually always is.  Attitude is everything.  Well, almost everything.  Focus on the good, try as much as you can to minimize and ignore the bad – and be thankful for all the good you’ve got…

 

 

 

Oh no, you didn’t…

(Photo courtesy of spreadshirtmedia.com)

Yes, I did that.  But no, I didn’t do that other thing.  What?  Do you admit to some things and not others?  I’ve been thinking about this lately, as I’ve seen people doing odd things and behaving in ways that just makes me shake my head.  It got me to think of things I’ve done that I might not necessarily be proud of.  Oh, nothing major and nothing illegal – just…weird things.

So, here – in no special order or significance – is a list of things I’ve done (or not done) that some might consider “suspect” in one way or another…

Jeff and I bought two souvenir cups at a baseball game we went to.  As we finished the beers that came in them, we thought of how nice the cups were, and how we’d like more.  We just didn’t want to spend the extra money to get them – it cost a higher price to get these cups rather than just getting a regularly priced beer.  So…as the game was coming to an end, we looked around for people who had left their cups.  There were quite a few.  When the game was over, we casually walked past these left-behind cups and took two of them.  We brought all four home – by that point, we didn’t realize which ones were ours and which ones we’d taken.  All got washed in hot, sudsy water.  We now have a nice set of four matching commemorative cups.

I have ON OCCASION bought used underwear.  Now before you get all grossed and disgusted out, know that these supposed used articles looked brand new.  They actually looked as though they’d been in a package of several – that the original owner appeared to have not liked.  I got these items at a steal.  I don’t make a habit out of this, yet I can’t resist a bargain.  I would never purchase a garment like this that appeared to be used.  I wouldn’t buy ANY kind of garment that looked like it was previously owned.  My goal in thrift store shopping is to look good – not to look as though I’m wearing old junk.

We went out to a very nice diner for breakfast yesterday.  It was very nice, and it was expensive.  I didn’t want to appear greedy.  Our server brought us a basket of small muffins with butter and jelly – far too many for us to finish with the breakfast we ordered.  I knew I was entitled to a point to take the muffins home, so I did – along with the little jelly samples.  These little jellies will come in handy at work.  We sometimes have bagels of rolls – and having some jelly to add will make a nice addition.  Should I have taken them?  Maybe, or maybe not.  I decided to go for it and put them in my purse as we were leaving.

I was sitting in traffic for a long time the other afternoon, on my way to work.  I was getting impatient.  As I sat there waiting and watching cars coming at me from the oncoming direction, I realized that our light was only coming on for a left hand turn – and a regular, green, going straight light was only every fourth or fifth light change.  I was the first car waiting, when I had enough.  I made sure no one was coming – from any direction.  I went through the red light.  If I hadn’t, I bet I would still be sitting there now!  Well, not really.  I’m sure you get my point though.

Who in the world would serve something as messy as Loaded Nachos without a fork?  You’d have to be some sort of an animal to eat them with your hands, or fingers.  I was at WrestleMania when this happened.  I sat down in my seat and tried to make a fork/scoop/I don’t know what out of cardboard.  It wasn’t working.  A nice man and his son were sitting behind us, and he offered me a fork.  Either the man or his son had used it.  The Dad wiped it off with a napkin, and handed it to me with a smile.  I smiled back as I took it.  I shook my head, smiled back.  I wiped the fork myself, and used it – I dug right in to my nachos.  I know – using a stranger’s fork could be considered gross.  Somehow, at the time it didn’t seem that way.  This happened years ago – I am still alive today.  It didn’t kill me.

I once worked in an office building that had individual single bathrooms.  Each and every time I seemed to need to use the ladies room, they were occupied.  It never failed, it really didn’t.  Rather than waiting, and risking getting back to my desk past their “time limit” – this place was very, very regimented – I would use the men’s room.  You were in there alone anyway, I’d reason to myself.  What difference did it really make?

So…what things have YOU done that you may not be proud of, but aren’t really ashamed of?  Care to say?

 

 

 

Hungry…need food! Quick!

 

flying plane leaving contrails
Photo by Juhasz Imre on Pexels.com

When I am hungry and I really need food, I want it quick.  Speedy.  With rapid fire.  I want it immediately, and I want it ready in a snap.  Because I know that I am this way quite often, I have come up with a few different food options so I don’t have to wait.  A hungry person is not a patient person.

An easy and fast meal is Swedish Meatballs.  Well, technically these are not exact replicas, yet to me they are close enough.  It makes sense to always have some of your favorite frozen meatballs on hand.  These can be either your own homemade ones, ready to go.  Or they can be premade by a manufacturer or the deli or meat department of your favorite supermarket.  I use wide egg noodles.  While the water is getting ready to boil, put your meatballs in a pot.  If you want to cut down on “pot time” you can microwave them for 1 1/2 minutes to soften them a bit (this is what I do).  After they are in the pot, cover them with a can of Beef Gravy – depending on how many people you’re cooking for, you may need more than one can.  Recent additions to the gravy that have turned out to be delicious have been the leftovers in containers of dip from parties we’ve had – I have used both Ranch and French Onion.  Bring them to a boil on a medium flame, and reduce it to low once they’re bubbling.  Finish your noodles.  Pour your meatball mixture over the top and get ready to eat.  PDQ!

You can make a Chicken Dumpling Dinner dish fairly fast.  The key to this though is having chicken ready and prepared in advance – if it’s frozen, defrost it quick (microwaves are a great thing).  You can also use canned chicken, which is always a good item to have in your house.  Decide how much chicken you want to use, and use a can of cream of chicken soup.  Again, depending on how much is in your pan will determine how many cans of vegetables to use – the mixed vegetable variety is good.  Then add a can of chicken broth, or 1 1/2 cups of chicken bouillon (hot water).  Mix all of the ingredients together, and spread the mixture in the bottom of the greased pan you’ve decided to use.  Have your oven preheated to 350.  Before placing your dish into the oven, take a can of refrigerated biscuits – I think the standard size gives you 8-10 of them (the regular not Grand size).  Again, you need to take into consideration the size of the dish you’re cooking.  I prefer to use clean kitchen scissors to cut the biscuits into quarters – placing them all over the top.  You don’t want to use too many because they’ll expand as they cook and it will be a mess.  Place your dish in the oven, keeping watch to see the biscuits browning.  Once they’re browned to your liking, remove the dish from the oven and you’ve got your meal!

A really quick but good meal is Tomato Soup with Rice.  Get your favorite kind of Tomato Soup into a sauce pan and heat it slowly.  If your soup is condensed and calls for milk or water – if you don’t want it too rich, do half water and half milk.  While the soup simmers, make white rice in your microwave.  It’s fast.  Follow this guideline – for 3/4 cup of rice, use twice the amount of water (or broth to perk it up) and cook for nine minutes.  For 1 cup of rice, use two cups of water (again, or broth) and cook for twelve minutes.  Adjust up accordingly.  Once the rice is done to your liking, add it to your soup.  In no time at all, you have a fast yet stick-to-your-ribs meal.

The key to a quick meal is to have things on hand that makes your cooking job easier.  For this recipe, I will use either cooked chicken or canned chicken.  I make rice the way I do above.  As the rice cooks, I will get my vegetables ready – for this dish, I usually use either canned or frozen peas and carrots.  If I have chopped frozen onions, or if I feel like taking a bit of time to chop some fresh ones – I’ll brown and soften them, and then sort-of stir fry the vegetables with them, soon adding the chicken.  By this time, the rice is usually just about done and then I combine everything together.  I will put in a splash or two of soy sauce.  I will have a few packets of hot mustard and duck sauce if the mood strikes to use these.  I always have a hefty supply of these things from takeout times.

You can make quick Chicken Parmesan sandwiches.  To make these you will need precooked chicken patties, spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese (the slices work really good for this) and rolls (hamburger type rolls are what I usually use).  Put your chicken patties on a plate, and microwave them for a little more than the instructions say.  Take them out of the microwave, turn them over and then put the sauce on and the cheese on top of that.  Microwave for at least the total of required cooking time.  You might need to melt the cheese more.  You might not.  Eyeball it.  Take the melted cheese and chicken goodness out and transfer to your rolls.  Easy.  Quick.  Really good.

A very quick and easy meal is Macaroni and Cheese.  I am talking about the boxed, prepared kind.  For recipes I like to use  Shells and Cheese.  I will begin to prepare according to the directions.  Making Macaroni and Cheese this way usually doesn’t even take fifteen minutes.  The key to making this more of a meal is add-ins.  There are so many things you can add in to make your Macaroni even better.  You can cut up pieces of ham.  You can add a can or package of frozen peas (those should be already cooked/warmed up so they don’t throw off the heat and warmth).  Try adding a can of canned tuna or chicken.  Try bacon bits.  If you want something with more of a Mexican type feel and taste, add a half can of diced tomatoes and sprinkle with some chili powder.  You can put Rotel in too.  If you want it simple yet with something a little extra, sprinkle a sizable topping of bread crumbs or crushed croutons.  Broccoli mixed in with Macaroni and Cheese is delicious.

A quick meal is a Baked Potato.  It is not just the potato but what you put on top of it.  Baking potatoes in the microwave doesn’t take that long.  While they are cooking, you can get out whatever toppings you might want.  The standard stand by is butter and sour cream.  And to that, you can add grated cheddar cheese and bacon bits.  It’s never a bad thing to have a can of whatever kind of canned chili you enjoy and drizzle that over the top.   You can do the same thing with cream of whatever kind of soup – prepare the soup, using about half of the liquid and pour over your potato.  Though it might be a bit gassy, canned baked beans over the top is good too.

My last quick go-to meal is pasta.  With spaghetti sauce.  This is not a deluxe meal.  It is plain, yet there are ways to make it more substantial.  My personal way to perk it up is to cook the pasta, pour warm sauce on and then put a lump of ricotta on top.  I love that, it’s SO good.  You can also add shredded mozzarella cheese.  Adding just grated parmesan cheese is good, too – using a substantial amount makes it really good.  If you have frozen cooked shrimp, adding them to the pasta with sauce and mozzarella cheese gives you (almost) Shrimp Parmesan.

The key to all of this is to use your imagination.  I do have to say though that in times of hunger that needs to be satisfied immediately, a large bowl of your favorite cereal or a quick peanut butter jelly sandwich is never out of line!

A is for Apple…

apple fruit healthy food
Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

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!