Friday, April 12, 2013

Humbled,and not loving it so much!

Please forgive my absence for the last few weeks.  Packing and moving an entire house, and trying to figure out what’s going into storage, what’s being taken with us, and what’s being donated is a little time consuming.  Now I’m still unpacking, but fortunately I can take my time with that some.]

But now, I’ve got a new post for you.

I was having a particularly rough week emotionally last week.   So, I knew going into church, I was going to be weepy.  Our Pastor also started a new sermon series, bound to last 11-12 weeks or so, based solely on Hebrews 11.  He has entitled the series “Fearless Faith.”  Seriously, I’ve begun to wonder if he’s been crawling around inside my head.  My husband’s been gone a month and it seems like everything this man has preached, in whole or in part, has been aimed straight at me.  Sometimes, I can’t even look him in the face when he looks my direction, I’m so convicted.

That being said, it’s a humbling thing to be made to see that I’ve been a Christian for nearly 30 years and have NEVER really relied on God.  Or had to. 

I’ve prayed.

I’ve tried to be a good girl.

And even though a part of me believes that Christians are more effective witnesses when they’ve not been rescued from every hardship, I’ve lived most of my last 38 years being spared a lot of trials.  In fact, the only hardship I’ve ever been through in which I was not directly involved was my parents’ divorce.  At the time, it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.  As for who I relied on then…well…I was in 8th grade, so my momma met all my needs.  She, and food stamps.  And we only used those for the summer, until she remarried.

Most of my other issues have been somewhat self-induced, or I knew they were coming.  As a result, painful as the consequences were, I knew I had coming to me what I received.  So, I just grit my teeth and ride it out.  No need to consult God on those matters because, in my view, (1) the consequences of my actions were the answers to my prayer, and (2) isn’t asking God to deliver you from circumstances you placed yourself into a bit like cheating?

Rabbit and I have also been through some stuff:  deployments, unaccompanied tours, relationship struggles.  But again, I didn’t have to really trust God.  Rabbit and I communicate well, so (1) we always worked out our issues, or else (2) I had Rabbit and/or his paycheck/benefits, etc.

All of our marriage, Rabbit has been a FANTASTIC  provider.  ALWAYS!  Maybe too good.  He’s been a great friend, a counselor, my voice of reason, my balance, and a defender of the weak (and this would include his accuser).

And at the very beginning of this whole mess – even knowing the case was a 50/50, he said/she said thing I told Rabbit:

“Don’t you dare take a plea.  I do not want you to say you did something you didn’t do.  Especially this.”

I said this fully aware of what it would mean for me and the kids if things did not go the way I hoped.  But even so, I never believed it would come to THIS.  I never believed God would allow something so unspeakable when the accusation was a lie.

I mean, God is just and merciful.  Right?  God is love and love rejoices in the truth.  Right?  And where could the justice be in allowing a 9-year-old to grow up without his father on the basis of a LIE?  There is no way God would do that to…ME.

                                YET, HERE WE ARE.

You might think the first thing God would show a woman in my position would be just how much He loves me and wants to provide for me.  You might think that scriptures about His providing for the widowed and orphaned would be comforting me.  While those are nice, that is not where God chose to start. 

So, what was the first thing God chose to reveal to me?

The other day I was reading in Philippians about not worrying about anything, about bringing my requests to God, with thanksgiving.  He revealed to me that I was not being very grateful.

You wanna know what my response was? 


Yeah, You’ve been providing.  No, I’ve not needed anything since Rabbit went to jail that You have not provided.  But really, if You hadn’t let my husband go to jail, I wouldn’t need any of this stuff.  I wouldn’t have to be thanking You for all of this stuff because I’d have had my husband.  All of this stuff You are providing, Rabbit was providing quite nicely.  Yes, you are providing.  The kids and I have a place to stay.  We have food to eat and a roof over our heads, and I don’t have to worry about a job right now, but I had all that stuff with Rabbit too.  And the kids had their father.  And there was one less person in the world who would have been allowed to get away with a lie.  I had everything I needed, and You let him be convicted BASED ON A LIE!

THAT was my response.

And you know what that showed me? 

Not only have I never been in the position of needing God’s provision for anything – other than entrance into Heaven – (Yes, I know how ludicrous that sounds to any Christian reading this) I really just don’t want to need His Provision.  For anything.  Other than Heaven, that is.

I did not want Rabbit to go to jail for many reasons but one that I would’ve never had to see or admit UNLESS HE WENT was :

I didn’t want to have to trust God to provide for me.  Rabbit was doing a fine enough job. 
Thank you very much.

I’ve walked a long way on this Christian path I’m on saying one of two things:  (1) I want Your Will to be done in my life, or (2) I want to want that.

I can’t really say I was lying when I said those things, but I know I had NO IDEA the lengths to which God would go in answering those prayers.

I also know that, two years ago, you could not have convinced me I had that much pride and self-sufficiency built up inside me.

You know that scripture in Proverbs about God knowing the motives of your heart (Proverbs 16:2)? 
                                ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!!

How about that scripture about God resisting the proud (James 4:6)?
                                YEAH, THAT ONE’S TRUE TOO!

I have known for a long time that God will bring into the light those things that are done in the dark and in secret.  It just never occurred to me that some of those things that needed to be exposed were hiding in my heart. 

One last thing and then I will close.  Remember the Psalm in which David prays: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).  Be aware that if and/or when you pray that, God takes it seriously. 
Be aware, too, that you may well be shown things that surprise or shock you because you were unaware that they were there.  You are likely to find the truth of Jeremiah 17:9:

                “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (New Living Translation)

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Happy Easter Mail Call from my man! God is so good!

MAIL CALL!  MAIL CALL!  GUESS WHO GOT ANOTHER LETTER TODAY!!  This time Rabbit wrote something he wanted me to with everyone.  Please enjoy.

The Cross

People watch as I stare at a blank wall or look up to the sky and ask me, "Why do you not worship the cross?"  I explain as simply as I can: "I do not follow a cross, that is simply a symbol to remind me!"

I follow a man that was strong enough to continue on, even when people beat him, shred his skin, and broke his bones.  He was strong enough to continue when they spit on Him and called Him names, even strong enough to endure being nailed to a cross to be displayed without clothes or mercy.  He even stayed strong when they pierced his side with a spear.  Why?  He did it for me!

I follow a King that was humble enough to eat with prostitutes, the sick, the poor, and even the hated.  He was humble enough to get on His hands and knees to wash His servants feet.  Yet, He still never once forgot the importance of a child's love.  He was so humble that He announced His coming glory from atop a donkey's colt.  Why?  He did it to show His love for me!

I follow a God that was meek enough to come to earth as a man.  He was meek enough to allow the one who would betray Him, not only to live, but to succeed in his vile plans, even though He knew about it all before any of it took place.  He was meek enough to allow Himself to be tortured and crucified, even though He had command of 10,000 angels.  Why?  He did this to pay for my mistakes and sins, even though He had none of his own.

You see, I do not follow a cross; I follow a man, who was a King, who was God!  His name is Jesus and He died and rose again for me and for you!  The cross is to remind, not to be worshiped.  Thank You God!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!  Remember, we serve a risen Savior!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Waiting on the Lord

So, back near the first of the year, my husband bought a devotional – Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (a 365 day devotional by Sarah Young) he was reading everyday.  Everyday, it seemed what he was reading was meeting him right where he was.  It was amazing!

Since he’s been gone and since I am not allowed to send him anything other than letters, I have made it my mission to write out the daily devotions in addition to the letters I send him.  My original intention was just to afford him the opportunity to be able to continue reading the devotions he had begun before he left.  Of course, what started as an attempt to keep my husband immersed in the word, has turned into something that has been blessing me and meeting me right where I am.  No lie, it’s almost like the devotions he was reading were just what he needed when he needed them, but now that I’m the one reading them, it’s like they were intended for me, right where I am now.

Isn’t God good?!

Because of packing, I had missed a couple of days (because I got busy before I got before God) so I didn’t read Tuesday’s devotion until today.  The devotion for March 26th talks about waiting on the Lord.   Take a look:

WAITING ON ME means directing your attention to Me in hopeful anticipation of what I will do.  It entails trusting Me with every fiber of your being, instead of trying to figure out things for yourself.  Waiting on Me is the way I designed you to live:  all day, everyday.  I created you to stay conscious of Me as you go about your daily duties.

I have promised many blessings to those who wait on Me: renewed strength, living above one’s circumstances, resurgence of hope, awareness of My continual Presence.  Waiting on Me enables you to glorify Me by living in deep dependence on me, ready to do My will.  It also helps you to enjoy Me; in My Presence is fullness of Joy.

The scripture references listed for this day’s devotional are:

Lamentations 3:24-26 – I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31 – Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Psalm 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Why do I share this?  Well, for the last 2 years, I have wondered:  “What does it mean to wait on God anyway?”  What does the verse in Isaiah mean when it says I will mount up with wings as eagles, that I will run and not grow weary, that I will walk and not faint?  I had been waiting on God for 2 years.  I hadn’t sprouted wings yet, and I had been plenty tired – though I hadn’t fainted.  All I was wondering was when God was just going to end all this garbage.

Apparently, I had been missing the point of what it means to wait on God.  I had been directing my attention to Him, and in hopeful anticipation of what He would do, but I don’t think I was really trusting Him with every fiber of my being.  I was just holding out hope that He would give me what I was asking for – to keep my husband out of jail.  I don’t necessarily think that was a bad prayer.  We are married, and my husband loves being a father, so to ask that God would allow him to stay with us is honorable.  Right?

While I don’t disagree, I can tell you that what I have been confronted with is having to trust God for my entire life.  You see, right now, I am a full time graduate student and stay-at-home mom, homeschooling the two kids we have at home.  I’ve not had a “real” job since 2003, and that was at a coffee shop.  I did serve 5 years in the Navy, but that ended in 1998.  I don’t have a resume ready because I’m still in school and wasn’t planning on needing it.  My husband and I had fashioned our lives, from early on in our marriage, in such a way that he would be the provider and any job I have will be icing on the cake. 

That was our plan.  I thought it was a pretty good one too.  It allowed me to finish school and continue homeschooling.  You know what it would also do?  It would ensure that I didn’t really have to think about the fact that God was the one providing all of our income. 

You see, until confronted with the idea that my husband could go to jail and I would be left with 2 kids, graduate school AND no job, no benefits, no paycheck, no home, and no idea what I would do about it, it never occurred to me that, even though I had said the sinner’s prayer and believed that I was saved, I had never really made Jesus Lord of EVERYTHING in my life.  I had no idea that there were a few things that I had been holding back from Him.  I had no idea that maybe I didn’t really believe that I could trust Him with my life or my marriage or my husband or my kids.

But God is faithful.  See, when you pray something that God desires for you to have in your life, he sets about answering that prayer because it will be one more thing in your life that will bring Him glory.  That includes even simple, seemingly benign musings about what it means to really wait on the Lord. 

My family was in limbo for 2 years while this case was being processed.  We were told by people who had been through similar situations that the longer it took, the better it looked for our side.  So, I figured that after 2 years, our waiting would be over.  God would intervene and we would be vindicated.  The truth would finally be revealed and all would be well because, then, our lives would be restored to what they had been before. 

Well, that’s not what we got!  Now, we have even longer to wait.  Our 2 years has been made 7. 

What about the promises to those who wait on the Lord?

Renewed Strength:  Yeah!  People keep asking me how I’m doing.  Well, I don’t have any frame of reference for this aside from being the wife of a man who has deployed numerous times.  But this is not quite the same as that, unless you consider this a mission from God.  So…that’s what we are doing.  My husband will get out of jail, and much like when he comes home from deployment, he’s going to be looking at me and our kids and our home and hoping to see that I have not lost my mind or gone off the deep end and have managed to hold things together until he returned home.  Well, I’ve had help, but I am making it.  And I feel pretty good!  It’s still early, but so far I’ve only had one day that really just got to me.

Living Above One’s Circumstances:  Again, I’ve been married for nearly 20 years to a man who has deployed numerous times.  I’ve never been able to know exactly where he was, what he was doing, or if he would be making it home.  Letters were sparse because he was always moving, and there were no real phone conversations.  Well, at least this time I can write to him.  I know right where he is.  I can visit, and I know that he is safe, eating, and able to take care of himself physically and spiritually.  These are assurances I didn’t really have before. 

Resurgence of Hope:  There is an appeal process that starts immediately.  But better than that, I know that my God is a God of justice and of truth.  My husband did nothing wrong.  And he would not take a plea saying that he did something he didn’t do, even if it meant that he would get to spend more time with us.  That was not just his decision.  It was mine too.  In fact, I told him not to dare say he did something he didn’t do.  The person who accused my husband is a disturbed individual.  Much help is needed for this person and my prayer is that the help will come.  What I do know is that there will be no real healing for this person or for this person’s family until the truth comes out.  So, my hope is that God will allow the appeal to go through and that he would move in the heart of the individual who accused my husband so that the urge to tell the truth could not be avoided.  AND, news of our ordeal has circumnavigated the globe.  There are people from here in Maryland all the way around the globe and back again to Virginia praying for us and for this individual.  God will not leave that many prayers unanswered (where 2 or more are gathered…).

Awareness of my Continual Presence:  Well, as if these devotionals weren’t enough, God has shown up in the form of people offering to help with packing and moving.  People respond to my posts on Facebook when they see that I’ve left an update about my husband.  People have called out of the blue to tell me that they found a scripture verse for me.  Men have stepped up to take our youngest son under their wings while my husband is gone, as have women who want to spend time with our teenage daughter. 

If what God wants is my utter dependence upon Him, He’s got it.  There is nothing else I can do right now but that.  But it has been good.  While I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone, I really believe that this is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to both my and my husband’s walks with the Lord.  And isn’t that what He’s been after this whole time?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Has it seriously been a month since my last post?

Wow!  Where has the time gone?

Well, I can tell you.

The week after my last entry, my husband was on trial for, convicted of and sentenced to 7 years and a dishonorable discharge for a crime he did not commit!  That was March 4-8.

The next week I did nothing but plan for last week and this week.

Last week and this week, I have been packing up the house to get ready to move by the end of the week.

Needless to say, I have not been working on my cooking project, which means that I will have about 12 recipes to add to the months remaining in the year.  Never fear though.  The recipe box is in a box I have set aside to bring with me.  All this means is that I have gained another person on which to test my recipes.  And in July, that number could potentially increase by 2.  Woohoo!  That means:  if a recipe stinks, the love will be shared among more people, which means fewer left overs.

But, back to my news of the first of the month.  I have entitled this blog "Bloom Where You're Planted;" aptly named, I thought, for a woman who has been married to a man in the Navy for the last almost-20 years.  We move so often that I have had to learn how to make the best of the situations and places we are in.  All of us have.  So...why should this time be any different?

The trial was the end of a 22-month long ordeal that is now, finally & thankfully, over.

There have been so many things I have learned along the way, I don't know that there will be time enough left in my life for me to even be able to grasp the depths to which this thing has reached, but, with your indulgence, I would like to share some of them here.

First, God means to have ALL of you!

I was raised in church.  I've been saved since I was 8 years old.  And in 30 years time I have never really, ever had to rely totally upon God for anything.  I'm not saying He hasn't provided WELL for me in that time.  I'm just saying that I have never totally laid my entire life on the line for Him.  Oh sure, I have said as much.  I have prayed as much.  But, I have never done it.  I don't know that I can recall a time when I've ever felt like I was being asked to.  Not until this last 22 months.

Over the last 22 months, what God was asking of me scared the daylights out of me.  Will you still love me if the trial does not give you the results you want?  Will you still love me if your husband goes away?  Will you still love me if I don't intervene to keep him out of jail?

I wanted to be able to say, unwaveringly, unquestioningly, YES!

I wanted to.  But I couldn't.

The only honest answer I could come up with was:  "I don't know."

To be a 38-year-old, raised in church, saved for 30 years Christian and to have no better answer than "I don't know" was:  enlightening, shameful, humbling, you name it.

I prayed for 22 months for God to let me keep my husband, for God to keep my husband out of jail.  And I wasn't the only one.  We had tons of people praying for my husband not to go to jail.  And when that is not the answer I got, part of me began to wonder:  "What's the point of praying if God's just going to do what He's going to do?"  "Why bother?"

This led me to another painful realization.  While God wants us to pray to Him and to ask Him for what we want, in accordance with His will, He will not be manipulated by our prayers.  God intends to have all of creation glorify Him.  That includes us.  If the greater glory comes from my husband's going to jail, if God's purposes are served even better by that, then He may just allow that pain in our lives for a season.  But that pain will not go untreated.  Jeremiah 29:11 states that He knows the plans He has for us; plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future.  Now, in my finite mind, I cannot comprehend how it is for our good that my husband goes to jail.  Surely it cannot be for my good, for my husband's good, or for our children's good.  Surely not.  Right?  But the Bible says otherwise.  The thing is:  that good is not necessarily immediate, and it is not necessarily earthly.  But whatever it is, there is no way that God is going to allow us to come out of this thing worse off than when we went in.  He is faithful to those who are faithful to Him, to those who call on His name.

And we have called.  Believe me!  And not just us, but so many others as well.  Did He just neglect all of us?  I don't think so.

See, for 22 months, while I was praying for this whole thing just to go away, God was sending me scripture verses to comfort me.  And when I was really desperate, He would send people my way who, invariably, gave me those same scriptures as confirmation that I had heard from God.  They would always begin by saying something to the effect of:  "You know, I was reading today and I came across this passage that I made me think of you and I just had to share it."  And wouldn't you know, they shared with me the very thing that God had shown me.

And for the last month, my house has been full of people who know our family, people who know the situation and the absurdity of it, who have been here to help us - physically, emotionally, and spiritually - in this time of need.

And that question God posed to me about whether or not I would still love Him if I didn't get the answer I wanted:  Well, see, God knows me.  I have prayed for years and years that my faith would mean more to me than just getting my ticket on the train to heaven punched.  As far back as high school, I knew there had to be more to being a Christian than saying "Yes" to Jesus and then, just going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays for the rest of my life.  There had to be something deeper.  It had to MEAN SOMETHING.  Back in high school, that was about as deep as I got, but I prayed that God would make that a reality for me.  I had no idea what kind of a prayer that was.  I had no idea that I was offering myself up to God in such a way as to let Him know that He had full permission to make me understand just what I had prayed.  I didn't, that is, until the last 22 months.

You see, since I was raised in church, and believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, I know that my salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ is ALL I'VE GOT.  It is my only security.  Not my husband.  Not my children.  Not my church.  Not my parents.  Just Jesus.  I knew that.  I believed it. be honest, I think I only thought I knew it.  And I think I only thought I believed it.  It wasn't until those statements were tested did the reality set it.  And during the testing, I was wondering if I would pass muster.  I was hoping I would pass.  But see, the thing about testing is:  until you have gone through it, you don't really know what your faith is like.  You don't know how strong a teabag is until you put it in hot water, right?!

And here I am on the back side of this, kinda.  And on the front side of something else.  But still, it feels like we are on the back side.  And where do I stand?  What is my answer to that question now?  Will I still love God if I don't get my way?

Now, I can say, with my head held high, YES!  I do still love Him.

I did not get the answer I wanted, but I have had every need met.  My children have had every need met.  Yes, it's still early.  Yes, there's still money in the bank and nobody has gotten sick yet.  No, the appeal has not started yet, so there is still hope that we can win it.  But, I am blooming where I am planted.  I am not banking on the appeal.  I am praying that it goes through, but trusting God regardless.  See, I prayed for 22 months for something I didn't get, and I thought I would be devastated if I didn't get my way.  But now, when I pray about the appeal, the idea of not getting my way doesn't bother me.  Now, 7 years is 7 years, and I know God will make something good out of this time my husband is away whether the appeal goes through or not, whether my husband is gone for 7 years or not.  Everything comes to an end; good stuff and bad stuff alike.  So this will not last.  This, too, shall past.  And once it has, we will be even better off than before!  Why?  Because we have Jesus.  Because we know the story.  We know who wins in the end, and it ain't Satan.  So, really, we have already won.

Thank you all so much for your time.  I hope that this has been encouraging to you.  I will write more later.

Blessed & then some,

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Caldillo & Huevos con Chile Verde

What a week we've had.  So, I'm a little behind getting to the blog.  I made the Caldillo on Monday because the weather here was rather ugly.

Here is the recipe:

ground beef
green chilies (4 oz. can or 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded - if desired - and diced)
onions, chopped
potatoes (diced small)
1 bay leaf          cumin          garlic salt 

Brown ground meat; add onions & potatoes, water, and remaining ingredients.  Boil till done.

Okay, okay.  So, the recipe ingredients list is vague, in that there are no real measurements.  I got this from a friend of mine, and she just makes it as big as necessary to suit the crowd she's feeding.

I used about 1& 1/2 pounds of 90/10 ground beef; 1 can of green chilies, 2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced, and one large yellow onion, diced.  The seasonings are added to taste.

Rather than browning the meat first, I tried something I saw on a show once, and just added the meat straight to the water and let it break apart while the water boiled.  This served two purposes:  it let me try a different technique that I never had, but also, on the inside, the ground beef was still a little frozen, so it finished thawing while it cooked.

As soon as the meat was done and I had it crumbled, I added the remaining ingredients and let it cook until the potatoes were done.  After they were soft, I used a potato masher and smashed the potatoes some, so that the broth was a little thicker.  Also, I added some black pepper.

The consensus:          The kids did not care for it.  My husband, father and I did.

This would be a good soup to eat when you are sick, but don't feel like chicken noodle soup.  If you add enough chilies, it'll clean your sinuses right out!

pronounced (call-dee-yo)

The next recipe, which I just made today, is Huevos con Chile Verde, and comes from the aforementioned, and as yet unnamed, cookbook belonging to my good friend Joan!  

2 T. butter     2 T. onion, chopped
4 oz. can diced green chilies (or 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded & diced
1 tomato, diced     1/2 t. salt     1/4 t. garlic powder     pepper to taste
6 eggs, beaten well
dash Paprika

Saute onions and jalapenos (if using fresh) in butter till tender.  Add diced chilies (if you used canned) & tomato.  Add seasoning & let simmer for a few minutes.  Beat eggs till creamy and add to chile mixture.  Cook eggs and sprinkle with paprika.  Yield: 4 servings

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of the eggs.  We had eaten them all before I realized that I forgot to take a shot of them.  

My take on the eggs:  I am not a huge fan of adding ingredients  into my scrambled eggs.  I don't mind adding salsa on top, or cheese.  Or if I'm eating an omelet and the ingredients are folded inside, but not technically mixed into the eggs, I'm good.  So, these eggs ended up a little wetter than I prefer.  However, the seasoning was good.  They even could've been a little spicier and I would've been good with that too.  Though they are not very pretty, they taste decent enough.  Next time, though, I'd rather just serve them with the chile verde on top.  

As for the rest of the family:          The youngest didn't like them.  Too spicy.
                                                   Everyone else was fine with them.

The only recipe left for the week:  Eggplant (instead of pasta) Lasagna Roll-ups.

Until next time,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quiche, Easy Layered Chicken Bake, and Candy Cookies

I got a little busy on Saturday and am unplugged on Sundays so, this morning, you are getting my critique of the recipes I made this weekend.

First is the quiche.  This recipe comes out of my recipe box, and I have no idea from whence it came, but here it is for you:

Quiche For Lunch 
(no idea why it was called that...)
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 9" pie shell, unbaked
1 c. grated Swiss
3 eggs
2 1/2 c. half-n-half
1/4 t. nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Place crumbled bacon in bottom of pie shell.  Sprinkle with cheese.  
Mix remaining ingredients; pour into pie shell.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or till set.  
Yield: 4-6 servings

I would like to begin by saying that since my grandmother taught me how to make pie crust and I have, finally, mastered not overworking it, I have never been satisfied with buying a pie crust.  They never taste like I have grown up thinking pie crust should taste, and there is never any left over to bake up with cinnamon-sugar to just eat.  So, I did not buy a pie shell.

what was left of the leftover pie crust
I almost forgot to take a picture!

Also, I used turkey bacon, which comes out a little wetter in the finished product than regular bacon, but we've been eating it for so long that we prefer it for the purposes of just eating.  Also, I do not cook the bacon and then crumble it.  I dice it up first, then cook it.  I could be mistaken, but it seems to me that more of the fat gets rendered out that way, AND, I don't have to wait around for the bacon to cool in order to crumble it.

That being said, I have to tell you that this was another one of the recipes The Bug picked not knowing what he was picking.  He also doesn't know what quiche is anyway, so it doesn't matter.  But what I can tell you is that NOBODY, but me, wanted to eat quiche.  All I heard ALL WEEK was grumbling about the quiche.  Turned up noses, groans and moans, were abounding anytime I mentioned it.  Personally, I like quiche.  So, the fact that the 3 remaining people in my house were sneering at the idea of it made this week all the more enjoyable for me.  Why?  Well, the rule for this project (and for anything else I make) is:  You don't have to like it, but you do have to give it a fair chance.  So, I was masochistically overjoyed that it was quiche week. If you are old enough to remember Snidely Whiplash from the Dudley Do-right skits on The Rocky and Bullwinkle show, think of his sneering laugh, and you will have some sort of idea what I was feeling like this week.

Well, I got the last laugh this week!  Everyone liked the quiche.  I actually made it Friday, and we had a friend from church stop over for a quick visit, and even though he has never liked any quiche he's ever eaten, he liked this one!

SCORE ONE FOR ME!  Well, actually, that's score about 8 for me!  Woohoo.

A quick note about the recipe:  the 45 minute cooking time was more like a guideline for the way I made the recipe.  Because of the turkey bacon, and due to the fact that I added more than a cup of grated Swiss, my quiche ended up having to bake about an hour before we could slice it. was good nonetheless.  Also, my husband and daughter ate the remaining quiche the next day for breakfast, and it heated up well too.  I placed the individual slices about a 1/2-inch apart on a baking sheet, placed them in the oven, turned it on to 400, and by the time the oven had reached temperature, the quiche was hot.

The Quiche after we dished out our first helping
You can see the liquid in the pan from the turkey bacon

 The next recipe was also in my recipe box because I clipped it out of the Kraft Food & Family magazine.  It is called:  "Easy Layered Chicken Bake" and you can find it by clicking here.  I made the Tex-Mex version yesterday.

I did not care for it at all.  Neither did the kids.  However, my husband and father liked it!  In all fairness, however, I must declare that no one in my family was feeling very well yesterday.  My taste-buds were so "off" that not even a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios tasted right.  BUT this dish smelled amazing while I was putting it together!  The smell of chopped, fresh green onions mingled with the smell of the Stove-Top stuffing, and I have decided that the next time I make stuffing to just eat, I am going to add green onions!

Also, my recipe came out wetter than I like.  I did my best to drain the tomatoes and the corn, but there was still a lot of juice in the pan when I dipped into the casserole.  I was not impressed.  But, then, I think that I was just determined not to taste anything properly yesterday because of the way I felt.

Lastly, I made The Bug's request - Candy Cookies - from a recipe out of "Just Desserts: and other treats for kids to make" by Marilyn Linton.  Here is the recipe:

Candy Cookies
1. softened unsalted butter
1. loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c. candy-covered chocolate pieces, such as Smarties or M&M's

Heat oven to 375.  
Put butter in large bowl and beat it with a beater for about 30 seconds.  
Pour in the brown sugar and white sugar and beat till fluffy.  
Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  
Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl, then pour them into the large bowl.  
Beat until well mixed.  
Stir in the candies and drop teaspoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  
Flatten the cookies slightly with your hand.  
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.  
Yield: approximate 36 cookies.

I didn't change anything in the recipe, except for the cookie size (I always make mine bigger than the recipes call for) which increased the cooking time a bit.  However, since I notoriously get busy and forget about the cookies, I just waited in the kitchen, checking on them periodically.  So, I don't really know how long mine were in the oven, but I didn't burn them!!  Also, my kids had a bowl of cookie dough about the size of one of these cookies.  This means that my yield was "somewhat less than" 36 cookies. The recipe was good enough, but I think, next time The Bug asks for these cookies, I'll just use the Toll House cookie base, and then add the candy pieces; I have it memorized, and I like that cookie dough flavor better.  Also, I make it using 1/2 the butter and only 2 cups of flour, and the recipe calls for 1/2 the brown sugar and an actual full teaspoon of salt, which makes a difference in the way the dough tastes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

BBQ Mini Meatloaves, Mashed Potatoes Ole & PCOS

Last night's meal comes straight out of my recipe box.  Well, actually, I guess I must give credit where credit is due.  Last night's meal came out of a Kraft Food & Family magazine and off the back of a container of French's French Fried Onions container.  And, again, I forgot to take pictures.  But, that's okay, because the ones I've used, come off the websites for these companies and are far more photogenic than mine.

The mini meatloaves are actually made in a 12-muffin tin.  I was excited to make these because I have been wondering for a long time how making individual meatloaves in a muffin tin would work.  You see, the meatloaf recipe I have comes from my mother,and I believe it is the best in the world, but it takes almost an hour to cook, and sometimes I don't have that long.  So, it seems that, once again, this little project of mine is going to help me with more than finding new recipes and cleaning out my recipe box & board.  

While I got my recipe from the Kraft Food & Family magazine, it is also available on the Kraft website.  Just click here.

Marvelous Mini Meatloaves

There are three other variations you can make, but I chose to make the one with barbeque sauce because my mother's recipe calls for barbeque sauce and I wanted to see how the two matched up.  My mother's recipe calls for a can of golden mushroom soup, eggs and oats to act as binders.  This recipe calls for 1 cup of water and a box of Stove Top Stuffing to bind it.  The smell was great, and the taste was too, but, it will not replace my mama's recipe.  I am happy to report that the meatloaves were a success, but they will not replace my mama's.  However, this would be a good go-to on a rushed evening!  All told, the meal took about 45 minutes to prepare.

As for the potatoes, well, it seems to be a trend that I messed up the recipe again.  I did not do exactly what I was supposed to, but it was still a hit.  I'm not sure when I obtained my recipe, but you can find it on the French's website, by clicking here.

Mashed Potatoes Ole

First, I didn't buy the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  I had Butter & Herb, so that's what I used.  Also, I decided not to buy the Cheddar-flavored French Fried Onions.  I had bought some of the original version for Thanksgiving and still had plenty left, so that's what I used.  I didn't really think it would make much difference in the final flavor, so I decided to proceed with the rest of the recipe as instructed.  At least, I intended to.  As you can see in the picture, salsa and black olives top the mashed potatoes.  I did not intend to use black olives, because I don't like them, and, on the recipe, they are listed as optional.  The salsa, however, is not.  I misread the recipe.  I thought the salsa was added after the potatoes were baked to melt the cheese.  I was mistaken.  And that's okay.  What I ended up doing was just stirring some of the French Fried onions into the potatoes, topping that with cheese, and baking until the cheese melted.  For my taste, it was a little on the salty side, but everyone else loved the potatoes too.  Next time, I think I will try making this with homemade mashed potatoes instead of instant.

To top it off, I served corn and black-eyed peas.  

Good news for me: I've been doing my Weight Watchers-point counting-thing for so long that, for me, the corn and black-eyed peas were far better than the potatoes, and even though 2 of the mini-meatloaves is supposed to be a serving, I only had room for one! 

I am not saying this to toot my own horn, but with the obsession with weight, and the apparent inability  some people seem to feel to conquer their issues with it, I add that last little bit there as proof that if you stick with it long enough, and are truly intentional about what you put into your mouth, your body will start to crave the things you ought to be feeding it, and will start to convince you that you no longer want the things you really shouldn't eat.  

Between 2007-2009, my husband was on an unaccompanied tour, and I took that time to get back in shape, and lose the rest of the weight that I had gained with child number 3, The Bug.  I joined a group called T.O.P.S. - Taking Off Pounds Sensibly - and lost 30 pounds.  On my last meeting, the group asked me if I would be willing to share some hints and tips on how I managed to set and achieve my goal.  The realization I came to is this:  there is not a one of us who has struggled to lose weight that doesn't already know what to do.  Genetics aside, you have to eat less that you burn off, or work out more.  Sweat needs to become your friend.  Furthermore, most of us do not actually work out long enough to burn off the calories we consume.  One thirty minute walk/work-out is not going to burn off a full day's worth of dietary misbehavior, unless you have starved yourself calorically and worked out like a beast.  (Case in point, I have a friend who just ran 5 miles in a little over 30 minutes and burned 578 calories, but eating fewer calories than that during a day is NOT HEALTHY!)  

All I am saying is there is no magic pill.  There is no magic powder.  There are things that can jump-start your weight loss a little, but the claims on most of the pills you buy over the counter have not been proven by the FDA.  And considering what all IS allowed by the FDA, do you really want to risk taking something that hasn't been reviewed?  Don't get me wrong.  I have tried several of these things.  But I have to tell you that the only program I have ever done that has given me any kind of consistent success is keeping a smart diet (and by diet, I mean eating plan, not a "diet") and exercise.  And, with that, I also don't experience any crazy, negative side effects, like a racing heart, or insane blood sugar dips, that make me feel like I'm going to hyperventilate and/or die.

I have another reason to try to keep on top of my weight.  Though I didn't know it for years, as it turns out, I have PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  I found out in a freakish sort of way, in that I had 2 separate visits to a female doctor when my husband was on his unaccompanied tour, and just from my medical history on my first visit (it took several years for me to get pregnant with The Bug), and one question I asked in my second visit (I think I have a little more hair under my chin than what my mother and grandmother seem to talk about), she was able to deduce that maybe I had PCOS.  A blood test and an ultrasound later, it was confirmed.  In fact, it was so bad that the ultrasound tech looked at me and said, "I'd have never guessed that you had PCOS.  You don't bear any resemblance to most people I get in here who have it."  Apparently, one of the symptoms is obesity.  That's one I can do without!  Keeping up with my health and taking care of myself means more to me than just staying in shape and letting me eat chocolate cake if I want to; it also helps me buck against my PCOS, which I may have, but which will not have me!

***  If you want to know more about PCOS and what it's symptoms are, you can visit the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome directory in the Women's Health section of WebMD or

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lent, Giving up Coffee, and Creating Monsters

Lent is upon us, and it has been nearly a week since we have begun our annual fasting.  Not being Catholics, nor being raised that way, we do not do Lent the way true Catholics do.  We find something that would be tantamount to a sacrifice to give up, something that usually makes everyone cringe at the thought.  This year has been no exception.

But, as the title might lead you to believe, what I chose to fast is not coffee.  I did, once.  And it didn't really seem like such a big deal.  I had been thinking that it might be time for me to say farewell to my morning coffees; I have never drunk it because I needed the caffeine anyway.  I don't like the idea of doing something "just because;" the only thing worse is having an addiction.  I'm old enough (or secure enough with myself) now that I don't want anything in my life that hasn't been examined and tested, no exceptions.  Not even my morning coffee.

I would like to say that I came to this decision by way of divine revelation, or because I decided to conduct some scientifically sound experiment.  That might make this sound so much more important.  Rather, I just kind of fell into the decision.  A couple mornings in a row, while reading and working on this blog, I was in the mood for tea.  So, I had a few cups.  Never missed my coffee.  Like I said before, I never drank it because I "had to have it" anyway.  However, after those mornings, I decided that I would make some coffee.  It just sounded good.

Both times (with the tea and with the coffee) I had my cups before I ate anything.

With the tea, my stomach never got upset, I never got grumpy, and when I did get hungry, I just felt hungry.  I never felt groggy, sleepy, grouchy, or like my blood sugar had dipped so much that I wanted to bite off my children's heads.  When I had the coffee, the exact opposite thing had happened.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I had drunk a cup of coffee the night before at a church function, and nothing happened.  It was late in the evening.  I never had an upset stomach, never got grouchy, anything.  But, first thing in the morning, me and coffee - not a good thing.  So, from now on, for me, it's going to be tea for my morning drink.

As for creating monsters:

When I decided to start this project, I went through all my recipes, organizing them into actual meals, and then I divided up all those meals among the remaining months of the year, and made out a checklist for each month.  From those lists, I have let my family pick what we would eat each week.  This week, it was The Bug's turn.  He picked out his meals, not knowing what he was picking because the list was written in cursive and he still has a bit of a hard time deciphering it (which is a euphemism for - he didn't really feel like trying to figure out what the words said).  I was about to give him a hard time for this when he approached me with a cookbook of his own.

"Look Mom," he said, "since you've been working on this project and cooking and stuff, I thought you might like to try to make one of the recipes out of this book.  I found it at the library, and thought we could make some of the stuff together."

The book - a cookbook he found in the kids' section of the library - is called "Just Desserts: and other treats for kids to make" by Marilyn Linton.  The recipe he and I will be making together:  Candy Cookies.

Along with the Candy Cookies, I will also be making BBQ Mini Meatloaves and Mashed Potatoes Ole,  Tex Mex Chicken Bake, and Quiche for Lunch (don't know why that's the title).  This last one, I can tell you, is not being thought of favorably!  So, instead of a full recipe, I have decided that I will make a smaller version, and will spare everyone the torture.  LOL!!  Or maybe I won't because I like quiche.  We'll see!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mexie Mack Burgers & Mexican Skillet Potatoes

Tonight's recipes: A HIT!!!

These recipes came out of my recipe box. The potatoes were another recipe I copied out of, my friend, Joan's Mexican cookbook (the same one from which I pulled my first recipe - Albondigas Soup).

Mexican Skillet Potatoes

3 lg. baking potatoes, peeled & diced. 3-4 T. bacon fat (or oil)
1 sm. onion, cut into rings 1 sm. green pepper, diced
salt. 1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper. 4 crushed cilantro leaves

Rinse diced potatoes thoroughly. Heat oil in skillet & cook potatoes, covered, over medium heat, till tender firm. Add green pepper, onion, and salt. Cover and cook till green pepper is tender. Season with pepper and Vila too. Simmer 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Let me tell you about those potatoes. I just don't think you can go wrong with the combination of bacon fat, potatoes, onions and salt. I believe if there's is a smell I will never tire of, that borders on being rapturous, it's that smell. So, these potatoes were bound to be good. What I didn't expect was to like the way they tasted with the addition of the cilantro. I like cilantro(I used a small handful); don't get me wrong. But I like my potatoes the way they are, too. But this was a really good combination.

When I asked my daughter what she thought of the meal (I hadn't even sat down with my plate yet), she said, "my potatoes are half gone already, if that tells you anything."

The next recipe: Mexie Mack Burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground beef. 1 pkg. taco seasoning. 1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 t. garlic salt. 1 small onion, diced small
To top: salsa & grated cheese

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients but the salsa and cheese. Shape into 6-8 patties. Grill or broil. Top with salsa and grated cheese, if desired.

The first comment about this recipe came from The Bug: "Normally, Mom, I only like hamburgers if they come from "Five Guys," but these are really good."

I don't have any idea where this recipe came from. If I did, I would most certainly give credit where credit is due. I would love to be able to thank the person who made my husband speechless through yet another meal!

At first, I wasn't sure about the ketchup, but it added a sweetness that paired well with the smokiness given off by the taco seasoning.

It was too cold and windy outside to start a fire, so I cooked these on my George Foreman grill, bad they came out just fine.

My husband said that he thought it would be a great way to make our regular burgers, and he already likes the way I make hamburgers. So, now,I have another idea.

My son ate his with cheese melted on top, and with nothing else. My daughter had hers with cheese, and taco sauce on a bun. I had cheese, and salsa (a good spicy one that added a little extra kick), and my husband had cheese, pickles, and mustard. Four different preparations and NO COMPLAINTS!!!!

And, as for the missing pictures, well....I was cleaning up after dinner before it occurred to me that I hadn't snapped any shots of our meal! Again! OH WELL!

P.S. - I googled the title of the recipe to see if maybe I could track down the source. I came across the website, and it has TONS upon TONS of articles, recipes, etc. I could easily get lost on this site for a few hours. If you want to go straight to the recipe, just click on the following link: Mexie Mack Burgers.


The Story About Fish Sticks and Macaroni-n-Cheese

As I have mentioned a time or two, I am a Navy wife. At first, I was a U.S. Navy sailor and a wife; now, I am a "dependent." But, during both of these seasons of my life, I have spent much time as a single-mom, waiting for my man to get home, and wondering what would be the best way to welcome my sailor back home from the fray. I wanted everything on his first night home to be special, and welcoming, but not too fussy, since, invariably he will have just spent a little over a full day (one time it was closer to 48 hours) without any kind of real sleep and, so, would be happy to FINALLY be home, but also a bit jet-lagged, tired, grumpy, etc.

Needless to say, I felt a little bit of pressure to make everything JUST RIGHT.

I tried many different recipes. I don't even remember them all; I recall making a catfish dish once, that I paired with some kind of alcohol drink. What I do remember about those times was that the reaction I received was not what I had hoped. My efforts at just right had turned out just wrong! GRR!!!

One time, however, I actually got to talk to my husband on the phone before he got all the way home. I was able to ask him: "is there anything, at all, you would like to have your first night home, other than sleep, of course?"

He said, "Yeah. I want fish sticks and macaroni's & cheese." (That's really how he says it; with an "s" at the end of macaroni.)

Me: "Really?"

Him: "Yep. I get to eat a lot of different things on board ship, and out in town when we're in port, but I never get to have fish sticks and macaroni's & cheese."

Me: "You're sure that's all you want?"

Him: "Besides seeing you and the kids, and my bed....YEAH!"

And so began our tradition of fish sticks and macaroni's & cheese homecoming meals!

In the immortal words of Paul Harvey: And now, you know the rest of the story.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken & Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Good morning all.

As the title suggests, I made Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken and Roasted Smashed Potatoes last night (both were Pinterest recipes).  It was fabulous.  So good, in fact, that it wasn't until after we were done eating that I realized I forgot to take some pictures of the meal.  That's okay, though, because I had to cook the chicken in the oven, and it was not nearly as pretty as the picture I saved from the website where I obtained the recipe.

So, here is the link for the the chicken, and a pretty picture of some awesome chicken.

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken

Spicy Honey Chicken
 Recipe by Our Best Bites
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2lbs            2 t vegetable oil
2 t granulated garlic          2 t chili powder          1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t coriander          1 t kosher salt           1 t cumin
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 C Honey          1T Cider Vinegar     

Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well.
Use kitchen shears (or a pair of clean scissors) to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces.Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it’s not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
I’m gonna warn you that this can make a hot mess, literally. It’s sugar, and it’s gonna drip. But the smelly smoke is worth it for a minute or two. Just leave your grill on for a few minutes after the chicken is done to burn off any excess glaze. It’s totally worth it once you taste this stuff.
If you don’t have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler. Just be sure to open a window in case you burn your glaze!
Remember how I had you reserve that extra couple tablespoons of glaze? Ya, drizzle that on top now. Your taste buds will thank you.

          My review of the recipe:
I used approximations on the ingredients listed.  I didn't feel like trying to measure out all the teaspoons of this and that.  I also forgot to oil the chicken.  I forgot so badly, that I had to double check the recipe when I copied and pasted it because I completely missed that step all together.  I'm certain it would've made a difference in the way the chicken looked once it was completed; mine came out black as the ace of spades.  But, it was still good.  

As for the rub, I was hesitant about whether or not the chicken would get any of the flavor I'd just rubbed all over the skin, but I was worried about nothing.  The skin was extremely spicy; I'd never worked with chipotle powder before, and didn't think about how spicy it would be (guess I should've tasted it first).  The chicken underneath:  lightly flavored, with smoky hints of chipotle but without the heat!  YEEHAW!  So, the kids just picked of the skin.  My husband:  he just ate right through it.  The crunchy, spiciness of the skin mixed well with the chicken.  

Statements from the family regarding the chicken:

My daughter:  "I love you mom, but I don't like the skin."
My son:  "The skin is too spicy, but I like picking off the ooey-gooey fat pieces underneath.  Those are yummy."
My husband:  "Mmmm...hmmm,hmmm...(with mouth full) it's good.  I like it just the way it is."

When I mentioned that I thought it would taste better grilled, my man said, "Ordinarily, I would agree with you, but this time...I don't know."  

I don't know about you all, but hearing a Texan say that kind of thing about anything that could have, and was called to be, grilled; well, that's saying something.  

NOTE TO SELF:  Remember to oil the chicken first, and next time, use the grill!

Now...for the potatoes.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes
Compliments of It’s a Keeper
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

2 pounds small Red Bliss potatoes (about 18), scrubbed
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Adjust oven racks to top and bottom positions and heat oven to 500 degrees. Arrange potatoes on rimmed baking sheet, pour ¾ cup water into baking sheet, and wrap tightly with aluminum foil. Cook on bottom rack until paring knife or skewer slips in and out of potatoes easily (poke through foil to test), 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil and cool 10 minutes. If any water remains on baking sheet, blot dry with paper towel.
Drizzle 3 tablespoons oil over potatoes and roll to coat. Space potatoes evenly on baking sheet and place second baking sheet on top; press down firmly on baking sheet, flattening potatoes until 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and season generously with salt and pepper; drizzle evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Roast potatoes on top rack 15 minutes. Transfer potatoes to bottom rack and continue to roast until well browned, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong with roasted potatoes.  I followed the directions to the letter, but I did substitute rosemary for the fresh thyme because I didn't have the thyme.  I did everything else as directed, and the potatoes came out wonderfully!  The inside is like a baked/mashed potato and the outside is roasted, and crunchy.  I will definitely be making these potatoes again.  Everyone loved them.  

All in all, last night was a HIT!

A quick word about the websites from which these recipes came:  CHECK THEM OUT!  They have tons of recipes.

It's A Keeper:  Testing Recipes to See if They're Keepers:
Our Best Bites:  Tips, Tricks, & Tastes from two Real-Life Kitchens:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Life Lessons from a Pan of Failed Sausage Gravy

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I know, I know. I'm a day late, but yesterday was about being with my man and, as much as I love you all, he's coming first when he's home.

Everyone of you who know my husband can attest to the fact that he is not easy to shop for. He's got weird tastes, which seem to constantly be changing, so, even after 19+ years of marriage, most of the time, I'm just stymied when it comes to buying him gifts.

I, on the other hand, am not so hard to shop for. I like jewelry. I also adore GOOD chocolate. And I love seeing how my man's brain works. This last one means that he pretty much always knocks it out of the park when it comes to gift-giving (he's never satisfied with just "phoning it in).

Now, put those two things together, and add in the fact that I must have things balanced in my life (nothing can be all give and no take) and you can see how I might end up feeling like I'm not pulling my fair share of the gift-giving weight. So what's a girl to do? What did I do? I cooked.

Sausage gravy and biscuits for brunch, and fish sticks and macaroni and cheese for dinner. Yes, you heard me correctly. Fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. There's a story to it, but I'll get into that at a later time.

As for the sausage gravy and biscuits, well...there's a story for this too. Let me begin by saying that, for the last few months, I have come to believe in the truth behind these few words: "If you're gonna do it, you gotta commit." To put it the way my grandmother says it: if you're gonna take the time to do it, you might as well do it right. Or, as the old proverb states: Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Sausage gravy and biscuits, and diets, are no exception.

Honestly, I should've known that when I was trying to find a way to mesh sash sausage gravy with my points-counting system that something was going to go awry. But, it never occurred to me. I've been making sausage gravy for years, and have never had it turn out like it did yesterday. You see, my mistake was: I used skim milk. I never use skim milk to make gravy. Why? Because, really, it's like sitting down to eat a large pizza, or a big bowl of chili cheese nachos and drinking a Diet Coke, hoping the soda will counterbalance the calories.

Yeah! Not gonna happen!

Well, yesterday, I did it.

Do you wanna know what happens when you make gravy with skim milk? It separates. Honestly, you might as well try to make cream gravy with water. You'd get just about the same results. Not being one who likes to just immediately scrap something just because it doesn't look right, I tried it. It tasted "separated." Unfortunately, I awakened my husband before I tasted the gravy, so now, i had to go Since I had already awakened my husband to inform him that he could lay back down for another 20 minutes, until I could make another batch. However, since he was up, he insisted on trying it. He liked it well enough to eat it (he did not rave about how good it was though), and chided me for being too hard on myself (I love this man.) and then, we called the kids. They tried it and were fine with it. So I ate biscuits, and they ate the gravy and there was none left at the end of the day.

Before I started typing about this today, the thought occurred to me that I do this a lot: try to mesh two things that don't want, or need, to be worked together. I've never seen apples growing on orange trees. Surely, there are some things that just can't be forced into a compromise. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not foresee a day when I will never eat gravy. I want to be healthy and in good shape, but I also enjoy a good plate of biscuits and gravy. I don't believe there is anything wrong with that. The problem, yesterday, came when I tried to make something healthy that was never really intended to be a health food. Yet another saying comes to mind here: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." You just can't do it.

Making a "healthy" sausage gravy, HA! I might've had better luck if I had used turkey sausage, but you still need milk with a fair amount of milk fat in it and a decent amount of fat to make gravy.
You just do!

So why do we do this to ourselves?

I did it for years with my marriage and, sometimes, either directly or indirectly, with my husband. By the time I got married, I had several ideas of what marriage was "supposed to" look like, and my marriage only seemed to resemble the fact that we said we were married. I also had several ideas of what men and husbands were like, and my man met only the genetic requirements. Of course, I also had a lot of ideas of what it was supposed to be like to a wife, but the fact that I wasn't living up to my own standard was directly attributable to the fact that neither my marriage nor my spouse looked like they were supposed to.

As a result, I spent a lot of time not appreciating what I had, and also not doing my job. I was too busy trying to make what we had into something it what I thought it was supposed to be. You see, I am hard-up on supposed to. At least, I used to be. And I have a hard time not comparing what I am, have, like or do with everyone else's. My marriage and my spouse were no different.

What does all this have to do with a pan of failed sausage gravy? Whenever I have tried to force anything, or anyone, to being something it was never intended to be, I have come away disappointed. Worse than that, if it was a person I was trying to force, that person ended up feeling resentful toward me, and feeling like I don't love them for who they are - which, obviously, I didn't. But that has never been the person I have wanted to be. You see, my "supposed to's" got in the way of my loving them. And because I tried to force them into my mold of "supposed to" I failed to see the beauty that was already there, and I failed to relish what they had to offer that made my life better, to see what challenged me to be a better person.

So...what have I done to make my life a little easier? I have summarily dropped the words "supposed to" from my vocabulary. If I use them now, it is with a wink and a nod, and with full knowledge that I am no longer boxing myself into a corner with them, but am using them as a reminder not to set up unrealistic expectations.

Also, I have decided to just let my sausage gravy be the yummy, fatty goodness it was intended to be, and I will just eat less of it. I will enjoy what I do eat, relishing every bite of how it was intended to be, but within limits. I will not force it to be something it cannot, rather, I will change the ways enjoy it. And for those times when I cannot, because I am not dealing with ACTUAL sausage gravy, I will accept at face value what I have before me, and trust that God will show me how to deal with it, believing that He allows all things into my life to continue to transform me into the person He wants me to be.

Who'd have guessed you could learn so much from a pan of failed sausage gravy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leftovers...and a few general updates

Tonight, we revisited the Crispy Herb Chicken recipe I raved about last night!  Again, it was delicious!  I dearly love fresh, fried chicken with a nice crispy skin, with just the right amount of pepper and salt, but this new chicken recipe is playing a very close second to that!  It's easy, and yummy, and for the last two nights, The Bug has come running from the opposite end of the house when he has smelled it cooking, anxious to dig in.  He liked it so well last night that he asked if he could just have 2 pieces of it tonight, and nothing else.

The nothing else he wanted to have tonight was leftover zucchini lasagna from last week's menu.  It was, by no means, pretty to look at tonight, and it was not nearly as yummy as the first night, but a bite of lasagna and a bite of chicken at the same time worked famously.  I had the idea last night that this chicken recipe, with a slight adjustment to the spices, would be a great way to make chicken parmesan.  Served with the lasagna tonight, I am convinced!  Seriously, this chicken just makes me giddy.

I told my man tonight that if I get no more recipes out of this project than this chicken one, it will have been worth it.  I will definitely be making this chicken for the rest of my life!!

In other news:

          I mentioned that I was on Weight Watchers when I began this and was wondering how the project would work with tracking points, and vice versa.  I am happy to announce that I have lost a total of 10 pounds since I started!  And, last night, I ran 6 kilometers, which equals 3.75-something miles, the farthest I've run, since 2 springs ago, when I ran a 10-mile race.  I'm quite excited!  My next goal:  4 miles.  It's the next step toward a race that I signed up for in June - a 10k trail race.  And for now, I'm still contemplating whether or not I want to revisit the same 10-mile race.  It takes place in April, not too hot, sometimes rainy, which means not so sweaty, which I love!!!  I just haven't decided if I want to commit yet.

          Another thing I think I should add:  my New Year's Resolution this year has been to not allow irrational fear to dictate the decisions I make.  Because something is weird, or too hard, or is not a good enough reason not to do it.  I'm not unreasonable, of course.  I'm not talking about stupid things.  But, for instance, for 2 years in a row, I have signed up for and chickened out of the Baltimore half-marathon just because I was scared.  See, the thing is, both times, I've signed up for it way in advance, so the amount they charge was already spent, and gone, and things being "out of sight, out of mind" as they can be with me, it was easy not to let losing that money bother me.  After all, I have reasoned, the money then goes to a good cause.  UGH!  Admitting it even makes me squirm.  I mean, seriously, I spent 8 weeks in boot camp.  I have delivered 3 babies.  I have endured a number of deployments, and their associated crises, to include one in which I was rear-ended, totaling my husband's '91 Camaro, and I have made it this far.  And I decide to let 13 miles stump me.  And not just once.  Twice.

To make matters worse, my husband and I have friends (a couple) whose daughter (who is in middle school now), has completed her first half-marathon already.  GRR!!!

          And now, as I type this, I realize that I have just put this out into cyberspace, and still have not signed up for that race.  HMMMM....Guess I better hit "send" before I get the urge to delete what I've just written.