Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pinterest + Thanksgiving =Success

     Using Pinterest for cooking has been a staple in our home.  Propping my iPad on the counter for easy access and going to town on new recipes is exciting for me.   Whether I'm looking for a quick and easy meal or I want to copycat an intricate dish from my favorite restaurant, it can almost always be found within this red app. 

     My question to myself this holiday was,  " Can I make an entire Thanksgiving meal and it also be amazingly delicious from Pinterest?"

     The answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

     So what did I end up cooking?  Well let me just tell you then. 

  First up, our main course was a holiday ham from our farm fed pig.  Necessity dictated that I use our roaster due to the oven being full.  I've cooked several hams, but I always come back to the Brown Sugar Ham.  Ours was 18 pounds and I roasted it for 4 hours at 325 degrees and it was fabulous!

    Second up, Green Bean Casserole.  This is the first time I have used frozen green beans instead of canned and it was still a fan favorite, but some didn't enjoy the crispness of the frozen beans versus canned.  I rarely purchase canned anything anymore because they just are not as healthy an option. 

   Third, 7 Layer Salad.  An item my husband loves to add to any menu. 

  Fourth, Warm Bacon Cheese Dip.  I could not find a bread bowl at either store I entered so I made my own, but I preferred the garlic, Parmesan pita chips with this dip instead.


   Fifth, Twice Baked Potato Casserole.  This is awesome because it's just the inside of a twice baked potato.  How could you possibly go wrong with that?

Sixth, Candied Sweet Potato Casserole.  To. Die. For.   This is like dessert.  I ate it two mornings in a row for breakfast!


 Seventh on the list, Ramen Noodle Salad.  This is one of my personal favorites.   For whatever reason, I did not buy the bag of coleslaw mix, so I had to make mine from scratch, which I like even better.  You can tell it was made with love because the cabbage slices were uneven. 

 Eighth, Sweet Hawaiian Bread.  This is so moist, delicious and easy to make in the bread machine.  Love my bread machine!


 Ninth for dessert was No Bake Eclair Cake!   I didn't have room in my oven for one more food item and I was tuckered out at this point from baking.  This ended up being a big ticket item though, so simple and yummy. 

      The only dish I did not steal from Pinterest was Rice Pilaf, another easy dish that I'll have to share later.  You can see it was a busy day of cooking, six hours worth and totally worth every minute of it. 

     My only foul up was that I pulled four hot dishes out of the oven just in time to call everyone to eat and I completely forgot to take a photo of our Thanksgiving homemade feast!

 So dinner from Pinterest was a total success!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Don't Cross that Yellow Line

     How long did it take you to drive after your collision?  That is a popular question I have after speaking or in general.  

     A more recent question, one I have never been asked by until recently is
" How are you not scared to be in a car or think about it all the time?"  

     A student sent this inquiry to me along with a story of his own.

     I could not drive much until my third year of recovery, so I had been a passenger most of the time I was in a vehicle.  But when it was time that I was allowed to begin making short trips to town, I really had to think about how I was going to handle getting behind the wheel again. 

     We had four children who were involved in all kinds of activities.  Since we live out of town, it's not a small feat to find someone to transport them from our home.   I wanted to drive just so I didn't have to put that strain on others and I desperately wanted my independence back. 

     My ankles had to be strong enough to hit the brakes in an emergency case, my mind had to be able to focus and I had to make sure I had my emotions under control. 

     Beginning just like a teenager again, practicing was necessary.  Initially I just drove up the drive to pick our children up from the bus and graduated to traveling our gravel roads until I made a full circle back to our home with a short stretch of highway. 

     Eventually I decided I was ready to drive them to practices, games, etc.  I was missing out on their lives and that was my most powerful catalyst. 

   I subconsciously hug the white line because I want to be as far away from the center line as possible.   I have had flash backs while driving as someone will hit their brakes and BAM!  I'm right back at the scene as it's unfolding.  I've always been able to bring myself back to reality, but it leaves my body full of adrenaline.

     When a vehicle nears that yellow line or crosses it, my heart constricts to the point that I cannot breathe and it is pounding in my throat.  I'm not sure I show a single sign on the outside of my body, but inside I'm screaming, "God, no!" 

     I calm myself immediately as a confrontation is avoided, but I do not believe that knee-jerk reaction will ever stop.  

     As for my response to that particular gentleman who questioned me. 

        "I think about it each time I get behind the wheel
& any time someone gets close to the center line my heart
beats in my throat. I've consciously made a choice not to let it control me, I want to live freely without my situation holding me hostage .  It's not that I will ever forget but I make sure I've learned from it." 

     I don't know anything else to do.     This collision was not my fault.   I have to live with the knowledge that I am not in
control and it could happen just as easily as it did before. 

     But I will not be a prisoner of it.  Having a great many years to live and create enjoyable memories is my priority and I cannot do that if I am constantly afraid.  

     So I choose to saddle up and conquer my fear.  I will not idly stand by as I watch life unfold around me.  I am going to live it.  

     Somewhere along in my life I have stopped reacting and have begun initiating.   That is where I find my control.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Why I Do NOT Enjoy Self Check Out

     Self check out seems to be the way to go lately, at least that's the way it seems as the front end manager of the store tediously pushes each of us in that direction. 

     Many years ago, the stores installed a bagging round about.  You know where the cashier bags your purchased items, swivels it around until all of the bags are full and then looks at you to pick them up and put them in your cart yourself. 

     I am not lazy, nor am I above bagging and loading my own groceries.  I quite regularly shop at Alid's and bagging your own groceries is your only option.   I do not enjoy the several cashiers that look at me with impatience because I am not even done emptying my cart yet and am not removing my bags from their merry go round.  

     I have taken the liberty to ask a few to please add more than two items to each bag so it will give me time before they are ready for me to do their job.

     Yes, I have used self check out, thinking it would be easier and less of a hassle.  Now I just can't bring myself to do it.  

     I enjoy receiving customer service as much as giving it.  I enjoy the interaction with most.  There are always those who relish in showing their customers just how bad of a day they are having, but those have been few and far between for me.

     I don't enjoy a clerk heavily pushing me towards the self checkout when I obviously do not want to go there.   Lately they have been down right pushy.  This could be policy of their store and they are being influenced to do so and I want to say, "Please Stop!"   

     I can make my own choices and if I want to say hello and tell the little cashier lady how much I like her lipstick, I want to say it to her face and then thank her for the smile she gave me as I was leaving her line.  If I wanted a non emotional interaction, I can get that from my phone, computer, lap top, iPad or tablet every day of the week.

     More often than not, I have had to call the clerk to my line anyway because I did not put my item in the bag hard enough and it thinks I did not bag it.   That the computer will not accept my coupons because I am an avid coupon-er.  That it needs an over ride because I am buying tobacco for my husband.  

     I am a parent, a Mom who takes care of everyone.  Quite bluntly, the store is the only time I am catered to.  Someone else (who is being paid to do so) bags my groceries for me! 

     When I leave those automated doors and step out to head to my car, I am no longer a grocery store queen.  I am a servant, a person who many rely on daily and I carry that weight well.  But for one hour as I put my own items in my cart, I know at the end I can converse with someone, that I have the ability to give them a compliment that will then leave them with a smile.

     There is something to be said for human interaction. 

      Great customer service keeps my business, keeps me coming back because I enjoyed my experience.  We interact with computers all day and have forgotten how to interact with actual people.  We have lost our manners and social skills.

     Technology is fantastic and I love it. 
 I am patiently waiting for it to advance enough to fix my ankles, but looking into someone eyes and being able to say, "Thank you, you have a wonderful day" after completing a chore that none of us wants to do in the first place, makes it a little more enjoyable in my opinion.