That’s what I’ve been doing for so very long.

One year ago today, I attended the memorial service for, and said goodbye to, my dearest childhood friend, JT.  It was two measly posts ago that I wrote about it.  I’ve been back to my blog one time since I wrote about my greatest heartbreak and I couldn’t bring myself to write about anything.  Not that anything before that point was prize winning, but I have been going down a very long road with the grief.

In one week, I’m participating in my fifth half marathon.  I’m not ready.  I hit a nasty block with the Air Force Half Marathon.   Had I not joined Fisher House Foundation‘s charity team, Team Fisher House, and raised money, I likely would have bailed. but I didn’t want to let those who supported me down.  I ended up traveling alone and running alone.  It rained and I was 20 minutes past gun time starting because traffic was a nightmare trying to get on base even though I gave myself over 3 hours to get there.  I developed a blister about mile 1.5, lost my interval timer and stupidly backtracked trying to find it, which I never did.  However, I was a finisher.  That was five weeks ago and I’ve put my running shoes on once.  Today.

Today, Fab wanted to go for a run with me.  I purposely didn’t time it and I refused to look at the clock because I didn’t want to know how long it took us.  It was the slowest two miles I’ve had in a long time, but I swear it went by the quickest.  She reminded me to be aware of what was around us, asked if my phone was fully charged, and we were off.  We talked, laughed, and had a great time.  She told me she was sorry for being slow.  I told her it didn’t matter and I meant it.  We finished our two miles and we did it with a smile and a high five.  She has asked for a fuel belt for Christmas.  Her biggest concern is what to put in the zippered pouch since she doesn’t have car keys or a phone.  But she wants one because I have one and she wants to run with me.

Next week I’m meeting up with one of my besties.  It will be her first half marathon.  I’m so proud of her and the strides she’s made with running.  She’s an inspiration to me and I’m looking forward to supporting her and cheering her on.  Next week I’ll lace up my running shoes and don my calf compression sleeves and running jersey to raise awareness for a cause I believe in.  Next week I’m dedicating my run to JT.  Just like everything else I tackled in my life, he supported me with a whole heart and unwavering love.  I will do my best, albeit slow, and count my blessings with every step I take.

Be well.

And I come back to my blog.  I think Faceb00k has me spoiled.  I can post my drivel there so much easier.  I’m lazy.  I admit it.

I scrolled back over the years of posts seeing the piccies of O and all the things we’ve done, the happy things, recipes I love and what I’ve bitched about.  I had something all lined up to write, but then I remembered, and read, my last post about losing JT and I can’t do it.  It’s been almost a year and my heart and soul still have a huge void.  And I miss him.  Oh, how I miss him.  I’m not sure why my heart won’t get over this hurdle.  Maybe I’ll try again soon.

xo

A little over a week ago, I got a message that my longest childhood friend had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. Last Saturday morning I got the news that he was not going to recover and he passed away.  I was devastated.  I still am. I am struggling so hard with the grief.

Over the years we’d find each other and stay in touch then we’d drift apart.  It only took a quick catch up for us to pick up where we left off and keep right on rolling with life.  The last text I got from him read, “thinking about you.” He didn’t have children, but I shared our adoption story about Olivia and he was excited about exploring that option to build their family.  That will never happen.   I haven’t seen him since we were in our early 20s and he showed me all over Texas.  We found a bar just across the border that took travelers checks and we drank Corona out of faded bottles and terra cotta glasses.  That was definitely one of the best trips of my life and the memories are as vivid as if it happened yesterday.  I’ve never met his wife, but she has been kind enough to keep me up to date with what was going on and she was gracious enough to accept our special friendship.  I’ll meet her for the first time when I travel to Houston for the celebration of his life instead of the plans he and I started making for next year.

He touched my heart and my soul so deeply.  He was heavy metal and I’m more of a country and 80s girly-girl.  He was a drummer at heart and I can’t keep a beat.  I believe we were soul mates (of the best friend type; not the marrying type) and, no matter what direction our lives carried us, we always found our way back to each other when we needed it.

This week was one of “those” weeks that I would normally lay my trials and struggles on his shoulders and he would encourage me and talk me through them until I was calm again.  So many times I picked up my phone to call him, but I couldn’t.  I long to hear, “Hey, girl… It’s JT” one more time. I only hope he knew just how important he was to me and that I cared for him so deeply.

It’s not fair that he lost his life at the young age of 38.  It’s not fair his wife of a few years is a widow.  It’s not fair his mother lost her son just a few short weeks after losing her mother.  I know God has a plan for his short time on this Earth, but I’m struggling with it.  He had so much love and kindness to offer and was never less than kind, loving and caring to me.  It’s just not fair.

I haven’t had to shoulder this alone.  My friends have rallied around me with kind words and support this past week and I’m so grateful.  One of them told me, “big grieving is an indication of big love.”  It was a huge love and a huge loss.

This picture is from the bar in Mexic0… JT and I are in the middle.  We had no idea who the others were… we met them there and had a blast.

There once was a girl from the South

Who [thought she] knew what life was about

She gave it her all

Sometimes she would fall

Oh, hell.  Who am I kidding?

Dude, it has been an ass kicking year and a half.  No other way to put it.

So, it’s not quite the prose I had hoped for.  There aren’t but so many times someone can post that they’ve disappeared (as if it wasn’t obvious from lack of posts) and then promise to get back on track. It gets old after the first, but I probably have at least half a dozen to my credit.  If not more. So, when I took my last blip off the blogging radar, I didn’t come back.  One, I had nothing to say and two, which really should be one, is I have been consumed by lazy.  So many of the fantastic people I’ve met through blogging and I are now F@ceb00k friends, so they keep up with all the mundane stuff.

I hit bottom and bounced back up.  I hit bottom again and bounced back up.  That third time of hitting bottom has been super hard to recover from.  I have given up a lot of the volunteer work I was doing so I could focus on my family and household.  I will say, Fabul-O has been a trooper through all of the changes and has been so much more resilient than I ever could have asked.  The one thing that hasn’t changed is the love and unwavering support of all my fabulous friends and my parents.  Without them, I shudder to think what depths I would have sunk to.

In February I participated in my first half marathon.  I had some health issues at the end of last year that kept me from being able to train properly and run.  With constant nagging by me, the eventual blessing of my doctor with a conditional clearance, I did a walk/run (emphasis on walk) and completed.  Aside from the fact I thought I would die, and the massive blister I developed at mile 5, I felt good.  Except for the massive amounts of pain I was in.  I wasn’t last.  I know the “you lapped everyone who didn’t get off the couch” spiel and all the other well-intended yada-yas, but I didn’t feel like I really and truly “did” a half marathon.  Except for the super swag, fancy medal, and the best damn muffins I had ever eaten.  So, when I got the email for the discounted fee, I registered for it again.  Next time I want to run.  I will run the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon in February 2013.

My mission before that one is to run the Army Ten Miler in DC in October.  I joined Team Fisher House and will run raising awareness for all the awesomeness Fisher House provides for families of our service members.  For those who don’t know, Fisher House is kind of like a Ronald McDonald House for military families.

This is the last year of my 30s and I want to make it kick ass.  For the most part, my 30s were good, but I want to send them out with a bang.

I don’t know if anyone still hangs around to see if I’m still alive, but, I am.  And I’m going to be better than I’ve been in a long, long time.

 

xo

Our most heartfelt thanks to all those who have worked and sacrificed to make our nation as great as it is.

We’ve had a bumpy road, but, when all is said and done, my soldier and I come together on the things that mean the most to us. And duty is at the top of that list.

Well, I finally have a permanent, full-time job.  It’s not ideal, but I’m gainfully employed and, for that, I’m grateful.  No more 90 mi. round trip commute.  It’s 3.3 miles from my office to my house.  I could walk it, if I wanted to and didn’t need to be in pristine condition when I got there.  Maybe one day, but for now, I’m okay with the drive.

It has been a rough year and it has kicked my tuchus six ways from Sunday.  I’ve struggled with feelings of failure and letting all those around me down.  I hit a serious depression and there were days I couldn’t get my head up off the pillow.  Failed interview after failed interview and opportunities that I couldn’t make happen really brought me down.  I accepted a temp position with a company in June and was finally made permanent a few weeks ago.  A good friend helped me out with kid-care this summer when I started temping so I didn’t have to pay daycare rates.  As did the midwest G’ma and Papa L.  Fabul-O spent 3 weeks visiting them this summer.  It was wonderful for her and them.

I’ve made several attempts to redefine me and I have learned, but am still struggling to accept, is I am who I am and that’s not going to change.  Complacency gets us all and it got the best of me.  So, I’m no longer working on reinventing me or even redefining me.  I’m working on making the me I am the best it can be.  I still struggle and I still have a long way to go.  We have had the love and support of friends and family and I am so thankful I surround myself with people who care and don’t just throw lip service our way.  I am so glad I raised Olivia to understand the value of what we have and what we give because it’s helped to adjust to our revised way of living.

I’m back at Weight Watchers and had a successful first week back on plan.  I struggled this week, but I’m having to break a lot of bad habits and, damn, that gets a lot harder the older you get.  And oatmeal doesn’t taste nearly as good as a biscuit.

Olivia participated in her first 5K in September.  We ran about the first half mile and we walked the rest.  We finished in 52 minutes and I am super proud of my girl.  People say we could have shaved 5 min off our time had I not taken her picture at the mile markers.  We walked in support of Operation Homefront North Carolina.  She says she wants to do another one.  Running it.

I had my 20 year class reunion a few weeks ago.  20 years changed a lot of us in a lot of ways.  Others of us it totally skipped and nothing has changed.  I’ve changed.  And I’m glad.

I’m who I am and that won’t change.  There are still a lot of things that need to be worked on and I will… one of them at a time.

 

 

Or would they be considered muffins since I didn’t use icing?  Either way, I wanted to share this recipe.  I first made this recipe over July 4 and the cake was a huge hit with everyone who ate it.  I made it (sans nuts) as I found it over on Deep South Dish.   This time, I changed it up a little, using pineapple cake mix and still no nuts.  I’m not anti-nuts, but I usually just don’t have them on hand, so I don’t use them.  The recipe is similar to Hummingbird Cake many of us in the south grew up eating and it is oh, so moist and delish.

1 package pineapple cake mix
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 large eggs

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.  I made this batch in my muffin pans and it made 24 of these delectable delights.

In a bowl, add the cake mix, brown sugar and cinnamon and whisk to break up clumps.

In a separate bowl, combine the bananas, water, oil and eggs until mixed together. Add to the dry ingredients. Beat on low for about 1 minute, stop scrape down the sides, and beat another 2 minutes on medium speed.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake using the directions for whichever pan you choose:

In a 9×13 pan:  350 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake another 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For cupcakes: 350 degrees for 25 minutes.   These browned up and were done in the 25 minutes.

The icing for this cake is a quick caramel icing that is absolutely to die for.  Anything that has sugar, butter and half and half in it has to be good.  Especially when poured over cake.  Yums.  I didn’t make the icing this time.  I was trying to be “good” and leave them a little bit “healthy.”  I know. Whatevs.  However, I have to recommend her icing and it takes these bad boys to another level of yumminess.  Next time I will sub the oil with applesauce.

Quick Caramel Icing

1 stick of pure unsalted butter
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup of half and half
2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and cook over a slightly higher than medium fire, until mixture begins to boil. This will take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes depending on your stove. Once it begins to boil, slowly whisk in the half and half until well blended. Bring back just to a boil, turn the burner to low, remove the saucepan from the heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and blend. Return the saucepan to the burner and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Icing will get stiff quickly so you’ll need to immediately pour over cake and allow it to set.

Heavenly, I say.

Last Thursday, I went to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and helped with the assembly of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute – The Cost of Freedom Tribute.  This tribute is a traveling Vietnam Memorial, Gold Dog Tag wall remembering those who have  fallen 1) In hostile military actions between the end of Vietnam and the 9/11 attack and 2) As a member of the armed forces who have given their life in the Global War on Terror.   It was truly an honor to be a part of this project.

Before I left, I went and read the names on the gold dog tags.  There was a group of names that touched my soul.  Almost six years ago, Will was winding down his tour in Iraq at Haditha Dam when the “Battle of Haditha” took place.  These Marines lost their lives securing the perimeter of where Will and so many others were.  I wrote a letter to each family who lost a Marine during that fight expressing my most sincere gratitude  and my  humblest of sympathies.  I’ve told the story several times over the past 5-1/2 years, to different groups and people, but when I saw their names on the gold dog tags, I cried.  Not a silent, tears streaming cry, but the big, body shaking cry right there in the gravel lot. It shook me to my core.  There are so many who “know” war, or claim to.  I claimed to.  Those who know it, they know it from different perspectives, but, honestly, it wasn’t until that moment that I felt like I knew war.  But my family’s fate was spared  that day.  These brave Marines from Ohio answered the call to serve our nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice allowing our families to continue living our lives as we know

We attended the Coca Cola 600.  I’m not a huge race fan, but I love the “feel of the thunder” under my feet in the stands.  This race is my favorite because of the tribute to our service members before the race starts. There were many, many service members and veterans there.  Some you can spot because of the haircut.  Others it was the proud display of a t-shirt or hat with the campaign in which they served.  And some were wearing branch specific hats/shirts.   There were tributes and accolades and all things wonderful.  I smiled, cheered and clapped.  I did all the things one does when we’re celebrating.  Then they played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and I was, once again, shaken to the core.  The first time I ever heard “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes was in the cold wind at a soldier’s funeral.   There are some things that are forever etched in my mind and that is one of them.   Then the twenty-one gun salute.  Then Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA.”  The tears continued.  Then Darius Rucker sang our national anthem.  The tears continued

Over the past few years, with all the bumps and bruises, I have found myself sometimes losing sight of what is truly important.  I had to write an “essay” about me for a recruiter not too long ago.  It’s hard to write about yourself; at least it is for me.  As I began to put my thoughts on paper, I was reminded of how I have been touched by the lives, smiles, heartaches, tears and compassion of so many people.  I was reminded that one of my core philosophies is to try and learn from my mistakes.   I was reminded that everything that has happened to me in my life has helped to shape me and mold me into the person I am today – the good and the bad.  I was reminded that no matter what, I will always carry with me having been a military spouse and that has been one of the greatest paths in my life because it has afforded me the opportunities to meet, support, and work with some of the most amazing people on the planet.

Although this post is late, I do hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day and you took a few minutes to think and reflect back on the freedoms we have and those who have served our great nation.

There is never a time that is inappropriate for thanking a service member – past or present.  “Thank you” and “We appreciate you” are sentiments that are of few words, but mean a lot.  But also remember this… it also translates into our everyday lives, too.  Take a moment to thank someone who has done something that you appreciate.  A kind word goes so far and you never know… you may be the brightest spot to their day.

Be well….

Going to start with things I have going on.  I’m going to be a co-ed again come Monday.  I’m going back to school to get my HR Generalist certificate.  7 1/2 years of experience isn’t enough for some companies, so I’ll get it.  I about stroked out in my advisor’s office when she told me I’m getting credit for all the core classes I took for my BA in ’91 and ’92.  So, I have 6 classes (maybe 5 if my last transcript shows a computer class – been too long to remember) to take and I will have my generalist by the end of next semester.  After she reviewed my stuff, she said don’t worry about taking any more classes for an AA in Bus with HR concentration, but to just move on with my MBA. So, I’m currently searching out MBA programs and meeting with some folks next week to discuss my options.  I was just going to get the AA to get it.  We’ll see.

My secret thing is moving right along and hope it continues.

Now for some things I’m loving right now:

Spin Pins.  I saw these on t.v. (I am a marketer’s dream) so I loaded up and went in search of these little curly pins.  I found two sizes.  One is a pack of two that are long and one is a pack of three that are shorter. I bought the shorter ones because my hair isn’t all that long.  I love them. L.O.V.E. them.   It totally makes rocking the mom hair easier and it’s not the same ‘ol pony tail.

Sparkpeople.  It’s an awesome website with lots of tools and I can track my progress.  So far there’s not a lot to track, but it’s all about baby steps.  What progress am I tracking on Sparkpeople?  Well, it’s because….

I’m back running again for the first time since I hurt my knee last fall.  It feels pretty good, but I run with my brace on.  I guess it’s been long enough that it should be feeling better.  Olivia is doing it with me… at least a small portion of it.  She rides her bike while I run/walk and she will run the last 1/4 mile or so with me.  She is so stinking supportive and even gave me a, “Mommy, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win.  You’re awesome and that’s what matters.  Now let’s get going.”  And we do.

Zumba isn’t made for people like me.  You want to know what kind of people it is?  I’ll tell you… it’s people without a lick of dang rhythm.  I told my friend M if I danced that bad back in college when we all used to go out, then my friends were bad friends for not telling me to sit my uncoordinated, couldn’t keep up with the beat if it was glued to the bottom of my shoes self down.  Fabul-O has less than me.  How sad is it I’ve one-upped a six year old?

Still working on regaining my sense of me.  It’s returning slowly but surely.

Enjoy your weekend…

For some becoming a mom is easy.  For others it takes a lot of work, patience, and time.  And there are the moms whose arms are empty.

Our family tree grew with a branch grafted from another five years ago.  There are circumstances from the first year of Olivia’s life we’ll never know, but we do all we can to reinforce our love and work hard instilling the best values we can.  I can’t, and won’t, romanticize the unknown.  However,  if I had the opportunity, I would love for the woman who brought her into this world to know that she’s a beautiful, bright, inquisitive little girl who sees the good in everyone she meets, the wonder in all she does and is loved by so many.  I believe it takes a village to raise a child and  I have an extraordinary group of friends who have loved my child as much as they would one of their own and I’m very appreciative.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and to those who have cared for and loved a child.  You are just as important to our lives as sunshine and rain.

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  Our service members and their families are a very small percentage of our nation’s population and we’re proud to be part of it.   Being a milspouse has not only taught me some very valuable lessons, but has given me an opportunity to meet some of the most fantastic people on the planet.  No matter where life leads me, I know I will go as a better person because of the experiences and frienships I’ve made along the way.

I wish all the milspouses a fantastic day.

I won’t start this by apologizing for my absence.  Once a year is okay.  Maybe even once a quarter, but if I start all my blog posts with it every time I go to post one, it’s all you’ll ever read.  We’ll pretend like I’m issuing a blanket apology for all those times I go MIA and, voila, I show up.

I’m still unemployed.

We have our garden planted.  Yay!  We actually planted it the first weekend of April.  Olivia and I grew our own starter plants instead of buying them at the store.  I had 80 total and set out almost all of them.  I make a huge gardening faux pas.  I didn’t lable what I planted where.  The only thing I’m really sure of are my zucchini and squash plants.  Everything else is up in the air until it starts producing and then I’ll know.  Except for my carrots because I won’t see them as they are underground.  I was going to remember where I put stuff.  Oh, yeah.  Like THAT would happen.

We took the training wheels off Olivia’s bike.  She’s terrified of it and we haven’t made it out of the front yard yet.  I’m afraid she’s just not ready.  I love her.  A lot.

I haven’t been cooking anything new and exciting and have kind of fallen off the couponing bandwagon.  I still do it, but have been living off my reserve – no, it’s not a stockpile. It’s not that big.  However, I am totally over whole chickens.  That’s not true.  Not just whole chickens.  Just chicken in general.  I’m tired of cooking it.  Except I needed freezer space, so I took one out and, in about three days, I’m gonna have to cook it.

Olivia is still doing well in school.  She won the character ed award for honesty earlier this year and last week she was awarded the Kiwanis Terrific Kid award.  She got a button, certificate and a pencil. I got the bumper sticker you’ve all seen, “Proud Parent of a Terrific Kid.”  That’s where it came from, in case you were wondering.  But it’s not going on my car.  The only stickers I’ve ever had on my car – and they were on the window and not the paint -were my college sticker, my blue star and another military one.  Outside that, I’m not intereste in fancying up my ride.

I’m hooked on Angry Birds.  I’m pissed b/c I had to get a new phone b/c my old new phone wouldn’t answer (less than a month old) and I had to redownload the apps and start all over.

I’m working on something, but I can’t talk about it.  It’s sort of a secret, but not really.  It’s not one I can talk about here yet, but will spill it when the time is appropriate.  It has the potential to be something of substance for many involved, but it’s way too early.  Some of y’all know what it is.   It netted me a trip to the beach yesterday, but had to come home b/c W was supposed to have jury duty.  I hope to go back next week.  And I’ll be staying at least overnight so I can enjoy a glass of wine listening to the waves roll in.  That and it’s a long damn trip to go and come back in a day.

I’m thrilled OBL is dead and am super proud of the special ops team who did it.  Hooah!  But we need to keep our thoughts focused or we become vulnerable.  Our military always has one eye open so we can rest with both eyes closed. 

I have a lot of friends with a lot of stuff going on who could use some well-wishes.  And keep us on your list, too.  Please.

Happy May!

I’m alive.  I’m still unemployed, but I’m alive.  Nothing too exciting has has been going on around here.  I haven’t posted any recipes becuase we’ve been doing a lot of repeats because my mojo has been a little off.   When I get that one little ounce of sunshine, a pound of grey covers it over.  It’s a cycle.  I’m aware it’s a cycle.  And I do what I can to keep my chin up during said cycle.

A couple of weekends ago, the fabulous Shanny through a kickin’ baby shower for the wonderful Shannon…a mustache themed babyshower.  You kinda gotta know the backstory, but it involves Shannon’s husband who has a very dark mustache and is affectionately referred to as “mustachio” by some.   There were pink beads, cupcakes, delicious punch (O.M.G. Baby shower punch is the best evah.  Hawaiian Punch, ginger ale and sherbert.  Divine) and a game of Pictionary where there were some pretty crude pictures drawn to represent something so simple.  All I know is when you hear dirty words fly through the air, you hang on by your sugar high and ride with it.

Fabul-O is just that…Fab.  She’s learning more and more and is becoming such a 6 y.o.  I mean, I know she’s six, but she’s starting to act 6 with a tinge of the 2s, a helping of the 3s, a slice of the 4s and the whines of the 5s.  I’m not sure if I’ll make it all the way to 7.  She went to the dentist the other day for her cleaning and x-rays.  She was born without two of her bottom teeth.  The hygienest had us both in near tears talking about implants and extractions, etc.  I reminded the lady that Fab was only 6 and didn’t even have a loose baby tooth yet, but I’m sure we had PLENTY of time to discuss cosmetic options when the time was appropriate.  Finally she backed off.   She was a champ for all her x-rays, including bite wings.  I have to go tomorrow and I totally wish I had some valium.  I hate the dentist with a white hot passion.  After we left, she said to me, “Mommy.  I have glasses, I don’t have your color skin and now I’m missing teeth?  What else is wrong with me?”  Talk about Mommy melt down.  Holy crap.  I reminded her that I wear glasses, I don’t have her color skin and I’m missing some teeth, too, and that one day the rest of the world would be lucky to catch up and be as cool as we are.  Then I gave her ice cream.   She was content and has only asked me about not being born with those teeth a few times.   Insecurities: Round 3.

I got the “Why didn’t I get born from your tummy” question last week.  We’ve had the conversation before, but we had it again.  The older she gets, the more detail she requires and I shouldn’t be at a loss for words because I practiced it forever.  I’ll get it.  I’m good like that.
Went to a seminar about making myself marketable in the job market last week.  I got some valuable feedback and they reviewed my resume. I thought it looked good.  Granted, it does LOOK good, but it needs some tweaking, so she told me what to do and I’m working on revamping it.  They will review it again and the CEO will be have a one-on-one session with everyone to go over questions about getting back into the groove of applying for jobs.  I took a little hiatus to work on some things and now I’m ready to get back at it.

We are going to be farming in the ‘hood again this year…I have some piccies from our starter seeds, but we’ll leave that riveting post for another day.

Hope you all are fabulous…those who still stop in from time to time, that is….

Be well…

Susan

I have a new love.  Whole chickens.  Who knew they were so much fun?  Well, fun might be a little extreme, but I am smitten with the birds.  I’ve mentioned before that I’ve pretty much stopped buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts unless they just happen to be a really good deal.  I have found the flavor of cooking bone-in chicken breasts is so much better.

Thinking back, I think I’ve only cooked one whole chicken before and it was when I tried the slow cooker chicken where you prop it up on aluminum foil balls, season it and slow cook it all day.  I can’t remember how it turned out…obviously it didn’t make that swell of an impression or I would have done it more than once.  I guess, in a way, I was afraid of cooking a whole chicken.  Why?  Couldn’t tell you.  Maybe it was the thoughts of not having the meats clearly defined for me like they are when I buy them in a package.  Maybe it was the thought that I wouldn’t use it all and would end up wasting it.  Don’t know.  Whatever the reason, it was silly, I’m sure.  I love cooking whole chickens.  I love cooking whole chickens in my Pampered Chef deep dish covered baker (32 minutes for a 5 lb. bird in the microwave!!).  I hate I only bought 2 when I found them on sale for $0.59/lb.  They are so freaking budget friendly and those bad boys are loaded with meat.

The first one I cooked, I forgot to save the carcass until I heard it crinkle the bag in the trashcan.  I saved this last one and I’m going to freeze it and make a carcass soup that Shannon makes with her turkey carcass when I get another carcass to go with it.  (I love the word carcass)  Will let you know when it happens.

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.

Well, it’s not really a farm and the chicken was store bought.

Last week at the grocery, I bought 2 whole chickens.  It’s been a long, long time since I’ve bought whole chickens because, well, there is no real reason.  This time they were $0.59/lb, so I got (2) 5ish lb birds for $3.00 each knowing each bird would give us 2 meals.  I was going to bake it and decided against it.  Was going to cook it in my Flavor Wave oven, but decided against it, so I used my “magic pot” – known to the rest of the free world as Pampered Chef’s Deep Covered Baker.

I dumped the bird of his innards, rinsed, drained, and patted him dry.  I used Adobo seasoning with cumin and rubbed under the skin and sprinkled some in the cavity of the bird.  Plopped that bad boy into the pot, put the lid on, put it in my microwave for 32 minutes.  It needed to come up about 8 degrees more, but letting it rest would take care of that.  While it was coming up to temperature, I made corn and a box of stuffing.  Dinner was easy peasy tonight and the chicken was delicious.  It doesn’t brown like it does in the oven, but we aren’t skin eaters anyway – unless it’s southern fried,  so it doesn’t matter to us.  What does matter, is the chicken is so moist, tender and delicious.

Chicken $1.50 (half of $3 chicken)

Box of stuffing $0.89

Creamed corn (one can whole kernel, one can creamed, dollop of sour cream) $0.75

I’ll round dinner up from $3.14 to $3.30 to count the shakes of Adobo Seasoning with cumin I used.  By the way…I LOVE the Adobo seasonings…they are found on the aisle with the mexican food and they have a few different ones.  They have great flavor and you don’t need a truckload to season your meal AND the prices are pretty good and they last a long time.

No one is packing left overs because I need to repurpose the rest of the chicken tomorrow night for dinner…not sure what that will be yet.  So feel free to throw out a suggestion or two.

One of my favorite cooking vessels is my deep dish covered baker from Pampered Chef.   The consultant at the party called it a “Magic P0t.”  I love it.  Love it. Love. It.

Last night for dinner, Olivia and I had chicken.  I used to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and still do from time to time, but I have found we all enjoy the bone in, skin on better.   I threw the chicken in mymagic p0t with some Goya Adobo seasoning with cumin generously covering both sides for about 30 minutes in the microwave.  It was a simple dinner, so I paired it with some macaroni and cheese and corn with butter sauce.  I know, double starches, but it was good.  And simple.

Chicken $2.81

Kraft Homestyle Mac & Cheese $0.50

Corn with butter sauce $0.60

Dinner totaled $3.91 and we had leftovers of everything except the corn since that’s Olivia’s favorite.

Tonight was dinner repurposed.  Olivia said she wanted something new.  When I asked her what, she wanted the ramen noodles in the yellow package. *sigh*  She got them.  Me, on the other hand, I had left overs.  I’m not counting the chicken or macaroni and cheese amounts since I counted them in last night’s dinner.

Chicken

Tossed chicken with Frank’s Wing sauce – free

Mac & Cheese

Blue cheese dressing – free

Celery $0.26

Collards – free

Olivia’s noodles $0.14

Dinner for us: $0.40

PLUS there’s still chicken left over.  Since I wasn’t thinking all the way through, I tossed all the chicken with the buffalo sauce, so I’ll freeze it for another day.

 

So, I felt good blogging about meals I’ve cooked that were budget friendly.  I don’t know that anyone cared, but writing has been therapeutic in the past, so I thought it would be now.  Why not put two of my favorite things together: cooking and saving money.  But you know what I love more?  WORKING for said money.  This unemployment thing sucks.   One would think I would have all these magnificent projects done around the house.  No.  One would think I’d be well-rested and ready to perform at my peak.  Not even close.  One would think…One would think…I would think.

Over the past four weeks that I’ve been unemployed,  I have learned some things:

1. I have chosen to surround myself by some really awesome people.

2. These really awesome people randomly check in on me to make sure I’m still picking my head up off the pillow.

3. These people don’t judge me when I am honest about how I’m feeling.

4. My husband really does love me.  Maybe this one should have gone first, and I could have deleted it and moved it up there, but I decided to just keep it as it was because, well, it’s where it fell in my thought process.

5. Choices are so much more important than I ever thought.  I have preached it and believed it, but guess got a little complacent with it.

6. Not everyone who gives their word will keep it.

7. Everything (and -one) has a period of usefulness.  When it is outlived it is gone.  Period.

8. People still respect me.  And they always will.

9. I am beneficial to someone in some way.  I just might not know it yet.

10. People believe in me.  I only wish I did one third as much as they do.

11. My family loves me.  No one can ever take that away.  I don’t care how much of an asshole they are.  Being an asshole only reinforced it.

There are a couple of times a year I get all mushy and gushy over things and today just happens to be one of those days.  I never imagined the littlest love of my life would be born half a world away, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Five years ago today we met Yu Si Jia  for the first time.  The scared little girl who cried for HOURS when we first held her is now a happy, healthy, thriving little girl who lights up my life more than I ever imagined.  My mom was right when she told me there was no love like a parent’s love for their child.

Happy Family Day, JiaJia.  I love you.

I started couponing a little over a year ago and, boy, am I glad I did.  It started off to be fun just to see how much I could save, but, while it’s still fun, it’s more out of necessity now.

This week, one of our local grocery stores is doubling coupons up to $1.98.  I always get jealous of the people who can get a bajillion dollars worth of groceries for two pennies, but I watch it and stock up on what I can and watch our grocery budget closely.  It looks skewed with no meat or veggies some weeks (like this shopping trip) because I buy when the sale cycles are right.  This was yesterday’s trip:

Before coupons and sales, the total was $160.89.  I paid $45.39.  My freebies on this trip were: (1) cheese singles, (3) salad dressings, (3) four-pack drinkable yogurt, (3) four-pack dessert yogurt, (3) cans chili.  (4) frozen pizzas were $0.17 each.  Olivia was totally stoked by those because I never, ever buy them. I’m so glad she’s easy to please.  She thinks ramen noodles are a delicacy.  Dog treats ranged from $0.50 to $1.39.  The expensive ones are for Rosie (our new to us puppy) and obedience school (we’ve been using Bil-Jack, so her taste is pretty picky while we’re at school, so Little Caesar treats will have to do.)

I had two trips today because one store didn’t have what I was looking for, but I did okay.   There is no picture because, while I was setting it up, I managed to knock over a cup of water and was too frustrated to do it again, but today I spent  $21.38.  Total before sale and coupons was $92.93.

My freebies today included: (1) rice and (2) new Philadelphia cooking cream cheese things.  So, while it wasn’t much, the biggest scores were (1) box of Multi Grain Cheerios for $0.25, (2) 34 oz. containers of Maxwell House coffee for $8.97 – shelf price of ONE was $10.97 and (3) Green Giant boxed frozen veggies for $0.40 ($0.133 each). I think everything else today was .50 or less, with the exception of laundry detergent and it was the Saturday special for $2.97.

It’s a lot of work and planning, and often times re-planning, but it’s fun in the end.  It’s teaching  Olivia a lesson in saving and watching our money, but it’s a shame a 6 y.o. has to absorb the reasoning behind it.

Somebody asked my why a lot of my items were quantities of three.  It’s because one of the stores I shop the most will only double coupons for the first three.  Anything after that is face value.  Besides, I don’t want to be greedy. There are a lot of us who are watching our budgets.

Will be a few weeks before there’s another coupon promotion – and it’s kind of a crap shoot at this point if it will be much of anything.  As it stands now, aside from milk, bread, fresh fruit, I don’t have to shop again for at least a month.  That I love.

Why didn’t I get the same giddy when I submitted my 100th resume as the kids do when they celebrate their 100th day of school?

It’s What Day?!?

July 2014
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