That is as in fake lasagna.  I had the ricotta cheese I made over the weekend in the fridge that I needed to do something with, so I made, what we affectionally refer to as, fauxsagna – because I don’t use lasagna noodles.  I have about 3/4 c of the ricotta left to use in another dish.

Sauce $2.00 (left over from another night’s dinner)

Wacky mac noodles (free)

Ricotta cheese $2.66

1 egg $0.10

Mozzarella cheese $0.50

Colby Jack cheese $0.50

Frozen vegetebles $0.60

 

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  Cook your noodles just until almost done.  Layer half of them in a baking dish – I used a 12×12 square dish.

3.  Mix the ricotta with one egg, salt, pepper and colby jack cheese.  Spread over noodles.  Top with half the sauce.

4.  Spread remaining noodles over cheese/sauce and add rest of sauce.

5.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

6.  Cover and bake for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Remove cover and let bake for another 5 min or until cheese is slightly browned – if you want it browned.

7.  Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving it.

 

I’ll round it up to $7.00 so I can take into account the few shakes of Parmesan cheese.  I got 7 hearty servings out of this, so it breaks it down to $1.00 per serving.  Will has lunch for tomorrow and we have enough left over for another meal.

Now, how the ricotta tasted.  I liked it a lot.  It was very creamy and held up nicely when I baked it. I am planning on making a calzone or something with the rest of it one night, so we’ll see how it does in another dish.  Even though it took a while to make, I will definitely be doing it again!  Might even try mixing in the herbs for bruschetta!

A few weeks ago, a FB friend posted about seeing Ina Garten make Ricotta Cheese on the Food Network. She blended it with some herbs and made bruschetta, I think. I became interested because I had looked at it at the grocery not too long before and thought the price seemed kind of high for it. Well, I decided to make it. With regards to cost, it’s a little cheaper because all I used was whole milk, some white vinegar and a little salt. With regards to time, we all know popping a container open is way quicker.

I did a little online research and most everything I read said fresh is better. And usually it is. So, this is what I did:

Gallon of whole white milk $3.49
1/3 c. plus 1/4 tsp. white vinegar $0.20
1/4 tsp. salt

Cheesecloth

Pour the gallon of milk in a nonreactive pot. I used what I have that’s pretty much like Calphalon…no aluminum. People recommend stainless steel. Using a thermometer (I used a candy thermometer), slowly bring up to temperature between 180-185 degrees stirring occasionally to keep from scorching. When it comes to temperature, remove from heat and pour in vinegar and stir for one minute. Add salt and stir. You will notice some curds almost immediately. Cover with a dish towel and let it rest for 2 hours. When the two hours is up, line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth and put the colander over something to catch the liquid that will drain. Using a slotted spoon, I ladled the curds into the colander and drained over a large bowl, covered with a towel, for two hours. The longer you let it drain, the drier it will be. I squeezed it to get some of the additional liquid out.

The length of time it will refrigerate varies from website to website. I will use it in the next couple of days.

I put it into a Rubbermaid container that holds 2.9 cups and it was pretty full.

The cost is pretty close to buying the 15 oz. container at the grocery store, but it’s more time consuming, obviously. It has a nice creamy texture to it and it tasted okay. I think it could have used a wee bit more salt.

This is where I found the recipe I used.  They said to use salt in two different steps, but I used it at the end.  They also have some instructions for using the ricotta in desserts.  There are sooo many different recipes, but I liked this one because it had very few ingredients and seemed so stinking simple.  The most time consuming thing was stirring it while it was coming to temp so it wouldn’t scorch.

Will do a follow up post when I use it.

Today I slow cooked chili. It certainly isn’t a fancy dish, but it’s one I can cook that will give us a couple of meals and Will a lunch or two.

1 2/3 lb ground chuck $2.25
1/3 of a large green pepper .33
1/2 small onion .29
1 bottle V8 juice $2.40
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained) .69
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) .69
1 large can diced tomatoes $1.09
1 pkg chili mix .50
ground red pepper
chili powder

Served over rice – FREE

I cook the green peppers and onions when I brown the ground beef. Put it in the crock pot and add V8 juice, both cans of beans, tomatoes and chili mix. Stir and cook on high for 4 hours or low 6 hours or so. After it’s been cooking for a while, I taste it and add seasonings to taste.

The total comes to $8.24, but I’ll round up to $8.50 to take into account the shakes of seasonings. We will get 7 servings out of this at $1.21 per serving. Tonight we had 3 1/2 servings, so the total cost for dinner was $4.24.

*squee* NOT.

It’s a sales position and I’m REALLY not a salesperson. Not since I sold jewelry many moons ago. I love diamonds. They are pretty and it was always fun helping a guy buy the diamond that would make his girl’s dream come true. Didn’t have to be big or the best, but you know what he wanted and where he needed to be. My job was to find something and put that fit together. And I did.

Again, don’t get giddy wid it…I’m not a salesperson. Especially cold calling type sales. Just not my thing. Especially with an industry I know virtually nothing about. But you throw a couple of “inside sales” (read: people called and told me what they wanted and I told them what we had that would fit their situation) on your resume and, voila, you’re it. I flubbed the day I signed up with the staffing agency and I’ve been mock interviewing myself. So I’m taking this one as practice so, hopefully, when I get called back for another one, I’ll be better.

As an aside, I’ve applied for my dream job, but have a fear I won’t make it through the application screening process even though I think I would do a wonderful job with it, as do the friends I’ve told. No details because I don’t want to jinx it. A friend put my name out there to a friend of hers who works in that office, so we’ll see if anything comes of it.

Peace.

Tonight I made homemade corn tortillas. It was pretty simple, but my enamel coated cast iron pan just isn’t quite it. Will need to get a regular ‘ol cast iron skillet. I only made half a batch, just in case they didn’t turn out well.

1 cup masa harina (corn flour – Maseca is one brand)
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 c. water – roughly…just kept adding until it was the right consistency.

1. Put corn flour and salt in a bowl and mix up. Add water. Mix by hand until all blended. You will know it’s right when the dough doesn’t stick to your hands or the side of the bowl.
2. Make golf ball sized balls of dough (the full recipe will make 16. I had 8 )
3. Put in center of tortilla press lined with a Ziploc bag and press.
4. Cook on cast iron skillet – no oil or anything – 10-15 seconds. Turn over and cook the other side.
5. Done.

Was very simple. Like I said, I need a cast iron skillet. Lining the tortilla press with the Ziploc bag was a great idea (thanks to the You Tube video I watched) and the tortilla peeled off of it without issue, but do it carefully.

What did I do with them? Made pork tacos.

1 lb. pork (I used pork chops and just cut it away from the bone) ($3.02)
2 TB Goya Sofrito (.25)
1 small onion – sliced into rings (.29)
1 can tomatoes with chiles (.60)
Goya Adobo with cumin – a few shakes
Chili powder – a few shakes

Serve with:
homemade tortillas (.30 for 8 )
rice (free)
corn with butter sauce (.60)

1. Put pork and onions in skillet to brown. (I left a little fat on the pork chops so I didn’t add extra oil)
2. When about half way done, add Sofrito and mix. Add in tomatoes and seasonings.
3. Cook until done – I let it simmer for about 35 minutes or so while I made the tortillas.

It was good and definitely something I’ll make again. Will and I are the only two who ate it – was a little spicier than Olivia likes, so she had a substitute main dish, but had corn and rice with it.

Total cost of dinner: $5.06 and Will is going to take left overs for lunch tomorrow.

That’s what I fed the dwellers of Chateau L today. No cooking – aside from the quick melting of the cheese in the quesadillas for lunch. We had dinner with some friends and they treated us to steak with baked potatoes. Was nice to hang out with them and just relax for a little bit. Thanks!!

Oh, wait. I lied. I made brownies to take with us. From a box.

I didn’t go to bed last night, well this morning, until after I dropped Olivia off at school…I’d say probably 7:45-8:00. I slept until about 11 and had to get up because I was the special guest today talking about Chinese New Year in her class. I was so proud of my girl for being proud of her culture. It’s slowly evolving and letting it happen in her time seems to be working well for us.

After that, we went to the grocery store to pick up some of our Friday e-VIC specials from Harris Teeter. Then it was time to come up with something for supper. There are a couple of new things I want to make, but I don’t have time for one of them and am missing a tool for the other, which I’ll be borrowing this weekend, so hopefully Sunday will reveal that one.

Tonight’s dinner was easy-peasy. Hamburger Helper with green beans and potatoes and corn bread for a grand total of $3.79

Ground beef: $1.90
Hamburger helper: $0.25
Green beans and poatoes: $1.15
Corn bread: $0.49

Hoping to sleep tonight because insomnia sucks.

Tonight’s dinner entree was chicken with left over baked beans and cole slaw from last night and I made a corn pudding.

I skinned and marinated the chicken in Goya Mojo Criollo.  We first had this marinade when we went to a cookout over Halloween.  The host marinated a pork loin in it and slow cooked it on the grill.  Was delish.  So, I bought some today at the grocery store and chicken was good.  I couldn’t find my tenderizer so I could tenderize before marinating.  Well, it was more of an I-looked-for-it-but-got-distracted-and-forgot-to-keep-looking kind of thing.  It was pretty tasty, though.

I also made a corn pudding recipe:

Box of Jiffy muffin mix
1 can of whole kernel corn
1 can of cream style corn
8 oz. sour cream
2 eggs

Mix the corns, eggs and sour cream until well blended.  Add Jiffy and stir.  Bake at 350* for about 50-60 minutes.  Done.  The original recipe calls for some butter to be put on top in pats, but I found that doesn’t melt evenly and you end up with butter pat places, so I don’t use it.  I also don’t use the eggs.  Turns out fine.

All in all, dinner was simple and good and got two thumbs up from the crew at Chateau L, so I’m calling it a success.

Chicken ($3.25)
Goya marinade ($2.00) – have half a bottle left for another night
Baked beans ($.0.75)
Cole slaw ($0.50)
Corn pudding (1.60)

Tonight’s total was $8.10 and Will has plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  So that breaks down to $2.025 per serving.

Not sure what’s on the horizon for tomorrow. We’ll have to see, I guess.

Today’s culinary base was pork chops. One of the many things I love about Costco is their thick cut pork chops. I usually stock up when there is a $4.00 off coupon and I package them into three meals per pack and freeze. I buy the package that keeps me as close to $10 as I can…don’t know why. Just a weird habit, I guess.

Tonight’s fare was:

Pork chops with a dijon mustard sauce ($3.33 – AND Will has lunch for tomorrow. )

Cole slaw ($0.75)

Baked beans ($0.75)

Croissants ($1.00)

I’m rounding up to $6.50 to take in account all the seasonings, etc.

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

  • 4 (3/4-inch-thick) pork chops (I actually had 5 – sliced the thick ones from Costco in half)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (1 to 2) (I didn’t have a shallot, so I used shallot salt from Penzey’s)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup country-style Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used 2% milk because I didn’t have cream)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot skillet, swirling to coat, then brown chops, turning over once, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a shallow baking pan, reserving skillet, and bake, uncovered, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off fat from skillet, then cook shallots in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and any juices from baking pan and boil, scraping up any brown bits, 2 minutes. Add mustard and cream and return to a boil, then add lemon juice and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

This was yummy. I didn’t take into consideration that 1. I didn’t have low sodium chicken broth and 2. I used shallot salt, so the sauce turned out a bit on the salty side, but it was still good. We just ate less of it than we would probably have. I eyeballed the salt and pepper when I seasoned the chops.
I’m not sure what possessed me to make cole slaw, but I did. Supa simple.

Easy Cole Slaw

1 small head of cabbage
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/8 c. Splenda
couple splashes of apple cider vinegar
salt
pepper

I love my Kitchen Aid food processor…makes it so simple to shred a head of cabbage in no time. BTW, I’m not an overly huge fan of carrots in my slaw, so when I make it I never use them. I put measurements, but, honestly, I don’t really follow them. I don’t like runny slaw, so I don’t use that much vinegar. I like a nice, creamy slaw that’s just sweet enough with just the right tang, so I start off kind of light and add if I need it. Put it in the fridge to hang out for a while and, voila. Done.

The croissants may have been store bought, but the butter melted on them was homemade. Shanny posted about making butter on her blog last summer and I immediately had to try it. Oh, my. This is the recipe I used (and I think maybe the same one she did) . I left mine unsalted. It is to.die.for. on a fresh loaf of homemade bread piping hot from the oven, but I settled for store bought refrigerated croissants tonight. I put a towel over my stand mixer because it will start to sling the buttermilk all over the place…she wasn’t kidding when she said it goes from not there to there in less than a blink of an eye. I store mine in a butter boat.

It is really, really simple to make and I absolutely love the taste of the fresh butter.

Think chicken is on tomorrow’s menu…

Aside from the fact I have virtually no income coming in, there is an upside to being unemployed.  I’m able to meet Olivia when she gets off the bus every day and since Will has been getting home about 4:30ish, we have dinner by 5 and there is actually time to rest some and spend some time as a family, which has been much needed.

I’ve been couponing for over a year and have gotten pretty good at it.  I started reading a blog sometime last year, 5 Dollar Dinners, and have been inspired to make dinners that are $5 or less.  I’ve done pretty well with it.

Last night’s dinner was a spin on a recipe I saw in the coupon circular over the weekend for Picante-Glazed Chicken Wings.

Picante Glazed Chicken Wings (Original Recipe)

From: Campbell’s Kitchen
Prep: 45 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:

12 chicken wings (about 2 pounds)
1 jar (16 ounces) Pace® Picante Sauce
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon sesame seed, toasted

Directions:

Heat the oven to 425°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut off the chicken wing tips and discard.  Cut the chicken wings in half at the joint.

Heat 1 1/2 cups picante sauce, marmalade and mustard in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook for 40 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally.

Place the chicken into a large bowl.  Add the remaining picante sauce and toss to coat.  Place the chicken onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken over once halfway through the bake time.  Baste the chicken with the picante-mustard mixture during the last 10 minutes of the bake time.  Sprinkle with the sesame seed, if desired.

This is how I did it…

1 lb. chicken tenders ($3.00)

1 1/2 cup salsa (I cooked with a cup and reserved 1/2 cup for later) (.50)

1/4 c. apple jelly (didn’t have marmalade) (.20)

1 tsp. dijon mustard

I cooked it pretty much per the instructions, but since I was cooking tenders, it didn’t take nearly as long.

We made burritos with a side of corn.

Mahatma spicy saffron rice (free)

Tortillas ($1)

Can of corn (.55)

Sour cream

Shredded cheese (.50)

It went over the $5, but it was yummy and a very filling dinner.  I didn’t calculate the per seving cost of sour cream or the dijon mainly because I had them on hand and have been using them in other recipes, but I think it’s pretty negligible so I’ll round it up to a $6 dinner.

The chicken has a nice sweet/spicy/tang to it and it made a great glaze.  I actually marinated mine in the fridge for most of the afternoon.  Will definitely be something I make again.

Learned today that my unemployment benefits are about $200 less from SC than in NC.  I live in NC…worked in SC, so I must file for benefits from SC.  Damn.  And both are significantly less than I was making.  Double damn.

FYI…E-mail after e-mail after e-mail saying, “sorry, we didn’t like what your resume had to offer” sucks and I don’t handle it very well.

To those who have been actively seeking employment, but have been rejected from all angles.  I feel for you.  I really, really do.  And I’m only into my 2nd week of it.

I lost my job today.  And it sucks.

Tis the season to be jolly…fa-la-la-la-meh.

I’ve been trying to get my holiday mojo, but it hasn’t quite worked in my favor.  Yet.  By saying “yet” means I’m still holding out hope.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been pounding the pavement and begging asking friends and family to help me with the canned food drive at Fabul-O’s school.  I was the PTA chair.  In the past, students have collected food for a food bank, but, this year, it was decided that each class would sponsor one of our school families who applied for assistance.  I reached out to 60 area churches requesting a $10 grocery gift card thinking for sure I would get the 43 I needed.  Students would provide the canned goods and we would give the families the card to purchase their turkey (can’t give out fresh food, especially poultry, due to health concerns).  Not a single church offered to help.  Including the one O goes to daycare at nor the one we attended for 5 years.   Grocery stores, some dear, dear friends, our National Guard unit and family stepped in to help me out.  I was able to meet the goal.  Next came time to divvy up the goods.  There were 3 families who had no transportation to pick up the goods, so arrangements were made to deliver it.  Out of the other 40 families, less than half came to get their goods.  *sigh*

Then came the unit Christmas party.  I am the new family support leader.  And I had one month to plan it.  The to-do list was divided among three of us.  Only one of us – you guess who – had her list completely done and ready to go on party day.  Another of us arranged the food, which was a huge deal and it was done, but the little “completer” items and part of the entertainment fell under them and it wasn’t done.  The last one of us ignored my texts and voicemail reminders of their completer items and they were totally forgotten. Our budget didn’t allow for duplicate purchases and 15 minutes before party time she dumped “Santa” gifts out to wrap IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN who were going to be receiving said gifts.  Oy vey.

Overall, the party was a huge success and a good time was had by all.  Santa was a HUGE hit and I’m a rockstar because I know him 🙂  I got several compliments on my “attention” to detail and making sure each and every soldier had something to take home by making ornaments for them all and having a wrapped gift.  Granted, only half of the soldiers were there for the party, but the effort was put into it and it was noticed.  Next year I don’t know how I’ll handle if, if they vote me back for another year, aside from taking on the whole thing by myself.

Now it’s on to Christmas for my family and a trip to see the in-laws.  I’m about half done with shopping and have TOTALLY blown the budget, so I need to re-evaluate and see where we are.

I have the spirit of giving.  I have it all year long, but I can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit.  I’m trying to be more peaceful and work towards getting my life back in order.  The last task at hand is Girl Scout cookie sales that begin in January.  After that, I’m taking some time off.  A lot of time.

I’m not a total Scrooge, I just have had so much going on it’s hard to wrap my mind around joy and peace when I know it’s there.  I’m still taking baby steps.

In case I don’t post again before Christmas, which is HIGHLY likely, I wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases and a New Year in which all your dreams come true.

Be well,

Susan

To all our veterans: Thank you for your service.  We’re forever grateful for your service.  That includes my husband.  Despite what problems surround us, he has fought the good fight and has always been willing to answer the call of duty.  I’m proud of him.  Olivia told him last night, “Thank you for being a Soldier boy, Daddy.  Because of you and all the other ‘Vetrins’ I don’t have to go to school tomorrow.  That’s nice of you and I’m proud of you.”  I reminded him that is probably the nicest thing anyone will ever say to him.  Especially in the 5 y.o. age group.

Yesterday, the Marine Corps celebrated its 235th birthday.  When I got married, I married a Marine.  Our groomsmen were Marines.  My girlfriends dated Marines.  It’s what we did.  The Marines were my first real “taste,” if you will, of the military.  Except for one Coastie.  Anyway, I went to UNC-W and Camp Lejeune wasn’t that far away, so the Marines would come into town to mack on the college girls and we would score free beer.  It was then that I realized the old saying was true:  A uniform is the one thing that can make most anyone look good.   It wasn’t until Will left the military, joined the reserves and got ready to deploy to Iraq did I fully understand what it was to be a military spouse.  Remember, we were no longer active duty, and had not been for many, many years; we were a reserve family.  Since that time, my appreciation has grown from ogling cute boys in uniform to appreciating what the uniform stands for.  I didn’t grow up in a military household and, in my opinion, it’s hard to grasp what the call of duty is during peacetime when you’re 20 years old.   At least it was for us.

There are tons of jokes using the branches of the military as acronyms and we’ve heard them all.  After all, we’ve been in three branches: Marines, Navy and Army National Guard.

From our Navy friends: Marine stands for My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment

From old Navy friends: Navy stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself

From Marines: Army stands for Air Force Rejected Me Yesterday and Ain’t Ready to be a Marine Yet.  Others say US Army is: Uncle Sam Ain’t Released Me Yet!    Backwards: Yes My Retarded Ass Signed Up.

There’s a lot of fun that goes into those.  Everyone’s dog is bigger than the next person’s in their eyes.  And that’s fine. It’s the pride in the uniform and the dedication to do the job that makes it work.  It takes all the branches to protect us.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure, and privilege, of meeting some of the most wonderful people.  People who have touched my life in ways they will never know.  I have hugged wives whose husbands were deployed.  I have cried over videos of homecomings.  I have stood on the tarmac in tropical storm weather holding hands with other wives and families waiting for it to finally be my turn.  I have been to funerals, arranged for food to be brought in for families and ordered Gold Star banners.  I have felt inadequate in wishing I could do more.  I always will.

Over the years, my appreciation has grown up a lot.  I appreciate our Nation and the jobs that it takes to keep us safe, a man in uniform still makes my heart skip a beat and I still firmly believe a uniform is the one thing that can make most anyone look good.

Hooah!

Nothing new and spectacular to report.  I feel like my heart is lightening up some.  I know that’s a good thing, but sometimes, when I catch myself, I close it right back up.  My goal is to let it stay open….little bits at a time, though.

Through all of this, I have been reassured day after day after day after day that I am an emotional eater.  I used to say I was, but never put a lot of stock into it, but my dang emotions can set me on a path to self destruction.  I’m working on this, too.

A couple of friends have given me reading suggestions.  I bought a Nook and have enjoyed having it and checking out books from the library for it.  That is super exciting because they are F.R.E.E.  My favorite four letter word on the planet.

I’m still fighting to regain my sense of me.

Bloglines is going away.  I *heart* Bloglines and it has been the only feed reader I’ve ever used.  Now I’m going to have to force myself to fall in love with Google Reader.  I’m a creature of habit and am not doing well with the change.  It did, however, force me to prune my blogroll.

 

I have good days and I have bad days, which is expected.  But I’m not miserable all the time.

A few weekends ago, we went to the Bank of America 500.  Last year Mar was here.  They boys went to the race and the girls (us, Shannon and Shannon) went out and we had a fantastic time.  Hard to believe a year has passed and I miss her so.  This year we went again.  It was O’s first race and she was lukewarm about it.  I’m not a huge race fan, but there is something about feeling the thunder in the stands as the cars go by and being  under the lights that gets the adrenaline going.  O roots for “Smoke” (a.k.a. Tony Stewart) and I will pull for Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) because he drives the 88 National Guard car.  Y’all know that no matter what I have going on in my life, I love our Soldier boys and girls (and Marines, Airmen, Coasties…)

Last weekend we met up with a long time friend, M, and her husband JT and went to the SC State Fair. It was my first state fair.  Ever.  Seriously.  It was okay.  Fabul-O rode some rides…and Uncle JT got his first ride on the Wacky Worm roller coaster.  They don’t have children, so it was a super treat for him.  O kept her head down until the very end, at which time she proclaimed she had a fantastic time.

We ate fried pickles…I couldn’t bring myself to have fried butter even though I wanted to so, so badly.  And I also managed to stay away from the Krispy Kreme burger known by many as a Luther Burger.

And one of us sacked out before we made it back to the interstate to come home.

We had a good time.  I have always said friends are the family we get to choose and M has been part of my family since 1992.  Wish we saw them more often.

It was a nice couple of family days.  The sun was shining brightly and the weather was perfect.  Days aren’t always this good, but I’m trying to make note of all the good and, one of these days, they should outweigh the bad.  I hope.

Coming soon…an attempt at apple picking.

Forgiveness has always been hard for me.  I have always felt that if I forgive someone for something, I have to forget the ill ever happened. It also made me feel like a bad Christian because I carry the grudge and ill feelings.  I constantly have a burden because I can’t let go.  So, not only am I harboring my ill feelings, but I’m toting the guilt of failing in my spiritual life. I’m having to rebuild both bit by bit.

What seems perfectly reasonable to some is hard for me to digest.  It’s a small step, but I’ve learned that forgetting is not essential in forgiving.  I can’t separate the two yet; to me one still can’t be without the other one.   But I’ll get there.  I hope.

By now, I’m sure many of you have read Single Dad Laughing’s post “The Disease Called Perfection.”  It got my attention.  I nodded my head as I read through it and felt like some of the burdens on my shoulders were trying to get off.

Some time back, a dear friend confided in me with some happenings in her life.  When she told me, all I could muster up was wow….I never saw that coming.   I then felt I needed to confide in her with some things that have been going on in my life so she would know that when I told her I understood that I truly did and wasn’t giving an obligatory nicety.   She responded with something along the lines of she thought I had the perfect life.  She thought that not because of a perfect picture I paint, but because of what I don’t share.  Folks, let me tell you.  My life is far from perfect.  The only perfect part of my life is Olivia and it even has its challenges for me.  Let me just go ahead and say this…not one time have I ever regretted the decision to be a parent.  Not one time have I ever regretted choosing China as the country from which we would adopt.  Not one time have I ever felt pressured about being a parent.  And, lastly, not one time in my entire life has my heart ever been filled with so much love.  But, even as full as my heart is with love with her and for her, it is empty for so many other things.

This post has been circling in my brain for a very long time.  I’ve mentioned before about some struggles I’ve had going on in my life, but I’ve never mentioned all of them.  Some of them are from within me.  My need to be able to help everyone when they need it and to not fail. My biggest fear is failing.  At anything.  Another of my struggles is balance.  How to balance working (until this past February two jobs), being a mom and now PTA chair, Girl Scout leader, and FRG leader for our unit.  This last one was a tough decision for me and I felt as though I probably shouldn’t take on the responsibility.  Once I wade through all my shortcomings as a person and all my anxiety and fears I carry within me, comes the biggest struggle of all with failure tagging along.

For over two years, I’ve been struggling to keep my marriage together with this past year being the most draining on me.  I found out during my review at work back in the summer exactly how much having problems behind the scenes affected me.  I can count on one hand how many people know what has been going on.  I am not going into detail because I don’t think it’s fair to Will or necessary.  It has been the hardest two years of my life by far and, right now, I can’t tell you how this story will end.  I’m hoping for the best, whatever that may be.  I’m not perfect.  I get angry, frustrated, slam doors and cry.  I am carrying a grudge, disappointment, anger, hatred, and an overwhelming feeling of not being good enough.  My self esteem no longer exists.  I have shut down.  I have sunk to a level of being blue that I struggle to recover from.  I have friends who think I’ve abandoned them and no longer want to be friends or care about them.   I feel as though I’m letting Olivia down and that guilt is, by far, the largest.  I also didn’t, and still don’t, want to be the center of conversation or gossip.

I am trying to learn how to regain my self esteem and accept the fact that I am good enough.  I’m trying to learn forgiveness.  I’m trying to learn to let go of the anger and hatred I’m harboring.  I’m trying to learn to move forward and have things be better.  So far, I’m really not doing so good, but I also know it’s not an overnight process.  It took years to get to this point and will take time to get back to whatever my new normal will be.

To those who think I’ve abandoned them: I’m sorry.  I wanted to tell you, but couldn’t.  It’s embarrassing.  Closing some doors was easier than having to talk about it.

To those who have lent me shoulders, ears and wiped my tears: Thank you.

Every day I wake up trying and hope for a better day than the one before it.  Hopefully, one of these days, it will all fall back into place.

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We finished. I’m not dead, but might be a wee bit injured. It’s an azz kicker, that’s for sure.

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