Whew! Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled

Angry cat

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…Life.

It has turned out to be a little therapeutic to be anonymous. Without the ordinary filter of needing to ‘get along’ or ‘play nice’.  I have learned about who I am.

Kind of an emotional

~ahem~

prostitute.

Really.

The other blog is still up.  On which I vowed not to pose.   A lot of bloggers write a promise-to-be-completely-‘real’ and post the large pic of themselves in the side bar.  I am finding that under the freedom from being stalked and the freedom to tell my side (which I have not accessed), there is a freedom to say what is really going on.  I now realize I was clearly holding back before, which I didn’t realize until I realized I didn’t have to.

I am not loving seeing who I really am on the inside.

I am angry(and stupid…widely agreed to be the most deadly combination emotion and intellectual deficiency).

When I joined Weight Watchers, I was in the middle of my second week and crying everywhere and wondering what in the world was going on with me (aside from being really ready for dessert).  The next week’s meeting topic was ‘triggers’.  I had an emotional trigger.  I was sad.  When you took away the food, I was left to my feelings.  Hence the tears.

I bring it up because when I took away my public identity, it took me just a few posts to start having an edge.  Then I tried to write one morning to link up with a group and try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t confrontational*.  I had to step back and think about whether to post it or not.  Not because I am afraid of being disagreed with, but because my topic was in no way profound enough to stir such emotion. It would have seemed weird to be that worked up.

I know that anger turned inward creates depression.  In that way, I am glad to feel the anger instead of feeling like I have to make nice.  But it is also draining and no way to live.  I spent most of the weekend excusing myself from my family and trying to run on two tracks in my brain.  One…taking in more positive ideas than what was trending on my brain.  Two…ranking reasons I was angry.

I have been trying to home school children with a doctor appointment or lab appointment every other day.  We have gone to the doctor more since mid-August than we have in the last five years.  One of the people who is going is cultivating competitive hypochondria.  The pediatrician has said as much to her face.  The other person is going because of legitimate needs and is tired of being poked and prodded.  The big kids cannot be left alone in the house because they are not trustworthy(I’ll just leave it at that).  I am schlepping EVERYONE along.  Every time.

We are simply not going to be able to pay our bills.  Funny…the utility company won’t take a Wal-Mart gift card.  Merry Christmas, Husband’s Boss.  I prayed all the way to the office for the “Thanksgiving Potluck” that I would be able to effectively avoid him.  There he was in the parking garage.  The other wives stayed home.  Their kids are smaller, though, and they would not have had to explain to anyone.  SO THEN, he reads this long thing written by John Piper about finding satisfaction in your relationship with God and not in your circumstances.  True.  But the only person in the whole universe, who should NOT be telling you this, is the guy who reduced your salary $1K/month the month before Christmas.  Now the kids wanted an explanation for why he would say those things.  We may lose our home.  This individual uses God like a club on my head and the heads of my kids who are big enough to know what is going on?  ( Imagine me at my desk, waving my hand high, telling him he is “#1”.)

Earlier in the year, someone stole something from me.  Intangible.  Irreplaceable.  Gone forever.  I have gotten a little distance from the event and am now able to consider it more fully.  She was and is wrong.  I have been over and over it and I simply have no culpability in the situation.  I was robbed.  My conscience is clear.

I feel like we are living barely the next thing up from animals on dry lot.  My kids don’t get that you:

  • …pick your washcloth up and wring it out.
  • …hang your wet towel over the towel bar or shower curtain rod.
  • …don’t use hair accessories like you use a match…once and done.
  • …don’t take your mother’s things(perfume, mascara, razors, deodorant, socks) just because you cannot find yours.  It is stealing, even if it is only from your mother. Just ask.
  • …don’t tell people you hate them and your life would be better if they died**.  Yes, smart ass, because then you could get your own job and pay your own utility bills?  Or is it, dealing with insurance companies, that you crave?  Just missing a party at your friend’s house.  Oh.  Okey Dokey.   Look, are not supposed to wish death on anyone.  At all.  Ever.  Even if there is a bonfire on the mountain at Blondie’s house.
  • …screw the tops on the bottles and jars you use around the house and put them back where they go, so the person who comes along behind you doesn’t fling a full jar of generic grape jelly all over the kitchen floor.
  • …make your bed with mattress cover, fitted and top sheets and comforter…BECAUSE THAT’S HOW WE ROLL.

It is what separates us from the animals.

That, and being able to take responsibility for my attitudes and actions.

*funny, but picking a fight with a bestselling author…

**Just a simple word of advice to teens everywhere.  When you tell your sibling not to tell your friends you acted like this, that is the official moment you “screwed the pooch” ruined your own life. Don’t blame your mom.

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Thanksgiving: Rounding Out the Table

Thanksgiving cheer distributed for men in serv...

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We can come to the table without gratitude.

Or.

We can eat leftover pizza, a can of tuna, and some trail mix with joy, gratitude and great fellowship.

It makes no difference what is on that table.

The content of the heart is what brings the presence and power to the event.

Update on my whine about my circumstances from last week.  We are going to be fine.  It is going to suck like it sounds like it would, but I found two gift cards in the house that I can choose to use for groceries, or I can choose to hide and use for Christmas for the kids.

It all depends if I can decide not to need anything else.

I can.  But I need monitoring.

I could live a fairly spartan existence.

Thankfully, my husband is a balance to me.  My husband feels poor if he isn’t carrying the change for a coke or a stylish (read: expensive as hell) coffee.

I like to carry the change and flip off the coke machine as I walk by.

It can be a conflict.

But usually, I buy him cokes and he sometimes goes nuts and says, “Why don’t you just buy a damn laundry basket*, already?”

If you decide you need another side for the table, this one is fairly fast and fairly cheap.  If you find out the night before that you need to bring something… this is the stuff.

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Carrot Orange Jello

2 carrots shredded

1 large box  orange** jello

1 small can CRUSHED*** pineapple, drained

Prepare jello according to package directions.  Place in refrigerator until half set(gets kinda gloppy when you stir it).  Add carrots and pineapple.  Chill until set.  2-3 hours.

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And now you are ready for Thanksgiving dinner.  Mrs. Smith has your pies covered.  She always did Grandma’s, and I never knew the difference.

*or whatever I had been going without like a freaking martyr.

**You can use apricot or peach jello with decent results.

*** Heads Up. I can’t describe the frustration of finding out Thanksgiving morning you have rings or chunks.  Well yeah, I can, but I would have to curse.

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Thanksgiving Challenge:Turkey v. Circs

A Turkey.

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Alright, probably no one will read this, but that is probably for the best.  It is good that I am anonymous, because I need to vent and be completely thorough about it.

The pilgrims are perennial role models for us all.  They had the courage of their convictions.  Literally, gave their lives for what they believed in.  They were not slaves to fashion.  They ate what was put before them, even when that was just a handful of parched grain.  Stuck together in the storms of life. Humbly received instruction from those whom they feared because of prejudice and through that process found friendship.  Then they gave the credit to the Creator they believed in. Plymouth Colony was pretty successful.  Some of the leaders died of old age complaints…not starvation or disease.

Pilgrims rock.

I am no pilgrim.

I feel like the turkey.

Roasted.

The wheels are coming off our holiday season. I am struggling to remain faithful in present difficulties and believe that the future is secure.  I need to hold it together for the kids.  I need to set an example.

I need to be off the clock for awhile.

To sum up:

–The “firm” announced salary reductions 4 days before payday(better than last year, when they announced the day after direct deposit dropped).

–After I made the mortgage payment, there was $90 left.

–We get to choose between the last minute grocery trip and gasoline for the car for the next two weeks.

–Yeah, we’d dip into the savings…but we used them up last year when the salary was reduced…

–My teen is having serious attitude problems that s/he rationalizes by saying…”I’ve done worse.”  You know, at this point, I am just too tired to care what the worse is.  I am in danger of saying, “I don’t care, just do right.”  (I don’t say,”Make good decisions.” That implies that there is a decision to be made whether to do the right thing.  There freaking isn’t.)

–The boss likes to fire people at the holidays.  “Cut loose the deadwood,” as he likes to say.  If we just put it on the credit card, will we be like the single mom he let go the week after Christmas two years ago– thinking she was golden and finding out she was brown?

–We always have Thanksgiving with another couple and their kids.  We talked to the husband last month and he was all,”Yeah, can’t wait.”  I didn’t hear from her on plans(their house this year).  I finally called her on Wednesday. She was still deciding would call on Thursday or Friday.  She hasn’t called. There are a lot of other reasons I think this tradition is over.  I just don’t want to enumerate them. I turned down a great invitation because I thought we were on.

Now, it is Saturday before my favorite holiday and I have no plans.

Great.

No idea what to buy broccoli and Cheez Wiz with.

Fabulous.

No energy to whip myself into some poetic, ‘focus-on-all-the-blessings-I-do-have’ thing…

Seriously.

I am taking today to figure this out.  I will finish the last couple of recipes tomorrow.  Thanks for reading, Honey, because I am guessing you’ll be the only one who sees this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

//

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Top Ten Reasons to be Thankful

A photo of a cup of coffee.

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I have spent the better part of the last twenty years in an intellectual battle over the habit of coffee drinking (seriously, no more trying to pose as a thinker after admitting that).  I recently lost the battle, but won the war.  So.  In keeping with the season of thankfulness… I share with you the top ten reasons I am no longer going to worry about it.

~one~

I am thankful for the sweet memory I have of moving to a new place and having a cup of joe with my husband from the new coffee maker that we bought when we exchanged a duplicate going away present. Strictly a cup and a half (Not at all like someone teaching their significant other to drink with them).  Come to think of it, a lot of my good memories have a cup of coffee included–Christmas morning, ladies’ weekend, finding my keys .

~two~

I have the energy to face the day with my three beautiful children because of a quality multi-vitamin, a regular exercise routine and a pot of strong, black F*lger’s.  Yeah, no.  It’s just the coffee.

~three~

I am thankful for living in a country where I am free to criticize St*rbuck’s, yet enjoy a gigantic(ly priced) cup of their Thanksgiving special, without fear of reprisal, when I need a pick me up in the afternoon.

~four~

We can reach out to those less fortunate at this time of year.  One way is to buy fair trade coffees that help the people of developing countries.  It is better coffee and all my friends deserve a bag for Christmas cup when they come over.

~five~

I am thankful for my morning ritual… up before the family, quiet house, good reading material and the sound of coffee going in the cup.

~six~

I am thankful that God created coffee beans.  So thankful.  You know, if you don’t have a coffee maker handy, you can just chew the beans.  Like candy.

~seven~

Since the weather has turned cooler… It is coffee that keeps me from freezing to death.

~eight~

Coffee is so spiritual.  We always have it at church.

~nine~

Coffee is comforting, because it is the same everyday; in a world that can be an utter freaking* disappointment or scary as hell.

~ten~

It tastes good and as my cousin said, “What is the big deal; it’s not heroin.”

 

So true, Baby.  So true.

 

I am trying again this week to link to:

<a href=”http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac331/mamakatslosinit/poodle4.jpg” alt=”Mama’s Losin’ It” />

 

*my children have asked me to stop using ‘freaking’ so please read any other word you like that might describe disappointment in sharper terms than “gee I wish things had gone a little better.”**

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Recipes:Channeling the Pilgrim

The pilgrims and the indians seem to have had quite a protein heavy feast for all the harvest celebrating they were doing.  We know they had corn…for heaven’s sake. Probably sweet potatoes and beans.  They also had venison and fish.  There is a wide degree of speculation, by those who seek to discredit nearly everything good, regarding whether or not they actually ate any turkey or if it was just an ingredient in the aperitifs.

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

For our purposes, the pilgrims had turkey and all this other stuff.  I think they would have enjoyed more antioxidants and dietary fiber in the form of various vegetables smothered in “processed product” that is only one molecule away from the same chemical structure as the plastic bowl it is served in.  Bless my soul.

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, these will not change your life, improve your health or solve your problems.  They are basic and reflect a tradition I’d like to share with someone who might not have their own.  They are delicious.

Here follows Ye-Olde-Sides-The-Pilgrims-and-Indians-Wish-They-Had:

Sweet Potatoes–  I have tried to like them.  They look good.  They smell good.  They contain all ingredients that make anything better–butter, brown sugar,nuts, sometimes even marshmallows.  There is inevitably a relative or a guest for whom it is impossible to “channel the pilgrim” without sweet potatoes.  If no one eats them you can take them to the office on Monday and write your name on the foil and someone (who isn’t you) will enjoy them.  And you will have given to the less fortunate this holiday season.

And no, I am not taking up the ‘yams v. sweet potatoes’ debate.  Get the one labeled the way you like.  If it is unavailable, buy the other one.  It will work.

Here is a recipe if you need one.  It is the one I would use if I were in charge of this dish.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

4c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes              1t. vanilla

1c. sugar                                                                   1/2c. whole milk

2 eggs beaten                                                         1/2c. butter, softened

Topping:

1c. brown sugar                                      1/3c. flour

1c. chopped pecans                              1 stick butter

Mix with mixer first 6 ingredients and place in buttered 9×13 casserole. Mix next four ingredients and sprinkle on top. Bake for @ 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly.

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Cranberries are my all time favorite.  The only bad cranberry thing that I’ve found is cranberry gelatin*.  It tastes like cherry gelatin made with glass cleaner.*

I don’t know if the pilgrims had cranberries.  They were in the right area of the world. I like to think they did.  If you don’t like them, maybe it is because all you have ever had is can-shaped slices like they used to serve on school lunch.

Years ago, there was a recipe for cranberry relish on the back of the bag. I have modified the recipe for our families use, and no matter where I take it, it goes over like a huge gourmet success.  Which makes me laugh.  It is so simple.

The main modification here is that the printed recipe on the back of the package says not to peel the orange.  Trust me; peel the orange.

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Cranberry Relish

1 bag cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 orange

Place 1/2 the cranberries, 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the orange in the bowl of a food processor and process until it is a thick sauce, there are no berry pieces larger than 1/2 a berry and the orange is no longer discernible.  Remove to serving bowl. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

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Green Beans with cream–I know it sounds dumb.  Give it a test run.

Canned green beans to serve your crowd(we use three cans for about 10 people)

1 T. butter per can

whipping cream

drain beans (mostly. they can be pretty wet), add butter and cream until not quite covered. Heat through. Serve.

I am so not kidding.

Finally,

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Broccoli Rice and Cheese

This is far and away the family’s most favorite side dish.  It is another for which recipes abound, but the true tradition is that I pull the recipe out of my…hat every year.  Incidentally, I know the pilgrim’s didn’t have Cheez Wiz.

10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli                                  3c. cooked rice

2 T. butter                                                                            1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 small onion chopped                                                    1 can of milk

1 celery stalk chopped                                                   1/2 to 3/4 c. Cheez Wiz

Cook the broccoli.  Saute the celery and onion in the butter.  Mix celery and onion with rice, Cheez, soup, and milk. Add broccoli.  Pour into buttered 2 qt casserole.  Bake uncovered @ 350 for 30 minutes.

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In writing about my dear celebration, I realize I have gotten a little cynical(I think I’m funny, see) and fear that it may be misunderstood as disrespect to other people’s preferences or cultural celebrations.  I think it is really trying to cover a certain amount of vulnerability in sharing something really important to me.  The truth is my heart is tendered and I trust in the story of the pilgrims and indians as a good thing…much as some people believe in Santa Claus.  And I need the reminder to be thankful because I am not so terrific at remembering in, say, May.

*only my opinion.  Obviously, the manufacturers of this product test marketed it.  The emperor was there, though; he had no clothes on.

**who apparently did not employ a home economist.

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Thanksgiving: Good Enough 2 – The Starches

A small plate with a serving of mashed potatoes.

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Three Cheers for the starches.

HIP HIP HOORAY
HIP HIP HOORAY
HIP HIP HOORAY

(Hey, I didn’t make up that cheer.  If you are all subliminal about your hips.  Not. My. Problem.)

There is good news about all the starches.

They are here.

They are easy.

There can’t be any bad news about the Thanksgiving Three:  Rolls, Stuffing or Dressing, and Mashed Potatoes.

Rolls: Buy them.  While the turkey is sitting a few minutes for the juices to cool slightly and absorb back into them meat…(another reason the blog is anonymous…my brother-in-law ALWAYS slices into the bird the minute it comes out of the oven and then bitches whines because it is too dry.  Bless his heart.).

I digress.

While the turkey is sitting a few minutes for the juices to absorb back into the meat, toss the rolls in the oven per package directions.  Their tops dobbed with butter, of course.  I highly recommend frozen Pillsbury dinner rolls, and my husband highly recommends Sister Schubert’s.  This is my year.  I will tell you though, the Sister Schubert’s in the big bag at Sam’s aren’t as good as those from the grocery freezer section.  Don’t bother with artisan bread.  Today is different from all other days because the bread is NOT the star.  It is well and truly filler.

When the rolls ding, the turkey is probably about ready to carve.

Dressing/Stuffing: If you want to make your own from scratch, knock yourself out.  Grandma Mary used Pepperidge Farm and that is what I use.  By all means follow the directions on the bag, but this is one of the great areas where you can express yourself.  You can divide the batch and have plain for the purists, and have another batch that has all the ‘shrooms, berries, oysters, booze and stuff in it.  Pepperidge Farm does all the tedious for you.  You could probably use grocery store brand here, but please to God, do NOT use St*ve T*p.

If you stuff the bird, your dressing becomes stuffing, and will have the benefit of the turkey broth’s anointing throughout the roasting time.  This is too good for children.  Hide it from them and give them dressing.

Potatoes:  At this point, you are certain, that I will recommend instant potatoes.

Wrong.

This is the one area where people ‘phone it in’, when they could have better tasting potatoes, more easily.  I have never made satisfactory instant potatoes and I have never ruined real mashed potatoes.

Peel the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes in small pieces of uniform size.  Place in a pan with water to cover.  Cook until a fork pierces them easily.  Drain them.  Add ground pepper, butter, heavy cream.  Mash with hand held mixer or potato masher.  The mixer will yield smoother potatoes.  Don’t over mix.

I don’t have exact measurements.  We like a lot of potatoes. Don’t be afraid.  Seriously.

Gravy, incidentally, is the same way.  Any basic cookbook has directions.  If you are not rebellious and can just follow the instructions the way they are given without having to know the why of everything, you can make gravy from the pan drippings.  If you are, on the other hand, like my daughter who must know why or she won’t do anything; just put chicken and noodles over your potatoes.

Gravy is a miracle.

No one knows why.

We are just grateful.

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Thanksgiving Recipes: Good Enough is Good

A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....

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Somewhere, every time I write about food, family, and traditions; a woman named Martha scratches an itchy hive.

Here, where I live, good enough is good.

When I looked at the menu, I realized there are several items that require no recipe, or at least the directions on the packaging are sufficient for the purpose.  And that is okay.  Nearly all require clarification.

Turkey:  Purchase a frozen turkey.  Right now, in my area, they are running about $0.68/pound for “no-name” brand; $1.00/pound for name brand.  Name brand tastes better and is more photogenic, because it is generously injected with stuff that God didn’t put in turkeys.  I am cheap and always go for price.  Ordinary turkey tastes great on Thanksgiving Day.  It is not a side by side marketing analysis.  Get the turkey you want and be at peace.

This massive beast will come with thawing instructions.  They are wrong.  A frozen turkey WILL NOT thaw in the fridge in that length of time.  You will always have to apply the “quick thawing” instructions.  Food poisoning is difficult to be thankful for, so I this is the way I do it.  Every. Time.

The best way to get your turkey perfect is by the use of a meat thermometer.  They are commonly available in the grocery store, or the discount store.  You can go to Williams ~ Sonoma, but if you are that kind of chef, you are not reading this.  They are less than $10 at the grocery and they can read the temperature.

About ten years ago, I started borrowing an electric roaster to do my turkey.  When we moved, I bought one.  With the oven freed up, I can bake in the regular oven at the same time the turkey is roasting.  This may have caused me not to plan ahead as I could, but I prefer to think everything is fresher right out of the oven.

Combining the roaster and the thermometer and the “conventional-wisdom-results-in-chaos” thawing approach, my turkey is usually finished cooking about an hour before the recommended cooking time.

A little butter massage at the beginning gives Mr. Turkey a joyful glow.  You will already be taking advantage of Ms. Cow.  You might as well share the love. (Eeww.  Cold chill.)

Did I mention this is not the low fat holiday menu?

This is not the low fat holiday menu.

Yet another reason to be thankful.

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