Not Valentines Day Again….UGH

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photo credit: ZazzlePlease tell me who invented the holiday that we call Valentines Day?  Because I, for one, would like to meet the barbarian, and politely punch him in the chops.  Who in the world hated mankind so much that they wanted to set aside a day just to make single women remember, once again, that they are alone.  Plus, we are forced to celebrate this horrid holiday in the middle of the coldest month, towards the end of winter.  Why not choose a date in spring when the flowers are blooming,  the sun is shining, and the animals are sashaying around the forest looking for mates?  But nooooooooooooo, some idiot plopped it a month when we have been cooped up for 3 months, and have reached the point that we have gained enough weight to sufficiently warm our bodies in the cold bed…..alone…..

A person can’t just ignore the date because the reminders are everywhere we look.  I remember when I was married, I would get the token flowers delivered to work.  I would show them off, and my co-workers were in awe at the wonderful gesture made by my husband.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that in 2 weeks the bill would be arriving at my house, and I would need to figure out how to pay for the flowers with a budget that was already stretched to the limit.  It wasn’t his fault…he was doing what was expected of him.  If he was feeling really generous he would give me a slinky nightie…one that never seemed to get pulled out of the drawer because we had 4 kids and no energy.  Then he changed it up, and every year I would get a pair of matching etched crystal goblets, champagne glasses, or small plates that he got from the Avon lady.  Those are still featured proudly in my china cabinet.  Then the divorce happened, and Valentines day took on a new meaning. Now I am here to tell you that as a 50 (something), pleasingly plump, single woman….Valentines Day Sucks!

Forget trying to ignore the holiday, and go about your business.  There are romantic movies shown every evening leading up to the 14th, (fairy tales)…there are catalogs and magazine ads showing the latest in “barely there” nightwear (hurl)…there is a whole aisle dedicated to candy and chocolates at the super center (candy for one…not!)….there is a huge section of cards to mark the holiday (gag)…..and don’t forget the roses of various colors, the teddy bears with hearts all over them,  the chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne (burp), the cakes and cupcakes with the mushy love crap written all over them (great, more poundage on the rump) , and my personal favorite:  weekend getaways for the couple in love.

Me!So I guess I will pull up my big girl panties in a few weeks, I will ooohhhh and ahhhhh when my co-workers get their flowers, and I will continue to tell people that I am happy being a single woman.  I refuse to feel like the loser that I have portrayed myself to be in the photo on the left.  I will tell myself that while the holiday may  make a person painfully aware that they are alone, it only lasts 24 hours, and I can muddle through another one.  Because on February 15th I will treat myself, and will begin counting the days until spring…..when the sun will shine, the weather will warm up, the flowers will bloom and the animals will again be looking for potential mates.  And who knows…maybe next year I may be the one getting the roses…and candy….and chocolates…and teddy bears….and mushy cards…A girl can never shop hoping ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Mini Ham and Colby Sanwiches

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 15 dinner rolls (about 3-inch diameter), sliced
  • 15 slices Colby cheese
  • 15 thin slices deli ham (about 1 pound)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, mustard, onion, poppy seeds and sugar. Place roll bottoms, cut side up, in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Top each with Colby cheese, ham and mozzarella. Drizzle with half of the butter mixture.
  • Replace roll tops. Drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 15 servings.
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Fourth of July Fun

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

me in my homemade floatGrowing up in a town of 1,000 people was just the right fit for me.  We lived almost in the center of town…2 blocks from uptown, 3 blocks from the school and 2 blocks from the park.  As most small towns do, we always had a full day celebration on the 4th of July.  It would begin with a festive parade, complete with fire engines, police cars, floats, tractors and horses.  The kids would stand at the edge of the road, bag in hand, ready to get a months supply of free candy that was thrown out to the crowd from the passing entries.  The parade started at the grade/ high school, went down main street, turned at the hotel and went straight down to the park.  It was always exciting because we only had to walk 1/2 a block to reach the parade route.  We would cross the street with our blankets and lawn chairs sit in my Aunt Doris and Uncles Shellys yard.  This was the meeting spot for the extended family to assemble.  For many years we would have a fish fry and potluck in that same back yard.  They would un-thaw the fish that the men and ladies had caught that previous summer when we all went on vacation together in Wisconsin.  After the parade, while the adults were cooking the food, the kids would go to the park for the awards ceremony so see who’s float was the winner, and then to play some kids games.

moms creationToday I began going through some photos that we kept in a trunk after my parents passed away.  It was too painful to look at them for the past 5 years, and I will admit I have shed a few tears in the last few hours.  I found these photos of floats my mom created when I was a baby, and  that continued throughout our grade school years.  I just look at these and I shake my head in total awe of my mothers creativity and spirit.  These were made with a wagon,  chicken wire and countless tissues.  This one is probably the best one that I could find.  The date on the photo is 1960, which means I was 2 years old as a passenger in the float.

Scan_Pic0034In this one, my sister Tammy was a baby, and my other sister Kelly was the one appointed to push her the short 4 block through the kiddie parade starting line, to the park.  I would have been about 12 at this time, so I am sure that I was following close behind in some sort of get up.  One year the town replaced the old water tower with a new one, and Kelly and I went as the old and the new water towers.  She was in the “old” one, which was brick and straight up and down in shape.  Mine was silver in color, and had the familiar shape of most water towers now..looking like a golf tee with a golf ball sitting on the top.  I am hoping to find that picture somewhere.  I know we were older, and I can even remember trying to walk inside my water tower, trying not to fall over.

mom and I 1959...her carousel creationl This is the one that shows this wonderful, amazing woman who I called “mom”….As I said before, I am in awe of the things she did as we were growing up.  Most things went unnoticed by her children, until after she was gone.  She made every holiday special, but the July 4th and Christmas were always the best.  Now I am in a new town, double the size…but the parade goes right by my house.  My kids sat for years, as we did, with their bags, ready to catch the bounty of candy.  I wasn’t as creative as mom, and we didn’t enter many kiddie parades, so perhaps I cheated my kids in a way.  I have no excuse, other than the shoes I had to fill were much too large ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

PATIO POTATO SALAD

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  •    1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 7 medium red potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves and paprika, optional

Directions

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, mustard, salt and celery seed. Stir in the milk, vinegar and egg until smooth. Add butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Cool. Stir in onion and mayonnaise. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and hard-cooked eggs. Add dressing and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, serve in a lettuce-lined bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

She’s Touching Me!!!!!

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photo credit:ericpetersauto.comAs I was easing onto the interstate Friday night, I fell into line with other cars and mini-vans traveling to parts unknown.  Some vehicles had one person, some had families.  I noticed that in some of the vans, there were small tv screens dropped down from the ceiling showing a movie or cartoon. I shook my head and thought of what a blessing those small screens were to the 2 occupants in the front seats. When our kids were little we didn’t have anything like that to keep the kids entertained.  I would pack a tote with coloring books, colors, small hand-held games, sticker books, and anything else that would distract them for a few hours.  After my mom died, my dad went on vacation with my sisters and I, and our families.  Since I only had the girls and I, he rode with me, and stayed in our cabin. It was going to be the first vacation after my divorce.  I can remember sitting in the driver’s seat of that tightly packed Durango with my dad as my “wingman”…praying my first solo trip would be uneventful.  My dad had bought a small hand-held DVD player for Maddie to use during the trip.  She tended to talk a lot, so I realized that the $80.00 he spent was going to be worth it’s weight in gold.

Then my memory went back to when Kelly, Tammy and I were kids in the back seat of that white Pontiac on our way from central Illinois to Northern Wisconsin every July.  This would have been in the 60’s, when the cars were huge, there were only AM radio stations, air conditioning in the car was a treat, and there were only 2 lane roads, so the trip was 8 hours.  My mom would pack a huge bag of treats consisting of sandwiches, chips, grapes, homemade cookies, other assorted snacks, a gallon of juice, and 2 thermos of coffee.  One coffee was with cream for dad and one was with cream and sugar for her.  We left at 2 in the morning and would fall into line in the caravan with our other family members that stayed at St Johns Resort in Minoqua Wisconsin.  We were allowed to take our pillows for the trip, but you learned early not to take too much because that back seat got pretty cramped if we had much more than our bodies in there.  First off, there were 3 of us, and only 2 windows….fight number one.  Then someone had to sit behind my 6’2″ father who had the front seat set back as far as he could in order to be comfortable.  The driver was the top dog back then, and everyone did their best to be sure he was happy.  My sisters and I inherited our long legs from dad, to sitting behind him for 8 hours was torture. Somehow I got the seat behind him, Tammy in the middle (she was the baby) and Kelly behind my mom.  We would then trade places after we stopped for breakfast at the Oasis truck stop in Janesville Wi.  We had drawn imaginary lines down the back seat, dividing it into 3 areas that we claimed as ours. You could put all of your crap in your area, but stay out of your neighbors area.  It seemed to simple in the minds of youth.   Of course once Kelly got into position behind dad, she would begin shoving Tammy into my area in order to make room for her legs.  I would shove her back, Kelly would then shove her again my way……and so it began.  It would continue until my mom would get involved, to avoid my dad getting distracted.  “SHES TOUCHING ME!”…..over and over and over….. Then came the threats “Don’t make me pull this car over!”….Pretty soon my moms arm would fly over the front seat trying to make contact with someone…anyone…

About mid-morning she would break out the goodies that were stashed in the bags at her feet.  Looking back, we thought we were cramped, but it we could have seen into the front seat we could have seen mom squeezed into her seat with all of the food, coffee, juice, plates, napkins….WOWZA.  I don’t know how she got turned around enough to swat at us…probably why she never connected with flesh.  We would have our snack, and then settle in for a nap, since we had been up since 1 in the morning.  The air was heating up outside, so the air conditioning came one.  It had been on “vent” up until now because “the air conditioner used up gas!”  So now the windows were rolled up tight, and my parents would decide to have a smoke, without the windows cracked.  Pure torture…plus  they always seemed to smoke at the same time….and that air conditioner that was our savior…was now blowing the smoke right back to the back of the car.  AWFUL!!!!  One time I thought I would just crack the window just  a smidge to get some fresh air…bad idea!  So finally the cigarettes were done, and we could settle into our respective third of the back seat for a little siesta.  The car became quiet, and the radio would then be turned on.  But again, there were on only AM stations, which meant there were seldom stations with music, just talk.  Plus, we were traveling up into the woods, which made reception ever worse.  Somehow mom would find a station with some music and we would settle in…until I would notice the station was not quite tuned in….just a small turn of the tuner knob would get that tiny bit of white noise out of the music…but she never seemed to notice…and it made me crazy…..

So here we are, traveling in this car packed to the gills with food, clothes, cookware, towels, people, Tammy now practically in my lap as Kelly stretches out to be comfortable, mom humming softly, the radio playing quietly, just a little out of tune, air conditioner blowing full blast and cruising at 55 mph towards 2 weeks of fun in the sun with some of the best family in the world.  We didn’t need a DVD player that dropped out of the ceiling…we had each other…and what I would give to go back for one more vacation with mom and dad in that front seat  ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

DUMP CAKE

1 large can crushed pineapple with juice

2 cans cherry pie filling

2 sticks of butter

1 box cake (yellow or white)

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Grease 9 x 13 -inch pan

Dump in crushed pineapple with juice. Spread to fill corners.

Dump in cherry pie filling and spread to fill corners.

Dump in cake mix (dry) and spread to fill corners.

Spread nuts on top.

Cut butter into pats and place on top of dry cake mix.

Do not stir or mix ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until browned.

Can serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

Christmas Shopping for Myself…Pathetic or Resourceful?

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

freechristmaswallpaper.netThis year I compiled my Christmas list, breaking a self made record by having the list ready before Thanksgiving.  I now knew what I wanted and had perused the million and a half ads that came in my Sunday papers to know what I needed to spend on each item.   I sat at the computer, armed with my  debit card, several cream cheese frosted pumpkin oatmeal cookies (for stamina), my diet coke (to counteract the calories from the cookies),  and “the list” and went the work ordering almost everything online.  Most of the items were shipped to my door for free, I didn’t have to fight anybody for a spot in the busy toy aisle, or volley for a parking spot in the stores parking lot, or fight any traffic what-so-ever!!!  GENIUS!!!!  The bargains were remarkable…this being a day after Brown Thursday and Black Friday.  I will call it Green Saturday, since I saved a lot of green.  As I entered each website I would make my purchases and then I would gravitate towards the kitchen section, just to see what bargains there might be…only intending to browse, not buy.  Apparently the deals were super, and must have gone into a clicking coma, because I just had 3 small kitchen appliances delivered that I don’t remember buying.  They were things I really needed, and they were so reasonable….and I must have felt I deserved them, right?

  I am one of those moms who would buy everything for those in my charge, yet wear granny panties with holes in them, always hoping I didn’t end up in the  ER  with these underwear on.  (rule number one growing up…never wear underwear with holes in them when leaving the house, in case you get in an accident and the ER doctor sees your holey panties)  I always wondered if I arrived at the emergency room a bloody mess if the doctor would really notice my scruffy bloomers?  Hmmmm…….So now these 3 boxes are mocking me, while sitting with the other boxes in my front foyer, that is now packed with shipped boxes, full of items waiting to be wrapped. I just don’t have the heart to take them out and display them on my counter before Christmas.  Was I nuts to buy something for myself????  This has never happened in the history of Christmas shopping, except to get myself some of those tasty nuts at the mall while bargain hunting.  HEY!!!! that just pointed out a downside of shopping online….no mall nuts….(insert sad face here)

waf Today I am taking on the task of wrapping the gifts….the least pleasant job of the season.  That honor is usually reserved for my daughter Katelyn, but since she has grown up and is working today, the honor will be mine.  I think I will pour a nice goblet of Lambrusco (even though it is daytime?), put on some Christmas tunes, and start the dreaded task.  I have decided that I will wrap up the food processor (12 cup Kitchen aid for $39.99), the toaster (Kitchen Aid $19.99), and the awesome waffle maker (the kind that shuts and flips….$9.99).  I will attach tags and proudly write on them..TO: Me….FROM: Santa, and will be so surprised on Christmas Day when I open them with all of the joy and excitement of my 3 year old granddaughter.  I am sure my children will look at me and just shake their heads, politely smiling, figuring that mom has finally gone bonkers.  But crazy or not….I win because this Christmas I know that I will get everything I asked for ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

(I may have already offered this recipe, but it is worth repeating.  A million thanks for Skye Wilken for sharing)

2 sticks butter (softened)

3/4 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

2 1/2 cup oatmeal

1 3/4 cup flour

Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy

Add egg and mix well

Add pumpkin, vanilla, and spices, combining well.

Add oats and flour..mix well

Bake 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen (they don’t spread out, so don’t worry)

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 oz cream cheese (softened)

1 T. milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

All everything together in a bowl and beat until spreadable.

“YUMMY IN YOUR TUMMY”

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

212 I am so happy because my very favorite time of the year is finally here.  I love love love the Christmas season.  I am one of those people who drive my fellow “grinches” bonkers.  I could not wait until the day after Thanksgiving to turn on my favorite stations in the car that play Christmas songs all day until December 26th.  Then I stay up until midnight on Christmas day in order to hear the final Christmas song of the year played on the radio.  This year I had all of my shopping done and the house decorated before December 1st.  This is totally new for me, but I know it will take a lot of pressure off me knowing that life will soon get busy. I have loved Christmas for as long as I could remember….We always went to church on Christmas Eve and when we returned home, it was time to open presents.  One year I carefully opened all of the presents, peeked inside and retaped the presents in order to see what I was getting.   My mom knew what I did, but didn’t confront me…she knew, as I soon found out, that I had spoiled the surprise for myself.  It was absolutely the most horrible Christmas I had endured for my entire 54 years.  In the years that followed I never tried to peek, even though I did my fair share of shaking the gifts, while weighing the possibilities of what wonders were wrapped up inside the boxes with my name on them.  One year Mom put our names on the wrong gifts in an attempt to fool us, and I spent quite a bit of time contemplating the contents of my sisters presents.  Awesome move mom!  We were punked, even though that term wasn’t used in the 60’s.

  During the holidays our home was beautifully decorated, warm and cozy.  There always seemed to be a continuous essence of baking cookies, candy being made, or chex mix in the oven, which made our home even more welcoming to those who visited.  We were a simple middle class, small town family, but at Christmas time I thought we were the wealthiest  family in town.  One year I got a 4 album set of the music of  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  I couldn’t believe my eyes…and then I realize that my parents had ordered it off of the TV.  I had seen that commercial a million times and never  dreamed that they would call in and order the set.  That was BIG 40 years ago!  I burned those albums UP!!!!!   One year my sisters and I all get these huge stuffed dogs….I was in high school at the time…..not really sure about that one though????  It didn’t matter, because even if there were no gifts under the tree, we still had the gift of loving parents and a wonderful life.  I miss my parents every day, but Christmas time seems to be the hardest. But they had instilled a great love for the season, both sacred and secular, and for that I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.  Take time and enjoy the season, and give thanks for those blessings that have touched you this past year ♥