Shooting and Shots

I recently took part in a shooting simulation exercise at my place of employment.

I would like to preface this post with my most sincere respect, blessings and sorrow for all those ever involved in a real shooting situation. The scars you carry from those events and losses are unfathomable to me and I pray to never experience them in real life.

It pains me that we even have to prepare for such atrocities. However, that is our reality.

As I am of the “prepper” mentality, I was very excited about this drill.

I constantly foresee and plan for all sorts of disasters and mishaps.

We have a home intruder plan. My family knows our meeting place in case our home or neighborhood were to become inaccessible.

I carry a window-smashing/seatbelt cutting tool on my keychain. Water, snacks, blankets, spare hats and gloves, tools, meds and a battery charger wait in my van for any calamity.

I’ve learned several self defense moves over the years and I feel pretty confident in my ability to protect myself if necessary and that doesn’t even include firearms, although I am capable of that as well.

My point is that I was so psyched about participating in this drill. I looked forward to this for weeks. I was dying to test my reaction to the simulation.

On the morning the exercise was scheduled, I planned carefully. I wore comfortable pants that would allow me to crouch or hide as needed. I halved my normal coffee intake so as to not add caffeine to the anticipated adrenaline rush.

Being staged as a front desk person, I had expected being “shot” immediately. Throughout the week leading up to this drill, I repeatedly told my coworkers that I hoped I wasn’t the first one “shot.” I wanted to experience the full exercise.

As we were all in our staged places, awaiting the moment when the, unbeknownst to us, “gunman” would arrive, we started relaxing and chatting.

I suddenly heard a man yelling.

This is where my foreknowledge of the event failed reality.

My body didn’t wait until my brain actually comprehended the situation. I immediately ducked under my desk.

I never saw the gun. So in reality, I would never have ducked under my desk. I can’t say what might have happened, had I not jumped the gun so to speak. I might have been one of the first casualties.

If a ref was present, he would’ve called a false-start for sure.

It happened so fast. One minute there was yelling and as I was already half way under my desk, I heard, “Bang, you’re dead.”

That got the adrenaline going.

Seconds before the “gunman” passed my desk, another lady was trying to get under my desk with me. I squished myself as far back as I could to give her room to hide.

He saw her.

Dragging her by the arm, the “gunman” screamed at her while shoving her into a room behind my hiding place.

It got strange for me here.

My goal had been to see the whole exercise pan out.

As there was no other outlet, I knew the “gunman” would eventually have to come back and I would have been in his direct line of vision.

Knowing I didn’t want to leave the exercise, had I been really thinking, I would have surmised that if I stayed there I’d be either taken as hostage or “shot”, thereby securing my place in the drill.

What really happened is my flight instinct took over.

I find this fascinating because I don’t think I’ve EVER in a real life situation had that happen. As a matter of fact, I had truly believed I was missing the flight instinct.

Memories of numerous situations come to mind where I should have fled, but failed to do so.

So as the “gunman” took my coworker into that other room, I knew I could escape. I listened for the distance of his voice and took the chance. In a crouch-run, I headed for the door.

I recall thinking, “I’m going to get “shot” in the back. He’s going to “shoot” me in the back.”

Once at the door, I felt disappointed. I felt like the first kid out at dodge ball.

While this was a known, planned exercise, it felt very real.

My adrenaline kicked in instantaneously. My brain was making the escape plan before I was even conscious of it. Fight or flight. So weird.

In retrospect I can only surmise that in my prior experiences, had a firearm been involved, my reactions may have differed.

I escaped! I guess I should be proud of that. My instincts did what they are supposed to do and I got out.

That’s how I should have felt, instead I was devastated. I had to wait for the debriefing in an auditorium for two hours while the rest of the participants got to go through the whole deal, swat team and all.

Really? Who knew…if only I had been “shot” I could have remained there for the whole time. GRR! Maybe next time.

You might be wondering what recipe I could possibly tie into this post. (at least I hope you are!)

Any guesses? Who guessed Jello “shots”?

Watermelon Jello Shots

How darn cute are these?

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I found this recipe and many more which I will have to try (as a courtesy for my readers of course) on www.thekitchn.com

I changed the recipe a bit, as I’m not a fan of vodka. I prefer to spend time with the Captain!

What You Need:

1-3oz box watermelon flavored Jello

1 c boiling water

1/2 c Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum

1/2 c watermelon flavored liqueur

What You Do:

Cut limes in half and remove all pulp.

Turn them inside out and remove the rind with a small knife.

After turning them right side out again, place them in a mini muffin pan.

Dissolve the Jello in the boiling water.

Add the rum and liqueur and mix well.

Pour into lime halves and chill for a few hours.

Using a very sharp knife, place limes on a cutting board face down and slice into halves.

Eat responsibly! 🙂

Disclaimer: Although I work at Wentworth Douglass Hospital any opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the values or opinions of Wentworth Douglass Hospital.

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Racquetball Rules

I appreciate living in a time when I can turn to an appliance for almost every need. Hungry? No need to kindle a fire, I just turn on my stove. Dirty laundry? I throw a load in the washer. That sure beats scrubbing jeans on rocks, in a cold stream.

Life has become so easy for us. No hunting and gathering required. We simply walk into a store to find whatever we need waiting for us in pretty packaging.

The downfall to this era is the need to compensate for the lack of physical labor required of us to simply exist. Couple this fact with a 40-hour-a-week desk job and that’s a recipe for obesity and cardiovascular disaster.

Possibly, when the zombie apocalypse arrives (damn flu shots!) this will not be the case. Until then, we must exercise.

I do not like formal exercise. I bore easily. Spending 40 minutes on a tread climber, even with my favorite music blasting in my ears, is torturous. I find myself staring at the timer, wishing away those 40 minutes of my life.

Strength training is not much better. “I lift things up and put them down.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Running, ehh, it’s okay, just not my passion. I’ll save running for when I hear the ice-cream truck in my neighborhood.

I find basketball, hiking, bike riding, rollerblading, swimming and body-boarding way more enjoyable than doing the hamster-on-a-wheel routine.

One day, while dragging myself to the cardio room, I paused to check out the racquetball courts. It occurred to me to that I should try it.

I rented racquets for my son and I (as well as the recommended eye protection) and we ventured into racquetball. I was instantly hooked! My son, not so much. He hardly ever comes with me and when he does, it usually ends badly.

Take yesterday for instance, we abandoned any pretense of playing a game and ended up whipping the ball at each other for sport.

I love racquetball! It’s my Zen.

I love the quiet. Unless there’s a particularly competitive group playing in the court next door, all I can hear is the thwap of the ball hitting the racquet and the thwack when it hits the wall. Thwap, thwack, thwap, thwack, over and over again.

Racquetball’s easy, repetitive nature creates the perfect atmosphere for thinking. It’s the perfect place to sort through difficult situations. Conversely, I find it just as helpful when I want to shut up the chatter box in my head. I just focus on the task at hand. Ball, wall. Thwap, thwack.

If you find yourself in need of some stress relief, it’s just the thing. Imagine smashing a little, blue ball around big, white room. It’s quite therapeutic.

Neurologist I am not, however, I would theorize that the hand-eye coordination required to play racquetball, must fire up the brain’s neurons, thereby keeping brain activity limber. So add brain-age improvement to the list of benefits of the sport.

Beyond the psychological benefits, racquetball provides a great cardio and strength training workout.

Racquetball requires constant motion; forward, backward, left and right. It requires jumping, lunging, crouching and ducking as well.

Speaking of ducking, although I don’t wear eye protection, I suggest it. I have experienced a ball to the face a few times, while playing with my son of course. It does hurt.

The only physical drawback I can think of is that my right arm gets more exercise than my left. I balance this out by carrying my 30-racks…I mean gallons of milk…with my other hand.

I never brag, mostly because there are so few things at which I excel. But I must say, I’m pretty damn good at racquetball! I think I’m probably good enough to play on a team. 🙂

Alas, given my non-conformist nature, and aversion to rules, I will keep playing solo! Besides, I would probably tend to be a ball-hog!

I’m not sure if you all read my blog for my writing or my recipes, or if you read it at all for that matter, but I would love feedback on either.

Just in case you suffer through my rants, raves and tedious, non-essential information just for the recipes, I won’t let you down.

Okay ladies, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. (Don’t ask me who “they” are, I’ll figure it out someday and let you know.) 🙂

Don’t worry men. If you like to bake, well, that in itself pretty much makes you a keeper.

However, if anyone needs an ace up their sleeve, chocolate chip cheesecake will pretty much guarantee you a full house. Careful what you wish for! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

 What you need:

 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 c white sugar

1 t flour

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temp

1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk

5 ½ T butter, melted

2 t vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 c mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

What you do:

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cocoa and butter.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a spring form pan.

In a small bowl, mix 1/3 of the chocolate chips with the flour.

In another bowl mix all wet ingredients until smooth. Stir in the flour-covered chips.

Pour mixture into the pan and then cover with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake at 300 degrees for an hour. Shut oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven, with the door closed, for another hour.

Let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for several hours.

Before removing the sides of the pan, run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen.

Store cheesecake in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Menu Meltdown

Well I never thought I’d see the day that I dreaded planning my family’s menu. But, yes, that happened.

I once took the time to carefully plan all our meals for the week according to our schedules. I would consider each family member’s likes and dislikes, and yes, sometimes make two different meals.

I would consider what nights I would work late or what nights a school or sporting event would burn up meal prep time.

On my late weeks, I would plan for a crock-pot meal or casserole that would get me through the Monday and Tuesday blues. I would then leave simple meals handy so I could do my own things while my husband threw fries in the oven and burgers on the grill.

I saved more labor intensive meals, say chicken lo mein or chicken parm, for my early nights. I even made sure everyone had their own favorite desserts to look forward to.

My point is; I planned it, created it and loved it! Now…not so much.

I haven’t posted in forever! Why? Because I had a food crisis! Circumstances beyond my control caused me to question everything I’ve ever cooked.

My descent into food hell started earlier this year with a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease for my son. Certainly not the end of the world, and I’m grateful because there are so many worse conditions out there, but a big, fat, pain in the ass nonetheless.

For those who don’t know what celiac disease is; it’s a condition where a person is wheat intolerant. Without going into much detail, if your body cannot tolerate wheat it can cause digestive problems, failure to thrive and possibly, later in life, cancer.

For more info see http://www.celiac.org

I initially stressed about how much I was going to have to change my son’s diet. A few days later I realized I only had to worry about the breads and pastas. I just had to return to the basics; fruits, vegetables and meats.

With that focus, I based his meals on those items, while experimenting with gluten-free recipes and store bought products to re-create the breads and pastas he was mourning.

The cost of store-bought gluten free products is ridiculous! Where I could once buy a 16oz box of wheat-flour based pasta for less than two dollars, I now pay five dollars for the same sized box of gluten free pasta.

(Why the price hike, I’m not sure. It’s just different flours, but my conspiracy theorist mind tells me it’s the distributors price gouging those who have no other options.)

I found a gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe that he loves and I called upon the very first recipe I learned as a child, for the best (and simplest!) GF peanut butter cookies.

Packing lunches became a task. Never begrudge the simple PB and J sandwich. You never know when it might be your last!

Although it’s a burden for me, I feel for my son. Try telling your teen he can’t have standard pizza, pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, fried dough or eat a fast food cheeseburger. Oh, he can eat the burger (which is questionable) he just has to toss out the bun. No fun!

It’s been a long road and we’ve adjusted accordingly, but then someone tossed me a slider. No, not like a mini burger, more like a breaking ball.

Yes, another ball-busting diagnosis…this time: high cholesterol.

Mr. Steak and Potatoes returned from a recent annual check up announcing he has to severely cut down his cholesterol. No more steak tips, cheeseburgers, tortellini and sausage etc.

Damn doctors… I had almost committed the perfect murder! More steak? More butter? More salt? Just kidding honey, love you! 😉

Giving credit where credit’s due, I applaud his immediate, total dedication to the lifestyle change. He gave up all meat, all junk food and dairy in an instant. It wasn’t pretty.

Thus my quest to serve gluten-free, cholesterol-free meals seven days a week began.

For years I’ve read the nutritional value of foods, always on the lookout for calories, fat, sodium, protein, calcium and vitamin D. Cholesterol was never on my radar.

I have always equated red meats and fattening foods with cholesterol. Since I eat very little of either of these, I never paid much attention.

With these new dietary restrictions in mind, I began scrutinizing labels in more detail.

Simply put, gluten is in almost any pre-packaged anything. Check labels carefully. I found a really cool app for my phone where I just search the ingredient and it tells me if it’s gluten free.

Cholesterol lurks in surprising places and is sometimes not where you’d expect to find it.

I love breakfast! Sometimes I like “Second Breakfast” (nod to Merry and Pippin!)

I eat an egg every morning, in various forms, because the protein builds muscle, but more importantly, it keeps my hunger at bay longer than a bowl of cereal!

Well, wasn’t I surprised to find that one egg, while only 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein also offers 62% of the daily allowance of cholesterol? EEK!

It seems an entire package of Oreos nets zero cholesterol. So hey, breakfast tomorrow…looks like cookies!

I won’t bore you with lists of high cholesterol foods and such. The all-knowing Internet offers plenty.

So, back to my food crisis. Rather than starting my week with a grand plan; knowing exactly what meals we would eat, which day would be clean-out-the-fridge day and what day I would gladly pick up an over-priced, but not-cooked-by-me pizza; I was flying by the seat of my pants.

(What does that even mean? Stay tuned for a blog about clichés, weird phrases and their origins.)

My elaborate menu plan started to look like this:

Monday: Chicken Parm
Tuesday: Haddock
Wednesday: Left-overs
Thursday: No idea
Friday: Really don’t care

I was deciding what to make for dinner on the drive to work, buying it on the way home from work and preparing it when I finally got home. Yeah…that soooo wasn’t working for me.

I felt so overwhelmed I went completely blank. I was in a food funk! I couldn’t make any yummy desserts for my husband and half of his favorite meals, for all intents and purposes, qualified as “last meals.”

Apparently I’m over it. It took a cool, football Sunday to drag me back into the kitchen with anything less than apathy.

I had myself a cook-fest! I made crock-pot chicken pot pie, a big, ole batch of chicken salad (which I thought I’d take to work for the week, but my insatiable teen ate in two sittings!) Add to the list a yummy apple crisp for my coworkers. Yeah, back in the saddle.

I can’t say I’ve got this all figured out, but as always, I’m adapting, changing and moving forward. Yeah Darwin, I got this!

Today I will share the very first cookie recipe I ever learned. It was in my first cookbook which resembled a coloring book. I’m not sure what happened to that cookbook, but luckily the recipe was so simple I still remember it.

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

What you need:

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

(It doesn’t get much simpler than that!)

What you do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix all ingredients.
Roll into balls.
Place on a cookie sheet.
Lightly press each cookie with a fork.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes

Fear and Chocolate

Fear and Chocolate

Shark week has passed but it left the word “fear” rambling around my brain. True to my defiant nature, I sooo wanted to surf this week, but it just wasn’t possible. Galeophobia, or the fear of sharks, is not one I harbor.

Most likely, if I lived in a warmer climate, I would be, but here in good, old New England, I’m more afraid of getting tagged by a Bluefish.

Wikipedia lists 113 different phobias. Another site listed hundreds, but it seemed like they just added the word “phobia” to any word they could imagine. It was still interesting to read.

I came across a few odd ones:

Aibohphobia – fear of palindromes
Arachibuturyophobia – fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth
Phobophobia – fear of phobias

I came across a few of my own:

Abibliophobia – fear of running out of books
Acrophobia – fear of heights
Gephyrophobia – fear of crossing bridges

I always hated that feeling when I was almost finished reading a really good book and I didn’t have another one lined up yet. Thankfully, Kindle has cured that for me by offering millions of books at my fingertips.

I would consider my fear of crossing bridges minor, only the really high or really long ones bother me. No Key Largo for me…I can live with that.

Now, my fear of heights is another matter entirely. It’s like a 9 on a scale of 10. I’m not sure when or why I became afraid of heights.

As a child I climbed trees like a monkey; never a problem. Roller coasters; love them! I’ve even para-sailed and only got a little nervous as I swayed in the wind wondering if I shouldn’t have lied that I weighed enough to go.

I first noticed it while climbing a fire tower on a hike one day. I found myself clenching the railing for dear life. I recall thinking, “What’s up with that?”

Last year on our vacation we went to a ropes course. As we were ascending to the second level, I remembered that I was afraid of heights. I managed until we hit the third level. I was then physically incapable of stepping off the platform onto the rope.

I spent the rest of my time on the second level while my son maneuvered the course like Spiderman.

Heading back to our cottage that afternoon, I was so angry with myself for giving up that I vowed to go back the next day. We did and I mastered my brain and the third level.

Fast forward one year. I asked my son this morning, “What do you want to do today?” His response was, “Monkey Trunks.”

Knowing full well this meant leaving my comfort zone, I agreed. I knew I had managed the last time and figured I’d be fine this time.

I made it through the training and the first zip line and even made it to the second, then the third level. I won’t say I didn’t hesitate a few times, but I kept moving on.

My mantra, “Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Don’t look down.”

On the second to last obstacle I got hung up transitioning from the rope to the platform. My harness was pulling me backwards (damn gravity!) and I wasn’t quite tall enough to step up. I literally clawed my way onto the platform.

Once I made it to my feet, it was all over. I looked down!

To my left was the last obstacle, a tightrope. I’d already walked them on levels one, two and three so it shouldn’t have been a problem.

Naturally the wind picked up at that moment. With the wind and the people on the level below us, causing the pole to sway, I began trembling. I kept it together long enough to help Ryan up and then froze.

There were already two of us on the platform and a twenty-something girl was approaching. Ryan was urging me to go, as only three are allowed on a platform at once.

In my defense, this “platform” I’m talking about standing on, is a one-foot-wide piece of wood, 55 feet above terra firma.

If not for the struggle getting up there and the line of people now waiting for me to go, I might have had time to get my brain under control, but I was far beyond talking myself through it!

My new mantra was, “I want down, NOW!”

I have never been so freaked out in my life. I’m talking full-blown panic attack! I couldn’t breathe. I was beyond rational thought. I seriously considered attaching my harness to the lines supporting the whole system just to get the hell down.

Thankfully, it occurred to me that I only had to cross one, ladder-style obstacle (easy) to get back to where I could climb down. Creating a plan alleviated my fear enough for me to take action.

I helped the next girl up and asked her to tell her friend to go back so I could retreat. I just about jogged across that bridge and sighed heavily as my feet landed on the enclosed, wooden tower.

With great relief and a little remorse, I watched my son cross the tightrope and fly through the air on the next zip line.

Where does fear come from? What makes us afraid? Does everyone have at least one fear? What makes some people afraid of something and others not?

Is it nature or nurture? Something imbedded in our genetic makeup or an event from our current or past life? (Feel free to debate that amongst yourselves.)

I get that the fear of heights would be part of the self-preservation instinct, but what about other fears, like the fear of clocks. Okay bad example, I fear mine every weekday morning.

I’m not sure what the whole deal is, but I can tell you one thing, this fear of heights will not win. I will go back to Monkey Trunks and finish the course and out of spite, I just might add hang-gliding to my bucket list.

Thankfully, no one I know suffers “Xocolataphobia” or the fear of chocolate. That’s good, because when I show up with “Too Much Chocolate, Chocolate Cake” people flock like a scene out of Hitchcock’s, “The Birds.”

I can’t take credit for this recipe; I found it on allrecipes.com, submitted by a brilliant, Denise.

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What you need:

1 package of devil’s food cake mix
1 3.8 oz package of instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
½ cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

What you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl
Pour into a butter-sprayed 12 cup bundt pan
Bake for 50-55 minutes, check doneness with the toothpick test
Let cake cool thoroughly before inverting onto a cake plate
Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with melted white chocolate chips

It’s sooo good!

Tuna Casserole

So the other morning, I heard a preview for the “Live! With Kelly and Michael” show airing later that day.

Apparently they were discussing “Kinky Boots,” a 2013 Tony Award winning musical. To Kelly, Michael posed the question, “How are you going to write a musical about shoes?” Kelly, being Kelly, busted out in song. But, I thought, I don’t know about writing a musical about shoes, but I bet I can blog about them.

Shoes are very important, probably more so that any other article of clothing. They protect us from the elements, they speak of our socioeconomic status and they divulge secrets about our personalities.

From a practical standpoint, I assure you, that if I was dropped into an episode of “Naked and Afraid,” the first thing I’d do is fashion myself some footwear. While I love barefootin’, the jungle, with its creepy crawlies and such is the last place I’d want to be unshod.

In fact, during the five minutes I actually watched of this week’s “Naked and Afraid,” the dude had cut the bottom of his foot and was sporting a nasty infection. Yeah, shoes are good.

Good shoes can make your day. You know you bought a sweet pair when you spend half of your workday looking at your shoes thinking, “Damn, these are cute!”

Bad shoes can ruin your day. Ever try running in bad sneakers…ugh…shin splints. Ever skip food shopping after work because you wore brand new heels and you’d rather starve than limp through the market?

One of my personal goals in life is to be non-judgmental. I am human, and therefore catch myself sometimes, but I then remind myself that there’s always more to the story than I can see.

Nonetheless, I love checking out people’s shoes.

New or old? Is that guy wearing those old, beat up sneakers because he can’t afford a new pair or are those his favorite sneakers from college his wife keeps trying to throw out?

Practical or whimsical? (I love the word whimsical by the way…just sayin)

Does that lady in the loafers rock out stilettos on girls’ night out?

Cowboy or cowgirl boots? There’s a question. If you’re not in Texas or on a farm, wearing them probably makes people speculate. Since I wear them (a lot) I will tell you what they say for me.

  1. I love them. They are quite comfortable and go with jeans or dresses, especially on days I don’t feel like wearing heels. Oh and I really don’t care what people think. 😉
  1. See 1.

Just for the record, yes, there are more important things in life about which to ponder, but pondering these little things takes my mind off of the oddities, atrocities and injustices for a while.

Speaking of atrocities and injustices; the heel of one of my newest, favorite boots cracked. As I’d only had them for two months, I returned them as defective. Of course the store didn’t have my size handy for replacement, but they kindly ordered me a new pair.

The new ones will take one to three weeks to ship! Ugh. I considered keeping the defective boots, but realized a potential three weeks of no boots was better than no boots at all if the heel broke off.

As I left the store empty handed, I felt as those I’d just dropped a puppy off at the pound. As I had received real, bad news earlier in the day, I felt totally justified in some retail therapy.

As soon as I got home, I began my internet search for new boots, thinking I could surely get new boots shipped before my old friends returned.

While intent on my search, I heard my husband’s approach. I nonchalantly minimized my screen and quickly announced, “I’m not shopping for new boots.”

He smiled and turned away saying, “You’re so cute. Honey, if boots make you happy, you should have them.”

Two important things I should add here:

  1. This quote is now part of a permanent record and shall heretofore be referred      to as the “Boot Clause.”
  1. Back off ladies, he’s mine! 😉

In keeping with this blog’s shoe theme, I offer you my Fillet of Sole recipe!

Heehee…Just kidding, I couldn’t resist! But I will share my husband’s favorite tuna casserole recipe.

Ninety percent of the recipes I post will not be complicated. Also, you will probably notice a trend. I like casseroles. They are simple and re-heat well which makes them great for the work week.

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What you need:

1 – 12 oz package of egg noodles

1 – 10 ¾ oz can of cream of chicken soup

1 – 10 ¾ oz can of cream of celery soup

1 – 8 oz bar of creamy Havarti cheese (cubed)

2 – 5 oz cans of solid white Albacore tuna (in water) drained

1 – 8.5 oz can of Lesueur small peas (yes, I’m snobby about my peas)

About a cup of crushed, buttery-style crackers

What you do:

In a large pot, boil pasta according to package directions.

In a smaller pot, combine all other ingredients except the peas and cracker crumbs. Cook on low heat, stirring consistently. Stir in the peas when the mixture is melted and well blended.

The goal is to have the pasta and the cheesy mixture ready at the same time.

Drain the pasta and return it to the large pot. Pour the melted goodness over noodles and mix well. After moving the pasta to a 13 x 9 glass dish, sprinkle crushed crackers over the top.

Mangiare!

P.S. in case you were sitting on the edge of your seat…I did find a new pair of boots; Dingo Hitchhikers in charcoal grey. I can’t wait to see which ones arrive first!

Stay tuned for the follow-up blog: “Shoe-shopping addiction: When to seek help.” 😉

National Ice Cream Day!

So, here we are mid-July, suffering a heat wave. Yes, suffering, I say.

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. I love flip-flops and tank-tops, shorts and sun dresses. I love toes in the sand, toes in the water and toes in the cool, green grass.

I love lying on the beach wrestling with difficult choices; SPF 4 or 8; go back in the water or tan my backside; ice cream or shaved ice…

During winter’s worst, when the wind actually propels you across ice-covered parking lots, these are the days of which I dream.

On those cold, dark days I conjure plans to move south. I dream of never having to change out my tanks and shorts for sweaters and pants again.

Yes, I love summer, but this heat-wave thing is another story all together.

I’m tired of hearing my air-conditioners and fans. I’d like to open my windows. I’d love to open my shades!

More than once during the past couple of weeks I’ve caught myself half-heartedly yearning for fall. Not just for football season, although I do love my Patriots, but for some reprieve from the extreme heat and humidity.

Yes, I am one of those people who complain about minus 30-degree wind chill days and bitch when it’s 90 plus degrees and the barometer approaches 30 in Hg.

I like extreme chocolate. I like extreme sports. I do not like extreme temperatures!

I like when it’s warm enough to submerge myself in my ocean; not just gaze upon its beauty and power.  I love to swim and body board and continue my quest to surf. Not just to say I’ve surfed, but to say I surf!

I like it cold enough in the winter to play in the snow. I love snow. I’m always praying for snow. I love snowstorms! I don’t even mind shoveling (at least until the snow banks are taller than me!).

I haven’t skied or snowboarded in forever, but I still love to sled and snow-shoe. I love watching my four-footed, pretty-girl Sandy bouncing and burrowing through the freshly fallen powder.

I love winter because it’s baking time. Love to spend the day in my kitchen filling the house with a plethora of aromas. I still bake in the summer…but that’s mostly while hanging on the beach!

So, since it’s so hot, I’m not offering up any recipes this week. I’m suggesting that everyone should have ice cream for dinner. Not every day, but definitely today!

We all need our calcium after all! 😉

By the way, did I mention it’s National Ice Cream Day?!?

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Western Quiche

I am not a morning person. I do not wake up all sunshiny and full of smiles and positive thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a positive personality, she just wakes up about a half hour after my head leaves the pillow.

My husband can go from bed to truck in 15 minutes flat. I need 15 minutes just to hit the snooze button!

Then there’s mope time. I need at least another five minutes to drink my orange juice and stare out the window at nothing and everything. Given enough time, I start to wonder about the why of it all.

I wonder, as many wonderers before me have wondered, what’s the point? What’s the real purpose of life? What’s the meaning of it all?

I love philosophy and I don’t mind debating whether a fallen tree is heard or not or whether millions of other lifetimes are happening on a different time continuum even as I write this. But at the moment, I’m heading down a simpler path.

Time passes, minute by minute and hour by hour, each day as I scramble through the work week, crossing errands and chores off my to-do list.

Sadly, I often find myself wishing some of those moments away in anticipation of a break or lunch or the Holy Grail itself, 5 o’clock! That’s such a sobering thought. How can I be wishing away one minute while I’m lamenting the loss of the next?

I guess it’s just human nature.

My new personal goal is to live in the moment. By that I mean “in the moment” not “for the moment” in the latter case, I would probably do something crazy like max out my credit card with the purchase of a huge sailboat and hire a crew to teach me to sail it!

“Live in the moment.” I’ve heard it hundreds of times and have acknowledged the value of such advice, but until now, I’ve only made half-hearted attempts at putting it into practice.

While striving to keep my existence in order, as I’m not a fan of chaos, my mind is often more focused on the next thing I need to accomplish, rather than the task at hand.

My focus needs to be more telescopic and less panoramic. Rather than seeing the whole picture and its thousand words, I’m trying to notice the important ones.

Rather than look forward to my next day off to really enjoy life, my goal is to find true meaning and purpose in the little moments that make up my life.

I love the moment when I look into my teenage son’s eyes and see him for the person he really is, instead of the one I just told three times to take out the trash. I think, “Yeah, I won’t strangle him today.”

I love the moment when I smile and say good morning to a passerby. I think, “Did I just make that person’s day a little brighter?” (Please don’t ask what I think when I get no response!)

I love the moment when I buy a lottery ticket, which I rarely do, but in that moment I am so absolutely positive that I hold the winning numbers, I start planning all the awesome things I will do with the money.

I love the moment when I realized it was a Bald Eagle circling over my house instead of a hawk. Hawks are cool, but Eagles are awesome.

I love the moment when I wake up, knowing my van is packed and I’m heading out on an adventure.

Among my favorite moments are those when I first saw both of my baby boys! If I never have a happy moment for the rest of my life, I could sustain myself on the moments I’ve spent watching, teaching and playing with my boys. They are my greatest joy!

As I’ve stated, I am not a morning person. Conversely, this means I am a night person and often push the limits of what time I should send myself to bed. (Where’s my mom when I need her?!?)

This leads to wasted moments of half-asleep calculations of how many times I can push the snooze button and still make it to work on time. Sometimes my math is good, other times my dreams are better.

These are the times when every moment counts. As much as I am not a morning person, I’m even less a grab-a-granola-bar-and-call it-breakfast-person. That is not food. That is a snack!

This is why I love to make a quiche on Sunday night. When I roll out of bed Monday morning, all I have to do is make toast while heating up a piece of quiche. Yep, just mere moments to a healthy, filling breakfast.

I’ll share my basic quiche recipe. It is super simple and the ingredients are limitless.

My favorite is a western. I love ham, peppers, onions and cheese. Other times I’ll make a clean out the fridge quiche. (Spinach, broccoli, onions, bacon etc) Just have fun with it!

What you need:

5 eggs (yes, I spend extra money on the cage-free brand, but that’s just me)
½ c cottage cheese
1 c shredded cheddar jack cheese
¼ lb honey ham (sliced or diced into pieces, depending how you buy it)
1 c diced peppers (red, green, yellow…whatever)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

What you do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Butter spray an 8 or 9-inch glass pie plate
Mix all ingredients
Pour into pie plate
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven with potholders 😉IMAG0492