Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

The Challenge of Being a “Duck” April 21, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Life Balance,Moving,Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:29 pm
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There’s a quote that’s stuck with me over the past few years and the analogy has helped me a lot with this move:

“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath”

— Jacob Morton BraudeDuck analogy

At no point in the past year has that been more true or more important than in the last month.  Moving, traveling, unpacking, continuing to work in a remote capacity, and staying positive throughout it all has truly tested my ability to behave like a duck.  Each turn has thrown things in my path that might have derailed me, had I allowed that to happen.  Staying focused on the positive aspect of each challenge has taken a conscious effort.  My “happy yellow lab” side has been pushed to its teary limits from time to time, but being able to take comfort in the firm belief that this move is our destiny has made all the difference.

Please allow me to share a few examples with you:

  • We were sent two amazing movers… a Marine (Irvin) and his aide (Billy) who walked with me all four days of our packing/moving.  The challenge came when their “reinforcements” arrived in the form of two guys, one of whom was both allergic to dust and cat hair. Both of these were especially plentiful in our bedroom, which was his only focus for a day and a half, so when the choice came between laughing and crying, I had to choose the former.
  • I had to resign from the most amazing job I’ve ever had and leave coworkers who were some of the most incredible, loving, and wonderful people in my life.  Rather than turning my resignation into a difficult and uncomfortable situation, they have continued to allow me to work from my MD apartment and allowed me the ability to help in the transition for my replacement.  While it’s a challenge to be so far from a business and people that are so dear to me, they’ve given me the gift of time… time to get used to not being on property… time to allow someone else to learn how to respond to event requests… time to cook and write, which I’ve come to love.  How many people can say that about a job?  How many people love their job so much that they’d rather do it for free (or nearly free) than not do it at all?  That, my friends, is how much I loved my job at the winery… yet, I know that it was time for me to move on to other challenges…
  • We chose to bring our two cats along on this journey to MD.  They’ve handled the situation as admirably as we could expect… especially since the only time either had ever been in the car was to go to the vet.  Thankfully, M took our girl-kitty, who voiced her frustrations during the entire trip while our boy-kitty chose to bravely travel without whining (much).  It’s taken a week in the apartment for them to calm down enough to sleep at night and not jump on our heads (apparently to make sure that we were still there) but things seem to be smoothing out for them.
  • Our apartment’s positioning in the building added so many challenges (which I’ve already mentioned in previous blog posts), but even that seems to be falling into some sort of a rhythm.  I’m slowly getting used to grabbing my cane to traverse around the building and the distance is thankfully becoming a little less daunting for me.  It’s the little things…
  • My Little Red Wagon… it rocks.
  • I’m learning to cook on an electric stove!  I’m not at all happy about it, but it’s a challenge and I’m learning how to adjust to make meals for us within the parameters of the items found within the apartment… and I’ll be even more grateful when we finally move into a place that has a gas stove, cuz we’re not going to buy a place that can’t be plumbed for gas.
  • I still have wine in the apartment… and I’m still cooking with wine… this makes me ridiculously happy!
  • After all the problems we experienced with the apartment complex during our check-in, our relocation guy just sent me an Amex gift card… won’t change the past, but certainly will give me something positive and happy to do tomorrow.  It’s all about perspective, people… focus on the positive.

See?  It really is all about how you view the situation.  We’re now deep in the “wait and see” mode with regards to the sale of our home in VA.  There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it but pray… and pray, I will.  It’s how I lived through our move from Michigan to Virginia in 2001 and it’s how I’ll live through this move from Virginia to Maryland.  It’s not my preference, but it’s how things must be done in this  time of uncertainty and chaos.  I’ll strive to face each day in true “duck” fashion, looking calm and collected, while fervently paddling/praying like a madwoman at every opportunity.

Shouldn’t we all strive to act like a duck from time to time?

 

 

Recipe: Chicken and Potatoes with BACON January 10, 2014

Filed under: Cooking — beatitudesofmylife @ 5:46 pm
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Since this recipe doesn’t qualify as one made with wine (which would place it on my other blog, www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com), I thought I’d share it here.  This was a simple, easy, and delicious dinner that we had last night.  Since bacon is the star ingredient, how much better could it be?

I started with the idea of making dinner using a package of chicken breasts (three total in the package), four potatoes, and a pound of bacon.  Slice each chicken breast in half, lengthwise, and roll each in a mixture of garlic salt, paprika, and brown sugar, before winding a slice of bacon around the breast and placing it on a greased baking sheet.  Repeat with all six chicken breast “sticks”.  While preparing the chicken, plan to bake the remaining strips of bacon on a rack (I baked everything at 375 degrees) until it’s done to your preferred degree of crispiness and crumble to add later to the roasted potatoes.

 

BaconDinner

To make roasted potatoes, diced the potatoes and then par-boil them for 10 minutes and drain.  Into the warm pan of cooked potato pieces, add a mixture of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and salt.  Allow these to sit for a bit before getting ready to roast the potato pieces along with the chicken wrapped in bacon.  

Forty-five minutes or so before you plan to have dinner,  pop the chicken in the oven and pour the potato mixture onto a prepared baking sheet and allow both to roast for about 30 minutes.  When things start to smell yummy, sprinkle the bacon pieces over the roasted potatoes and allow things to roast along for another 15 minutes or so.

As with all my recipes, I use The Force when I cook.  I may start out with something that has specific directions, but I can always be counted upon to deviate from the original – it just goes against my grain to follow something without adding my own little touch.  Feel free to do the same with this recipe if you decide to try it.  I have no idea how much of the garlic salt, paprika and brown sugar I used… I just poured a bunch of each into a single bowl and then tossed it together so everything would be meshed well together.  Same with the potatoes… I poured some olive oil into a small bowl and added garlic, herbs, and salt before adding that to the diced potatoes.  It’s a fun way to personalize your dinners.  Make things like this into a new family favorite… YOUR family favorite!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! July 8, 2013

Filed under: Blessings,Blogs,Communication,Cooking,Life Balance,Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 3:44 pm
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I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award!

The award is from a fellow blogger, for my wine blog (fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) but I thought it was pretty cool.  I followed all the directions, answered all the questions (there were 22 total) and posted the award on my blog.  Sweet, huh?

Maybe I’m just a little naive, but having someone else out there in the blogging world think that the stuff I write is worth passing along to others really made my day.  I write for me, first and foremost, but it really does make me happy to know that others enjoy what I write.  I’m not changing the world, nor would I want to, but making positive influences to my personal part of the universe is good enough for me.

Besides… there are enough people out there who want to change the world… right?  I just want to add a little flavor here and there.

Cheers!

 

Why I love Thanksgiving November 30, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Family,Holidays,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 12:01 pm
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I’ve said this before… my absolute favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.   Christmas is great… birthdays are fun (especially when you’re young)… Easter can be either a sugar-laden gorge-fest or a deeply meaningful time of renewal… but Thanksgiving beats them all, hands down, in my book. Thanksgiving2012

There’s something so incredible about a holiday that is simply focused on giving thanks.  There are no expectations of gifts… no other focus than on spending time with family and/or friends… just the plan to BE… and I just love it.  Having my family around me makes me happy… and being able to cook for them, without any distractions or interruptions, gives me more enjoyment than should be allowed by law.

In our family, we have the same meal every year…. it’s our tradition.  I make a  “12-hour turkey” (yes… it really DOES cook for 12 hours), sausage and apple stuffing (half of which goes into the bird), Mimi’s peas, Sweet Potato Casserole, Whipped Turnip Casserole, Homemade cloverleaf rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and at least one version of pumpkin pie.

While we don’t have others around with us that day, the recipes I use bring them to mind each and every time I make them.  Mimi’s peas is a recipe from both my mom and step-mom… a twist on the traditional Green Bean casserole.  The Sweet Potato Casserole recipe came from my dear friend, Jacqui, in our first Navy squadron.  The Turnip casserole is from my mother-in-law and makes me smile each time I make it.  The roll recipe is one from my beloved Aunt Jody, who died when D was only 6 months old.  The Pumpkin pie recipe is also from my MIL – happens to be M’s favorite, so I make it every year so he continues to have ties to his own childhood.

As for that “12-hour turkey”?  I was given that recipe from a woman in MI named Dawna, who made a Thanksgiving dinner for our entire church family every year.  She lovingly shared her recipe with me for being able to cook enough turkeys to feed a hungry congregation and I have been using it ever since. She didn’t stuff her bird (and I’ve been warned every year not to stuff the bird) but I’ve been doing it this way since 1995 and tradition dictates that the bird is stuffed… AND we have a dish of baked stuffing on the side.  Can you ever have too much stuffing?

As you might guess, I now use a written timetable for when every item goes into the oven, what gets microwaved, when the oven temperature gets altered, and what must be made ahead of time to keep me from going insane, but I really do love it.  Knowing that I get to repeat this meal four weeks later for Christmas dinner, is simply icing on the cake for me… call me crazy, but I LOVE it!

Many on Facebook have been taking part in a daily affirmation of thanks for each day of the month… while I think that’s a great idea, I would love to have the time (or attention span) to take that a step further and do a year of daily notes of gratitude.  Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we could simply focus on our blessings in this life instead of complaining about what we don’t have or don’t like or don’t want?

Maybe it’s the “happy yellow lab” in me, but I would like to rearrange my thoughts for the coming year, by focusing on the positive aspects of my life instead of whining about the negative.  I know I have a hard time letting go of things (D’s former Coach M is a prime example… see previous post for that diatribe) but maybe if I can keep a simple journal of thankfulness or gratitude, I can have a better attitude toward life in general.   Even if all I write one night is that I’m grateful that my husband is at home with me… or that my son sent me a text saying “I miss your face”… isn’t that enough to make for a good day?  Are we all expecting too much out of each and every day?  Maybe we have to have those days where the best thing was a simple meal with family to appreciate the truly spectacular times in our lives, whatever they may be.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it makes me remember just how blessed I am and allows me the opportunity to be “mushy” about how grateful I am for those blessings.  Anyone else interested in taking a journey with me?  I’m planning to start on December 1st – just as everyone else finishes their month-long postings of gratitude – and write a line of gratitude each day.  I might not make it every single day, but that’s my plan for the coming year.  I’ll try and remember to check in from time to time… I’d love to see others join me.

Gratitude is a wonderful and powerful thing… I wonder what would happen if we could harness that power to make the world a better place?  Be grateful… and be thankful… and don’t forget to share that with others…

 

It’s almost Halloween…. darn it? October 6, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Family,Holidays,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 1:55 pm
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Let it be known… I am NOT a fan of Halloween.  I try and be a good sport about giving out candy and have, in the past, put on a costume and gone through the motions of trick-or-treating, but I really do NOT like this holiday.  I don’t enjoy buying candy and having it in my house to hand out to strangers.  I don’t like feeling required to participate in handing out treats to kids who, for the most part, are doing the bare minimum needed to look like they’re dressing up in costume.  I don’t like having people with masks ring my doorbell and expect candy in return for their participation in this day in October.  I just don’t like it.  Is that such a crime?

I know there are those of you who will cajole and tease me to try and get me into the “Halloween spirit” but I just don’t enjoy being a part of this holiday.  The masks creep me out and the scary costumes kids wear just keep getting more and more bizarre.   Is it “bad” of me to dislike a specific holiday?  Are there others out there who don’t enjoy Halloween?

I remember a time in college when a friend put on a gorilla mask and chased me around our dorm.  I hated that.  I knew who this person was, yet the mask turned them into something completely sinister and frightening for me.  It wasn’t funny or silly… it was scary.  I think people sometimes underestimate how much a mask can conceal an identity in someone’s mind.

I have the same reaction to clowns… they flip me out and I just don’t find them to be funny or silly at all.   Check out this clown picture I found.  The lip outline is painted into a smile, but it’s one of the creepiest faces when you see the overall look.  I know that’s the point, but I have a hard time finding the fun in these sort of painted faces. The two “true” parts of the individual’s face are the eyes and mouth… and many times the eyes are bloodshot (maybe a reaction to having so much makeup around that area of the face) and the mouth/teeth aren’t in the best condition.  Have you seen many clowns with clear eyes and clean pearly white teeth?  I haven’t.  Maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy clowns… being a dentist’s daughter always has me looking at smiles and teeth.  That would be an interesting study… does a parent’s occupation influence their children’s fears and phobias in later life?  Then again, maybe not.

There are two positive things about Halloween, in my opinion.  The first is that we always have the same dinner on Halloween or whatever night ends up being designated for Trick-or-Treat… I make my Auntie Jean’s BBQ (sloppy joes) and homemade Kaiser rolls.  When E was a senior, he informed me that it just wasn’t Halloween to him without this meal… so how could I resist?  In honor of that tradition, I’ll include this recipe below so you, dear reader, may see if you want to start your own tradition.

The second and MOST positive thing about Halloween is that it signals that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of all time.  It ranks higher than Christmas, Easter and Birthdays for me.  Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when the focus is on appreciating the bounty and blessings in our lives and giving thanks for what we have.  It’s about family and food… it’s about being together with those you love and reaching out to those who need… it’s about the GOOD that is in the world and showing appreciation for what we have been given.

I’ll talk more about Thanksgiving later.  For now, I must share my Aunt’s recipe and let you all get ready for Halloween… after all… if we let Halloween hurry up and get here, we can start planning for Thanksgiving.  Right?

Auntie Jean’s BBQ (Sloppy Joe’s)

2lbs browned hamburger (I use ground turkey)

1 bottle ketchup (the 28oz size – I always use Heinz Ketchup)

2T apple cider vinegar

3T yellow mustard

3T Worcestershire sauce

4tsp sugar

2tsp celery seed

My cousin makes a double recipe and puts this into a crock pot so she has enough to feed whoever might drop by when she makes it.  I typically use two packages of ground turkey and then either make homemade rolls or use packaged potato rolls for my guys.  We love the tang of the spices and much prefer it to the jarred sauce you can purchase from the grocery store.

Wishing you a Happy Halloween… however you choose to celebrate!

 

From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle August 7, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,VA Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:19 am
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I’ve just started another blog.  This one will be focused on wine, recipes, tastings, etc… all the things that people have been asking me about for the past year, but I’ve dismissed as something that was either too involved or would take up too much time.

After much thought, I decided that this was something I wanted to do.  I’m not going to link the winery where I work at this point, nor will I link their twitter account.  I just want to post some information that I’ve been collecting over the past few years… and hopefully de-mystify “wine” in general.  I hope people will consider following this new blog and sharing it with others.  The address is:

fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com

Thanks for taking a moment to check it out…

 

This is the busiest summer ever! June 27, 2012

Filed under: Cooking,Lacrosse,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports,VA Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 3:31 pm

I have been incredibly busy this summer… more so than any in recent memory… and I really do love it.  I don’t always have the time to cook or bake or create as I have in the past, but it’s ok.  I’m trying to make time for everything that truly matters, and isn’t that what life is all about?

I started working at a winery this past fall.  I help run the Tasting room at James River Cellars Winery in Glen Allen, VA and I truly love my job.  I’ve been given the tasks of our Constant Contact messages, decorating the chalkboards for our in-house special events, updating our business Facebook page (James River Cellars Winery) and our twitter account (JamesRiverWine), and helping my co-workers in their tasks as needed.  I don’t have any specific title or job description… while it’d be fun to have an actual title other than “ABC Manager”, I really don’t need one.  I am learning to look around and find things that I can do to make things run better or be more organized.   I adore taking time with our customers to find wine that makes them happy… I have learned to cook with each of our wines and enjoy sharing this information whenever I have the opportunity.  This job has become a part of me and I am having a fabulous time!  Note:  the photo here was taken by Sarah Haussen of the VTC.

Both my sons are home this summer, which adds another element to our day-to-day activities.  D graduated from Hood in May and, two days later, he began taking classes that will help him in his ultimate goal of becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer.  My heart swells when I think of how far he’s come in the past four years… I even got teary with one of his professors when they proceeded to not only tell me how great he’d be as a trainer but they went into detail on his many attributes.  Proud mama could barely keep from sobbing.  E applied for, and got, an internship in an Anti-Money Laundering program.  He’s earning money, learning how hard it can be to work a full 8 hour day, and more appreciative of his “off time” than ever.  Additionally, both boys are playing in a men’s summer league lacrosse program AND coaching youth lacrosse travel teams – getting to see them each excel in their own ways in similar activities has been a blast.

Lest you think that we don’t have enough going on, M is playing softball again!  Not only was he asked to join a locally sponsored team but he was also talked into playing for a work-sponsored team… it’s been interesting trying to add in all the games of both teams AND try to attend as many of everyone’s games as possible.  Yikes… My camera is getting a great workout!

Busy is great… wish I had more hours in the day so I could get caught up on sleep, but I’ll have enough years later when we’re not following the boys all over hither and yon, so I’ll suck it up for now.  Gotta cut this short cuz we’ve got an RSLL lacrosse game again tonight… and M has a doubleheader softball game… good thing I have tomorrow off, right?

Cheers, all!  Come visit me at the winery sometime… I’ve got some great wines to offer you!

 

 

 
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