Friday, July 29, 2011

What would you do for the price of love?

It has been a few days since I have sat down and blogged... starting to notice it when my thoughts shift back again and again that I need to get here and get some things done. Now this does not mean I have not been cooking... as I have. I actually had a disaster recipe. I have read it again and again to see what I was missing, what I did wrong, and for the life of me, I am not able to find it. I am not sure I want to try that recipe again. Perhaps I need new baking soda? I was a bit bummed as my last failed recipe to this degree was in like the seventh grade... so I wasn't a happy gal.

I have been going through some things with my son... or rather... the house my son lives in for disabled adults. One really has to keep an eye on them as it is very easy to get taken advantage of the people within the home. I sit and think of all of the young adults that don't have someone there to help them with their voices that often are left unheard. It is amazing to me how this would happen, and so very sad. I start getting gloomy. I start getting disheartened by how it all goes... how we seem to always have to fight for those we love.... why are they not treated with just as much dignity and respect. I will continue to fight for my son's rights... even when they tell me to be silent. I will continue to stand for his rights, even if I am the only standing against a sea of people against me. This is my son. He didn't ask to be born this way. I will not back down. Until the last breath I breathe, I will advocate for my son's needs.

I have been keeping in very close contact with a friend of mine. She is a young lady, a mother, a friend. Her mother lives in another state, and the love she has for her mother is like many feel, strong, and confident. Her father lives in a nearby town, and she loves him as well... but there are issues.

I am withholding the names as this is real... this is so real.... and it has touched my heart. I have learned something new. I am going to learn from this and let it make me a stronger person and friend.

My friend... the kind of friend that never cries. We are so alike, yet so much different. She is strong, I am weak. She can hide her feelings, I can't. God, I so wish I had that ability... but not me... I am the crier... the cry til your nose runs kind of gal.

This young lady has taken on the responsibility to the best of her ability to lead her brother back to a sober life. Sober... what do I mean by sober? Her brother started using a cough and cold syrup to get high, a little bit over a year ago. I am not worried about the circumstances. We all need an escape, and this was his escape? What was this boy like before the self medicating? I am not sure... I didn't know him... but I do know my friends strengths and abilities and they are from the same cloth... so I am assuming that this young man had the same qualities. Right?! I mean, of course. I have seen photos. I have gone through the photos... all the photos she has. He was young. He was handsome. He had a smile on his face. He was surrounded by friends. He had great teeth. He looked, groomed... nice clothes... cared about his appearance. He was a typical teen and young man... we see them everywhere. I am not sure what happened after that, and I am not sure anyone does. However, he got into using meth to get to that escape. Is he a bad kid? No... not at all... never. Is he a confused young man? Probably! I mean aren't we all? We all are. Even as adults... we might seem like we have it all together. Our friends might look at us as strong and as an example of whatever normal might be... and yet, every one of us... even you, has a part of us, that is broken. It might be needing to be in control. It might be not knowing who we are as a person, rather than a mom, or a sister, etc....

So when I got to meet this young man... I went to court with my friend. There had been a disturbance and he was arrested. Nothing big... he didn't stab anyone... he didn't do a drive by... just a disturbance. He had to stay in jail over the weekend until he could go before the judge on Monday. I went with her... for support. The night before, since sis was out of town, I went and met her for a quick drink. She was so matter of fact... these were the charges... this is what is happening... she was getting him help into drug rehab when he was released. She is young. As young as my daughter... and here she was, not only his sister... but a woman that cared enough to not give up. They say we need to let them hit rock bottom. How the hell do we know someones rock bottom? Seriously... WTH? Is rock bottom being homeless or can it go beyond? Can it be taking one's life? It happens all the time. You can turn your back and think I am ridiculous... but this is a real question. How would I know when my son's rock bottom was? Would I just step out of the way and let him be suicidal? Or either of my daughters? NO! HELL NO. And although I can't be with them every waking hour... I would remind them, daily, how much I really love them... how special they are... how they have a purpose... how I love them so very much..... So here she is... the pillar of strength. She pulls out her phone to show a photo of her brother to us. First it was a mug shot... and those are really hard to really tell how someone looks.... and then, there was one of the BEFORE PHOTOS. Was she drunk? Certainly not... in fact so far from it... yet... here was this wall of strength crumbling around her... where I saw my friend in such a raw and tender form. She cried for the brother that she so loves. She cried for the memories of her and him growing up as children... vacationing, living in Mexico, moving to Vegas. I am sure holidays must have run through her mind... being his older sister, and his protector.... and yet, I can tell you that if anyone did something to harm this young woman, they would see the rage of her protector of a brother.

I am not trying to glorify an addiction, and not one of this extent. I was telling her, that we all have addictions... every single one of us. Some are maybe good for our bodies... like a physical sport... some may be sewing or crafting... some may be reading... some may be shopping... gambling, smoking... sex... shall I go on? Some may be secluding themselves from the world. We all have addictions that take us to a safer place in our minds, an escape. Some are worse for our bodies than others... but are any of them ever really good? Is the single mother out drinking on the weekends to escape motherhood for a few hours any better than someone doing drugs? Is someone putting quarter or penny after penny in the slots looking for the next win any better? Is the woman that makes next to nothing waiting tables running from yard sale to yard sale looking for the next score on a great deal although she doesn't need another thing any better? I think not. Maybe better for the body physically, but again, an obsession... an issue of control... it is not good. I am side tracked again... here she sat... a bubbling mess... JUST LIKE I DO! Her walls crumbled and for once, she wasn't the wall. She was a hurting sister reaching for answers. She was a person that loved her brother and would do ANYTHING to help him. That was always evident but not so raw. NOW... she was raw.

We went to court. He was released with a court date. He would now be going home with his sister. She was so upset as the court was by television. He was at the jail and the judge was in the courthouse. She wasn't able to sit in the place where he would be able to see her via television. We sat... we waited... and we whispered questions to each other waiting... and... we sent good healing vibes. We thought about nothing but her brother. We weren't on the floor shouting the praises of Jesus with our hands in the air. We weren't defensive to those around us about him being innosent and we weren't remarking on what an asshole the judge was as some of the people behind us did. In fact, he was the kindest judge I have ever met... not that I have met too many... but he was kind and really tried to protect the rights of the inmates and not throw them under the bus. They really were innocent until proven guilty. We just sat in silence... and thought about this young man... that needs help.

His name was called... he walked to the podium and he spoke clearly. His words were like music to our ears. He was not irratic. Meth can make people do things that are not of them. He did not do this. He spoke strong, and he spoke confident. He spoke respectfully. In fact out of all nine people seen that day, he did the best job. It was evident, that under the drugs... he is so the same cloth of my dear, sweet friend.

We headed to the jail for his release. They said it would take an hour... it took three and a half. We sat... we ate jelly beans... we went and picked up Chinese food for our families and for her brother. She thought of his favorite dish and had it waiting for him. We were stressed about the long wait... but, we were there. She made calls to her family. She waited. We went to pick up the Chinese food ... we were running late... and when we got back, as she walked up the sidewalk, she saw her brother, and she said... there he is. He walked up to her and hugged her with a term of endearment. He said to her, in a somewhat calm, but also, kind of a nervous state... I thought you turned against me. I saw her face... and the look was of reassurance and grace to this young man, needing some sort of love at the moment. Is he proud? I think not. He told us over and over on our way home he was never doing that stuff again. Do we know better? Of course we do. That is what meth does. Within a day or two, his behaviors returned. It could be lack of sleep as he wasn't using. However, she also knew she needed to do what was best for him... and what was best for her family... and that was to send her brother back home to her mom. That is courage... I know she wants to help him herself. She knows nobody can right now other than God and rehab. She rounded the money up herself... got him a hotel and found a plane ticket for him... and last night, she took him to the airport.

My thoughts on it all. I am a better person to witness such a love and hope for someone we love. I am a better person to see what drugs can do to someone. They scare me. Drugs scare me so much... I see I need to work on my addictions... do I really need hundreds of cookbooks? Especially with the internet... do I need them??? Nah... nor the best deal around the corner... there is nothing I need in this world but the love of my children. Well I need a coca cola now and again as well. OK OK OK... something else I need to work on...

What do I think of the young man that is her brother. I think he is a child of God. I think I am no better than he is. I think he has so much potential in life. He has this personality that is so approachable. I seriously can see him getting treatment and helping those in need of counseling with drugs... as he will have been there and done that. He is the frame of the young man he used to be physically. He is thinner... way thinner. He still has a square jawline and a drop dead smile... like his sister. He has eyes that want love, as we all do. He has a great laugh. He is cut of good cloth, and I have no doubt that when this young man is ready to make the changes... he is going to be so successful. I look forward to meeting this young man again. He will most likely not remember me. But, I will forever remember him. I am thankful for the lesson I just learned.

To my friend, as you read this... I want you to feel surrounded in love and support... as you did good girly girl... and I am so very proud of the woman that you are... but more importantly... the sister that you are to him.

I love you... Wendy

To the soon to be sober young man...
She needs a son...
She needs a brother...
They need their grandson...
He needs an Uncle...

Get clean buddy... you have the world at your fingertips... We will celebrate... and I will fatten you back up with some cupcakes... SMILE... and I will sit here in silence... rooting you on... as I know you have it in you... you are cut from fine cloth....

Above all, when you feel alone, and troubled... turn it to Jesus... you will never be alone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peaches and Cream Muffins are oh so good...


Muffins.... Do you know how many muffins there are? Tons... and they are so good. One of my favorite things to eat are muffins. I search for new recipes all the time. They are simple to make and wrap individually for a quick breakfast. They are always welcomed by neighbors as little tokens of kindness. I never have had anyone turn down muffins. When Taylor was in the hospital for that year (nearly a year) and I was raising money to take our family to a Southern California vacation for him when he got out... I would hold bake sales at work... where most of the money came from. Muffins were one of the best sellers. They are loved by many.

I recently ran across a new recipe from a fellow blogger at Never Enough Thyme. Her recipe was for Peaches and Cream muffins. PERFECT. I love peaches... and it sounded interesting, so I prepared them for a potluck I was going to. They were a hit. They were moist and wonderful. I actually doubled the recipe which you can find here... Peaches and Cream Muffins (check out her recipes. They will not disappoint you.) When I doubled the recipe... instead of doubling the sour cream, I actually used a container of peach yogurt. It tasted good as well. I also added a little bit of cinnamon to the batter to make it a little bit like a peach cobbler flavor.

Here is the recipe. Again, please go and visit her. I have her added as a favorite and am following her yumminess. The reason you don't see muffin papers on my muffins is I used a Demarle baking piece that you don't have to, they just slip out. I don't sell for them... just love their products.

Peaches and Cream Muffins

Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 30 min
Makes: 9 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh peaches
  • Cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg, sour cream and oil.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and sift into the wet ingredients. Stir together just until moistened.
  4. Stir in the peaches.
  5. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and place a paper liner in each cup.
  6. Fill cups ¾ full with batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out nearly clean.

Chicken Orzo Salad


I love pasta salads as they are so diverse and can be made so many different ways and are easy to change up. I recently went to a potluck for my daughters reading club. She asked me to bring FRUIT? What the heck? Fruit? My heart sunk... I need to cook... I need to, it is not a choice... it is just how my brain works. I compromised and took peaches and cream muffins. The recipe is soon to follow. They turned out great. But... I wanted to take more, so I made a batch of chicken orzo salad with dill. It received many compliments. I just threw things in it that I had in my pantry. Again, all of my cooking are not measured out well... I just throw this and that in and play with it as I go. These are approximate and I know you will play with it as well to your liking.

1 box of orzo cooked and cooled and placed into a bowl
1/2 bottle ranch dressing
1/2 bottle Bernstines cheese and garlic fat free dressing
1 can asparagus
1 can olives sliced
1 can garbanzo beans
1 large can of chicken packed in water (it is found near the tuna in the grocery store... and tuna is fantastic in this salad also)
1 carton grape tomatoes halved
1 zucchini sliced
1/2 onion diced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 bunch of fresh dill chopped

Mix all the above ingredients and place in large bowl and chill. It is great with feta cheese as well, but I didn't have any on hand. Enjoy. Fantastic. Makes a big salad for potlucks.

Hawaiian Mac Salad



There is something about Hawaiian Mac Salad that beats all other macaroni salads. There are many different versions. As, me, I have tried most of them. I like the creaminess of the Hawaiian Style mac salad. No plate lunch would be complete with mac salad. I have adapted from all the salads what I like best about mac salad and combined it into my own. We make it in large quantity when I do make it, which isn't nearly enough.

I hope you try this and enjoy. I don't have the exact measurements as I play with it to have it just come out so. You do the same... but these are approximate measurements. Enjoy... and mahalo for coming back to my page.

Wendy's Hawaiian Mac Salad

1 pkg macaroni noodles cooked and drained. (I never use salad macaroni size, full size so it holds
the dressing better.

Place noodles in a large bowl and cool completely.

4 red potatoes cubed and cooked. Don't cook them to be mushy... No bueno... tender but not mushy....

1 handful of matchstick carrots. You will find them in the produce aisle already cut for you, they are very small... like what you would find in an iceburg lettuce salad mix.

Six hard boiled eggs cooled, cracked, peeled and sliced.

2 cans of tuna fish drained and shredded well with a fork, no big chunks....

1 can olives sliced

1 cup cubed cheddar cheese

Just throw all of this in the big bowl with the noodles.

For the dressing, I toss the mixture in the bowl with about 6 Tbls milk. This gives it that extra creamy I spoke about.

I then mix 1 and a half cups of mayo to start into the salad, and if needed, I will add more. I put in a couple of Tablespoons of mustard. It will not be enough to turn the noodles or mixture a yellow color... it is just for a little zip. Fold all ingredients well, add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy. With left overs, you may want to add more mayo if it has been soaked up by the noodles.

Nothing says heaven like Au Gratin Potatoes...



In my home... just know, if you make Au Gratin potatoes, and the whole family is here, there WILL NOT be any left overs. We like them just that much. My grandpa used to have a HUGE garden... he could have fed many, many families from his garden. He loved potatoes. He had an abundance of potatoes... always. I seem to just love SPUDS... love, love, love them. A part of my carb addiction I suppose. I look for different ways to serve them from time to time... but many of the dishes are my comfort foods, and you just don't mess with comfort foods.

I found a great recipe for Au Gratin potatoes here, at, Get Off Your Butt and Bake! I knew I must try it. I added a bit more salt and pepper to the recipe that was posted, as that is the way we like ours. These were so good though. Please visit the blog as she has some FANTASTIC recipes there. I could just wander from blog to blog reading all their recipes.... for days... just the way I role. SMILE....

Here is the recipe posted. It is good... enjoy... I did not add the ham, but will if I have it as a main dish.

Lionhouse Au Gratin Potatoes

  • 4 large potatoes peeled and diced or sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (opt) – use 1 tsp. Onion powder instead
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cubed cooked ham (read notes below)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place potatoes, onion and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. TURN OFF THE HEAT and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. DRAIN the water off the potato mixture and spread potatoes in a 9×13 inch glass baking pan; set aside.

Make a white sauce by melting margarine or butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When the margarine or butter starts to foam, stir in flour to make a smooth roux. Cook and stir constantly until the roux is nice and smooth, about 30 seconds. Mix the milk, cream, salt and pepper together and slowly add the milk mixture to the roux. Stir this constantly until sauce has thickened nicely. Reduce heat to low and stir in cubed ham and half of the grated cheese. After the cheese has melted, pour sauce over the potatoes. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

NOTE: With either recipe, you can also make it a main dish. Just take 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless pork chops and dredge them in a dusting of flour. In a heavy skillet, melt margarine, butter, olive oil or Crisco oil and brown the meat on both sides, until it’s nice and golden brown. Just mingle those browned chops or breasts in the potatoes and Au gratin sauce or potatoes and whipping cream . . . before baking. The meat will be tender and delicious and it flavors the Au Gratin Potatoes perfectly!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bacon Fried Rice


I have two daughters that love rice. Their dad actually makes the best fried rice out of anyone I know. Mine is never as good as his, although I don't get it quite there. I was amazed at the ease of making fried rice, as, well... I hadn't cooked it before I met him. He likes to cook it on a Friday or Saturday morning, and then he will get up and cook some over easy eggs on the following morning and place it upon the rice he made the previous night. This is what his mom did for him as he grew up and now he likes to do it for his kids. Our son loves this as well... but my girls... if it has rice in it, they love it.....

You can use any kind of meat you want with fried rice really... ham, chicken, spam... well to you spam is not a meat but to many people I know from Hawaii... it is. GRIN... ono grinds. It is a diverse dish where some put in peas... cubed carrots, etc. I put in shoestring carrots from time to time but not a lot of time. Peas... we don't... but not that I am against it. I use pretty much what I have on hand.

So... for us... bacon is the way we like it.

Bacon fried rice

Prepare enough rice that you would like to use. I am told it is very important that you rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Put it in a bowl... cover with water, and then swish it around... empty water... add fresh water... swish it around... empty. Do this as many times as needed to have the water run clean. It rinses the starch off... and I have been told by my Japanese mother in law... and many, many Hawaiian friends that this is very important. Cover the rice with water to about an inch over the rice. I use a rice cooker. I had never heard of a rice cooker before I met their dad. I swear by them. I am not sure what I did before I had one... so good.... It is best to cook the rice in the morning or the night before and let cool and keep cold until time to use. I am not sure why... but again... that is what they have told me and it has turned out great every time.

When ready to prepare the rice.... in a large skillet place...

1 pkg hickory smoked or plain bacon. (You wouldn't want maple... )
1 large sliced onion
1 zucchini sliced
1 handful of shoestring carrots

Saute until you are satisfied with the readiness of the bacon.
Add:
Sliced mushrooms (we love mushrooms so we use a whole package of them (fresh, not canned)

stir until everything looks done to your liking. Turn burner onto a medium or low setting so this won't burn at this point.

Add rice by the cupful... one cup at a time and cook after each addition to make sure it doesn't clump...

add soy sauce...

This is totally by taste... don't start out with a lot. Start out very sparingly as soy sauce is very salty as well as the bacon. Add some, stir, add some stir... until your liking.

Move all the rice towards the middle from one side to give you some room for scrambling your eggs. I use about 6 eggs. I just crack them into the pan and just stir them until they are scrambled and fluffy or in chunks. I then fold them into the rest of the rice. Add pepper to taste.

Garnish with sliced green onions.

This is a fun and easy dish. If you make this... be sure to make enough for left overs the following morning. Cook an egg over easy and eat on top of a bed of heated up friend rice.... pure heaven.

Slow Cooker Lasagna


I am looking for more and more recipes for crock pots and slow cookers. I work full time and my job waiting tables is during the graveyard shift. This.... well... stinks. So it is easy for me to come home in the morning and throw it into the crock pot and go... I would love to say I then could sleep, but, that would be a lie. I don't sleep... ha... well like 4 to four hours a day... it is not a good thing. But, it is nice to have time to play with Carlie instead of cooking in the kitchen all of the time... unless she is with me helping. We love cooking together...

I ran across a recipe for slow cooker lasagna at six sister's stuff. Please click the link and go visit them. They have a ton of great recipes.

As usual I had to alter their wonderful creation as there are just some things my family expects of me when cooking. I am sure that their recipe is wonderful just the way it is however. Below is the original recipe posted on their site, and then notes on the bottom telling what I did differently.

Again go and check their site out... you won't be sorry. And... who can resist the love and respect that sisters share. This will be no different.

Slow cooker lasagna It states that she found this on a kraft food box or package....

1 lb. lean ground beef (could be substituted for italian sausage)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 c. water
1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese (we used skim ricotta to save some unneccesary fat haha)
1 pkg. Kraft Italian Cheese (approx. 2 cups)
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp. parsley
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked

***(My adds... I also added four boiled eggs sliced... (used to be popular in the 50's when making lasagna. My mother in law still has a cut out box top in her recipes with this... and it has just become a habit not to add them when I make lasagna.) I added sliced mushrooms, and sliced zucchini in the layers. In my house, if these things aren't added I will have a war on my hands. I also added some drained canned tomatoes in the layers. It was so good... oh... and I added minced garlic and onions to the hamburger when I cooked it. )

Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cup mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. parmesan, egg and parsley.

Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles (3 noodles broken up per layer), broken to fit; and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit; cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.

Cook on low 4-6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted. *

*Ours only cooked for about 3 1/2 hours because I had a hungry husband and it was fine! Plus the meat is cooked beforehand so it is safe. :)

Mexican Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells


One thing that I love about blogging is finding new recipes. I found this recipe along the way. It is called Mexican Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells. It can be found at Busy at Home. Please check out her blog and her wonderful cooking recipes. I found it through a secret recipe project that looks fun. I just need to hurry up so I can have 60 recipes posted so I may join. YEAH... just my type of thing....

First of all, I have a hard time following a recipe beginning to end. I have to find a way to make it mine. This recipe was fantastic how it was, but I needed to adapt it to my version and what my family would love and is used to... (me tinkering in the kitchen with recipes.)

This is the original recipe.... I will add at the bottom how I changed it to make it mine.

  • 4 cups chicken breast, cooked and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 each of red, green, yellow, & orange bell peppers (or 2 whole bell peppers of your choice), diced
  • 3 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with chiles (don’t drain) (Rotel or store brand, either works)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup of picante sauce
  • 38 large pasta shells, cooked al dente
My changes were as follows. I increased the cumin to 2 tsp. We love cumin. I added a can of green chilis. I added a can of sliced olives. I crushed up some frito chips and also added some drained, canned, sweet corn. I put enchilada sauce on top of the shells and just rested them on the bed of tomatoes and picante sauce. It was so good... this recipe is a winner the way it is... but feel free to add to it.

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta shells in well salted, boiling water until al dente (still have a little bite to them) If you cook them too long, they will be difficult to stuff, plus they will have additional cooking time, once they are stuffed. Drain the pasta and set aside while you make the filling.
  2. Cook, drain and dice enough chicken breast to make 4 cups. I always have homemade chicken stock and pre-cooked diced chicken bagged in my freezer. You could use canned chicken broth if you prefer.
  3. To make the filling, mix diced chicken, drained black beans, green onions, diced peppers, and cumin in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, chicken stock and undrained tomatoes with chiles. When thoroughly combined, pour it over the chicken mixture and mix well. (If you have trouble incorporating the cream cheese and tomatoes, you can heat it slightly in the microwave.)
  5. Spread 3/4 c. picante sauce in the bottom of a large baking pan. (I used 13x18x2, but I’m guessing that two 9×13′s would also work.) Reserve the final 1/4 cup, for later.
  6. Using a spoon, or your fingers, fill each of your cooked and cooled pasta shells, setting them into the picante covered pan. Continue until all shells are filled and arranged in the pan.
  7. When the pan is full, drizzle the shells with the remaining 1/4 cup of picante and then sprinkle with the shredded cheddar cheese.
  8. Cover the baking pan tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Enjoy and please stop by her blog and show her some love... very good site....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sweet Kisses From Bella Boo...


Today I was missing Bella so very much... so I text to see if she was awake. Her mommy said I could come down... and snuggle on her sweetness. Made my day. She is crawling so fast now and balancing on everything standing... made me a little teary. Soon she will be walking and then the next stage and so on and so on. I want her to stay my little Miss Bella Bean for awhile longer. I want her to be a baby...

She is shaking her head no to everything... but when she does it she shakes her whole little body and I laugh... it looks like a little dance. She repeats it over and over and we laugh uncontrollably. Such a fun stage of life, being a grandma. It is heaven.

Loved my time with Little Miss Sunshine today. I needed her little lovies...

Soyu Chicken Hawaiian Style Plate Lunch


I miss so much about Hawaii. When I was 23 and left Hawaii as home, I didn't think I would miss it. I lived in a rough area. I lived in a beautiful environment that cost me an arm and a leg to live it. I went through a very sad divorce at a very young age to someone that I thought hung the moon and the stars. (Ended up being the best thing for me, but who would have known back then). So, I returned to Spokane... aka Spokavegas.

I miss the laid back lifestyle that they have there. I miss the music. I miss the early morning rain and the rainbows it left behind. I miss the smells of the plumeria flowers. I miss the shaka sign, wearing slippas all day outside and always being bare foot inside. I miss shave ice from Wiola shave ice and I miss L and L bbq and Zippys Chili over rice.

I went back a few years ago... well six and a half now... and I realized how much I missed it. I went with G and the kids and I was pregnant with Carlie. Dinner Cruise, hiking even when my ankles were the size of stumps... We ate fresh pineapple with sliced pepper jack cheese every morning for breakfast, (might sound gross... but the combo is fantastic... don't stand in the way of a pregnant woman and her yummies) We would have Leonard's Bakery Malasadas each day... my favorite were the coconut cream filled ones, and the guava filled ones... NOW MY MOUTH IS WATERING. Again, did I tell you I had shave ice daily... it was planned into our budget... ha... I would have ice cream in the bottom of it and and condenced milk drizzled over the top.

I try to bring Hawaii into my kitchen often. There is such an Asian influence there... so I get to cook Asian food, and Hawaiian food... and life is good. I will make a point of making spam musubi in the next couple of weeks. And Beef Tomato, and Short Ribs, and Beef Brocolli, and Loco Moco, and chili over rice... and... and... and... and....

One of my family favorites is Soyu Chicken. If you say SOY... you have it wrong... trust me here. It is pronounced Show You. Say it together... there ya got it. OH MY... I need to cook some Lomi Lomi Salmon as well.... so good... back on track Wendy, Back on Track...

So again... No perfect measurements... bodda you? I hope not...this is my kitchen we are talking about... just a very simple walk through. Oh, and a fantastic memory. I cooked over 300 pieces of Soyu chicken one year as a fundraiser for my job at Wachovia. I had four big kettles boiling on my stove all day... finish one batch and start another.... there was so much moisture in my kitchen it actually blew up my microwave that night when we used it that night... well at least I am pretty sure now that is what it was caused by...

So... here is how I make Shoyu Chicken... oh... man... now I thought of Chicken Long Rice... I will try to make chicken long rice as well...


Soy Chicken...

Chicken Thighs work best with this recipe. I buy the big pack of thighs
4 cups of soy sauce
2 cups of water If you don't do this step it is going to be very salty
3 cups brown sugar
1 Tbls chopped garlic
3 inch piece of fresh ginger grated on a ginger grater... it turns it into a paste, this is what you want.

Add all of the above to a pot on the stove. Bring to boil. (You can actually marinade your chicken in this over night as well if you would like... Add chicken. Place lid on chicken. After it boils I put it on medium and cook for about an 45 minutes or until chicken is done. The trick at this point is to take the chicken out of the marinade and place on a cookie rack and broin under broiler to get a crispier skin, and not soggy. We always have ours with fried rice and mac salad. Ono!

This is a great recipe fo shua... ono ono, Hawaiian Style...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today I have to think....

Today a good man was put to rest. Today, the final good byes, yet, not the final tears for those that love and admire him. The way he touched others lives so genuinely and completely with his heart. That is a sad day. There are good people in the world, and he was one of them. He was one of the good ones.

I sit, and I think of my life. He didn't leave that day to go for a ride knowing he would never come home to his wife and kids. He just didn't. Unless we are dying of a disease that will take us, most of us don't know when that moment is going to be. None of us really know... ya know. We might know an end is near... we might know we need to make memories now with our loved ones and our friends... but we don't know that moment.

I hope I die a death when I know it is coming soon. I hope the doctors, at that time call my family and tell them the time is near. I hope I am with my kids and the people I love when I close my eyes for the last time. *** Note to anyone in the room with me when it is my time... if I die with my eyes open.... for GAWD SAKE please close my eyelids.... please. SMILING but so serious. Please... if you are with me when I die...give my kids a hug and tell them how much each of them meant to me. Please get the letters I will leave for each of them, and each of my grandkids under my mattress.... please give them time to read it on their own, but be there for them in case they need someone to talk to. When I die... please play Garth Brooks song, we will be free.... and when that is done... please play another Garth Brooks song... I got friends... and please sing along. Please give my kids a cd I will also have made for them... with *our song* that I have with each of them... and the song, Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler, and It Will Be Me by Melissa Etheridge. I will write the story of each of the births and put it in each of their envelopes as they will want to hear it one last time... they way they still do. I will tell them of how excited I was to hold each of them and look in their eyes the moment I held them. I will write how I was moved to tears in awwwwww of how much they owned my heart. Yes... God... please let me live a long and slow death so I can do all of these things. I love food. You better do a potluck, and there better be good food. Kday, you better open a cookbook and cook a recipe from that cookbook... and laugh the whole time... knowing how much you hate to cook but you are doing it for me. Rhonda, you go and talk to everyone and let it be cheery and smiley... as that is just your way... the nurturer. Kara, please convince Kday to lick her plate when it is done just for one last laugh. Holli can perform and tap dance for everyone... or better yet... do some fabulous song from Broadway. Dawn, mix the margaritas, Paula, sing Ice Castles... No... better yet... sing Photograph by Kidd Rock... Dawn can be your Sheryl Crow. Kerri, comfort my son, he will need it the most. Carol and Dru, please plan the after ceremony at Mo's. Don't buy me a fancy coffin, put me in a paper bag for all I care. Do it the cheapest way possible... I don't want to burden people with expense. I will be gone... I won't care. Keep your satin and ribbon. Don't worry about roses or big sprays of flowers. Pick me dandilions like my kids used to do. I love the dandilions. They make me smile. I am not going to tell you not to cry. CRY. I am a crier... and I will be watching... and if you don't cry, I may haunt your house. SERIOUSLY!!!! Kim will tell you stories of my older kids as children and Taylor puking on her wood floor from eating too much pepperoni on Christmas Eve. Dance... and sing... and hug... and remember times of laughter. That is what I want. I want to wear something that doesn't match... at all. Seriously... we put too much thought into our appearance... I will be at a place in my life... that I don't care... DEAD... I just won't care. Lynda, you can smoke one cigarette that day if you must... but only one... Krysta... I would like you to put a cup of coffee in my paper bag... I want into the pearly gates with a cup of coffee.... and stand up and yell as loud as you can... Wendy ordered some HAWT WANGS... and you better have truck loads of HAWT WANGS to share with everyone... it can be with blue cheese or ranch, I don't care. Tell G he is a good man and I am glad he is the dad to our children. Tell those that hurt me, I am ok, and I forgive them and I am sorry if I hurt them as well. Tammy will teach people the hustle... 70s style... and she will rock the dance floor. Eat cupcakes and mudd pie. Listen to my brother Troy tell stories, you will laugh your ass off... and my brother Jared will join in. My sister, Cami, she will know that I cherish the bond with her. She will dance to Rag Doll by Aerosmith if you really push her to. Ask Brandi if she will bake peach pies for everyone to have a slice... I am not sure if she will but, I hope she will. Play, sometime during the night... Happy Trails by Van Halen, as that is always a good memory of leaving school. Roger will show a soft side to himself, and not the tough cop exterior he hides behind at times... but the sweet caring man that has been my best friend since Alaska. Penny and Pam will cry... they are criers too... and Laurel... she will be passing out maple bars topped with bacon... as our adventures will fill her head, and she will smile. The men that hurt me, you are welcome to join... as I forgive you. Without you I would not be the woman that I am today... strong... well, trying to be strong. Yes, GAWD, please let me know when I am going to die. Don't donate my parts to others... my parts are worn out. Put them to rest. If I was healthier, younger, that would be one thing... but this body has seen its share of hurts... BUT... if I have any kidney stones at the time... have them extracted and plant them in the drink of someone that pissed me off in traffic. That is much better than flipping someone off for sure. So I have coffee in one hand, in my paper bag... someone please put a coor lite with bloody mix in it, in the other hand... I will drink it fast on my way up... this will be most appreciated if it is hot out. While I am laying there, please make sure I am sucking in my gut and I don't have anything in my teeth. Some of you read this and think I am kidding... I am not kidding. Out of all of this... what I want you to remember most... is to love on my kids and my grandbabies and tell them that they are my world. They are all that is good.... they are my riches and my wealth. They are what makes my heart so very happy... and I am so blessed to be their mom. Each of them has helped me grow in differnt ways. God knew I needed each of them in my life... He knows all...

From now until then... I need to figure out if I am living my life right. I need to check my bucket list... what is it that I need to cross off...

Singing karioke solo style... fat chance...
Rocking sick babies in Africa (for all of you that sit and think of half of them having aids, which you so freely share with me... and those that think I need to give within my country... well... I will be safe from the AIDS... and I do help with things within my country... do you?)
I want to cater... I want to have a bake shop/deli
I want to have a food truck to serve food to hungry construction workers, and soccer players, and baseball players...
I want to hike through Europe...
I want to watch anther sunset in Alaska
I want to let all those that I love, just how special they are to me...
I want to see a sunset in Maine
I want to travel through New England in the Fall
I want to get my kids all to Southern California yet again... as that is what they like to do
I want to forgive more freely
I want to volunteer more of my time to my community
I want to go in a movie theater and laugh so hard that I can't stop and they ask me to leave... that kind of laugh...
I want to see the ballet
I want to travel through Europe... hiking....
I want to go on a tv game show... just for the fun of it...
I want to walk up to someone in the grocery store and pay for the cart of groceries...
I want to have coffee in a diner and leave a 100 dollar bill... again
I want to sit with all three of my siblings and just tell them how much they each mean to me. Not in actions.... but choke through the sobs and let them know how they meant so much to me as we grew up....
I want to reach 500 people in one day handing out sack lunches downtown. The most I have done thus far in one day is 200...
I want to go to Georgia... and see the trees blossom
I want to go to Mardi Gras...
I want to go back to Flatlands and learn more....
I want to run through the sprinkler with the kids... let them forget they are adults... and just run through the sprinkler with Carlie and Bella...
I want to kiss and dance in the rain...
I want to find Dawna Clark...
I want to go to Seattle with Krysta...
I want to see Carlie swim with dolphins just like my other two kids did....
I want to backpack in the mountains...
I want to over come my fear and hike down the Grand Canyon


I will keep adding onto this... as there is way so much I want to do...

I want to be the kind of mom my kids remember me fondly
I want to be the kind of friend my friends remember and they laugh... or cry...
I want to be the sister and aunt that my family knows they can depend upon me...
I want to be a worker that is responsible and reliable
I want to be a neighbor that is good to the others
I want to keep volunteering in my daughters school so that she knows I care and it helps the kids
I want to advocate for kids that need someone to have a voice in this world, those that are forgotten
I want to take Carlie to visit the elderly in nursing homes, as often they are also the forgotten
I want to sit with a homeless person for a full night... and learn their story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tens... things that make me sad...

1. Seeing people being unkind to each other....
2. Two people not being able to talk things out calmly ...
3. Missing Tuesday Night Meetings as I don't want to be real and really dig in deep how I feel...
(I skipped tonight) Gotta process before Linda gets ahold of me... she digs... no digging tonight.
4. Missing my kids. I don't do well without them. I don't like being far from them.
5. Misunderstandings...
6. Losing the love and respect of a friend...
7. Death... the final chapter... so sad...
8. Regressing... instead of progressing in life...
9. When I hurt someones feelings. I would much rather be on the receiving end...
10. When people do things to hurt children. Do they realize they may never recover from that
trauma?

and although I know I said Tuesday Tens... one can't go without saying...

C*A*N*C*E*R.... if there is a hate that I feel... cancer would be the key word...

Today I got to spend the day with Carlie... always a good day...



After getting back from two and a half days of running and some sorrowful moments, I was able to just sit and be with Carlie. My mind was racing today... I try to keep my mind busy... but... I need some down time as well... so... today... we sat.

I really needed to go to the grocery store to pick up some things. I had some recipes that I wanted to try them out. It is good she went with me as my arm is still a bit sore, but, all in all, I refuse to complain about it... but is whining allowed? Just a little? My fingers were swollen by noon and the hot poker reappears to remind me to take it easy.

I finally got around to getting somewhat ready... if brushing your teeth and brushing your hair could be considered getting ready. No eyeliner even... just wanted to get it done and over with. I asked her to be a big girl and get herself ready and we were going to go and get some things to make peach cupcakes... recipe will follow later. She loves picking out her own clothes... getting herself ready... so this was fun for her.

Soon she came down in a little summer dress she wears around the house and a COWGIRL hat. How could I make her take it off? The answer is... I couldn't... so we went to the store... and she wore her cowgirl hat...

That's my girl.... so my girl...

PS... she had on lip gloss and perfume to boot.... ha...

I like a lot of different places for a lot of different reasons. I love VEGAS. The lights are bright... the people are in droves so I can sit and people watch. There are free drinks as long as you gamble, yet I am not a gambler. Fremont Street is my favorite... the light shows and the dollar shrimp cocktails. The sun draws me in.

In Iowa I was able to visit many Amish communities and I love it. The simple life. The not worry about so much life. The farming life, and cooking, baking and canning... it is so me... minus the high heels, lip stick, many curling irons, and perfume... well, it is a part of me....

Chicago. I love the people... once again. The hustle and bustle. The always walking. The variety of stores. The lake... the life. I am adaptable obviously.

San Francisco! I could live there. I love it. I love the water. I love watching the sea lions. I love, people watching... again. I love the wharf. I love the older homes and the hills. I love the trolley cars. I love it.

Hawaii... ALOHA! I love the water! I love to sit by the water and just BE. I love the slower life style there. I love wearing my slippas as a casual thing, and with a dress, it simply doesn't matter. I love the food and the smells. I love he rain in the early mornings, while everyone sleeps. I love the swap meet. I just love it so much and would love to retire there... fat chance.

But, for the Pacific Northwest... I love, love, love SEATTLE. I really do. I think I am supposed to be near water. Truly I do. I am not sure why, but I feel the calmest near water. I needed to go to Seattle this past weekend. I wish that there was time to play, but there simply was not enough time. I was supposed to see my sister for a part of a day, yet, I simply couldn't. Lots on my mind... lots to accomplish, so our visit has been postponed.

I had a five hour gap of free time. FIVE HOURS. Not much time. Surely not enough time. We woke up early so I could get Carlie fed and get her ready. We were going to go on an adventure. We took a tram, or train like object into the city. We caught it in Tukwila. It was fun for her. Her doll enjoyed it as well... and we got to the stop we needed to exit on. I think it was University Station.

She was about to experience Farmer's Market, or Pike Street Market....



There were people playing music. She loved it. We love music. Music is usually on in some capacity in our home... so this was a treat for her to be able to listen to the live music.

For lunch we bought some sour dough bread, and we ripped it apart, and we dipped it in some silly little butter packets.... and it was still warm, and it was fresh and it was pure heaven. We ate it down by the water while we looked at a totem pole that is being carved. We sat on a log railing and we ate our bread and we talked, and then we were quiet... just taking it all in.

If only we were not staying in a hotel. These crab legs looked so very good. I wasn't about to carry around crab legs for a couple of hours... and then not have anything to open them with once we got to the hotel. But... they looked so, so, so good.



Carlie, the fisher girl she is, had to get the whole hands on experience while we were there. All I could say is.... look for some hand sanitizer please. Ewwwww... as much as she is like me, there is a part of her that is so much ... well... so far from anything I would do....

Anyone that knows me... knows I LOVE antiques... I love them so much and could browse for hours and hours. I love them. I often wonder where those items once were. I wonder who owned them. I wonder about the era they came from.

I am a farm girl at heart. I love to garden... although I am not lucky enough to have one of my own... this year that is. Next year, I will have a garden. I don't care if I have to rent a plot somewhere... but I will have a garden. I think that one of the things I like most about Farmer's Markets, other than the fruits and veggies, is... the colors. They appeal to me. I love color, and vibrant colors at that. So, when I am there, there is a calm... yet a part of me feels vibrant and alive with all the colors that surround me.

I wanted to buy so much and go home to cook, yet, there I was, no pots, no pans, no stove... so... I just had to window shop. It was killing me. Oh well...

Look at how perfect those peppers are. They are so very good. I think that this is the stand that Carlie got a fuji apple. If you could see it! It was so very big. It was at least twice the size of the fujis I have ever seen. She was in heaven....

Artichokes... perfect for any meal.... They had huge artichokes. They were wonderful.



The totem pole I told you about. It is amazing.

We listened to the story. It was a story of love... they are finishing this project.

There are many religious beliefs behind a totem pole. It was interesting to learn about the beliefs behind them from the people carving it.

I am glad I was able to share the totem pole learning moments with Carlie. It is something I don't think she will forget.

The flowers were gorgeous. They bouquets are HUGE... they are colorful and full. There is a large variety.

THEY WERE CHEAP!!!! They only cost $5.00 and $10.00 for the bouquets. I loved them and could have sat and looked at them all day.

To me, the above bouquet would be a perfect wedding bouquet... gorgeous... and it was $10! Can you imagine?

There was so much lavendar. Lavendar is a huge part of my life. It relaxes... so it is sprayed on my pillow each time I go to rest or sleep... There was a ton of lavendar there.

These are the five and ten dollar bouquets...

I loved the booths with bright colors... ps... I am not selling these photos... if you like them, you need to go to Pike Street Market and find the artist that sells them. Her employee scold me thinking I would be selling the photos... UHM... I don't have them, how could I sell them?

She was a great artist... so... if you get there, there is a large variety to purchase. Some great work... I could have browsed again for hours...

Another booth with art work... not as good as the first... but still cool...

More vibrant colors that call my name... so pretty....

Look at the peones! So pretty and delicate. I loved just strolling along and enjoying the farmer's market with one of my favorite gals...

It was almost a perfect gap in my life... the only thing that would have been better is to have had the whole day to be down there. I had to get the train back to the parking lot, and back to the hotel for a short nap... and then, I had to get back to real life.

Yes... Pike Street Market in Seattle is one of my favorite places to be for sure. I need to make a point of getting down to our own Saturday market next week. I will neglect sleep just to be able to see the bright colors and think of all the yummy dishes I can make with the veggies I will find.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Today is a day of fear...

It has been a tough weekend. A weekend of soul searching. A weekend full of tears and fears coming to the surface. As strong as we try to be... this is a day that I continue on the paths in my head of the unknowns and the fears that go along with it. Life is so precious and much too short... why must it be so short? This is a weekend of loss... and a weekend of... well... I don't know where I am or who I am today... death... an evil and ugly word meaning... the show is over.

Today I reach for blessings that surround me...

I came home and started to immediately open all the windows... let in the fresh air. I go outside... and there, my lilac bush is in full bloom. Usually it blooms in May... but there were only a few blooms in May. Today, it is covered in at least a hundred blooms of lilacs. I sit and weep. I needed those blooms today. I needed to smell how good they smell and how pretty they are. I needed to know that even when we give up on things... they bloom and they grown... just like that lilac bush. Even when I gave up on it... it grew.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The room at the top of the stairs sits empty....




I go upstairs daily. I have to, as that is where Carlie's room is. That is where the bathroom and shower are... I have no choice but to go up the stairs. When I do, I glance to my left til the first platform where I have to turn to go up the second set of stairs. The wall is covered in the photos. Sis being little, where curls adorned her hair in a soft honey color of light brown. I see her big brown eyes, and the little white dress with pink ribbon she wore. I see his photo, as a baby, in his little baseball suit, with a matching cap. I see the scared look on his face, of shock when the flash of the camera went off, laying on a piece of white fabric. His eyes are the deepest brown, almost black and the little pink cheeks. I see Carlie's photo of her in her first kimono, little pig tails on the top of her head, looking at the Japanese lucky cat. I see photos of my sister's wedding, of Bethwel, (our first international son to live with us from Kenya) as he graduated college with honors before he left for medical school. I see a family portrait of my side of the family when the older kids are small... my high school mullet hair cut, wearing a pink angora sweater... the bi-level makes me smile and laugh as I shake my head and climb the next set of stairs and my heart starts to beat rapidly yet again. I am getting closer, nearer... the familiar pit in my stomach hurts.

To the far left is Carlie's room. It has a net hanging from the ceiling. It turns a somewhat ordinary bed into a princess bed. Toys scattered on her floor. She is a little girl for sure with lotions, perfumes and lipgloss on the dressers... She has a little container that hold her brets, ponytail holders and head bands. Pillow pets are lined on the floor ready for the next school lesson, picnic or tea party, depending on the day. The shelves in the closet have become a personal library for my daughter that loves to read. I walk to leave the room and focus... focus... focus on going to the bathroom and changing the scentsy out or checking to make sure the night light is on for it... and I quickly turn to leave in a hurry to get down the stairs... and that room calls my attention every time. AND....
MY
HEART
ACHES
EVERY
SINGLE
TIME......................................................................................................................................................
end of story.

In the past week I have forced myself to look at some photos from when Tay entered the hospital for nearly a year... on and off. The band aids were peeled off of my heart... not slowly... FAST... and it... HURT. I know I need to face this hurt and yet, I simply, at times don't know how. I don't know how to face the hurt and smile. I don't know how to be gracious about it. I don't know how to be brave... so, it all sat, under these so called band aids for two, almost three years.

I today, had to enter that room. I was not looking for anything... other than how to mend a heart that longs for my son to be in my home. I opened that door and as soon as I saw the sun coming out of the room and knowing I was IN... I began to sob. Not the cute little cries that I can put my finger under my nose like a mustache and stop the eyes from watering... but like a damn ... Like Coulee Dam! How do I ever face this? How do I heal? How do I stop missing him so very much? To me it is as foreign as working on the engine of a car... lost... confused and frustrated. I want to just put the key in the ignition, fill the dumb thing with gas and just drive. Same with Taylor. I want to knock on his door and tell him ten minutes til dinner. I want to call him from outside playing basketball or riding his rip tide. I want to tell him to turn his music down or to turn the tv down as his sister is trying to sleep... yet... that is not going to happen. Instead, I search for the answers on how to be a rock of strength for him and for my girls as we face the many faces of autism and the other disorders that make my son who he is.

I love him just the way he is. He has the cutest grin when he feels shy, while turning red. He can tell when I am worn down, and offers a hug... EVERY SINGLE TIME. He reassures me not to worry about him. How can a mom not worry about their son that has the mentality of a ten year old boy, living outside of her home? It is not possible. He loves his video games and his magic card game. I don't care for either. He loves to scare me by hiding in closets and jumping out when I walk by. He loves taking things apart and putting them back together again. He loves the cooking torch I use to crystalize the sugar on my creme brulee to like off fireworks. He loves crabbing and walking down the dock to see what everyone else has caught. He loves being a big brother.

No more laughs come from his room. No more cries in frustration when he can't understand how to communicate his feelings. No more Chumbawamba or Santana at loud volumes coming out. No more sitting in the special chair to play video games that vibrates and plays music... no more begging him to wear his retainer or brush his teeth. No teasing and dancing as I climb the stairs about how I fell of the riptide or lost at H O R S E while playing basketball... just a room that is dark without him in it. The tv still sits on the dresser and the bed is still not made as he didn't like his bed to be made. His stop light still sits on his book shelf, along with his stereo and the picture frame with him and his sisters in it. The trophies he saved of his dads wrestling and judo days are on a shelf... they need dusting for sure... Mickey Mouse, Donald, and Goofy are on a picture on the wall and I smile knowing how much he loves Disneyland. The picture he colored and framed of Superman also hangs there. The large book of Marvel heros is on the shelf... how he loves them. The pair of jeans I asked him to throw in the wash three years ago, they hang from the post at the end of his bed. It is like a ghost town... everything the way he left it... keeping his space safe for him... as it had to be his way for him to be comfortable.

I sit on the bed and remember sitting there after his night tremors... just wanting him to feel safe and secure by my presence. As I stare to the side of me... my mind becomes a time machine and takes me back to gentler times. The middle drawer was at one time his bed. Sounds odd, but, he was so small when he came home from the hospital, I had to put him in a drawer... I was afraid he would get hurt in the bassinet and the crib... so a drawer it was thanks to the bright thinking of his pediatrician. That drawer, as I opened it is now filled with transformers and pokeman cards and games to his xbox. I cry as I run my finger on the wood... trying to forget how much my heart misses him. I see the coat he used to wear when he would run away and be gone for days. It hangs from a hook in his closet. I remember it being so wet I would need to go outside and wring the water out when the police would find him sleeping outside in an alley behind Baskin and Robins, and drive him home. My thoughts go to the police telling me he would stay calm and tell them, my name is Taylor, I am autistic, will you give me a ride home? My mind goes to all these thoughts... and... it simply is too much for one day... so... I wipe my tears, put the bandaids back on... walk out of the room with one last look... trying to listen really hard to remember the laughs that he would let out when he would watch I love Lucy... I cry... I come to the computer. I am determined to heal.

I see him often. I talk to him daily. We do lunch... he teases me... yet... it is not the same. His room is empty of life and joy. My heart is missing a link... it sits waiting for the day he can come home. Will that day ever come? I pick up the phone... and call him... just to hear his voice... and he tells me he just got paid and is on his way to get a video game. I hang up and I feel my chin start to quiver yet again, and those damned bandaids on my heart aren't doing the trick anymore. I want to crawl in my bed. I want to curl up in the fetal position. I want to listen to our song. I want him to jump out of the closet so I can yell and him that he will give me a heart attack at any moment one of these days and he is going to be really sorry when that happens. I want to rest my thoughts and fall asleep and I know that is but an impossibility.

I am supposed to be the one that teaches him how to treat women and how to be kind. I am the one that is supposed to teach him how to cook and keep a checkbook and write down in your check ledger. I am the one that is supposed to check on him when the night terrors happen, and plan camping trips and suffer through scary movies with him... ME. I am not only sad... but a part of me is bitter for not being able to do these things. My heart... it hurts... it is a mess... and so I will continue to put my money on counselors and try to avoid numbing items...

Will he ever understand how much I miss him. I wish Carlie was here to color with or paint her nails... anything... but... THIS.

Mini Snickers Cheesecakes


If there has ever been proof that there is a higher power, in my mind it would be cheesecake. I adore cheesecakes. You could give me a list of 100 types and I would not scratch one of them off and I would love to try every single last one of them. Is it any wonder that my butt is so big? I think not! The smoothness in the texture... the sweetness, creamy and tasty.

I talked to Scott recently about a childhood memory of his grandmother. He wrote that he loved her cheesecake as it had extra butter in the graham cracker crust. I agree with him that there needs to be real butter used... and just enough sugar... not too much as it will spoil everything.

What is my favorite type of cheese cake? I am not sure... but I don't think that I have met it yet, as there are simply too many. I really like pumpkin cheese cake with a ginger snap crust. It is AMAZING... and different and a little bit of heaven in my mouth.

I recently discovered a Mini Snickers Cheesecakes at a blog called Six Sister's Stuff. Please join them there for a peek at all of their wonderful goodness that they share with their readers. They have some amazing recipes they share. I have spent a couple of hours there reading. Love it.

On to the dessert... here is the recipe. My family loved it. Mini servings that I baked in my Demarle cupcake pan. No liners needed. Mini means portion control to me as I seriously could eat three slices of cheesecake if people don't watch me. I would pay for it as it is too rich for my stomach in that much quantity... yet... the taste makes me driven for more. I was able to send some of these home with my son Taylor and my daughter Amanda. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Six Sister's ... you did good with this recipe. IT IS AMAZING!

Mini Snickers Cheesecakes Copy and pasted from their site. Please use link above to visit,

2 c. chopped Snickers Bars
2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbl. granulated sugar
5 Tbl. melted butter
2 8oz packages softened cream cheese
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbl. pure vanilla
3 Tbl. caramel sauce

**The original recipe suggests making these in a muffin top pan but I used a regular muffin tin pan and they worked fine! If you are using a regular muffin tin, use a little bit less than 1/4 c. when you are pouring the filling into each tin so they don't overflow.**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place chopped Snickers Bars into a bowl, set aside for now. Place graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter into a mixing bowl to combine. Spoon a couple spoonfuls of crumbs into each section of the muffin pan and press down and up the sides. Bake for 5-6 minutes or just until browned. Remove from oven.

In a stand or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined, scraping sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in caramel sauce until well combined. Pour about 1/4 c. of cheesecake mixture over each baked crust then top evenly with chopped Snickers. Bake for 23-26 minutes or until cheesecake edges are just starting to brown and centers are nearly set. Remove and let cool completely. While still warm, loosen all edges with a plastic knife to make for easier removal from pan. Refrigerate once cooled then top with caramel sauce and whipped cream to serve!

12 individual cheesecakes

Brandi's rainbow heart has touched my almost magenta heart...


There are times when our hearts just belong to our friends that we have known for years. They are ... well... comfortable. They are strong, there are a lot of memories. There are past activities in which we have bonded to them... school dances, keggers in school, classes shared, secrets told. We support each other through boyfriends and marriages, child birth, and the ups and downs when we are parents. The biggest reward, and sometimes job, we have during our life, being a parent.

It is amazing how we have different friends we lean on for different things in our lives. I know personally I go to different friends for different needs in my life. Kara, she gets both sides of my feelings when I am confused. Kday, she sees the silver lining in everything. Kim... so much like Rosanne Barr that it amazes me... blunt, straight to the point. Dawn, she makes me smile, because with every memory of her, we were usually laughing... laughing hard. Kerri, she has this gift of nurturing others and is just like everyones mom and puts them on the right path again. Paula, just like a comfort food, something that I need to know is there. Tammy, recently connected in the past six years or so, originally by email, now facebook, is the friend that I have known the LONGEST, but brings the kid back in me from fourth grade. She might not remember it but I had her in third grade for a few days before my parents put me in private school yet again... and I even had her in the second grade... we just weren't fast friends yet. Laurel is my friend that we can sit next to each other and finish each others sentences. She is warm and bright and we can talk for hours and never repeat the same things... ever...

We, however, even later in life, run into people that just touch our hearts in a way that we feel an instant and constant energy. They mirror some of our belief systems and our way of thinking in ways that are most amazing.

When I transferred to Mead from Shadle Park High School, I was really scared. I knew a young man there that I had dated a year or two earlier, and I knew a few young men I went to church with, and I knew Laurel. Laurel was a Senior, and I was a Junior. I signed up for as many classes I could with her, yet, we got... TYPING together, and... Leadership. Those were the extent of our classes together. So pretty much I was on my own to find and build friendships.

Now, I have never been the prettiest crayola in the box. I was like... well... periwinkle. (Why ever did they name a color of crayon cornflower blue? Odd to me... always has been... always will be...cornflower, REALLY? Is it a marketing ploy to stick in our minds. Do they want us to walk around the room and wonder where the hell we can find cornflower blue... in a big meadow, while picking corn? WTH, I still don't get it.) Go look up the color periwinkle. It is nothing special... trust me on this one... I was always REALLY THIN... too thin for my liking. My eyes have a droop in the corner of them which my half sister, Megan, used to tell me, makes me look so sad. I got frost bite on my lips when I was in kindergarten... (all three weeks of kindergarten I went to at least, as I got kicked out of kindergarten... didn't like taking naps... didn't like the other kids taking naps, and really liked talking a lot during nap time and getting the others to do so as well... this is another story, for yet another day...). I had bought a snow cone in the freezer section of the grocery store. It melted so when I went home, I put it back in the freezer and it melted into a solid block of ice. I sucked on it for what seemed like days... but... in reality it must have been several hours... Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, The New Zoo Review... and The Brady Bunch... With this in mind, my lips turned a bright color of purple grayish color. My mom was upset my lips were dyed from the popsicle. After several days of my lips being a beautiful color of... well a mud puddle after a rain (ha)... and us having fellowship on Sabbath, at their friend the Larry Thayers house, (doctor in our church and small town) they were told I probably froze them ... gotten frost bite. Now, you must think I have gotten side tracked... yet... I have not. I know I was talking about my feeling awkward in high school. I am explaining it wasn't only in high school... but... also in grade school and junior high and started at a young age. SOOOOO stick with me here.... the size of my lips today, this is the size they were in grade school as well due to that damn snow cone. Fast forward back to high school... I took cosmetology at the skill center... which translates to... I liked to mess with my hair and change the colors. I liked to cut it, color it and curl the crud out of it. Don't forget the aqua net... as it was essential back then. It was a must. The only good thing I had going for me then, and now too actually, is that I had great eyes. NO... not the shape, remember, they make me look sad, by drooping in the corners. But my eyes... they are light blue. I like my eyes. The one thing I get compliments on... the one thing I like.

Back to high school and periwinkle. Within days, I saw a girl that stood out in my mind, as ... GULP... A GODDESS! You know... the girl that can enter a room and simply glow. The girl that every boy is going to turn his neck and head just to see... and as she walks away, he will watch her as far as he can... even standing on his tip toes looking like a goof (thanks for the word that is now a staple in my vocabulary) just to see over people as she is leaving. SHE was that girl. She, was... A MODEL. She modeled. Now if that doesn't intimidate an ugly girl, I don't know what would.

Being ugly and having issues in your life, you learn to compensate and be liked in other ways. Between my life and my religion and sticking out to some... I had to learn how to fit in, in a world where being a teen is hard at times. My way of escape, even to this day... is laughter... to make others laugh. When I laugh the most is when I am ignoring issues that need to be handled. Just the way it is... and it always has been.

SHE... SHE ALWAYS had friends near her. Why wouldn't she... she was gorgeous. I would never get to know this young lady... the Goddess. I would see her look at me in the pit from time to time, when I was doing something to make my friends laugh. I would feel so inferior to her... and I felt odd near her as I was a bit.... dah, dah, dah.... JEALOUS. How could she be so natural and so good at just BEING and I had to try so hard to make others laugh... to just feel accepted and to ignore my issues?

By the end of our senior year... this young lady had started talking to me... as we had econ together. I sat in her row. Me, Mike Nieman and Brandi. I was so nervous... what would she say... she was a cool kid... I was a nerd... I had one thing going for me... Mike Nieman. He liked me... he was my friend... and... he was HER friend. I was able to join in the conversations they would have. We got matched together in groups for class... slowly, I didn't feel so isolated and fearful of the Goddess way that was in my mind.

If I was periwinkle... she was... well... she was... actually hold on... I will be right back. I am running to grab Carlie's box of crayolas... the big box of 64 we just bought for her summer craft box.... Dang it... 64 isn't very many. When did 64 crayolas get to not be enough for arts, crafts and activities? Seriously... note to self... please get Carlie the pack of over 100 crayolas for first grade as this was crap... couldn't find bright enough or vibrant enough colors for my liking... Carlie is the artist and deserves the biggest box...

So... if I was periwinkle... then she was... well...MAGENTA! I looked through the whole box... and magenta is what I came up with! I love magenta. It just attracts the eye... and is filled with so much... calming, cheerful, vibrant... she was for sure... MAGENTA!





All of these years later, we started talking through her brother Scott. It has been fun reconnecting, so when his sister was a part of that, it was a double blessing. We have talked on IM through facebook... inbox... texts... on the phone and I was lucky enough to meet her for his birthday. He talked of her always, and it was so evident that she is his pillar, and, one of his biggest fans, with very good reason to be.

There is some family resemblance between the two in their mannerisms. When they sit side by side and talk, you can just see that they are so much alike in personality and they feed off each other. They talk about things from childhood and she tells him his memory is so much better than his. They talk about how Scott is becoming like his dad expecting her to remember the directions in town although she hasn't lived there for a bit of time. There is this look of love and admiration that they give each other that is precious and deep, and no words need to be spoken, when you witness it, you just know.

They are both kind and gentle. They both want to be the best people that they can be. They both like running and he encourages her to run but a back injury has taken her out for a bit. They both laugh at each others jokes. They have the usual childhood memories. She calls him turbo... although that had to change as the other pet name she had for him was not liked by their mom. They are siblings... best friends. It is like it was there when God created light... just... in our minds... always there. They are both deserving of the best people in their lives and of nothing but goodness and grace. They both are dear to my heart. She calls him Scotty when she sings Happy Birthday to him. It is touching.

Do you ever get this urgency feeling of pride in someone... of... being proud of the man or woman that they are? I feel that for Brandi. I have thought of this often and have really tried to put my thumb on it... of what I feel... and this is what I think. I have this urgency of pride for Scott as well, as he has overcome some obstacles like a trooper, full force, and no end in sight. He is going to accomplish whatever his heart desires. If he feels it in his heart, he has the ability to achieve it.

I think Brandi has become a woman of many colors... she wears many different hats in life, as we all do... yet, she does it so well... with class... with grace... with dignity.

Here, I show you, there are gorgeous colors... we have different colors and although they may not match well next to each other, on their own, they are beautiful.

I see Brandi as yellow to her brother Scott. She brightens his days. So many of his memories he talks about, as being the fondest, or the deepest, have Brandi in them. She brightens his days. He sends her jokes through text each day. They stay connected through not only memories and family bonds, but, also, through laughter. We all need laughter... WE ALL NEED LAUGHTER. She walked in and met him at a restaurant for his birthday in which was a big surprise for him, and I saw the transformation of his face and his posture immediately. Like, well... I don't know... like walking on the beach and finding a message in a bottle and lighting up knowing that there is something inside that is deep and meaningful... yeh... like that. He had a sparkle in his eye, and you knew that when she was in the room, he felt, hmmmmm.... at home. That is why I chose yellow.

Green... the color I think of as growth. Not only in ourselves, but helping others grow. She always has words of wisdom to share... even if those words of wisdom come out as... ya goof... or ya big goof... She encourages others to grow. Always a beautiful thing to have and share with others... growth... it is a good thing. She, however, with her family, has grown. She has grown into a mother and a wife. Some of us never get that growth... we go through the motions... yet, never grow into those big girl panties. She has... well... not so big girl panties as in size but as in responsibility. She works seven days a week to provide ALL that she can for her family. THAT IS HUGE. We all provide food and shelter right... she wants to provide them with everything. So.... this kind of mixes in with the next color... but don't blend them into a gray... as Brandi is anything but gray....

Brandi is red violet... which to me... is her passion. I see her passion being many things... her brother... her husband, her family, her love of cooking, her love of camping, her love of friends, her love of gardening... but, her biggest passion and what I think I connect with Brandi the most, is the love of her children! Her sons... her three musketeers.

Don't get me wrong... I know we moms love our kids... I get that. However, I am not sure that all moms make their kids their lives. Not all moms make their kids their WORLD... not all moms make their kids their EVERYTHING. I can assure you without doubt, that Brandi and her husband have made their sons not only their earth, but their universe. I am touched and honored to see a love like she has for her sons. I am amazed that someone feels like I do... as closely to my belief system on parenting. Little steps are huge steps... love that is so evident, there is no wonder in the bonds that exist.

Going back to the working 7 days a week. We were talking one day and Brandi mentioned how tired she was working seven days, not tired of working, but physically tired... but followed up with... but, I want Jacob to have the best graduation ever, and the best going away party before he leaves to the military. As Carlie would say... that filled my bucket... (which means... that made my day).

Turquoise Blue... Have you ever been to Lake Louise in Canada? Well... if you haven't you are missing out. Brandi reminds me of the color of Lake Louise. It is the clearest and most gorgeous color of blue around. It is calming. Not only the color of it, but the calmness of it, and the scenic view of it. The trees protect it and they add to the beauty. You can sit at the edge and just BE. You can hear nature, you can feel a breeze... it is calming, like when you are hurt and a parent holds you until you feel secure and safe again... just a calm... Brandi is turquoise blue.

Robin Egg blue... it is fresh and clean. A new start! A beginning. Brandi faces new starts like a trooper. Life seems to restart on us again and again, sometimes on a daily basis. Her world is changing as she prepares to welcome her son to a new world of independence of adulthood. She is hesitant. We as moms don't want to think of a single day without seeing the faces of our children. We don't want to miss the opportunity to hug them for support and encouragement, and if we are honest with ourselves... to feel needed by our children. She has given this young man roots and family values. Now, it is time to welcome him into this new space. I didn't do well with it. She embraces it and is facing it. She is in this new start of being a soldier's mom. Oh my Gosh... I so know that she is so prideful of that. This young man is going to serve his country. What an honor to have such a noble and caring young man. It is not only Jacob that she and her husband have taught well, but also Chase and Trey. Can you imagine having three sons and a husband in one home? She is well protected and respected I am sure. They are blessed to call her wife, and mother, or mom.

We were texting one day and she wrote me... GREAT IDEA HANDSOME. The next text read, sorry, that was for Jake. Made me smile... the way I would talk to my son...

Blue green... calming, like the breeze. She brings calm to those around her. She may be in her own moment of needing time to just BE at that moment, but she shares her calm with others. She is there when needed to calm their spirit and give wisdom. She is giving of her time and a pillar to many which is calming to those around her...



She is blue violet... another color of passion. There is going to be a day where Brandi is going to be a grandma. In the next ten years, I am sure she will have a grandchild. I see her as knowing what is needed to make her grandbabies feel loved and adored. I love my grandbaby with all my heart and I know Brandi is going to be the same way; doting... bragging, time consuming grandma that grandbabies need. She is so proud of her boys... wait til they have babies of their own. She is going to be the best grandma as she knows what it takes... and this I am sure of....

Brandi is purple... the color of the yaya sisterhood. SMILE.... What is that? Well, like the movie... friends... a sisterhood. They are born to another family... but bound through love and trust... hopes and dreams... dreams and realities. They are bound by unconditional love even after all the years pass. I love that Brandi also has high school friends that she still adores and they have a real sisterhood and commitment to each others lives. I love, love, love that. There are some things in life, that only get better. I believe that women need those types of friendships and love... the extra support as we take on so much more in life with our emotions than men at times. We want to be everyone's everything and it wears us out.... yet we rejuvenate each other.


Brandi is PINK! Brandi loves one of her friends so dearly and she happens to be kicking some cancer ass. I will not post a name, as our fights are so personal, and so much our story and not others... so the name is with held. Yet, I can tell you this woman is strong in her fight and she is doing nothing but purely fighting and kicking some ass on the way. This woman has come into our conversations from time to time with her progress and it is so evident on how much Brandi stands beside her in this wonderful journey we call life. She is learning lessons with her friend along this path. I am proud of you for loving your friend with all your heart.... and for not treating her any different... we are never different during the ass kicking we dole... just a different perspective, yet the same person.

My friend Brandi... you are magenta... I am working closer to magenta. Sometimes we make ourselves magenta even though we don't have the example of being deep or have the example on how to make ourselves into what we want to be. We feel our way around... and we get to where we land by trial and error. We learn through our friends and those we hold dear to our heart, and mostly, we learn through our children.

Thank you for showing me your rainbow of colors. Thank you for living life and loving with all you have. Thank you for loving others wholly and completely. I love you and your ENTIRE family more than you know. That has not changed, nor will it... ALL of your family.

I am so glad you are in my life and you have touched me in more ways than you know.

I can't wait to have Jacob be my guinea pig for cookies while he is out and about. I can't wait to continue growing and learning... and... and... and... We are going to have a bake shop... perhaps a bake shop and deli.

I promise you will be one of the people that when I am on my death bed... you will be one of the people in my life... I will be old and wrinkled... I will have lost most of my memory... I will have no teeth... but you will have been a part of my family... and a true friend... and in so many memories...