Mother’s Day

One of the last pictures I have of my mom
One of the last pictures I have of my mom

Today is officially Mother’s Day. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of my mother and miss her dearly. She was one of the most kind and gentle women I knew.

My mother’s life was not an easy one by any means, but she was always cheerful and happy. My mother taught me how to be a mom. I only hope that one day I will be half the mom she was!

Sausage Gravy

My son, Zach requested some biscuits and gravy so I took pictures so I could post the recipe here.

The ultimate comfort food, biscuits and sausage gravy.
The ultimate comfort food, biscuits and sausage gravy.

12 ounce roll of Bacon and Pork Sausage
3/4 cups flour
2-4 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown Sausage in skillet (I used the Ninja on the stove top high setting). While browning the sausage make to sure to break it into smaller bits.

Brown really well, breaking up into smaller bits
Brown really well, breaking up into smaller bits

Add in flour and stir well for about a minute
Add in flour and stir
Add in flour and stir

There was not quite enough fat from the sausage so I added a little bit of butter so that there was enough fat for the flour.
Needed a little bit of butter
Needed a little bit of butter

Stir really well as it starts to tighten up and get thicker
Add salt and pepper to taste. You will need a LOT more than you think! So taste often!

Now add the milk, a couple of cups at a time. You can always add more if it gets too thick. This is just something you will have to play with it might take a different amount each time. Switch to a wire whisk to stir, making sure to get the corners.

It will take a few minutes to thicken properly
It will take a few minutes to thicken properly

don't forget the corners.
don’t forget the corners.

When the gravy gets to the desired thickness then turn Ninja to crock pot low setting or if using skillet then serve or put in a crock pot on low until ready to serve. You don’t want the gravy to be too liquidy, so use a spoon to check the thickness and the taste again, you may need more salt and pepper at this point as well.
not too runny
not too runny

Put down your damn phone people!

So on my way to the library to print some paperwork I needed (no working printer right now), a car in the right lane swerved into my lane several times. As I passed them (because I want to be ahead of crazy drivers, not behind them or beside them!) the driver was taking a selfie! What the hell is wrong with you people that you can’t put down your damn phone and pay attention to LIFE right in front of you! Is a selfie worth crashing your car? Because you were close to it several times!

Yesterday as I was waiting to pick up my 15 year old from Track practice I saw not one, but three different kids who were taking selfies as they were walking to their cars. They were more focused on taking a picture of themselves then paying attention to the world, or in this case, traffic, around them. My son has like 20 Snapchat messages (probably more, I don’t really know) when he comes to the car from his Track practice…all in the span of just a couple of hours. We need to do more actual talking to people!

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I use it a lot. I take pictures with my phone, I check email, makes lists, look up recipes, call people, transfer money, buy items etc. But increasingly anymore you can’t have a normal conversation without the darn phone interrupting.

There are even apps upon apps where you can “converse” with whomever you want about whatever you want with “no strings”. These days we all want instant gratification instead. Pick up your phone and just find someone who agrees with you or will say what you want to hear instead of possibly encountering some conflict in your real life relationships. What does it hurt? Well, it hurts those who now have to compete for your attention that’s who it hurts.

The sad thing is this is not the first time I have had an encounter while driving that when I passed the person who was driving erratically I see them on their phone. Let’s face it people, none of you are texting anything life or death on your way to Wally-World or Starbucks. The only people who have life or death decisions to make via their phones have chauffeur’s and secret service people to drive them around and keep them safe. All of the “important” business most of us have to do on our phones can wait.

Again, I am certainly not anti-technology. I love it! I just see it over taking my life and I don’t like that at all. When people forget how to have a conversation face to face about things (big things, little things, funny things, deep things…all things!) then we are in trouble as a society.

My kids school is implementing a new cell phone policy after our spring break and cell phones will not be allowed out in the classrooms only in the halls and at lunch. The kids (and some of the adults) are not too happy about it. I had a conversation with a student last week who got sent out of class because he refused to put his phone away when the teacher asked. I explained to him that he needed to think of it from the teachers standpoint. If she has 20-30 kids in a class and half (usually more!) are on their phones (listening to music, taking selfies, chatting, cheating etc) who does she know they are paying attention and learning? He sort of understood that. The kicker was at the end of the conversation when I asked him if he thought I was listening to him throughout this conversation and he said yes. I said would you feel the same if I had my phone out the entire time and was texting on it? He just kind of laughed and said…”No”.

Cleaning tip

So I came home from a relaxing weekend away and found this on my coffee table in the living room…(I forgot to take a picture before I poured a little bit of water on it)

Just plain old water, let stand for a few minutes
Just plain old water, let stand for a few minutes

Scrap gently
I used a plastic kitchen scraper to work at getting the stuck on card off
I used a plastic kitchen scraper to work at getting the stuck on card off

Comes up pretty easily
Comes up pretty easily

Wipe up
Can you see the slight residue there?  I can fix that too!
Can you see the slight residue there? I can fix that too!

There will be a little bit of residue, use a dab of oil (I sprayed cooking spray to a paper towel and rubbed it in)
Voila!  All clean!
Voila! All clean!

Dinner and a confession…

So I went to the grocery store like a grown up yesterday and actually bought ingredients for several meals! I am trying to be better about making meals at home as opposed to eating out. I made garlic mashed potatoes in my Ninja (it was so easy! I actually peeled the potatoes and put them in the Ninja while I left to go pick up my youngest son at Track practice! I also made mini meat loaves to go with it and they also baked in the oven as I was being the “Mom Taxi”. (In case you are worried, my 16 year old was at the house and keeping an eye on things just in case I got delayed.) I came home and made some brown gravy to go with the potatoes and re-heated some cooked carrots we already had to round out the meal. It was good! I am looking forward to my lunch tomorrow of leftovers! Plus there is plenty left over for my boys to eat while we are gone for the weekend!

Mini Meatloaves with a browns sugar and ketchup glaze
Mini Meatloaves with a browns sugar and ketchup glaze
Garlic Mashed potatoes made in the Ninja!
Garlic Mashed potatoes made in the Ninja!

And now for the confession…while I was looking up a “recipe” for mashed potatoes (I keep typing masked potato…)I totally fell asleep…

I may or may not have fallen asleep at the kitchen table while looking up a recipe...
I may or may not have fallen asleep at the kitchen table while looking up a recipe…

…at the table for like 30 minutes…
hence the red mark on my forehead…SMH. On that note, I am off to bed…oh wait, no I need to check to see if I have stuff for my weekend away at the Stone Yancey House with my husband and our friends.

Then I will go to bed because as usual I have to get up at “0 dark thirty”

Some inspiration

I have not been feeling well this week and have stayed home yesterday and today. I have been feeling weak and tired (more so then I normally am with my RA and my busy life). I went to the doctor this afternoon…and just getting ready to go was tiring. Getting dressed and out the door took all of my strength, no exaggeration! I also was just dreading this visit because no one likes to lay half naked on an exam table while a doctor pokes around. But I knew it had to be done.

So I explained my problem to the nurse and got my blood pressure taken etc then waited for the doctor to come in and talk to me. After explaining my, um problem, the doctor told me I needed to get undressed from the waist down and handed me a wonderful paper “blanket” to cover up and told me to press the button when I was “ready”. Hmm…is anyone ever ready for that? So skip to the end of the appointment (I will spare you anymore details) and the doctor ordered blood work to see if I was anemic and said we needed to schedule a colonoscopy soon. Oh, Joy! I have had 2 in my lifetime so far since I have a family history of colon cancer…on BOTH sides of the family.

Since I was already out I decided to stop at Costco to get some milk and other things we needed. Of course it started pouring rain when I pulled into a parking spot. No matter, it is not like I really cared about my appearance anyway. I grabbed my membership card first then went inside and grabbed a shipping cart. I only needed a few things, which is good because my husband’s weekly paycheck comes tomorrow so I could not buy very much anyway. I grabbed some milk and a few other things then went to check out. A few minutes later I was waiting to leave and a woman come up next to me, nearly running into me (she did run into several other people!) with a box on her head. I heard her say that “This would do.” as she took the box off of her head and held it next to her. As I was getting my keys out in the lobby, I noticed her put her makeshift rain hat back on and start walking through the parking lot…I shook my head and started walking to my car in the pouring rain. As I was walking to the car my foot hit a slippery part of the parking lot where they had patched up a crack and BAM! Down I went! Man that hurt…both my pride and my body! Good thing I had the shopping cart to hold onto so I could get up. I finished walking to my car and loaded up my groceries and put the cart away. Then I sat in the car and cried. A few minutes later I grabbed a tissue, blew my nose and drove home.

After I got home I noticed a box on the porch. I had my prescription in my hand so I could not grab it with one hand, so I bit it with my teeth as I leaned forward to grab the package with both hands. As I leaned forward my prescription slipped and fell right into the trash can…that was filled with water from all of the rain. I quickly fished it out of the the water and threw all of the stuff on the garage floor, catching myself from slipping on the wet spot left behind by my cars tire. Fortunately the pharmacy had put the prescription in a ziptop bag so nothing was ruined.

I put all of my stuff away and collapsed on the couch and opened up Facebook and started looking at my news feed. That is when I came across a friend’s post that made me smile. It was like a breath of fresh air and was something I really needed. Jen is such a positive person all of the time and I can’t wait to read her book, The Peachie Mom’s Guide to Body Love for Moms. Then I came across Meshell as I was adding things to my Gwynnie Bee closet (I am looking for a mother of the bride dress too!). It boosted my spirits to see other “plus size” women who seem comfortable in their skin.

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken with Carrots and rice
Asparagus Stuffed Chicken with Carrots and rice

5 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
2-3 tablespoons seasoning of choice (I use a mix of 21 seasoning salute from Trader Joe’s and Spicy Brazilian BBQ rub; I got from Sam’s Club )
2 pounds of fresh asparagus
2 packages of cream cheese
1 cup of fresh salsa
2 cups of shredded Colby jack cheese
1/2 pound of provolone slices
1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
(optional- 4 cups already cooked rice)

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Sprinkle some of the seasoning mix onto the chicken (on both sides) and then, one at a time, pound chicken in a large gallon size Ziploc bag using a rolling pin and set aside.

Pound chicken breasts flat in a gallon sized Ziploc bag
Pound chicken breasts flat in a gallon sized Ziploc bag

Spread the cooked rice on the bottom of the pan sprayed with cooking spray (I used leftover rice we had on hand this is not necessary). On top of the rice I laid out the remaining asparagus spears. Next with an electric hand mixer mix cream cheese, salsa (I make the chunky Pico style salsa and always have some on hand), some of the shredded Colby jack cheese and all of the Parmesan cheese. Spread some of this mixture on the chicken then put in 4-6 asparagus spears (be sure to cut off the hard bottom parts), then roll up and use a skewer to hold them closed if you cant get them closed.
Lay the asparagus on top of the cream cheese mixure
Lay the asparagus on top of the cream cheese mixure

If it won't close then use a skewer to keep it closed
If it won’t close then use a skewer to keep it closed

Repeat with remaining chicken. If you have any cream cheese mixture left over then spread on the chicken, you don’t want to waste any of that creamy goodness! Layer the stuffed chicken breasts on top of the rice and the asparagus. Top the chicken with the sliced provolone cheese and the remaining Colby Jack cheese. Bake until chicken is cooked to internal temp of 165 degrees. This might take 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. (I think my top element is out…so mine took a little longer. 😉 )

All done...nice and browned cheese.  Cut in half and serve!
All done…nice and browned cheese. Cut in half and serve!

Zesty Spinach and Tortellini Soup

Zesty Spinach and Tortellini Soup
By Dawn Thomas

1 and ½ pounds Ground Italian sausage
1 bag frozen spinach
1 package cheese filled Tortellini (frozen) (19 ounces)
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
3 cups homemade roux
2 cups water
1 block cream cheese (I used the low fat kind, but you can use what ever you have on hand)

On the stove top high setting of your Ninja 4 in 1 brown the sausage, making sure to break it into small pieces. On top of the sausage add in the whole bag of tortellini, and spinach. Add in the roux, water and block of cream cheese.. Stir everything together and turn Ninja onto the Oven setting at 350 for 15 minutes. Turn down to 300 and cook for another 5 minutes or until the tortellini is cooked through. Serve and enjoy! Great with crusty bread and a salad.Zesty Spinach and Tortellini Soup

Stand up for your self!

I may not be a doctor…but I know my own body. Sometimes medical professionals forget that! I recently went to the Urgent care center at my doctors office on a Saturday with pain in my back. I have suffered from kidney stones in the past and I can tell you that it is most certainly NOT fun at all. I explained my symptoms to the nurse and told her that while I believed I did wrench my back when I was throwing up the night before rather violently from a particularly bad migraine, that I knew my back pain was also from something else, probably a kidney stone. I waited for the doctor to come in (after I left my urine sample) to discuss my results. She came in, introduced herself and looked at my results. She said that there was a slight amount of blood in my urine, but since I was a woman it was probably from my period. Um, no, I don’t think so considering the fact that I had a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy almost 10 years ago. Yeah…so I got some muscle relaxers to help with the back and then a follow up appointment with my regular doctor. At the follow up there was still blood in the urine so the doctor ordered a CT Scan. When I was called to schedule the CT Scan the scheduler was very skeptical when I told her that I had a previous reaction to the contrast dye used in the CT Scan. “Who told you that you were allergic to the dye?” Well, I was there after all…Did the doctor tell you that you were allergic? Um, no they did not have to immediately after they injected the dye in the IV I started sneezing uncontrollably and then they gave me Benadryl via the IV. So the scheduler reluctantly decided that we would do the CT Scan in the office but I would be pre-medicated. Well it is a good thing I was because had I not been the result might have been different. Almost immediately after the dye was injected my nose started running and my head got instantly congested. The radiologist came in and ordered Benadryl and an IV to try to flush out the dye quicker. Everyone there now agrees that if I ever need a CT Scan with contrast dye it will be done in the hospital not the doctors office. I tried not to gloat when the scheduler came in and said “I was the one who spoke to you on the phone…”. Bottom line is that you really need to stand up for yourself even if you are not medically educated…you really are the best judge of what is going on in your body. Yes, we need to seek the advice of those who are medically educated, however don’t discount your own instincts when it comes to you and your family.