Back on Track

 

Hello.

It’s me….

So, it’s been ages since I’ve written.  The last few times y’all heard from me, my life was in a sort of state of limbo.  I’m happy to announce that things have improved.  I was able to escape that horribly toxic environment that I was working in.  I started a new job about two months ago, and I love it.  There is so much less drama.  Though the work can be stressful, everyone is laid back, and we all get along very well.  All around, I am so much happier.  The Hubs’ work is still sporadic, but business is picking up.  I am still trusting the Lord with all of it.  We’ve had a few things happen with our home that almost sent me over the edge, but I am placing it all in His hands as well.  Ah, the Joys of Home Ownership.

The other blogging project that I have been working on, has slowed down.  Neither my friend nor I have had as much time to round up contributors.  I really hope to get back into that.  I truly found it rewarding.  (If anyone has a story they’d like to contribute….hint hint hint……)

Did any of you make any New Years resolutions?  I didn’t.  I had decided a while back to make a conscious effort to be happy.  Period.  It wasn’t a New Years resolution.  It was a life resolution.  And, so far, so good!  🙂

We started a new reading challenge at the beginning of the year.  I am ashamed to say that I did not successfully finish the 2017 challenge.  **hangs head**  But, it’s a new year and a new reading list.  This go ’round should be fun.  I came up with a new format that should be interesting.  I think it has thrown some of the members off, but once they start putting books into categories, I think they will get into it.  If anyone cares to join, you are more than welcome!

To all of those who are under a winter weather advisory….stay warm & fuzzy!  For those of us who are not at all used to this level of cold….bless our hearts!  😉

Book of the day:

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  Claire Scott thinks that she has a storybook life and marriage until her husband is murdered in front of her.  After the funeral, she discovers that she did not know her husband AT ALL.  This book is graphic and brutal, but is a very good read.  4 stars on Goodreads.

Song of the day:

&Run by Sir Sly.

Heavy as the setting sun / oh, I’m counting all the numbers between zero and one / happy but a little lost / well, I don’t know what I don’t know / so I’ll kick my shoes off and run.

Recipe of the day:

Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup via Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Ingredients
  • 1 can (10 ounces) green enchilada sauce
  • 1 can white beans
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 cans (4 ounces EACH) diced fire-roasted green chiles
  • 1 can (10.5 ounces) diced tomatoes optional
  • 4 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro optional
  • 2 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese softened
  • Pick your favorite add-ins: pepper-jack cheese, sour cream, fresh lime, additional cilantro
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Instructions

  1. In a large crockpot, pour in the green enchilada sauce, drained and rinsed white beans, drained and rinsed black beans, and fat-trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts.
  2. Add the undrained diced fire-roasted green chiles, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, about 1 teaspoon salt, about 1/4 teaspoon pepper, coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, and chicken broth or stock.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 3-5 hours or until the chicken easily shreds.
  4. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and place in another bowl. Add softened cream cheese into the crockpot.
  5. Cover and cook on high for another 30 minutes or until the cream cheese melts completely and is easily stirred into the soup. Remove the chicken and transfer to a bowl. Briskly whisk to get the cheese completely incorporated.
  6. Shred the chicken with 2 forks and then add back into the soup.
  7. Serve with desired toppings. I love a big handful of pepper-jack cheese, fat-free sour cream, a wedge of lime, and some cilantro!
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Bring on the Future

Hello, people.  I hope you have all been doing fabulously in the time I’ve been neglecting my blog.  🙂  Life has been non-stop busy busy.  It’s sad when you have to plot out rest weeks ahead of time.  I think, “I can take a day off this weekend….”  No.  Wait.  I have this going on.  Okay.  “I can take a day off the following weekend.”  No…..I have to go here.  Sigh….  No wonder life passes so quickly.  And no wonder my housekeeping has been seriously slacking lately….

On top of being busy, there has been a lingering air of uncertainty.  Mine and The Hubs’ future is up in the air….not our relationship….but with where we’ll be and what we’ll be doing.  I am all kinds of open to change.  The Hubs has had several opportunities open up in front of him, and whatever happens will dictate the next portion of our lives.  I, on the other hand, am not having the response I’ve hoped for in my job hunt.  I have 15 years experience in my field.  You’d think I wouldn’t have that much trouble finding a job in that field.  But, I have faith if I have nothing else.  I certainly don’t know God’s plan, but I’m open to finding out whatever it is!  The promise of life changing up some finally is rather exciting.

As always, I’ve been reading.  And eating.  Ha!  I’ve mentioned before my love of savoring well-written lines and paragraphs.  Here are a couple of unexpected physical descriptions that made me smile:

“Baffa was potbellied, with a sagging chest, thick jowls, a drooping forehead, and a downward-bending mustache, so that when he sat, he seemed like a layer of frowns stacked in a chair.” – Mitch Albom, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“Next to me, a lady nearing her seventh decade kept between us a white purse big enough for a mugger to hide in. She wore a black wig. Her devil-may-care red lipstick had come unhitched and slipped a notch; her layers of nail polish were chipped like paint on an old dory; and her hands lay in two piles on the bar, the slack skin taken up by plumpness. As for the Jungle Gardenia perfume, it was only a question of time before tsetse flies hit.” – William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways

Best wishes to you all.  May you find the ability to not take other people’s bitterness personally.  (This is something I face at my job every day.  It is so freeing when you can just let things roll off your back.)

Song of the Day

Like a Stone by Audioslave.  In memory of the late Chris Cornell.  Suicide sucks.  It makes me so sad that people get to a place where they don’t think there is any other option except to end things.

Book of the Day

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Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  I used to despise sci-fi, but I have started to enjoy some of it in recent years.  These are the first two (and so far only, though there is an already-titled third book in the works) books of The Illuminae Files series.  The books are set 500 years in the future.  There are space ships, artificial intelligence, inter-galactic battles, and uber talented teenagers who outsmart the adults and save the day.  I honestly don’t think I would have liked them as much if I hadn’t listened to them in audiobook format.  They are performed by a full cast and are done very well.  I gave them three and four stars respectively on Goodreads.

Recipe of the Day

Oven-Baked Leek & Bacon Risotto via http://www.bbcgoodfood.com.  Back when my community had Bountiful Baskets (let’s take a moment to mourn……..), I got a basket with leeks, and I found this recipe as a way to use them.  It was my first experience with risotto, and I fell absolutely in love.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 6 rashers smoked back bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthways and finely sliced
  • 250g risotto rice

  • 700ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 175g frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp soft cheese
  • zest 1 lemon 

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C. Tip the oil into an ovenproof casserole dish. Add bacon and fry for 2 mins. Add the leeks and cook until soft, but not coloured, for about 4-5 mins. Tip in rice and cook for 1 min more. Pour over stock. Cover and place in the oven for 20 mins, stirring halfway.
  2. When rice is just tender and all liquid is absorbed, remove from oven and stir in peas. Place back in oven for 2 mins more. Remove and stir in cheese. Add zest and season.

Just a Short Thought

The more life you live, the heavier it gets.  I think I carry mine on my face.

Song of the Day

7 Years by Lukas Graham.  “Soon I’ll be sixty years old.  My daddy got sixty-one.  Remember life and then your life becomes a better one.”

Book of the Day

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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  This is the sad but fascinating story of Chris McCandless (aka Alex Supertramp), who walked alone into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 and never came out.  A friend of mine told me about this book, and I was rather judgy of McCandless before I read it.  How can someone go into such a harsh environment so ill-prepared?  How can someone just drop off the face of the earth, as far as their family is concerned, and make them worry?  But, after reading the book, you find that he was maybe more prepared than it seemed on the surface.  He was an educated man, who just wanted to live life in a different way than the mainstream, I suppose.  It was a very interesting book.  I am looking forward to reading The Wild Truth, which is his sister, Carine’s account of Jon’s story.

Recipe of the Day

Hoppin’ John.  This is a recipe I’ve made 1000 times.  I don’t know where I learned to make it.  I have made it for company many times, and people are always surprised to love it.

  • 2 cans purple hull peas, juice drained from 1 can
  • 2 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb diced or cubed ham
  • 1 c uncooked rice
  • Louisiana hot sauce
  • sour cream

Dice vegetables.  Cook them along with the ham in olive oil in a large skillet until onions are translucent.  Add the peas and juice from one can.  Season with several dashes of Louisiana hot sauce.  Cook until heated through.  While this part is cooking, cook rice according to package directions.  Serve ham and veggie mixture over the rice.  Garnish with sour cream and more hot sauce.

Trying My Soul

Gah.  Life sometimes.  I swear.

So, The Hubs lost his job Friday.  Even though he was done completely wrong, he found it in himself to go shake the hand of the man who wronged him and tell him thank you for the opportunities and experience that he was given.  That was MUCH more classy than I handled it.  The Hubs really awes me sometimes.  I wish I had as much class and self possession as he does.

I have been trying very hard not to freak out.  I have never been good at winging life, which is why my life never really changes.  I know this is a blessing.  I believe that, but the urge to panic is still standing beside me, tugging on my shirt tails, and trying to get me to pay attention to it.

I have two people in my life who have reminded me the past couple of days that I am a daughter of God and need to act accordingly in this situation.  (So grateful for those who speak Truth to you and keep you in check.)  And, as I was reminded:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  – Philippians 4:6

I am hopeful and faithful that this is the beginning of new and better things for us.

We spent today with my grandma.  I am grateful for every moment that I get to spend with her.  We lost my grandpa almost two years ago.  His last months had a profound effect on me.  I was a self-absorbed teenager when my other two grandparents died, and I missed out on precious time with them.  So, I made every effort to spend every moment I could with my grandparents while my grandpa was dying.  I had the honor of being with him when he took his last breath, an experience that has forever scarred me.

My grandma has not been the same person since his passing.  I try to spend a much time with her as I can, but we live pretty far apart, and I don’t get to go nearly as much as I would like to.  It is so hard to leave her.  She is so happy and animated through each one of our visits, and I can visibly see her deflate when I leave.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  The end of today’s visit hit me harder than most.

And then, my car started acting up today.

I am choosing to be grateful for life trials seeing as that means I’m alive at all.  And, through all of this, I know that I’d rather have these troubles than anyone else’s.  My friend who was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer back in December is facing an extremely serious and important surgery in a couple of weeks.  I cannot wrap my mind around what he and his wife are going through.  I really have no right to be whining at all.  Thanks for listening to me vent.

Song of the Day

Hurt by Johnny Cash.  This is actually a remake of a Nine Inch Nails song, and is probably my favorite cover song of all time.  Definitely top 5.  He recorded it about a year before his death.

Book of the Day

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Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven.  I was trying to think of a book set back in my grandma’s day.  To be honest, I think it may take place a bit before my grandma’s time, but it has been a while since I’ve read it, so I’m not sure.  But, the harshness of life is similar.  The books takes place in the Appalachian mountains.  The people are all dirt poor and have to work extremely hard just to survive.  It is the story of Velva Jean, her coming of age, and her unhappy marriage to Harley, a hoodlum-turned-preacher.  There is a sequel, which is also a good read.

Recipe of the Day

Simple Wonton Soup via http://www.thewoksoflife.com.  The Hubs and I were watching an episode of Beat Bobbly Flay the other day, on which they cooked wonton soup.  So, he decided that we needed to make some as well.  Neither one of us have much Asian cooking experience, so we looked for a simple recipe and found this one.  It was good, but next time I will add chopped carrots, green peas, and mushrooms to the broth.  It definitely needed beefing up.

Ingredients
  • 10 oz. baby bok choy or similar green vegetable
  • 1 cup ground pork
  • 2½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
  • Water
  • 1 pack wonton skins
  • 6 cups good chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • White pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 scallion

Instructions

  1. Start by thoroughly washing the vegetables. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the vegetables just until wilted. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Grab a good clump of veg and carefully squeeze out as much water as you can. Very finely chop the vegetables (you can also speed up the process by throwing them in the food processor). In a medium bowl, add the finely chopped vegetables, ground pork, sesame oil, white pepper, soy sauce, salt, and wine. Mix very thoroughly until the mixture is totally emulsified—almost like a paste.
  3. Now it’s time to assemble! Fill a small bowl with water. Grab a wrapper and use your finger to moisten the edges of the wrapper. Add a little over a teaspoon of filling to the middle. Fold the wrapper in half and press the two sides together so you get a firm seal.
  4. Hold the bottom two corners of the little rectangle you just made and bring the two corners together. You can use a bit of water to make sure they stick. And that’s it! Keep assembling until all the filling is gone. Place the wontons on a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  5. At this point, you can cover the wontons with plastic wrap, put the baking sheet/plate into the freezer, and transfer them to Ziploc bags once they’re frozen. They’ll keep for a couple months in the freezer, and be ready for wonton soup whenever you want it.
  6. To make the soup, heat your chicken stock to a simmer and add sesame oil , white pepper, and salt.
  7. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the wontons one at a time to the pot. Pick up the pot and use a swirling, twisting motion to keep the pot moving and prevent the wontons from sticking to the bottom. If they do stick, don’t worry, They should come free once they’re cooked. They’re done when they float. Take care not to overcook them – mushy wontons are a sin! Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon and put them in bowls.
  8. Pour the soup over the wontons and garnish with scallions. Serve!