Thank you

Thank you for reading my thoughts and commenting respectfully. ~S

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

~*~ Oh to be Mrs. Claus ~*~

I love to bake. Plain and simple. Detailed and complicated. Doesn't matter, I love it!

This year I moved into the world of fondant cakes. My inspirations are obviously Duff from Ace of Cakes as well as Buddy from Cake Boss. But even more so, a friend of mine who's following her dream. If you live in the Panhandle of Florida area and want an awesome cake creation contact: Sugar Rush Seriously, call her!

So far I've only made creations for family and friends, but I have enjoyed each and every one of them:

Toy Story 3 Theme
Tinkerbell
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Cookies and Cream
Fall Leaves Theme
Today, it's the beginning of the holiday season which is my favorite time of the year. So I made some simply recipes but made them even better with peppermint! Almost everyone loves mint and in our household it's one of our favorite ingredients. What's your favorite holiday ingredient to bake with?

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Peppermint Frosting
It's during the holiday season that I get very envious of Mrs. Claus, because she gets to spend all year long baking goodies for Santa and all his helpers. :) And she doesn't even have to watch her weight either! LOL

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful for a Successful Thanksgiving!

First off I hope everyone, no matter who they celebrated with, had a beautiful Thanksgiving! My Thanksgiving from what those who attended have told me, was a success! I'm rather proud of this fact since it's the very first time I've cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal by myself. The past 10 years I've been a good daughter, daughter-in-law, or friend and helped out with a few dishes or in the kitchen. I have hosted a few times, but it was a potluck style where each person was responsible for a dish.

I'll admit I was nervous! I had never cooked the big turkey and you always hear horror stories about people's first Thanksgiving turkeys. Surely I wasn't going to be an exception to the rule. Nightmares of frozen turkeys, bags of giblets still in the bird, and dry meat filled my head for many nights before the big day! Thankfully I have wonderful friends and a MIL who were happy to give me little tips. The night before Thanksgiving, I finally started feeling a little more "prepared".

Wednesday I decided it was a must that I make a list of everything I was going to be cooking. This meant my kitchen counter and dining room table became a cluster of non-perishable ingredients and the pots/pans I was going to need. If you had walked into my kitchen you would have thought I'd bought out a grocery store. After all, I was going to be cooking for a small army of people. Yep, not only was it my first Thanksgiving dinner, but I was cooking for my husband's family. That added a whole other level of stress since my mother-in-law is one of the best cooks I know! My in-laws along with most of my husband's siblings were going to be celebrating with us this year. Seven adults and five children under five years old to be exact! 

Now, I'm no Betty Crocker but I strive to be! So, I decided it was best to start the preparations by making all of the pies that I could to leave less for me to do on Thanksgiving morning. I started off with my husband's favorite: cherry pie. Now, I would love to say I make everything "from scratch", but I don't. We do semi-homemade in our house. Semi-homemade has been made acceptable and popular thanks to Sandra Lee on the Food Network. Thus, my cherry pie was canned cherry pie filling put into a refridgerated Pillsbury rolled pie crust. I did use my cute little Turkey cookie cutter and cut it out of the center. While that was baking I began making my Eskimo Cookies because they're my father-in-law's favorite! Once they were ready to be put into the freezer (for the night because it was late), the pie was ready to come out of the oven and cool. 


On Thanksgiving morning, my kiddos woke me up at 7am which is the norm in our household. After I got them their breakfast and put on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, I begin making my other two pies. For my pumpkin pie, I used canned pumpkin along with ground cinnamon, ground gloves, ginger, egg, and evaporated milk. Once it was in the oven, I began my husband's other favorite pie: Chocolate Dream Whip pie! (click here if you're not familiar with Dream Whip) It goes into the refrigerator after it's completed for a few hours. The pumpkin pie took 2 hours to cool, so I was able to spend more time in the living room with my kiddos.

My kiddos absolutely loved watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I will admit, I haven't ever been a huge fan of this parade. It used to bore me as teen and so I stopped watching it altogether when I was out on my own. Truth be told I was more interested in my favorite Thanksgiving tradition of watching my DALLAS COWBOYS play!!! :) But, now that my kiddos are old enough to recognized characters and such, the parade was actually enjoyable. Boy did they flip when they saw Power Rangers Samurai! 

Go Go Power Rangers!!!! (YouTube video of the performance)

After the parade was over, it was time for lunch and to get ready to watch the DALLAS COWBOYS win!!! I spent some time cleaning up my kitchen and doing a load of dishes. That has to be my biggest tip when doing Thanksgiving dinner all by yourself: Clean your kitchen as you go along and then you won't run out of anything you might need such as measuring cups and bowls, etc. Then came TURKEY time!!!

The turkey was a Jenny-O 22lb turkey! Oh my goodness, if you ever question which brand to get, try Jenny-O! It came with a gravy packet kit, legs already tied, and a push-pop timer already in it! Super easy for the first time turkey cooker plus it tasted so good!!! I have only ever had a Butterball turkey, but I think Jenny-O really knows what they're doing with turkey. Yummy!

Now, let me tell you a few facts so you can imagine this scenario properly. My husband was asleep since he worked the night before and my kiddos were watching some tv. I pull the 22lb sucker out of the refrigerator, which was basically like trying to pull my youngest kid. Somehow that thing seemed even heavier thawed than it did when it was frozen. So, I put it into the sink and opened it up. The blood and juices started flowing out and I caught a whiff of raw bird. Perhaps now would be time to mention I have this thing about raw chicken. I moved past the feelings of being grossed out and continued to take out the neck, giblets, and gravy packet. Everyone told me to get a roasting bag so I got that prepped and ready - cookie sheet with the roaster sitting on top, then the bag sitting in the roaster. Turkey was drained, cleaned, and ready to put into the bag. 

Easier said than done! First try I lifted the bird from the legs with the plastic holder. The legs snapped out of it and almost dropped to the floor. Thankfully the bird was still over the counter and stopped it. But the force of it landing on the counter caused the blood to splatter all over my kitchen sink, counter and blinds. (((Insert tiny temper tantrum))) Second try I lifted it from two locations and got it half way into the bag before the stupid wings caught onto the bag and wouldn't let me go any further. (((Insert second tiny temper tantrum))) By this time my arms were a little tired and my hands were cold. Husband is still asleep and kiddos are thankfully not fighting with each other! I stop myself from crying, take a deep breath and tell the turkey to shape up! hehe Third try I finally get that big bird into the bag, tie it up, and put it into the oven! A wave of accomplishment came over me. As I stared at it in the oven, I knew if my mom was still here, she would have been so proud of me. 


The turkey went in the oven at 1pm, and it didn't need to be touched until 4:30pm. Once my husband woke up at 2pm. We all got showered and dressed. Family arrived at 4pm but I was still in the kitchen getting the last few items done. Between 4:30-5pm I managed to get the green bean casserole in the oven, mashed potatoes boiling on the stove, stuffing in the pot and crescent rolls in the oven. My mother-in-law helped me to get the gravy done because that's one thing I'm not very familiar with, and my husband's favorite part of Thanksgiving. Definitely not the item of the menu to burn or mess up! :) 

We all sat down to eat about 5:30pm and everyone said it tasted so good. I was the last person to take a bite. That first bite was so worth all of the time and effort I went through that day with the headache and nausea I felt. We had a wonderful conversation catching up! It's been 6 months since the last time we saw all of them. It was so fun to see all the kiddos interact with each other also and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. I'm happy I was able to be a good hostess and cook a meal everyone enjoyed. It made me happy because I love doing things like this and being a grown up. Always dreamed of Thanksgivings with a big family. We did miss a couple members who weren't able to make the trip, but all in all I have no complaints about Thanksgiving.

Well, maybe I do have one:

We finished the last of the leftovers today for lunch. ;) Can't wait till yummy Christmas dinner!!!

Mesquite Pot Roast (Weekend Recipes)

My husband is your quintessential "meat and potato" guy. He especially loves a well cooked meal with some sort of beef. He frequently likes to joke with the old Wendy's slogan "Where's the Beef?" when I make something that doesn't have enough!  When we first were married, except for ground chuck, I wasn't familiar with cooking anything to do with beef. Thankfully, for him, things changed once I became a proud owner of a Crock-Pot. So today I bring to you, one of our most used beef Crock-Pot recipe.

Mesquite Pot Roast:
3-4lbs of Chuck Roast [If you're unsure of which one ask your store's butcher.]
1 packet of McCormick's Mesquite dry marinade
1 can of Swanson's Beef Broth
Pam cooking spray

Directions:
(optional: sprinkle meat with salt, heat a frying pan up on medium-high heat, add 1 tbp of oil, and swirl to cover entire bottom of pan. Then place meat in heated oil and sear all sides. Helps trap in juices, but roast will still be delicious if you skip this step)
(1) spray bottom of Crock-pot with Pam, then place meat inside.
(2) Pour can of beef broth into a bowl and mix with mesquite marinade packet
(3) Pour mix over meat and then cover.
(4) Set on LOW for 6-8hrs

Enjoy!!! I'm sure you could experiment and try all different packets of dry marinades.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Chandelier (Craft time)

I got the inspiration from a Home Depot commercial and I got to say I am really liking the finished product!

Just some Christmas bulbs, hooks and fishing twine. Voila!

No need for Bah Humbug before Thanksgiving!

Twinkling lights hanging outside... Tinsel and ornaments on a real or fake tree with an angel or star (or in our case, a glittered bow) topping it all off... a wreath with lights and candy canes on the door or wall... beautiful tunes playing softly/loudly in the background reminding us of days long ago and memories ... presents wrapped and placed under the tree... smells of cinnamon, evergreen, cookies and goodies filling the air... 

I have found some people have very strong feelings when it comes to the "correct" time to begin decorating for the Christmas season. Except for the "tradition" of decorating after Thanksgiving, I have never heard of a specific "time". I don't understand why there has to be a debate on this topic anyways. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion on when they'd like to begin celebrating the holiday season...


Please read my story below:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Mysterious Tale of the Little Bear Ornament

Every year when Thanksgiving is on the horizon, I begin to pull out my Christmas decorations. *gasp* Yes, I'm one of those who decorates BEFORE Thanksgiving. We celebrate being thankful and merry together aka what we like to call "Thank-mas"!

5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday: First Stream

Happy Sunday everyone, this is my first time participating in the 5 minute stream of consciousness. I am new to the world of blogging and appreciate the friends I have who are helping me along the way.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Eskimo Cookies (Weekend Recipes)

When I began dating my husband many years ago, I was introduce to the world of no bake cookies! My mother-in-law is an amazing cook and she had so many different recipes than my own mother (who was an amazing cook in her own right). Granted there were some I just didn't like such as apples and mayonnaise! But this recipe I'm fixing to share with y'all is one that I fell in love with instantly. It takes a lot of work, and they go faster than they take to make, but they are so worth the effort! Think of it as some arm exercise before indulging in calories. :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things I've Done (Bucket list)

I will be turning 30 next September and quite frankly, I am looking forward to it. Yes, I am a woman that just admitted she's not dreading the "horrible" milestone. Perhaps it's because my 20's weren't the typical "party years" or maybe because I'm already married with children. (Although I will say this for my friends who are single, I firmly believe in this day and age, 30's are still YOUNG! My own sister-in-law didn't get married and have her first child until she was 34 yrs old.). For whatever the reason, turning 30 fills me with a renewed sense of adventure, passion, and courage to do things I've been wanting to do! I fully intend to live up my 30's!

But before you can move forward, it's always helpful to look back to see where you've been. Just as Mater in Cars said quite profoundly: "Ain't no need to watch where I'm goin'; just need to know where I've been."

So here's my list of things from the first 28 years of my life (I'll come back and update things I do this year) that I would like to remember and that one day MANY years from now, my kids will be able to tell their children about me. The ages are give and take since I cannot ask my mom and grandma because they've passed:

Grandma's Crumb Cake (Weekend Recipes)

Do you perhaps want a new yummy recipe for your Sunday morning breakfast? How about a delicious ooey gooey crumb cake that goes perfect with either a wee cuppa (picked this up from my Scottish friends) or a nice cup of coffee. Take only a few minutes to prep and less than 30 mins until it's ready to eat.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup of flour
1 1/4 cup of brown sugar packed
1 1/4 stick of butter
1 tsp of cinnamon
Chocolate chips (Experiment w/ milk, white, cherry and so forth chips)
3 tubes of biscuits (Grands make more!)
10x13 glass baking dish (metal if you don't have glass)

Steps:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Mix butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl until it you can wad it up into a ball. Break apart and put into refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

Take 10x13 pan, spray with Pam or grease with butter, open biscuit cans and place in rows side by side. You can squish them closer together to make them all fit. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the biscuits.

Pull mixture from fridge and crumble over top of chocolate chips/biscuits. Cover entirely.

Put pan into oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. If using Grands don't be surprised if it takes a few minutes longer. Bake until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve.

There you have it! My husband's Grandmother's recipe for a delicious crumb cake! Enjoy!



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's Stomp Out Bullying

I watched ABC Family's "Cyberbully" a few months ago. I think it is a movie any parent with an age appropriate child should watch. I found myself choked up through most of it. I was bullied for the majority of my young life. The movie opened up wounds that I didn't realize never healed properly. The more I began to think about it, the more I realized that even at 29 years old, bullying from my past still affects me in various ways - big or small. 

Word hurt, plain and simple. We all grew up with sayings such as "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" or "I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you". Those were empty words and never made me feel better, nor did they cause the hurt to be decreased. When you're alone, the words spoken continue to repeat like a CD skipping over and over. 

The majority of people who know me would be shocked by the fact that I was bullied from Kindergarten well into High School. I vaguely remember a year, some years even a day, where I was not picked on in some form or fashion. Even the years I was homeschooled, the neighborhood kids weren't any kinder. Obviously, something about my personality, my confidence, or who knows what attracted bullies like ants on food. I couldn't understand what I did to make them feel the need to bully me. Bullying wasn't just limited to words in my personal experience, I was also physically and socially bullied. I attended both public and private schools in small cities and big towns. Bullying happens in all races, all religions, all social classes, and it's not just limited to those who are stereotyped. 

I have a son who will be starting Kindergarten next fall, and the idea of him being bullied absolutely sickens me. He is like me as a child in so many ways, so I wonder how he'll be accepted by fellow peers. Maybe him being a boy will change some things? Perhaps he'll have a teacher or bus driver that will pay more attention to it? There are so many unknowns. It will be my responsibility to teach my son not to be a bully, so that I can ensure other children will not be hurt by mine. I'll also need to reinforce the positive when/if he is bullied. Thankfully, I almost another year to prepare my son for school, but the topic affects me now as a parent. 

From www.stompoutbullying.org"Every one of us are different. Some of us are short, tall, overweight, underweight, gay, straight, transgender, have special needs … we’re all various races, we dress and look differently. Bullying knows no boundaries. Popular kids can be bullied as easily as others. Just look at some of the teens celebrities who’ve been targeted. We can STOMP Out Bullying by being tolerant, kind and respectful and stand up for each other. We all dance to a different drummer – but the reality is we are ALL the same because we are ALL people. No one deserves to bullied for any reason!! NO MATTER™!"

~*~

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH BULLYING:

As I was looking back, I examined my own life. I noticed a few main characteristics of myself that I can attribute to the effects of bullying - both good and bad. Although, I don't want to give any false credit to bullying for the "good", but rather show them as me rising above the bullying. I want to stop and say, I will not be mentioning any names. I am simply telling my story to help others. Please know I am not pointing fingers or blaming anyone. If you feel a situation included you in it, know I have forgiven you. My motivation for this post to make parents and kids aware about bullying. Technology especially, makes bullying so easy to do it without thinking, and without being held responsible for their actions. 

Kindergarten:
My first vivid experience of bullying was being called "blabbermouth" by classmates. I also remember my teacher, who I loved dearly, a few times expressing frustration at the amount I talked. I've always been a talker, but it hurt to be told I talked too much. For me, as a 5 year old, I was simply wanting to express my thoughts, my excitement, my concerns. I did not desire to annoy anyone. 

This has been a running theme in my life and something I've been self-conscious about my whole life. I have had people very dear to me tell me that they loved me, but that I was too much for them. Especially as a teenager, being told you're too much for someone is hard to hear. They love you but they don't want to be around you. That's a huge blow to a young person's self-esteem.

And I see that impact in my day to day life now - it's one of the main reasons I do not like to talk on the phone. I always worry if I'm interrupting someone, talking too much, talking too fast, or if they think I'm not listening enough. I prefer talking in person where I can start to see if they lose interest, or if they're getting annoyed. Or I prefer to text/use social media to chat with someone. Atleast then, I know they can choose when to reply to me, or they can just ignore my texts if they're not in the mood to chat. 

My son is a lot like me. He starts talking the moment he wakes up and doesn't stop until he passes out at night. I find myself sometimes getting overwhelmed and having to find a way to tell him he needs to be quiet without making him feel he's doing something wrong. I don't want him feeling his voice isn't important, or that he annoys me. I told him one time that "he talked too much", and as soon as I said it, I felt so guilty. I apologized because I was imposing on him, what others imposed on me. Now he does need to learn manners such as not to interrupt me when someone's on the phone, or talking in certain situations, but that's different. I want him to feel free to express himself. 

Elementary school:
Most of my days in public school were filled with bullying. I was pushed in the hallways by the older kids, I have had my lunch taken away/spilt/spitted on, etc. It eventually got so bad that there is an audio tape my mother has of me, telling her why I wanted to be homeschooled. In the tape (which I still have), I talk to myself and remind myself of what has been done to me, and to never go back to public school. At the end of the tape you can hear me tear up because I'm so upset. I was in 2nd grade when I made that tape. My mother pulled me out of school for 3rd & 4th grade. In 5th grade I attemped to go back to school for the first week, and it was like I hadn't left - the bullying started as soon as I got on the bus. My mother pulled me out of school after one week and we began searching for private Christian schools for me to attend.

Middle School:
I skipped 5th grade by testing out of it, and went into the 6th grade at a private school. I remember hearing giggles as I sat down my very first day of school there. I was starting a week later than everyone else, and everyone had already made their cliques. I have naturally wavy/frizzy hair, especially growing up in Florida. I clearly remember hearing one of the girls in the class telling the others that I had an "afro". Now there is nothing wrong with an afro hairstyle, at all! However, when you're a young girl and all of the other girls (both white & African American)  have smooth flowy hair, it's meant as an insult. The next thing I did "wrong" was I played sports with the boys during recess and evidently that made me a "dike". I had never heard that word before in my life. I didn't know what that meant at that age, but I knew it meant I didn't have anyone to sit with during lunch time. 

I see the impact of that year in my life today in that I've had years of self-hate for my hair. I rarely wear my hair down because I don't want to deal with the looks or comments. I do prefer my hair up for other reasons, but this is what started my hate for my hair, because when I was younger I LOVED my hair.

My 7th grade year I transferred to another private school. It was one of my roughest school years. I had to ride the bus for 30 minutes every day to and from school. It felt as though the bus ride would never end! I would have pennies chucked at the back of my head, gum thrown into my hair, spit balls spat at my face, and even had my backpack stolen from under my seat and thrown around the bus. I tried sitting in all different areas of the bus, tried sticking up for myself, but not even the bus driver could make them stop. And the kids doing it were in higher grades and I didn't even know them. I remember crying in pain the whole ride home the day they were chucking pennies at the back of my head. I also experienced the back stabbing of friends in 7th grade. People who were my friends the first half of the school year became some of my bullies in the second half. I learned that year just how vicious girls could be.

In 8th grade I transferred yet again to another private school. By this point I was too afraid to attend public schools again. I had hoped that would be the end to my bullying considering the school I was going to and the amount of friends I had at the school. Sadly, it was not the end but it did slow down in frequency of the bullying. One of the major occasions was a game that somehow became popular and I was one of the regular "victims" of it. Imagine lunch time, someone is eating an apple and finishes it. Another person notices the apple is finished and yells "Apple Core", while yet another person yells "Baltimore", and the original person yells "Who's your friend?" (notice the term friend here?), and the second person states a person's name while the apple core is chucked at the person. Not only did that leave stains on any white shirts I decided to wear to school, it also hurt physically. Yet, somehow this got big laughs from everyone each day. My personal hygiene also became a topic of ridicule, even though I showered daily, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, and so forth. I'll never forget the day I wore a tank top and a sweater. The weather got warmer so I naturally took off my sweater only to be horrified that I had forgotten to shave my arm pits the day before. Add that to be naturally hot and having sweat marks on your tops and voila. 

These things still affect me to this day. I'm very conscious about shaving my arm pits, and don't really wear tanks tops anymore. If I do, I wear some sort of short sleeved button shirt over it opened. Not to mention, I wear the clinical deodorant to insure I'm not sweating excessively. I never smell, but I refuse to have signs of wetness on my clothes. I try to shower beforehand if I know I'm going somewhere outside so that if I start to sweat from my face, my hair will already be wet and no one can tell the difference. That was a big thing I became aware of was the sweating from my face. People would go to hug me in various places like church or what not, and they'd either (1) not hug me cheek to cheek or (2) wipe their face off and usually with disgust on their face. I don't expect anyone to like that, but I felt awful that it was something I couldn't control. I'd stand in front of fans, or have the a/c blasting on me on the way to special occasions praying I wouldn't get hot until after I had a chance to hug everyone or get photos taken. 

9th grade really brought to life the major topic in my life, which has plagued me in other aspects of my adult life. I am very fare skinned thanks to my German and Irish heritage, however I have very dark black hair from my Mexican heritage. At a young age, the hair above my upper lip and my arms turned dark. Normally women either get these lightened or waxed, but as a young teenager, I was not able to get either done due to sensitive skin. I remember being asked at times by friends if I "had something on my lip", only to realize they'd seen the shadow from the hair. Or I'd stand next to someone else and notice my arms looked dark like a boys rather than blonde and feminine. Finally at 16 years old, I had had enough! I bought a box of facial bleach and suffered through the pain (which I still suffer through to this day) in order to stop the ridicule for something again, I could not control technically. I also began shaving my arms and continued to do so until well into college. That's when I met my husband and he made me feel secure enough to stop shaving them.

College and professional life took on a new form of bullying, mostly in the form of what others called "friendly competition" (aka I did this but you can't) and in putting down my work. Roommates tried to bully me into doing things I didn't want to do, or not doing things they didn't want me to. People who claimed to be my friends, turned around and verbally abused me to make themselves feel better. I eventually had to retreat from college life and find my own apartment. I look back and I miss the fact that I wasn't more involved in group activities, functions, and such, but it was too painful for me to participate and be bullied in the process.

I'm trying to find a way to wrap this up because I feel I have so much more to say. I just want other parents out there to talk to your child about bullying, what they can do to stop bullying, how they can stand up for themselves, how not to be a bully to others, and to know signs your child is being bullied. 

In my opinion: low self-esteem isn't something a child chooses for themselves, but is a product of others telling them they're lacking, and bullying is a language of lack. Lack of kindness, lack of tolerance, lack of respect, and lack of the ability to connect. 

Let's do our part to stomp out bullying! 

~S

So this is bloggerville!

I think I'm going to like it here! Thanks to all the wonderful ladies who helped guide me to this place. Much love, S