Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scary Scary- The Ice Man

In speaking with one of management here at work at the beginning of this month, it came up in conversation, that we were both a little fascinated by serial killers. Not in a groupie kind of way- more of a 'how could someone be so calculating and smart and so stone cold too' kind of way.
I had mentioned that I had recently been reading an account of some interviews with Ted Bundy, a serial killer known to have been right here in the area I grew up in back in the 70's when I was just a baby.
My co-worker mentioned that he has just watched a documentary on television depicting the life and crime of a mob killer who went by the name 'The Ice Man' and how chilling it was to him (my coworker) to see.
Later that week (a couple weeks ago) he mentioned that he had purchased a book about Richard Kuklinski (the mob contract killer) and was mortified by what he was reading but couldn't put it down. He finished it in less than a week and offered it to me to read. I began Reading the book (all 61 chapters) last Friday Nov. 21st. and like the friend who offered it, I cannot seem to put it down. i am repulsed by his lack of empathy for human life, and yet at the same time, so sad for his childhood. He, the monster, was CREATED by his circumstances. And honestly it is frightening me so much. I had a hard time sleeping last night, after reading a few chapters. i am about half-way through the book now and have been told this half is worse than the first.
I am thankful though, that in the middle of this madness will be thanksgiving, a time for me to reflect on just how much i have to be thankful for. I have a very loving and close family- I was not abused as this man was in his early childhood or thereafter... and I was not nor did I know any of his victims. Not that I could have- back in the 40's thru the 80's in New Jersey.
However- reading stories like that certainly makes you take account of your own life, and how small any struggles seem in the big picture.
I think that when my parents get here in town tomorrow night, I will take a break from the book for the long weekend. Clear my head a little bit. It truly is one of the most emotionally charged books I have read. It actually brought me to tears in a few chapters. Both for his own hurt- and those of his victims.
But- This is going to be a great holiday! getting to see my parents and other relatives... I cant wait.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yummy Pot Pies

Just stopping in for a bit- don't have much time to write.

Last night there was just a teensie bit of chill in the air, So I sent my 17 yr old on some errands that I didn't want to do, and well she is chomping at the bit to get the car. Then I pulled out some left over pork roast from Sunday and whipped up these cute little pot pies.

I didn't take the time to journal-ize this recipe but it is so simple. Start out your pan like many other recipes, with a little olive oil, some onion and some garlic, add stock, I used a whole carton of beef stock. Then chop up any veggies you like, we used Carrots, potatoes and some corn because that was what we had. Throw in some spices to your liking.

Note: Do not spill the pepper into the pot like I did unless you have a box of tissue handy- whew! can really clean out your head!

While the pot simmered for about 30 minutes, I readied the crusts, I cheated, I had some 'pie in a box' crusts in the refrigerator.

When the stock was done I used a smidgen of half-and-half with some corn starch to thicken the gravy, then poured into bowls and covered with dough. This can be fun when you have more time. I have seen the cutest crusts.. however, I only had time and energy for some simple strips criss-crossed.

Threw them all in the oven for another 30-40 minutes. (The larger pie is made from my extra 'gravy', hoping it is even better the second day- even with too much pepper) I love, love, love, these bowls, safe for the dishwasher, oven and microwave. But I am down to only four. Darn things keep getting dropped.

Anyhoo- These little pies hit the spot!

On a side note: I notice every once in a while that my 'readership' is increasing. Sure would love a comment... always fun to know what lurkers think of my ramblings..

Just click on the link below and write me a hello, a sentence, or a novel. I welcome all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


When I started this blog, I actually intended it to be a bit of a diary of the life of a single mother. I wanted other mother's single or married, to be able to come here and see that life as a mother is not always easy. That there are good days and bad.
Lately, I have been sidetracked with the fun events of this time of year. I also have been a little leery of sharing too much as I am a Libra and hate to offend. When I think of challenges with my ex husband for instance, I catch myself worrying if he ever caught sight of this site, would he feel hurt that this is one sided? or my children, when we have struggles, will they feel bad when I share it with the world? My parents, Friends, how can I blog of experiences without spilling my guts about them?
But then, that too is one of my challenges, albeit an internal challenge.
Last night was a rough one. My youngest and most forthright of my three, is falling behind on her school work, literally not doing it! She claims to be too tired, too stressed, and even too lazy. However, when it comes time for 'fun' activities, birthdays (her own 16th is in two weeks), or time for friends, somehow energy presents itself.
I admit, I have been a little lax in recent years with the kids. In part, out of exhaustion. After working a full 8-hour day, night school 3-4 nights a week and then hours upon hours of my own homework, there was not always enough of me left to 'enforce' the rules, as much as I should have.
Not that my kids run wild, I was there, I was a parent, Just not as good as maybe I could have been, had I had a little less on my plate.
I have been extremely lucky in the fact that my kids generally have really great self-discipline, and seem to keep themselves on track pretty well with little supervision. Of course their rooms look like Hiroshima AFTER the bombs and there have been some moments when I have had to really come down on them, but for the most part, I am/have been lucky.
Last night, was one of the 'other' moments. The night started out well enough. I left work early to take them to the orthodontist, there was talk about the possibility of braces removal... however that is not to be- yet. Rachel possibly will get hers off in January-Chantel maybe February.
We stopped on the way home for a snack as I had missed lunch. Then we hurried home to get cleaned up. My youngest had work, and my older daughter had an awards ceremony for her color guard/ marching band.
The ceremonies were great, a lot of fun and I even saw an old high school classmate of mine. Her son attends the same school. That was fun.
Then we got home...laying sprawled out on the couch, was my younger daughter, (the one who is about a million assignments behind) the one who had every excuse in the book why there was not enough time for all of her responsibilities... She had been let off work early due to slow business.
The fact that she had extra time, and wasn't using it to catch up, after all the excuses I had already heard the past few weeks. It hit a nerve! I walked down the hall to drop off some things in my room, passing both her room and her sisters! Again, looking like aftermath of some forgotten war! Her sister was in her own room, a disaster also, and sending a text message to a friend...This has been an issue with my older girl... averaging 8,000-10,000 text messages a MONTH! We are on a plan that allows free unlimited text. There is a reason we are on that plan. Because I could not afford it otherwise... But how do you stop the madness that seems so prevalent? It reminds me of that old shampoo commercial from the 80's? 'So I told two friends, and she told two friends and so on , and so on'.... remember that? Well, that is what a teenage with a cell phone and 30 friends can amount to.
The state of their rooms, the lack of completed assignments, the improper prioritization in the house--- and I lost it! I am sure to my daughters I seemed like the anti-Christ! I'm sure my head was spinning in circles, my skin may have changed shades... and I WENT there..
Where? To the place where parents sometimes go- then regret. Letting loose feelings of frustration, telling them they are not acting their age, that they are no longer kids, they are young adults and should be acting like it. It became a silent anger with my older daughter, to her mothers wrath. It became a screaming match with my younger daughter. Even comparisons with friends who would have run away from home by now. My head hurt, my throat was raw, I'm sure the neighbors had already called child services...from the screaming.
I spun on my heels, walked to my room, alone, and cried. Crocodile tears, cried. This is a defense mechanism that is common (I think) with mothers. Being mothers and becoming the demons we must be sometimes to instill responsibility in our children, hurts us so much more than it hurts them.
My head hurt worse, I let out tears of so many frustrations, not just the kids, not just messy rooms. Struggles with Finances, Holiday stress, Work stress, Busy schedules. And sometimes, it has to release, in its own way.
I figured I would have a good cry, step back out, and speak a little more civilly and apologize for my outburst. But I couldn't stop, the tears flowed freely. Then, before I could gain control myself, my oldest peeked her head in, I could see the empathy on her face. How do I tell her the tears are not her doing? Then my youngest, who by this time had stomped to her room slamming the door behind her, opened up her door and came in my room. She climbed onto my bed alongside me and held me, apologizing for yelling and being obtrusive. I felt horrible. How could they think that all these tears and frustration were their doing? Sure life gives us struggles, challenges, but my children are gifts.
We talked a lot, held each other, but it was late, we were tired, I am sure hormones and estrogen were playing a bit part, and well, again this is a stressful time of year.
But I am glad to say that today is another day. It may sound strange but a good cry did me some good. We were joking and laughing again this morning. The house is filled with love. And--- I think some homework just might get done and rooms cleaned up. Only time will tell. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interesting play

Last night, It was chilly here in town. It was the first night in a long time that neither of my daughters had to work. We have had a netflix movie that we have been trying to find time to watch for over a week now, so as I was driving home I was thinking tonight is the night. Figured I could whip up a quick soup and some bread, and settle in for a good flick.
That was short lived however, My oldest daughter wanted some extra Christmas spending cash so she had agreed to work a shift for someone else. My younger daughter, had some homework to catch up on and reminded me that she was planning on attending a play at the high school that night. This particular play I had forgotten about as she had not even auditioned for it, and I hate to say it, but if it doesn't apply to my kid... I'm just not as likely to remember them. But, she is in stage crew this year and so she had labored an entire Saturday (8am through 5 pm, then an entire shift to closing that night) a few weeks ago, building the set for this particular play and a lot of her friends were starring in it.
She asked if I would like to go with her to see the play and my first instinct was to say no, and climb into my ugly sweats and curl up on the couch...but, I love love love time with my girls, especially one-on-one time, and I wanted to support her and her love of theatre. So, we went.
Turns out, I am glad I went. i had never heard of a play (or movie or book for that matter) with the title 'Inherit the wind'. It was quite a controversial subject matter for the year of 1955 when it was first shown in theatre, however, I think it still resonates in today's culture too.
The story is fictional, however loosely based on the 1925 conviction of John T. Scopes, in a famous 'Scopes "monkey" trial.
The basic plot of the story is a man, a school teacher, who teaches a lesson on Darwinism and evolution to his science students, and is convicted.
Very interesting play. Even more interesting is the fact it was accepted in such a conservative bible over evolution society as I live in.
I had a great time, the students were amazing. I love high school theatre.
And- I got home, climbed into my ugly sweats and got to relax...until 11pm so that I could pick my older daughter from work...I know I nodded off a few times waiting.. all for not! She got a ride home from a fellow worker... oh well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another soup recipe for the cool nights

Chicken Tortilla Soup This is a recipe comes courtesy of my good Friend Vance. He gave it to me when I was dating a man last February. My date was fighting a nasty nasty cold and Vance assured me that this would do the trick! (I know what you are thinking-- and your right! I am a thoughtful date.)
The fact that a week later, said date dumped me on Valentines Day- well within a day or two which is technically the same thing kinda sucked. But I'm over it. Why would I want to date someone who doesn't love me back?

So anyway- on to the recipe, which by the way it awesome. I cleared it with Vance that I wasn't giving away his trade secret recipe... he assured me that it was not, more like Rachel Ray's.

So at fear of being sued by Rachel's publicist(Sorry Rachel, Love you!).....on with the recipe:

Begin with a carton (32oz) chicken stock, simmer in a large pot.

Place 1lb. chicken tenders or chicken breasts into stock, add 2-3 bay leaves to the pot. Poach for 6-7 min.

While chicken cooks, Heat 1-Tblesp oil. I used olive Oil as I love the flavor and my waistline. But any cooking oil will do. Add 4 slices of bacon to the skillet, and fry just a little less crisp than your liking.

Drain the grease. Chop bacon and place back in the skillet.

Add one half red onion, diced, and 1 Tblsp diced garlic. This time I cheated, I was not feeling well and so I spooned it out of a jar of minced garlic. Fresh chopped is nice too.

Saute' onion mixture for 3-5 min.

Chop 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in the mexican food aisle of any market. Add them, and one Tblesp. of the adobo sauce to the pan.

Pour in one large (28oz) can of diced tomatoes. Plain tomatos work great but there are many flavored tomatos on the market today to choose from.

All I had on hand was a puree and it worked in a pinch, made the consistency of the soup a little more like a condensed tomato soup. But Vance's suggestion of the Basil, Garlic and Oregano tomatos was yummy! And left the soup a little bit more broth-y which I prefer.
(Here you get to see a little more of my
kitchen counter than I would prefer, AND Rachels awesome photog. skills, she was very impressed with her ability to capture action! So- let her have her fun- this is mom daughter bonding PEOPLE!!! Let the tomato mixture simmer on low while we move back to the chicken...

Remove the chicken from the pot, discard the bay leaves- we are so done with them- no offense little leaves. If you so choose, at this point you can strain the chicken-- goop? out of the broth but I like the flavor it infuses so I left mine in and stirred it.

Dice the chicken pieces into bite size morsels. Depending on the size bite you think you can handle- especially when you are fighting a sore throat like me... ouchie!

Place the chicken back into the stock from which it came...
Add the tomato mixture: Once again- yours may be a little less dense (as opposed to the teenager dense)---depending on the tomato product.

And then the fun part- deciding which garnishes you want on yours! I am not a picky person, so other than avacado, which we forgot to buy anyway, I took them all!!!

Vance suggested the following: Cheese (Vance used fancy-schmancy smoked mozzerella), I used regular mozzerella and it was divine! Lime, we made ours pretty slices which we squeezed (thanks, I had no idea!) on our own as we devoured our soup, chopped cilantro, and my favorite! sour cream, I could eat this stuff in every meal.. I swear- that and bacon! I had to highlight the garnishments... as I give way too much advice!- er input.

When your soup is piping hot and your drooling a little from the wonderful aroma filling your kitchen, it is time to serve. Crush some tortilla chips and place in your serving bowl,

Ladel in some soup,

Then garnish
Then enjoy...

This has become my new favorite chicken soup! Thanks Vance.

Here is the recipe in full text:

Chicken Tortilla Soup

32 oz. chicken stock
1 lb chicken breasts or tenders
2-3 bay leaves
1 T. oil (olive or cooking)
4 slices bacon
1 red onion (diced)
4 Garlic cloves chopped (or a Tablespoon of minced garlic)
2-3 Chipotle peppers in adobo (chopped)
& 2 T. of the adobo sauce (from the same can)
1 big can 28oz diced tomato’s (a good choice is the basil, garlic and oregano)

Shredded Cheese – smoked mozzarella is good but any will work
Chopped Cilantro
Sour cream (if you like)

Simmer chicken stock and add chicken and bay leaves.
Poach for 6-7 minutes while you make the tomato sauce.
Heat oil in a skillet add bacon drain grease, use a little of the grease or some olive oil Sauté onions and garlic for 3-5 min. Add chipotles peppers and adobo.
Add can of tomato’s all at once and stir.
Remove the chicken and discard the bay leaves from the pot, cube chicken into bite sized pieces. If you like you can strain the stock, but it adds flavor to leave the bits in.
Pour the tomato sauce, chicken and the bacon into the stock. Stir.

To serve:
Crush tortillas into bowls, pour on the soup and garnish with remaining ingredients to your preference.

Happy Soup making!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's day

When you sign the papers to allow your 17 year old son to serve, this day takes on a whole new meaning.
Never forget!

If you love your country and your Freedom- Thank a Veteran.

Last August (2007) we (my daughters and I ) drove to Kentucky to pick my son up from his basic training. Here is a picture of me signing him out to come home. This picture was taken on his 17th birthday. Not even considered a man by age, but so much more in integrity.

People ask me how I can let him do this, that he is so young. I will tell you, it is not easy. But I know what kind of man he is. And this, is Jeremy.

On our drive home, when my son was with us, he insisted on wearing his fatigues. He had to be sweltering in them, but it was a privilege and he was proud. I became emotional as we stopped by many sites on our trip and were greeted with strangers, shaking his hand, thanking him. That is what I love about our country. It is so much more than a day, Veterans day, everyday soldiers are fighting for us. And so many more in the past. If there is anything we should not take for granted, it is our Freedom.

Thank you son, I love you! And thank you to those fighting today. Making the ULTIMATE sacrifice. All other struggles seem so small in comparison. And thank you too, to the families of those soldiers as I know first hand, they sacrifice on a large scale also.

And I will end this post with a favorite saying of my sons, we had it engraved on a dog tag with a 'Happy Birthday! I'm So Proud of you!' inscription from his mother on the back.

This is what it says:

"All gave Some, Some Gave All"

I'm still here.

I have not been blogging for a while, I apologise, things are busy at work, money is tight, wondering how to make it through Christmas and well, been kinda lazy too.

I have started a couple of posts, one of them was in reference to the comment I made about Dred Scott. The girls and I were lucky enough to work out a trip across the country to pick up my son from his basic training the summer of 2007 and among the sites that we saw on the trip was an exhibit at the courthouse in St Louis, MO. At the base of the Arch in St. Louis just a block from the cardinals stadium stands the 'old courthouse' where the trials of Dred Scott were held. Dred Scott, (which I didn't know until this trip) was the first black American slave to sue the national courts for his freedom. Even though he was awarded his freedom, he passed away before that verdict was reached. I am a history buff, and it was all fascinating to me. I would still like to complete that post as I would like to preserve some of the memories of the trip. But that is for another day.

I also had many thoughts of blogging about finances, and how it can take the seasonal spirit right out of you.. however isn't it funny how things just always work out? And you have spent all that time worrying? It is crazy- most of my life after the divorce, I have been on a tight budget and many times found myself in a spot where I could not see a way out. And yet, things work out.
Someone must be watching out for me. Last Christmas, I was in such a tight spot that I didn't think I could pay my house payment, let alone buy any Christmas for my kids. They are such great kids, and they help me out so much, always so understanding. They actually said, 'don't worry about it mom, you don't need to get us anything. Its OK' Oh My! what kids say that? What teenagers say that? It just makes you all the more want to give them everything and more.
Everything worked out as it always does. A group of people that a friend knows got together and took up a collection and helped out. I was a little bit embarrassed. Being a single mother, I strive to be all I can be to them. I don't like to take handouts or favors, I feel an overwhelming need to do it all myself. But, I know that sometimes we all need a leg up... and I am grateful. and humbled from the help I received. I could never find the right words to tell them thank you and mean it as strongly as their help has meant to me.
This year, I am better, not all better, I will still have to do a lot of bargain shopping and really budget, but Christmas is more about the people and the family and the time together than the presents anyway. It sounds cliche' to say but we are such a tight knit family, it is true in our case. With my parents being 300 miles away this year, and my sister being in Wyoming, this year more than ever will be about catching up.

I don't blog much about work, I know there can be fine lines drawn between work and personal. Yesterday two fellow employees (and friends) were let go. I don't know a lot of the details but considering we are a small company of about 30 employees, that makes your heart stop. I am no longer living paycheck to paycheck but have yet to replenish my savings. Makes things a little bit unnerving. So pray for us.

And last- I have been cooking up a storm with comfort foods since we have been having more and more fall weather. I have taken photos with the intentions of blogging.. and I will post them soon. One in particular, I made last night, a wonderful soup. I got the recipe from a good friend. but considering it is his 'secret recipe' thought i better get his approval before sharing with the world. I'll keep you posted.

And I promise to do my best to keep up on this blog....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4th, 2008

Yes. yes. yes., I am a procrastinator. I cant help it. Doesn't mean I feel any less serious about the election. I will be standing in line later today in order to voice my own opinions and choices. I am not one to spout my views on others politically. But I do think that we should not squander the very rights that we have been given, as free Americans to choose.

Especially minorities. Women and Blacks fought so hard for a right that so many of us take for granted. This right is HUGE!

And please, educate your children, at any age, they are the future of our country. Help them to understand the systems that have been the backbone of our great country since the beginning. Teach them the things they wont learn in school.

As a parent, I try not to push my views and opinions on my kids. i certainly plead my case as to why I feel the way I do. This has broadened my children's views and they feel not only strongly with their own ideas and views but also comfortable discussing differing views with me. That my friends, is the point is it not?

I have never been one of the sheep. I am not a rebel in any sense, but being the Libra that I am, I strive for balance in all things. That definitely has a bearing on my political views also. I don't follow for the sake of 'following'. I don't feel a certain way because my parents, bishop, pastor, president, friends, or any other influence, says that I should feel or think a certain way.

For all the sacrifice, for all the blood that has been and continues to be shed, in order that I may punch in my choices and have my voice, my small voice in such a gratifyingly huge way. Thank you. Thank you to the soldiers in all of the wars, from the revolutionary through Iraq. thank you to Dred Scott and many others who influenced the freedoms of Americas races. Thank you to Lydia Chapin, Susan B. Anthony and so many others who sacrificed so that women's views and opinions were more than just that.
We have come a long way baby! Let's not lose the fight.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cooler weather calls for Stew

When we were children, I don't recall my mother having a dislike for any foods. I found out later in my adult life that there were a few things that she didn't like, but she never told us. This made us both quite hearty eaters. Rarely did we complain about the food we were served, and honestly, I cant think of a reason to complain about it. My mother was/is a great cook and I learned at a very young age many of her cooking tips and recipes. I have passed on both of them, and the joy of cooking and food to my children also.

My mother grew up in the same small town that I now live and my children have spent the majority of their lives in. She was the oldest of five daughters born to my grandparents. Grandma was a homemaker and Grandpa was a body/fender man. The years of my mothers childhood, were hard times. Times of war. Where grandpa himself would have been, if not for a fellow soldier mis-firing his rifle and hitting grandpa in the head in basic training no less. He survived, was given an early medical discharge and sent back home.
But post war times were tough on the economy, and feeding a family of seven on a single white collar income was not easy. Many times, grandma would ask the butcher in town, for the parts of the cow that many butchers would just throw out. Parts that are often found these days to be delicacies... the best cuts. She would often get them for little or no charge and knew how to 'make something out of nothing' really.

Although my mother wasn't too impressed with a lot of those cuts, one recipe stuck with her. This one was a favorite of ours growing up. My mother has passed it on to my sister and I. It is a darn good thing that I didn't know what an oxtail was when I was little. Or at least I never put it together that an oxtail was in fact, an Ox's (or cows) tail. Or I may never have been able to coerce my own stomach into even tasting the stew. But Whoo eeee. It is good eatin'!

I remember making this stew for my now ex husband, he liked it. I thought I had made it for my kids also, but they swear they don't remember. I also recall the oxtails themselves being the cheapest cut of meat at the market... not so anymore!

Oh well, here is my recipe as I made it Sunday.

First, I browned the meat (6lbs- this sounds like a lot but they are half bone) on all sides in a skillet. In my experience, the smaller the bone, the sweeter and more tender the meat. However, if they are too small, there is no meat at all.

I bought two packages that had a mixture of many sizes as that was all they had at the time.

Next, chop up one medium onion white or yellow, your choice.
10 carrots also cut into bite sized pieces, I used a bag of baby carrots, less chopping. Add them to the onions. This can all be stewed in a large pot, until tender but I used a slow cooker.

Then I added the meat on top of the vegetables.

Pour in two cans of tomato soup. I used one carton of tomato basil. I think I may try substituting a can of diced tomatoes in place of the soup sometime. But it will need something to thicken it up. I love to mix-up my recipes once in a while. It is sometimes necessary when you are on a limited budget but then, that is how I invented some of my best creations. But this time, I did it as mother intended.

Pour one quarter cup of granulated sugar over the soup.

Then Two cups of water.

Season with good ol' stan d-by's salt and pepper.

Then sit back and relax, or head off for work, or get some cleaning done, or leaves raked. Simmer covered for 3 1/2 hours. No need to stir. (In the slow-cooker, I let them go for 5 hours and it was just right.)

Our Dog, blackjack helped

With the waiting part.

When there are only about 20 minutes left to simmer, boil some water and cook your choice of noodle, Mom uses large egg noodles (I chose some vegetable induced egg noodles) al dente'. (still a little firm)

And pour right into the stew.

and serve it up!

I think that mine could have simmered just a little longer, the meat was tough. When done right, this stew makes the sweetest, most tender, fall off the bones meat. Like little mini ribs.

If you can get your mind past the origins of the meat. You will not be disappointed with this dish.

And on a day like this,

curl up with your warm Labrador dog,

eat some oxtail stew

and re-live your childhood. Like mine when we would cuddle with a blanket over the heat vents in the floor and let the warm air create a warm bubble of warmth...aaahhhh to be a kid again.

I think I want to curl up with some leftover soup. Thanks mom!

Tip: If your fingers and hands smell of onion or garlic after you chop them, (As mine are prone to do the following day, and more)
Just cut a lemon in half and rub onto the smelly surface. In a pinch, lemon juice works as well. ta-da odor is gone!