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:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Picnic Foods

Here are two more quick recipes for on the go food. They are not my original recipes but they are great to take with you kept fresh in a cooler.

Layer Dip:

This is exactly what the name implies. You layer the flavors on and enjoy with tortilla chips or crackers.

Start with a shallow dish with a lid. ( again I recycled a salad plate from a fast food dinner)

Spread refried beans liberally over the bottom of the dish. Sometimes I substitute or add black beans to the dip. They are my favorite.

Next spread a layer of green chopped chilies.

Then a layer of Salsa- Any kind will do. Tomato, mango, even black bean salsa.

Next spread on a layer of sour cream. My mother likes to stir a packet of taco seasonings into the sour cream for added flavor.

Top it all off with a fresh chopped tomato, some cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

Easy to pack and yummy refreshing snack.


Caprese Salad:

Another throw-together snack we took on our picnic was this Caprese salad. Fresh and elegant it goes well with white wine.
All it takes is fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil.
We found a flat rolled mozzarella cheese that added a bit of a twist but was more work.
We rolled out the cheese, spread sliced tomatoes over the top
Basil leaves, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Next we rolled it tightly. Hind sight on this rolled type of cheese- I would use very ripe tomatoes and hold the olive oil until the slices were complete..
Slice into half-inch slices and place in lidded container.

This salad can be made in many ways. Rolled and sliced, cube tomatoes and cheese then stir together with torn basil leaves, or fresh mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil.

We finished off our picnic with spinach- chestnut spread over baguette slices and summer salads. Perfect!

So much healthier than a bucket of chicken.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sleepless summer nights

This summer has been a whirlwind. The time is flying by. I am enjoying the time with my girls, my son will be home in less than a week ( we last heard) but the job hunt has been a slow one. I have spent some time studying for a license in another career field which will probably just be supplemental unless I can make a real go of it.

The past week has been pretty typical summer weather in the desert region. Even with the Rockies in my back yard, I live in the desert. We have had scorching heat in the triple digits. Thank god it is a dry heat as I don't fare well with humidity.

The summer rains falling between the scorching days makes for some great relaxing quiet time. The smell of summer rain is fantastic. Warm enough to dance in if you feel so inclined. And we have. the cooler night air, the smell of the rain, the slight breeze in the windows sure can lull you to sleep.

But it can't wash away the stresses of unemployment and money issues. All those midnight thoughts running through my head about upcoming school fees and needs. I cannot tell you how many nights the past couple months I spent running over my bank register in my mind, paying bills in my head, and working out money shifts from one account to another... it is what we do right? At the most in opportune time, the wee hours of the morning.

Then we feel sluggish and tired the next morning and the last thing I feel like doing is studying for a test or interviewing for a job possibility.

I learned a trick a few years back.. possibly on a mid-day talk show. And it works well on such nights.

First: get into the most comfortable position.
Make sure you are comfortable in all ways, temperature, covers, pillow fluff...
Then you need to slow your breathing:
Breathe in through your nose inhaling slowly, and fill your lungs.
Then out- through your mouth just as slowly

By this time you should already begin to feel a little more relaxed.
Concentrating on your breathing will keep those pesky thoughts from intruding.

Then Start mentally counting:
No not sheep! Start at 100 and count backwards.
Slowly but not too slow that you lose interest or let the thoughts in.

I guarantee before you get to the number one... you will be enjoying a great nights sleep.

I usually only make it to about seventy-five even on the most stressful of nights.

Try it for yourself.

I know we all have rough nights.

I would love to hear your feedback.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Picnic Food- Chicken on Ciabatta

With all the outdoor activities we have attended in the summer months, and my employment status still being what it is.... Unemployed, eating out or grabbing fast food can get expensive.
But then, food always tastes so much better when it is made with fresh ingredients.

Here is a recipe for one main attraction we made for our latest concert in the park.

Roasted Chicken on Ciabatta.

I started with a loaf of Ciabatta bread you can find in most grocery bakery's. 
Begin by slicing the entire loaf in two halves.

Next spread on the sandwich spread of your choice. 
I created a horseradish mayo.

Start with a half cup mayo. (I used light with olive oil)
Stir in a tablespoon of Hot horseradish
a teaspoon yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste 
and a half teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Blend well and spread over each half of the loaf

Ciabata is a hearty bread that holds up well when transporting. It has an almost nutty flavor that compliments most sandwich fillings. It will need a liberal amount of dressings.

Next thinly slice a ripe red tomato. Perfect time of year to snag one from your patio or garden.

On one of our more hectic days, we had picked up a small whole deli roasted chicken, some chips and salads for dinner when time was tight.

The legs, wings, thigh sections were the first to go as they are the easiest to snag with fingers.
That left two full breasts. Perfect for this sandwich.
( You could just as easily throw a boneless-skinless chicken breast or two into a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes for a lower calorie choice)
Slice the breasts into quarter-inch thick pieces and cover one side of the bread with them cover the other with the tomato slices. Season well. 

Romaine lettuce is a great choice for a sandwich like this. It's large leafs spread well over the large bread and hold up when paired with smaller meat sections.
It is good practice to make a small slice down the vein of the leaf the length of the vein. This helps the leaf to lie flat and stay on the bread.
Place a leaf or two over the chicken pieces.

Fold the top over and slice into quarters or eighths.
Place in a shallow container to transport.
I reused some restaurant to-go-boxes and deli containers- go green!

Enjoy with fruit

Or a light summer salad.

Very versatile and portable.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel Good Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

The heat here has been sweltering in the triple digits. Hot Hot Hot. And I don't mind it a bit. Summer is the best season in my mind. Sunshine is good for the soul.

Living in the Rockies makes beating the heat a little easier too. When it gets too hot in the valley, a short drive into the canyons and a higher elevation can drop the temperature drastically.

Some of the local ski resorts stay open year round but not for skiing. There are many festivals, tram sight seeing, and concerts held in the open air of the mountains during the summer months.

Last night my daughter and I spent a couple hours preparing a picnic then headed up the hill for a concert near Park City ski resort. It had been near 100 degrees all week in the valley and we needed a little cool down. Just before we left, as we were packing the food, the wondrous smell of a summer rain fell outside.

Just a sprinkle which was soaked up by the hot dry earth quickly. Not nearly enough to cool the air. I love the smell of rain. Summer rain is the best. It cleanses the soul.

When we headed to the resort, the cloudy sky was menacing. There were drops of rain on the windshield all the way. There were spots of blue sky but few. The closer we got, the harder the rain fell. 

Utah is a mountainous region but it is also the desert. And desert rain can be unpredictable. It can start in an instant and stop just as quickly. Summer rains usually come down hard and fast as water being poured from a watering can in the sky. Then just as quickly stop and the skies clear to blue.

When we pulled into the resort the sky was heavy with black rain clouds. But the rain had ceased. There were still hundreds of people, in rain coats and umbrellas sticking it out. 

We made the decision to attend- rain or shine. And got a little of both. 
The band was great. A local band that goes by the name Wisebird. The picnic food (recipes to follow) was awesome. A little wine and the crisp clear mountain air was refreshing and we had a great time. 

Never let the weather interfere with a great time. 

Dance in the rain. We did! And I slept like a baby last night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Missing blogging

I have been a little bit MIA lately here on the blog.
Isn't it the times you have so much to blog about that you get too busy to sit down and type it out?

We have been to festivals,

Old train stations:

Out for lunch in the sunshine:

Repaired (where A/C leaked) and repainted the main living space:

While all of the fun is happening, I have also still been selling myself in the business world. Unemployment has it's privileges with all the free-time. But without a steady paycheck, it is not near as fun.
I am also working on my insurance and securities license which will for now act as added income. If it works out right, I may be changing careers altogether.
We will see
Hope you are all out enjoying this summer. Although it has been in the triple digits this week, we are loving the sun.
The best thing about this area is if it gets too hot, the canyons and cool mountain air are just minutes away. Pictures to come

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Love the Judge

I don't usually get political on this blog. And I will not here today either. Except to say that I love this woman and I think her intelligence shows well.


I really loved this interview.
Disagree if you must. That is a right we have in this wonderful country we live in.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rockets Red Glare...

Save up your toilet paper rolls.. at least the cardboard centers.

Summertime with little ones can be daunting on mothers. School is out and whether the parents work or not, kids get bored. Summer is filled with gatherings throughout the summer with family and friends. After everyone says their hellos and the food is devoured, what then?

Here is a fun and easy craft my mother brings to most every gathering. My children are no longer little but like to help the younger ones. I think they secretly still like to watch the rockets launch.

You will need:
Empty toilet paper tubes - enough for at least one per child.
Empty 35mm film canisters - enough for at least one per child.
These are harder to find now that we are in the digital world. Check with your local camera shop.
Duct tape
An abundance of stickers, glue sticks, markers, crayons, pipe cleaners...anything that will make Rockets look like rockets.
A box of effervescent medicinal tablets - Alka-seltzer or any cheaper substitute I suggest you buy the bulk pkg. Break into fourths beforehand and keep in an airtight container.
and a pitcher of tap water or a hose nearby
small plastic drinking cups- one per child (optional)

Cut down one side of the cardboard tube, wrap tube around canister just below the lid lip. The opening in the canister should still be open when the lid is off. Also, you should be able to easily open and close the lid on the canister.
Secure the canister in place with the tape.

At this point you can pass them to the kids to decorate. The older kids can create fins and a cone top. (Be sure to avoid occluding the canister opening and lid). While younger ones may be happy with a few stickers.

When everyone's rockets are ready to launch, pass out one cup of water and a few seltzer fourths.

To launch:
This is the best part. Watch their faces glow as they watch their rockets shoot for the sky...the anticipation is just enough to keep them on edge without boring them.

Fill the canister half way with water, place a seltzer fourth into the water and cap tightly and quickly. Smaller children may need help.
place the canister end of the rocket lid side down on a flat surface.
Then wait....

It takes approx 20-30 seconds for the pressure to build then the rocket is self-propelled into the air.

Happy launching!

This is an outdoor game... it can get messy. Kids will have fun shooting the rockets over and over. Soon enough even the younger ones get the hang of it on their own.

We were having too much fun to get pictures for a step-by-step but if these directions are not clear there are many websites that explain in more detail.

Happy Summer