I AM the Crazy Neighbor Lady!

A few months ago I was a bit bored and when I’m bored, I sometimes decide to find something around the house to take pictures of. While meandering around, I found a little dandelion in my front yard growing up against the landscape block in front of my house. I decided that since this little guy had somehow escaped the perfectionist yard tending of my detail oriented husband, G1, I would see about getting up close and getting some pictures of it. In fact, I had decided to see if I could somewhat, re-create this .

So I went and fetched a cup of water and G2 (my beloved camera) and proceeded back outside to my front yard. I glanced around,  saw that my neighbors all seemed to be inside, so I, a grown woman, laid down on my stomach, reached my hand in the cup, submerged it in the water, then pulled it out to sprinkle it on this tiny dandelion. Soon, as I was sprawled on the front yard, facing a block wall, G2 and I were snapping away, trying to find the ‘just right’ angle at which to shoot this little guy. I was in my own little artistic world, both creating and at the same time marveling at the intricate detail and the frail beauty of this God forsaken weed when suddenly I was pulled back, into the dimension of consciousness with the words “What are you doing?”

I, flat on my stomach, feet stretching towards the street, turned my head to see my neighbors, a nice, young couple standing next to each other in their driveway, her, with their precious one year old son in her arms, looking at their crazy neighbor lady with bemused smiles on their faces. Initially, I felt my whole body as well as what dignity I thought I had, cringe at the thought of how I must look. I clumsily got to my feet and stuttered out “T-taking a picture of a, a um, dandelion?”

They looked at each other, chuckled to each other as if their previous conversations about their “not right neighbors” were somehow backed up by this newest piece of evidence and said “Ok”. I, started laughing at myself (with them) and told them I’d email them the link to my picture. I promised them that as ridiculous as I know I looked, I hoped that they would see that something so tiny could be a thing of beauty. We ended with a good laugh as they took their son for a walk around the neighborhood.

Yes, I too think I am crazy at times but honestly, once I get past that initial cringe of self consciousness, I don’t care. I enjoy getting down and close up to things most pass by. It brings me peace, and reminds me of the beauty in all things, even the little ones.

Chicken Fajitas

 

I make these chicken fajitas at least 2 times a month. This is one of our favorite dinners.

The ingredients below don’t necessarily tell you how much you should have because it all depends on your preference, you decide. I’ve listed the ingredients I personally like.

Get creative, add some of your other favorite ingredients. Peppers, onions, etc.

Flour tortillas (soft taco size)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Butter

1 to 1.25 (approximate) lbs chicken

1 packet Lawry’s fajita seasoning

Shredded sharp cheddar

Pace salsa

Sour Cream

avocado

Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in skillet & heat. Add chicken and cook well.

When chicken is thoroughly cooked, chop or shred. I prefer to cut it with my kitchen scissors into little chunks.

Add packet of seasoning and mix with water as directed on packet. Mix well.

In a separate skillet, melt a pad of butter and spread around. Keep your burner on medium heat.

Put your tortilla in your skillet and cook until its slightly golden or starts to ever slightly stiffen and flip over.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top while still in skillet. While the other side of the tortilla is cooking, this will melt the cheese nicely.

Once the cheese starts to melt, place tortilla on your plate to start topping with your other ingredients.

Then place some of your chicken in a row down the middle of your tortilla, making sure you have enough room on the bottom and sides to fold over.

I personally love Pace salsa, a little light sour cream and some slices of avocado to make the perfect fajita for me.

Once you have your toppings on, first fold up the bottom, to keep ingredients from falling out when eating.

Then fold over each side and enjoy! YUM I tell you, these are delish!

Now you could just slap your ingredients in an uncooked tortilla, but I prefer them warm and slightly crisp. It just gives it that extra tastey UMPH.

Goodbye 2010 and Bye to My 30’s

  When I was little, I used to think that people got the day off because it was MY birthday. It just so happens that my birthday falls on New Years Day, that may have been the real reason,

 just possibly.

So every year I guess it’s a little different for us New Years birthday people, we not only look favorably on the new year as a fresh start, but its also mixed with checking yet another year off the old age meter.

This year is a big one for me, I turn 40.

Goodbye to 2010 and goodbye to my 30’s. (sigh)

I’ve heard so much about 40 and how its all downhill from here.  I’ve even recently bought my first readers glasses because I’ve noticed that for some reason every label, set of directions and even some menu’s have decided to ‘Go Green’ and conserve ink by printing much smaller type. Sometimes avoiding the truth can be uplifting, so let me be in my little happy denial bubble!

Most people make resolutions on New Years, and I’m among the masses that have made a few myself over the years. Last year I actually accomplished one resolution, I quit smoking and I can proudly say I’ve been smoke free now for about 5 months. Yay me! It feels good to tackle a goal and then reach it.

The past few weeks have reinforced one important thing that I really took to heart about 10 years ago,

life is precious & it’s short.

It’s shorter for some than for others and we really don’t know what our future holds or if we hold much of a future on this earth.

I’m not depressed or crying over this,

I want to take life and grab it by the ears and just…

LIVE.

That one word can mean many different things to many different people. In my case, I don’t need to lead an exciting, action packed, adventurous life but I do want to do my best to lead a happy, peaceful life. I want to stop worrying about things that really don’t matter. I want to be kinder.

Instead of making new resolutions, I hope to instead just keep in mind everyday that I don’t want to waste my life crying about my eyesight waning or a line on the face appearing or the fact that I’ve reached a big milestone birthday. I want to thank God for my life and the people he’s blessed me with. I will thank him for everyday, even the ones that suck.

I don’t want to worry what others may think of how I look, what I say, etc.  Now I’m not saying that I go to Walmart in a Moo moo with my arse hanging out, I do want to present myself in a positive light. At the same time I refuse to obsess over the little things that don’t matter in the big scheme. It’s all about finding balance, the right balance for your life.

Life is a gift to every single one of us.

If you find yourself crying or depressed, fight it.

 I’m not saying that sadness isn’t a part of life, and creeps up on everyone at times, but let it out,

then fight against it.

Live

Laugh

Love

There’s much wisdom in those 3 words.

May your new year be filled with Peace.

May you laugh more, cry less.

May you count your blessings, and learn from failures.

May you see the beauty that is everywhere and thank God you can see it.

May you take the time to see it.

Be good to others and forgive old hurts.

Be good to yourself, and don’t just exist…

 LIVE.

Happy New year to all of you!

 

Really? That’s What They’re Singing?

I’m sure most of us have done it before,

 we’re singing merrily along thinking we know darn good & well what the words to the song we are singing are.

Until,

 someone starts laughing at you.

Not because we can’t carry a tune (which could very well be the case with me)

but because we’ve managed to mutilate the lyrics.

I can think of 2 songs off the top of my head that I’ve done that with.

Don Henley – Boys of Summer

These are the real lyrics:

Nobody on the road,
nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
the summers out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets,
the sun goes down alone.
I’m driving by your house
though I know that you not home…

And I can see you
you brown skin shining in the sun
you got your hair combed back
sunglasses on baby.

And where they say “Your brown skin shining in the sun”, I remember thinking it was “Your breasts keep shining in the sun” (Like bikinis people!) That’s what I thought until one day my friend and I were riding along in the car, singing at the top of our lungs, and she stopped, mid lyric, and started laughing hysterically at me.

Good times!

Then there is a song most of us know, Winter Wonderland.

This time of the year always brings back this memory.

One of the verses’ goes like this:

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,

Walking in a winter wonderland.

(I hear you singing!)

As a child, I remember our family riding home in the car singing along with the radio to this very song when my mom, stopped & started to laugh hysterically and my older brother muttered “What a dork” when they heard me singing;

“Later on we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire”.

I don’t know about you, but I can see where MY lyrics make perfect sense.

In fact, I still sing MY lyrics sometimes.

Who among us hasn’t gotten a little too warmed up by the fire and had a little perspiration?

So now that I’ve shared some of my embarrassing lyric mishaps,

What songs & lyrics have you messed up in the past?

It’s All About You! Again!

Again today, it’s not about me. It’s all about YOU! Yes, You!

Ok, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised when my idea for “It’s All About You” post last Friday was received so well.

Even more, I enjoyed the memories that the picture I posted brought forth in some of my readers. I mean I REALLY enjoyed them!

The word ‘really’ doesn’t describe my feelings well.

I authentically, categorically, honestly, no…INDUBITABLY enjoyed them. You guys are awesome!

I was touched by every one of your memories.

It evoked memories of loved ones,

childhood,

camp,

 family vacations,

 peaceful moments

 and even memories of a favorite movie.

I think its a great chance to remember how similar and how different the experiences that shape our lives can be.

Ok, ok, ok, enough of me babbling and getting all sentimental.

As I was saying, I enjoyed this so much, I’ve decided to make this a regular or semi regular part of my blog.

On Fridays I will post a picture and I will ask you to tell us what memory or feeling it brings out in YOU. You can post your memory or feeling short & sweet in the comment section, or if it inspires a tale better left for your blog, please link said tale back to the comment section so we can all share in your creation.

This last Monday, when I took a day off work to wander aimlessly around the country side with G2 (my camera) and a good friend who lives in the area, we stumbled across something interesting. On some winding country road that I probably couldn’t find again if you paid me, we decided to pull onto a gravel road to turn around. As we did, we were at first taken by the view, but as I was turning around, something caught my eye down a slight hill off to the side.

After I knocked away the “What a shame this classic sits here, rotting away” feelings, I remember weekends during the decade of big hair (yes the 80’s) and teen angst. I remember a local Hardees parking lot where everyone cool cruised around in their cool, and not so cool cars and hung out sitting on bumpers, walking around, some smoking, until the cops came and chased us all away.

Ahhhh, the memories…..

Wait, this isn’t about me today, it’s about you.

Close your eyes (ok, wait until you’ve read this first) then close your eyes and go back, or not so far back…….

What memories does this picture bring forth?

It was a Beautiful, Strange Day

Have you ever had a day where you saw more than one strange thing and just said WTF?

This last Monday was one of those days. It was a gorgeous day, the last day of a busy 4 day weekend for me.

Earlier in the morning, I walked a spectacular golf course with colors abounding.

It was so beautiful it was downright spiritual.

Then I met up with a great friend I’ve known since I was 16, (which was only a few years ago? HA!).

We had breakfast at a small town pub and then decided to explore the countryside.

Along the way I saw a tree with these laying under.

They look like alien brains!

Maybe I’m just too much of a suburbia girl that I’ve never seen this before but it was downright strange.

Anyone know what these are?

 

We were exploring Missouri wine country.

I live very close to Missouri wine country but not close enough!

I don’t say that because I’m a wino, I say that because Missouri wine country is downright beautiful.

Its made up of rolling hills looking over river bottoms, and small towns with quaint stores.

 

This is a winery just down the road from where that friend of mine lives. (It was taken a few days before.)

But on the day that we were exploring the countryside, we saw these and said “What the….?”

These are in someones yard, smack dab in the middle of one of those tiny quaint towns. I’d guess the population to not be more than 100 or so. 

More exploring, down gravel roads (in my formerly clean black car) and more beautiful color.

Again, if you knew how many pictures I took on this day, you’d laugh at me. 

 You’d say, “You’re so Craaaazzy”.

So my friend and I, we head back to the small town pub where we had coffee & breakfast.

Thats also where we had lunch.

There’s no Mc’y anything in this neck of the woods (Thank God).

I then give my dear friend a hug and we promise to get together again soon.

And I head home.

(The following were taken with my cell phone, G2 was put away resting after one heck of a workout, so that is why they is not the best quality.)

On my way home I see this:

 And you’re saying, “So?”

(Don’t you just love how I read your minds?)

I pass this road fairly often.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a tree taller than all in the land, towering over everything else.

Originally, I thought I was really losing it. That someone as visual as myself has missed this towering tree after all of these years.

Then logic set in and I realized I would have never have missed this tree….So….wtf?

Then I got closer.

(For the record, I was sitting at a stop light when taking this picture.)

So….its a pole, not a tree at all,

Nothing connected to it.

Except for what I can only assume are fake branches.

and I said…..

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm……

Grape Salad Recipe

This recipe is a delicious escape from the norm. Well, for me it was anyway, before trying this for the first time a few years back, I’d never had grape salad. In fact, when my sister-in-law announced she was making this for a family gathering I apprehensively said “Um, O.K.?” But I’m oh so glad she did! I’ve taken this to work before on a “Everyone bring a dish” day, and copies of this recipe were requested by quite a few.

Ok, this recipe will fit into your standard 9×11 (or similarly sized) casserole dish.

In the pictures below, I made a half of a recipe because I just needed a smaller portion.

8oz package of light cream cheese, softened

1 C Light sour cream

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups EACH seedless red & seedless green grapes (total of 6 cups of grapes)

3/4 C Brown sugar

2 T butter, softened

1 C chopped pecans

First, wash your grapes.

Remember how I said in the Chicken Chili recipe that I didn’t like using flash but would have to in my kitchen due to an insufficient amount of natural lighting?  Well, I did. Then I took the picture below & discovered that the flash can cause you to see the water droplets in the stream of water. It freezes them, and I was intrigued. (Yes, I’m easily entertained!) So after the recipe was done, I played with, believe it or not, taking pictures of water, I’ll show them some other time, don’t worry, because I know you are on the edge of your seat…. 

 I digress….On with the recipe:

 

In my best Robet Dinero voice “Hey, who you lookin at? You lookin at ME?”

I know, I know, I’m not ‘right’, you don’t have to tell me, my awesome friends & family all ready do.

In a seperate bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar & vanilla. Mix until creamy.

THEN gently stir in the grapes.

Don’t do like I did below, trying to be cute and play with your food because trust me, its much more difficult to combine without squishing the grapes!

I know, momma said “Don’t play with your food!” but I’m a rebel that way!

 

So after you have sufficiently combined your creamy mixture with your grapes, you will need the rest of your ingredients. In a seperate bowl, combine brown sugar, butter & chopped pecans.

Spread out your grape mixture into your casserole dish.

Then top with brown sugar/pecan mixture.

Yum, Yum.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and others I know have. I would even venture so far as to recommend you take this to a football party! Maybe its not “manly” food, but I’ll almost guarentee they’ll love it and if there are any female football fans present, they’ll probably be thankful there’s something at least slightly lighter than hot dogs, chili & chips.

For those of you reading my blog for the recipes, I want to let you know that over the next few weeks, you may see a few less than normal. It is Autumn here in mid Missouri and I fully plan on being on the go with “G2” (my camera) capturing the beautiful autumn colors in the fleeting time they are here. I will also be attending some art & craft shows with my photography in hand so basically, I won’t be cooking that much until the leaves are all down. (Here that G1? Better start ordering that pizza for dinner!) I assure you though that there will be more recipes forthcoming as my busy season slows in a few weeks.

By the way, for those of you who do read my silly musings, Thanks! I love all ya’ll and I love hearing from you.

 

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is perfect for a football game.

This recipe is perfect for a party.

This recipe is good for your family, and for you.

Oh and did I mention, this chili won an award? I think I did here. And o.k., it wasn’t exactly an AWARD, but it was a prize.

This recipe is good for a chili cookoff contest at work, because I know. Thats where I won a prize! My 40 hour a week job held a chili cookoff and I won with this exact recipe. It was up against about 12 other red chili recipes and it took first place.

I was in Weight Watchers for a while & put the ingredients into their point calculator & IF I remember correctly, and IF you go easy on the cheese & sour cream, for one cup, its only about 5 points and pretty filling, not to mention deeelicious!

So here we go, this is what you will need: (In the photos, I halved the recipe because I didn’t need a full recipe, the below ingredients are a full recipe.)

8 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless

4 cans Great Northern white beans, undrained (I actually prefer a little less beans so I only add 3 cans to a full recipe)

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp Olive oil

8 oz minced green chilis

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Pepper

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Here we go:

Boil chicken for about 45 minutes. Remove from water and let cool.

While chicken is cooling, chop onions & saute with Olive oil & garlic in your empty pan (that you used to boil the chicken in).

Once  your chicken has cooled a bit chop or shred it while your onions are sauteing, don’t forget to stir your onions now and then so that they cook evenly.

 

Oh, and didn’t I just say to saute your onions & garlic in your big pot? Well, thats the efficient, less dishes way of doing it. For some reason I used a seperate skillet, but its ok, all the same outcome, only another dish to do. I don’t know why I did it.

Maybe it was aliens!

Oh and I know the above photo is a bit dark, but I don’t like to use flash. Flash causes shadows and its just not as purty looking.

BUT since my kitchen does not have a lot of natural lighting, I think I’ll (reluctantly) start using a flash sigh.

I apologize for all of you non photography buffs who just fell asleep. WAKE UP, I’m moving on.

After your onions & garlic are sauted until tender, add Chilies, oregano, Cayenne Pepper and Pepper into your cooking pot.

Now put in your chicken, undrained beans and chicken broth & stir.

 

 Simmer for 30 minutes, then turn off heat and add 1 1/2 cup of cheese. Stir in while hot so that cheese melts & blends in.

When you fix a bowl, put a dab of light sour cream & top with a little more cheese & jalapenos if desired, stir and enjoy!

Hope you like it! 

Lite Summer Jello Cake

This Jell-o cake is a lite, and cool, sweet treat for a hot summer day, or really any day.

You can make it with regular Jell-o and regular whipped cream but I have served it in it’s ‘lite’ version & nobody ever realized it. They gobbled it up like it was full-on sugar overload.

1-  box of white cake mix

1 – 12 oz can of diet 7-Up

2 – pkgs of Cherry Jell-o .30 oz

Note: When Jello-o is made make sure you hold out at least 1 to 1 1/2 cups or just make one pkg

 

1 – tub of lite or fat free whipped cream

Ok, for those of you who haven’t heard of soda cakes, this is the different part.

Pour the contents of your cake mix into the bowl & 12 oz of soda, no eggs, no oil. Just the soda. Don’t worry, it will cook & rise normally.

I have used other white sodas but prefer the flavor of 7Up for this recipe.

Mix well until blended. Poor batter into your baking dish, saving just a little at the bottom of the bowl for you to ‘clean up’ later <wink wink, nudge nudge>. Place your cake in the oven and while its cooking, go lick, I mean, clean the bowl.

Refer to the back of your cake box for baking times.

When cake is done, let cool for a few hours.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon or something of similar size (I used this fork) to poke holes in the cake. I poke about 3 – 4 holes across, in rows aprox 1 to 2 inches apart.

Prepare sugar free Jell-o as instructed on packet and then pour over cake making sure to douse generously. In preparing two .30 oz pkgs of jello, I usually leave about 2 or 3 cups out of the cake to pour in cups and snack on later. 

Ohhhh, see those beautiful vege’s behind the Jell-o, those my dear are for the Italian Sausage Stromboli recipe coming soon. My mouth is watering just thinking about its yummie-ness. 

Get out your lite or fat free cool whip and schmear it on top of your cake.

You can even decorate it on top with fruit, get all fancy & stuff.

I didn’t. I had too many other things to do that day. It was still de-licious.

 After you’ve schmeared on the whipped cream, refrigerate & serve when your kids (or spouse) are screaming, crying, or otherwise driving you nuts. It should quiet them down at least temporarily. Hopefully it will also put a smile on their faces & they will forget they were ever acting out in the first place.

Heres hoping!

Stromboli now posted —> https://mamarazzipages.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/italian-sausage-stromboli/