Index of Thoughts

Friday, May 22, 2015

Playing 1979

"Dolce Far Niente"

Or the "Sweetness of Doing Nothing" is a very easy concept for most societies in this world except for ours.

I had to check myself yesterday as I was planning the summer itinerary for myself and my girls.  I almost hit the Checkout Button on all of these wonderful programs that they have in Telluride for kids in the summer.  Paddle Board camp, mountain biking, art, hiking, camping trips, rafting trips, horse trips, swim team, tennis lessons, run with the wolves, etc....  You name it and they have it here. Plus, that's on top of all the amazing festivals lined up and free concerts in the park.  The summers in Telluride are the cherry on top of the year.

But, there was something that made me not follow thru with signing them up for all of these wonderful things.  Well, first selfishly, I don't want to be running kids here and there all summer long. And most importantly, I don't want to over program their summer where there's just no time before school starts back up again.

I don't know how you spent your summers as a kid but I lived on a farm that was 20 miles from town.  I was bored A LOT.  Don't get me wrong!  We had amazing summer vacations, and I always had my horse at home.  But, I also remember sitting around hot as hell in the humid Georgia heat being BORED.  My girlfriend from home asked me once if I played 1979 with my kids.  I told her that I didn't know that game.  She said it's when you lock your kids outside and make them play.  I laughed so hard and said I played that game all the time when I was a kid.  My mom would say "If you don't get off this porch and go play then you're going to have to go pick up rocks in the pastures!"

My brother and I being locked out AKA "Playing 1979"

Playing 1979 to me was 
playing indians in the woods, going fishing, riding my horse, building forts, doing yard work, making ice cream, having picnics, cutting grass, laying in the sun, picking flowers, drinking from a water hose, catching fireflies and crickets, watching the fillies and colts play in the thunderstorms, dancing in the warm rain, wearing your bathing suit all day long for days, playing in the sprinkler, slip n slides, bickering with and annoying my sister and brother, sleeping under the stars, picking apples on my horses back, cleaning out barn stalls, barn kittens, hauling hay, swimming pools, boating, intertubing, reading, making mud pies, riding in the back of my dad's pick up truck, and spending all day outside with no one able to reach us until we came home for dinner.

After spending time with my Aunt Evie and I'm sure it's probably 100 degrees here. 
I decided that my girls needed more time of being bored and playing 1979.  Heck, I need more 1979 in my life too.  I decided that instead of doing all these camps and organized activities that I should just hire a babysitter at home more this summer while I work so they can learn "dolce far niente". My Bucket list this summer is more time with friends and family and less time of being overly occupied.  I hope you and yours a summer filled with summer fun and maybe a little more time of being bored.

Churning that ice-cream.  Will it ever be done??

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Under Grace" and Love...Honoring a young soul taken too soon

ROMANS 6:14 says this: For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Read this verse in a sermon from Justin from Grace Church in Montrose, CO about the passing of a young soul.  For my friends and family who aren't a part of this community - a lovely, wonderful 17 year old girl took her life and has left everyone in such shock and sadness.  She suffered from depression which was antagonized by extreme bullying.  I did not know her personally but knew of her and had the pleasure of catering an event for her family a few years ago.  She was lovely, beautiful, involved in the church, had a loving supportive family.  She was not the person who you would picture to end her life.  She is your daughter, your sister, your best friend, your girlfriend.  She could be you.  And yet, it happened.

There have been so many tragedies lately in our community especially of those taken too soon.  The circumstances of this awful passing has left me so sad and concerned.   The entire Montrose community has been affected and are wanting to make a difference.  There are so many issues surrounding bullying and mental health.  And questions like Why is the suicide rate so high here?  I think it is pretty amazing that there is going to be a public forum for the community to address these issues and try to intervene in the future to help save others.

It makes me think about my three daughters with one almost in middle school and all the other children who I come into contact with.

How to prevent this?  How to help someone?  When should you step in?  
What signs to look for?

It's super scary!  It's scares the hell out of me to even consider my child dying before me.  I have witnessed so many brave friends who have travelled this journey.  The pain transfers over to the ones left behind.  Some are able to use their experiences to counsel or make a difference but that is not a calling for everyone.  Others just try to focus on each day at a time.  I have learned that at some point in time we all experience a loss or pain that we learn to carry.  Their courage inspires me and increases my faith.

The verse from Romans above really touched me.  I don't remember this one from Sunday School.  Being under the power of Grace feels so freeing and so loving.  My God is a loving and fair one who gives himself freely to everyone.  He is not a fire and brimstone God who governs with a strict law and iron fist.  I know that he welcomed her home.  I don't think that this was his plan for her but how can we use this for good under His Grace? How can this tragedy teach us all?  How can her life and her experiences change us?  

I know that for me the first thing I did was talk to my two older daughters and my mother.  To open the dialogue about suicide and bullying with my children.  To ask the tough questions.  To encourage their self-confidence as well as their support for other kids that they witness who are being picked on.  To ask my children's school what kind of programs and policies that they have in bullying.  

It also gave me the courage to approach one of my daughter's teachers who she told me was not stepping in when bullying was happening in their class.  It gave me the courage to do something and to speak up.  I hope this will also inspire you to do the same.  Her death has left a big mark and she will always be remembered.  I pray for all the losses that our community and my friends have endured.  

Under love and grace,

Monday, March 30, 2015

20 Dairy & Egg Free Meal Ideas

Well, we thought we were out of the woods with food allergies but they are back and are very apparent in my children's lives.  My oldest daughter has had a pretty strong allergy to eggs since she was little.  It's an allergy that the doctors thought she might grow out of.  We thought that she had after letting her try them a year ago but after only 2 weeks the allergy came raging back.

About a month ago, my second daughter was tested for food allergies after complaining for some time about her tummy hurting.  The results came in with a dairy and egg allergy.  I had gotten down how to cook without eggs and now adding dairy was another challenge.  I realized how much of it that we were eating including butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, sour cream, etc....

I scoured Pinterest and Google for more ideas then kept a meal diary of my own to share with you all.  I have found that the advice of others including my mother who also has a dairy and egg allergy has made it easier.  And that some vegan products are really good and others are just not worth the money.  I have been super happy with all the coconut milk products!  I also prefer to use oil or vegetable shortening instead of the vegan butter.  I just avoid vegan cheese although the vegan cream cheese isn't too bad.  I hope this might help some of you who are also not Vegan but cooking for food allergies.

-Tacos with guacamole cream
-Vegan pancakes/waffles and sausage and fruit smoothies (I like to add oats to my batter)
-Thai Coconut Veggie Stirfry over rice ( I like to use all kinds of yummy veggies)
-Hamburgers and hot dogs with salad, Vegan Mac & Cheese (used the box kind & it is pretty good) and fries 
-Baked fish with breadcrumbs/olive oil/lemon/Greek seasoning with broccoli & rice pilaf
-Bahn Mi steak sandwich, broccoli & sweet potatoe fries
-White Bean & Rosemary Soup with sourdough bread & olive oil w/balsamic
-Chicken pot pie soup (almond milk and oil to sub), toast & vegan brownies (using flax seed/almond milk)
-Greek Chicken pasta salad (we used penne and omitted the feta)
-Burgers, salad & tots
-Spaghetti and salad (vegan parmesan)
-Pork & veggie fried rice (good base recipe - omit egg) and potstickers (frozen kind are egg free)
-Mustard Glazed Pork tenderloin, green beans, roasted potatoes & salad
-Grilled Steak, rice pilaf and green salad
-Korean beef bowls (so easy and a new fave -topped ours with some shredded carrot & cabbage, cilantro, fresh jalepenos)
-Jamaican Beef Stew over rice (left out habanero)
-Chicken, broccoli & pasta skillet meal with almond milk "cheese" sauce (flour, almond milk, olive oil, oregano, garlic, basil, parsley, seasoned salt, nutritional yeast)
-Chili with corn chips (so many yummy chilis to make - we love it with sweet potato in ours)

So there you go!  As you can see that a lot of Thai/Korean meals are super easy on a dairy/egg free diet.  Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 9, 2015

For the Love of Women

Yesterday was International Women's Day.  It was a day to remember and honor all the women who have paved the way for us and who still are.  As a tribute to all wonderful ladies who are all bad asses, I thought I would share some images that help me feel strong, empowered, confident, beautiful, fierce and compassionate.  You must invoke all of these things to truly change the world.  I believe the women of the world will create a better future for us all.  We must raise our girls and our boys to love and to have tolerance.

-To respect nature
Charlotte Caron
-To Triumph Over Your Fears

-To love and honor our children

-To Feel Wild and Free
Savannah London
-To Cherish our Family and Elders
Michael Sanders

-To think that you are Beautiful and Overcome Tragedies
Josie Earp
-To be a Bad Ass who takes care of business and a Graceful Lady at the same time
Kelly Reemsten
-To have Deep Connections with other Inspiring Women
Laura Carginan
-To Serve Others
-To have a Strong Spiritual Connection with Another and To Be Silly
-To be Fierce when needed but not to loose your softness
-To Be Happy and Laugh as much as possible

Monday, February 16, 2015

Easy Soul Food Recipes - Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole and Mexi-Skillet Dish

Lately, I have been cooking to feed my soul.  I've made super simple meals that are yummy, creamy, one dish and EASY.  I thought I'd share some of the great recipes that I have used and the ways that I have tweaked the recipes to my liking.  I hardly ever follow a recipe exactly. I see them as mere suggestions.  Then, I can just tailor it to what I have available in my kitchen.  You can do the same!

I made this chicken crescent roll casserole the other night and every one of us cleaned our plates.  I thought my kids were actually going to lick their plates!  I went ahead and made two of these casseroles so I could freeze one.  I am so glad that I did.  I like to freeze recipes like this because it is so helpful on those days that you just don't have time or you don't want to make time.  I also love being able to offer up one of my freezer meals to someone else who might need it.

Photo credit Dine & Dish

I made a variation of Kittencal's Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole. But it was my inspiration that I found on Pinterest.

Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole

2 cans crescent rolls
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken breasts
2 cups Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (I added celery, carrots and peas to mine)
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

I oiled a casserole dish about the size of the one above.  I laid out the crescent roll strips with the small part hanging over the sides of the dish and overlapping the rolls on the bottom of the dish quite a bit.  I didn't do individual bundles like above.  I did one big roll.  I felt like it was too hard to do them separately but you can try it that way too.  Then I spread the chicken on top, then topped with the cheese.  I folded the rolls over the top. Then poured my cream of chicken soup all over the top.  All the seasoning and spice is in the soup mixture.  I made my soup a little less thick so it would cover nicely instead of being so thick.  I also added veggies to my soup mix too.  Then Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

This next dish is one that I make a lot.  I love a good one dish meal.  I hate having a lot of dirty dishes and I am always up for Mexican food.  I love my hot sauce!! It's a flexible recipe that allows for all kinds of substitutions.  My kids dig it too!

Photo credit

Mexi-Skillet Dish

1 lb meat of choice - chicken, pork, ground beef, turkey, tofu
1 can beans rinsed - black or pinto
1 can Rotel (tomatoes w/chiles)
1 chopped small onion
1 cup cooked grains - quinoa or rice
1 T olive oil
1 cup grated cheese of choice - colby, queso fresco, cheddar, monterey
Sour Cream, Sliced Avocados, Hot Sauce, Chips, Tortillas

Saute onion in olive oil.  Add meat until browned.  Add beans, rotel, grain and heat up.  Then top the skillet with cheese.  Place in heated oven to melt the cheese.  Serve with condiment of choice and either chips and/or tortillas.  So yummy and good!
*You could cook the grain in with the skillet but mine always ends up mushy.  I like to make this dish when I have leftover rice from the night before.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Southern Style Baby Shower

All ladies end up hosting one if not many showers in her lifetime.  I have had the honor to throw quite a few for my loved ones as well as catering some when I used to be a caterer.

Sometimes, hosting a shower without a couple of ladies can be a little overwhelming.

My advice is always to:

  1. Keep it simple. Less is Always more.
  2. Do as much ahead as possible.
  3. Delegate. (put your kids to work if you have them)

Since our family has been uprooted from the South to Colorado, there are some traditions that we miss.  So, my sister-in-law decided that she would like to have a Southern Style Baby Shower to remind us of all the love and goodness that we miss from Georgia.

I decided to do evite invitations to make it easier on myself.  Although that is kinda Not very Southern Style.  Oh well, you can't do it all.

Me and my beautiful sister in law

For favors I did little bottles of Tabasco with Monogrammed initial tags.  If it's not monogrammed then it's not Southern.  I had two bottles of Moonshine - one for my mom who let us have the shower at her house and one for the winner of our fun game.  I made up a Southern Sayings Trivia Game.  I typed up 20 different Southern Sayings and left out a word to see if these Colorado-ians could complete the saying.  For example - He's living in high _______.  (answer: cotton).

For Drinks, I made Coffee Punch which is a must have at any shower in the South.  It's super easy too.  1 Gallon of Vanilla Ice Cream, 2 pots of coffee, 1 tub of cool whip and a dusting of cocoa powder.  Pour room temperature coffee over ice cream.  Top with cool whip then dust with cocoa powder.

We also had Orange Juice and Grapefruit Juice with Champagne.

For the Food, I did a Buttermilk Biscuit Bar with honey ham slices, sausage gravy and honey/butter/peach preserve.  We had a fresh fruit salad (don't do the frozen kind - that's so yucky).  I made Paula Deen's Grits Casserole.  I printed out a menu, used disposable wares and had a pretty fresh floral centerpiece that also had a monogrammed initial medallion in the center.  

My mama making the biscuits

After letting our tummies settled, I brought out the Monogrammed Vanilla Bean Cupcakes which is the mama-to-be's favorite flavor.  A dear friend of ours made these for her.  Aren't they awesome!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Get the Look...{Shhh...there's wine in here}

Shhh....There's wine in here!

Shhh....There's wine in here! by krista-allmond-montalvo featuring Simone Perele

A night-in all by myself is rare occasion in my household.  But when I get one or a night at home alone with my man,  I love a sexy, comfy look.  Throw on that old band t-shirt or one of his button down shirts.  My lingerie pick is the soft cup Caressence bra (non-underwire) and boy short which are infused with aloe vera making them oh so soft!

Grab your bottle of wine.  I like to drink mine in a coffee mug and a good Chick Flick!


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