You may have noticed my absence from social media lately. I’ve been laying low while in the midst of going through a very hard time in my life. Most of you know I was away from my family for the last year while we were in the midst of some stressful transitions/moves. It took a huge toll on my mental health. Without realizing it, I picked up some toxic coping mechanisms to help me get through it. I woke up from my reckless mental state to a nightmare of the havoc I wreaked on myself. I am devastated by the destruction I have caused in my life.
In order to recover properly, I have been facing my problems head on, coming clean to those that need to hear it and unfortunately, that has meant unintentionally hurting people I love. I have never been so low in my life. I have hit rock bottom. There have been moments I didn’t think I would make it out of this alive. There were moments I wanted to end my life so I didn’t hurt anyone again to include myself. There were times I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing from the pain I have inflicted. There were times I intentionally slept on the floor or let myself be cold because I didn’t think I deserved a bed or warmth. It has been a struggle to believe in myself and know I am not a bad person because of the recent poor choices I made. They do not define who I am.
It has been the darkest of times for me. However, I have a fantastic support system that includes my husband, my very best friends, my supervisor and first sergeant, and my therapist. I have learned healthy coping mechanisms to get me through this as well as communicating better with people. I have identified a pattern in my behavior and am working to see it coming instead of waiting for it to get here, to stand up for myself, to get help asap and not put myself in a situation that would cause me to get back to where I was.
I am not writing this for sympathy or for you to ask me what happened. Those that need to know, know.
I am telling you this because everyone is dealing with something, be kind. People make mistakes, forgive and move forward. Depression and anxiety rear their ugly heads and people cope with it in ways they may have never imagined themselves. I never anticipated to be in this situation ever in my life and while I am now facing it and working hard to fix myself, it’s not always going to be as easy for others. We all have our own shit to deal with it. Be empathetic (put yourself in the shoes of others and TRY to understand their point of view because it is certainly going to be different than your own.)
What helped me:
*Identifying the toxic things I inserted into my life and clearing them out.
*Raising my white flag and saying I need help.
*Having friends that love you no matter your mistakes.
*Having multiple resources at my fingertips to go to when the going gets tough. Ask me if you need them.
*Crying. A lot.
*A never ending supply of tissue that doesn’t hurt your face.
*Listening to music that brings up memories of happier times.
*Accepting the consequences graciously by being accountable for your actions. (THIS ONE IS HUGE)
This is where I’ve been but it’s not where I am now. I am on the path to recovery and will do whatever it takes to stay healthy which includes not allowing toxic people into my life, not trusting people so freely, and looking to the healthy coping mechanisms I have gained in my therapy sessions. Don’t balance yourself on anything less than the four pillars of life: Mental health, emotional health, physical health, and spiritual health. I was teetering on one for the last year and getting my fix for the others, never embodying what I believe in until it was too late.
Be true to yourself and understand that to be a people pleaser, you have to include yourself in there.
This sweet potato casserole came from Ruth’s Chris but I tweaked it to fit what I wanted for Thanksgiving dinner this year which was something not overly sweet.
5 large sweet potatoes
1/3 white sugar (original dish has 1 cup but IMO it’s sooooo unnecessary.)
2 well beaten eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Watkins vanilla extract
1/3 cup lightly salted butter, melted.
1 cup Pecans
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 stick lightly salted butter, melted
Peel and cut potatoes into chunks. Boil potatoes for 30 minutes. Do not over cook. Drain and let cool for about an hour.
Meanwhile, mix the crust ingredients together and set aside. It’ll have small clumps.
Preheat oven at 375°F.
Mash the potatoes once they are cooled. Add the casserole ingredients together with the mashed sweet potatoes. Mix with a beater for about 4 minutes. Grease your casserole dish. (DO NOT add the crust ingredients until after you bake the casserole otherwise your crust will sink into the potatoes.)
Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes.
Add crust to the top, then bake for another 10 minutes.
My kids are picky eaters but my son had three kid sized helpings of this dish. It warmed my heart. ♥
I attempted a sexy photo for my husband which fell flat no matter which angle I tried. When I realized how flat it fell, I started researching all around for a boudoir photographer and found one whose work I kept coming back to in all my searches, Envy U Photography. I liked the style of the photographer, I mean, there were a few poses that weren’t for me, but overall, the final products in her portfolio had me excited enough to contact her.
Little did I know that I would be getting more than beautiful sexy photos for my husband.
When I walked in for my appointment, I was greeted by Charlotte, the photographer, and her hair and make up artist, Justina Ford. I filled out some paperwork while they asked me some questions, then Justina got to work on my head. I had brought my own outfits with me and Charlotte added some things to go along with what I already had to create the look she envisioned for me.
I’m pretty comfortable with myself and my body so the two of them seeing me in lingerie didn’t bother me at all, my biggest worry was how my face would put off sexy through a camera lens. Once Charlotte started giving me direction, I had every confidence she knew what she was doing. I honestly didn’t have to do a dang thing except follow her direction. She even showed me my images on her camera throughout the session. The more I saw, the more confident I got. By the time I walked out of there five hours later, I felt like a rock star.
I walked on that high for THREE weeks. It put a skip in step that had gone missing since I joined the motherhood club. I wanted to drive fast with the top down in a convertible listening to Kings Of Leon’s Sex On Fire as loud as I could get away with.
I hadn’t even told my husband yet what I was up to. A week later, I went to see the final images and select the ones I wanted to keep. BOOM! Another confidence builder!
Charlotte had taken such care putting my body into the most flattering positions so each and every one of my photographs were absolutely stunning. Some were even exquisite. She saw that, she knew what she was doing, she KNEW what she was doing to me. She gave me back something I didn’t know I had lost years ago. What a gift!
While I didn’t know I was going there for more than photographs, Charlotte did. Her work = nothing short of incredible.
As for my husband, he said the photographs made him realize what he had forgotten, that I am more than a mom with two young kids, that I’m a sexy young woman, his wife.
Whether you’re making a turkey for Thanksgiving or just any day of the week, this recipe is worth the preparation and work. I have friends that usually make a ham for Thanksgiving because they’ve never had a turkey worth repeating every year, until they had Thanksgiving at our house last year. Now they can’t wait to have it again and I can’t wait to get started on it.
I adapted this instruction from my mom’s recipe at www.offthegardenpath.com. I informed her that hers was difficult to follow and every time I turned around there was a new ingredient I needed and hadn’t bought because it wasn’t listed at the top where I had gotten my shopping list from. This version here lists everything at the top that you need as well as adapts the recipe for a Large Grill Dome.
This is a complex recipe that requires days of preparation but don’t worry, there’s plenty of down time in between and the outcome is….so worth it!
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment with your e-mail and/or question and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
22″ WEBER Grill (W)/ or Large Grill Dome (GD)
Coal baskets for indirect heat
Charcoal Briquettes – 10lb. bag will do (I used both mesquite and regular briquettes)
1 20 oz. galvanized steel can or family size tomato soup can, clean and dried for the pedestal/throne
1 20 lb. turkey (thawed)
Heavy Duty foil
5 gal. clean and disinfected, plastic bucket with a cover
5 quarts of water
1 cup of Kosher salt
1 cup of brown sugar
1 large onion, cut into quarters
2 stalks of celery, cut into chunks
3 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic, sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon of peppercorns or allspice berries
(Most of the brine recipe was found in ‘Extreme Barbecues’ recipe book by Dan Huntley & Lisa Grace Lednicer.)
3 tblsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sweet basil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 tblsp. steak and meat seasoning
1 tsp. table salt
8 – 10 0z. (about a cup) of chicken broth
2-3 oz. of beer
1 tsp. dried sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, cut into quarters,
3 cloves garlic
**This recipe does not give you a traditional edible stuffing byproduct since it’s a smoked turkey. (Stove Top to the rescue!)
Preparation twenty-four to thirty-six hours before grilling:
-Prepare/disinfect bucket to hold turkey.
-Thaw turkey well before the day you brine it (Wednesday AM) which is 24 hours before the day you grill it (Thursday AM)(about 3 days in the refrigerator). She’s going to be brining in the refrigerator for a whole day; so make some room in there for it.
-Mix the brine ingredients in a large pan, stir thoroughly and bring to a boil.
-Cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
-Remove any and all packaging from turkey and rinse the turkey inside and out.
-Place turkey inside the plastic container, strain the brine and pour the broth over the turkey. It should cover the turkey completely. Add more water if it doesn’t. Leave in the fridge for 24-36 hours.
Day of Grilling:
Prepare the grill:
You will be using the indirect heat grilling method.
-Remove top grid and place aside.
-Place coal baskets on each side of grill away, on the lower grid and away from the handles.
– Fill the coal baskets with 3 lg. pieces of crumpled black and white newspaper. -Place about 25 briquettes on top of newspaper in each basket. (You can use a fluid starter if you like; just be careful and follow directions.) It’s good to have heat proof oven mitts or fire gloves on hand and a water bottle sprayer just in case.
NOTE: You may also use soaked wood chips in your coal baskets along with the briquets
-Adjust your air vents accordingly.
*Because the Weber has an adjustable vent control; check beforehand and mark the half-way opening setting and the fully opened setting. Use the fully opened setting when you first light the fire and start grilling. Close it down to halfway about a half an hour into grilling once you have a good fire going.
-(GD) Heat the smoker up to 275 °F, adjust air vents as needed. My husband is known as Uncle Gadget so he has all sorts of thingamajiggers on his smoker to control the temperature.
Ready to Grill:
-Rinse the turkey after 24-36 hours of brining, in cold water.
-In the 20 oz. can (or Throne), add your “stuffing” ingredients: chicken broth, beer, dried sage leaves, bay leaf, onion, garlic cloves.
-Mix with a spoon.
-Put the filled can in the drip pan (a sturdy, old metal cake pan will do. Make sure it has some depth to hold the juices).
-Place the bird on the can through the area you would normally stuff with dressing.
–The legs should be facing downward so the bird looks like he’s dancing.
-Rub the bird all over with olive oil.
-Combine rub ingredients in a bowl.
-Rub the dry rub all over the bird; being careful not to spill the contents of the can.
-Cover the drumsticks with heavy duty foil to prevent over-cooking.
-Cut an apple and an onion in half
-Place them inside the top of the bird to hold the steam and flavors in.
-Place the bird and can with the drip pan on the bottom grid between the two coal baskets. (GD) on a pizza tin pan (see picture 5) then in the center of the smoker to give sturdiness and even heating in the smoker.
– Adjust your vents for full opening for the first 1/2 to 1 hour; then close to 1/2 way.
– Replace the grill cover and open the vents completely throughout the cooking process.
-The inner temperature of the bird, when finished, should be about 160°F. It will continue to cook to proper temperature while ‘resting’. You can check the temperature after an hour and a half by place a good thermometer in the turkey just above the drumstick. It should read 160°F.
-Carefully remove the drip pan, can, and turkey together. You will probably need more than two protected hands to do this.
-Remove the can without spilling the contents and place the turkey in a 9×13 pan or dish. The turkey will sit in the juices while ‘resting’. The longer it sits, the better it will taste.
Tips and Tricks for the Weber:
Set your timer for an hour to ‘replenish the briquets’. You want to maintain an even temperature, so don’t keep peeking at the bird to see if it’s done. Optimum temp at 275°F.
For the 14 lb. turkey, it took only 2 hours or less to cook thoroughly. A 20 lb turkey takes about 3 1/2 hours. The meat will be pinkish looking due to the ‘smoking’.
Mix together corn starch and water until you get a thick liquid. (Proportions will be 4 parts water, 1 part corn starch)
Take the juices from the turkey and strain them into a pan, add 1-2 bouillons and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture to thicken up the gravy. Do not feel you need to use it all, just enough to reach your desired consistency. Continue to boil for 10 minutes whisking frequently.
Since becoming a SAHM, I’ve had to learn to budget better than I once did. This means Christmas gifts for family members requires imagination and creativity. I’ve come to the conclusion, I am not very creative but I also know a great not-so-well-kept secret called Pinterest. People out there are so darn creative, it makes me sick and happy at the same time.
I settled on making Christmas ornaments and went to town on Pinterest looking for some ideas on how to make them. I came across some glass ornament characters that I thought were really cute and simple enough, so I dove in further and clicked on the website. Imagine my disappointment when I found just an image of the homemade ornament and not a step by step tutorial. Sad face. I wondered if I was creative enough to figure it out myself and decided I needed my box of goodies to get me started.
Here’s what I found what I needed to create the characters, Frosty, Rudolph, Elf, and Santa:
First I took out the stem of the glass ornaments. Next I had my handy dandy husband put together a mixture of clear Elmer’s glue and water. The mixture needed to be liquid enough to coat the inside of the glass ornament but thick enough to stick to it and not run off completely.
After the mixture was just right in consistency, I poured alittle into the clean glass ornament.
Once I had an even coat, I laid the ornament upside down over the glue container to let any excess glue drip out. This is very important because otherwise you end up with runny glitter clumps once you add glitter to the ornament.
Meanwhile, while you are waiting for the excess glue to drip out, you can gather your ornament decorations that you will be gluing to the outside of the ornament to create the character. Using scissors or better yet, your Silouette (which I do not have), cut out the buckle to the belt for the elf and Santa, the belts and the little booties for the elf.
Using your glue mixture you can paint some glue onto the buckle cut out and sprinkle glitter over the top to add some sparkle and pizazz to their outfits.
I also used a hole punch and foam stickers to make buttons and Frosty’s mouth.
Once all the excess glue has dripped out, pour about a tablespoon of glitter into the glass ornament. I used, though I do not have a photo to show it, a paper cone that I taped together to funnel the glitter into the ornament “neatly”.
Once you have an even coat of glitter, tip the open end of the ornament over a cup or dish to drain out excess glitter.
Next, it’s time to decorate and make them your own! I used SMALL amounts of hot glue to add the eyes, nose, buttons, belts, stockings and mouths to the ornaments. If you don’t have a hot glue gun, no worries, use regular glue. I also had foam stickers on hand, that I used to add small items to the ornaments so you could always go that route.
I realize this ornament is green. I hadn’t planned on blogging about my ornaments until too late so I had to start taking pictures mid-ornament and then start a new one to get you the instructions on the glitter since there weren’t any out there in Pinterest world. One blog suggested using Mop-Glo as the tacky substance on the inside of the ornament. If it works for you, let me know!
So are you ready to see some up close finished products? Here ya go!
I was so excited when I finished these adorable ornaments. I can’t believe I made these all by myself! This year, now that I know what I’m doing, I may let the kids “help” me with these.
When my husband and I moved back to the states, we invested in a pizza stone. With it, came a pizza crust recipe that we have found to be fool proof. Over the last two years we have tweaked it to become our own go to version. The original crust recipe is Emile Henry’s.
3 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp or one package dry active yeast
1 cup luke warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
First off, preheat your oven to 500°F with the pizza stone placed on one of the low racks. Once the oven is preheated, let it sit an additional 20 minutes to heat up your pizza stone. Proof the yeast by adding the yeast and ONE tsp sugar to the cup warm water. Stir until dissolved.
Next, whisk together flour, ONE tsp sugar and salt in the mixing bowl.
In the KitchenAid mixer using the dough hook, add the yeast/water mixture slowly to the flour while it is stirring (Setting 3). Next add the olive oil and let the dough hook do it’s thing for about 4-5 minutes. If you find the dough not becoming one big ball and little pieces stay at the bottom of the bowl, add just a few drops of warm water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
Let the dough sit in the bowl for thirty minutes covered with a towel. After thirty minutes, split the dough in half and set both halves on a floured surface, cover for another thirty minutes.
Take one ball of dough and press it out onto a floured surface until it is the size and shape you want for your crust. Pick up the pressed out dough and place it on a pizza peel or flat cookie sheet that has been floured and sprinkled with corn meal.
Add your sauce, cheese and ingredients to finish off your pizza. Slide your pizza onto the hot pizza stone and let bake in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Take the pizza out and place it on a cutting board, cut and enjoy!
My favorite ingredients to top my pizza are: Bob Evans sausage (sage) (pre-cooked), fresh cut up spinach, chopped tomatoes and feta cheese. YUM!
The dreaded cold has sneezed it’s way into my house. First, my youngest got it, now me. I am M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E! Couldn’t be that my body is on some hormonal roller coaster that I can’t quite latch the seatbelt on or that my youngest refuses to sleep at night….er, I mean AT ALL! But you aren’t here to hear about my life today, you are here to make some chicken soup. It’s mmm mmmm good.
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped fine3 large carrots, cut into slices
1 48oz containers of low sodium Swanson Chicken Broth
1 48 oz containers of regular Swanson Chicken Broth
1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store
4 tsp of thyme
1 Tbsp basil
2 whole bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a pan or if your large crockpot can handle a sauté setting; sauté onions and celery on medium until they just start to brown.
2. If using a pan, dump the vegetables into a crockpot with the broth.
3. Add the whole chicken (Keep the string on it if you can. It makes it easier to pull out of the broth when the time comes.)
5. Add spices, carrots and anything else you want to flavor up your broth.
6. Stir around the chicken as best as you can.
7. Set crock pot to high for 2 hours. (Stir occasionally if you’re nosy like me but it is not necessary.)
8. After two hours, pull the whole chicken out. It should want to fall apart, that is why keeping the string on the chicken is a good idea.
9. On a cutting board, pick the meat off the chicken. CAUTION: IT WILL BE HOT so use a fork and tongs.
10. Using a fork, shred the chicken into smaller pieces then add it to the broth.
11. Stir together and VOILA! You have yourself some Cheater Chicken Soup!
12. If you want noodles in your soup, I highly encourage to keep them separate from the soup because after they siat together for awhile, the noodles get super mushy.
If you know of a way to prevent that over the course of a few days in the fridge, let me know!
13. I love me some fresh bread to dip into my soup!
NOTE: Since the chicken is already cooked, you don’t HAVE to cook on HIGH for 2 hours, it just helps to meld the flavors together. Leftovers the next day are far better than the first day, am I right?
A baby shower dropped kersplat right into my lap. One week to get something put together for a new mommy. And I’m a sucker for a new mommy. It’ll be her first baby shower and unfortunately, her husband is deployed and won’t be able to partake in it. Double sucker. There’s nothing like a mommy-to-be to bring out my nurturing, protective, let me give you everything that I have to help you get through this mode.
So there I was, scouring the internet for ideas on what to do. It’s supposed to be a low-key shower and the venue is in a very popular, cluttered restaurant. The first thing I came across was this easy diaper cake tutorial from Slap Dash Mom.
This was just the first thing I came across. It’s going to be perfect for her! Next, I need to work on games that I can do in this popular restaurant. I’m thinking String-Around-The-Mommy, The Don’t Say “Baby” and the Dirty Diaper games Any other suggestions? What about prizes for a co-ed baby shower?
I saw this craft on pinterest and decided it would a great CHEAP Halloween decoration that I can make with the kids. I also included pictures on how to do it rather than just the final product.
My kids are not the best artists which totally goes against my need for perfection in crafts. I hate myself for always wanting to straighten out a line here or there, or make sure the right colored crayon colors the right object. Trust me, it takes every ounce of restraint for me not to do my daughter’s Pre-K homework for her. My hands just itch to intervene her “artwork”. I’ll admit though, she’s getting better at staying in the lines, which is why I let her do up a milk jug pumpkin of her own. Sadly, my OCD got the best of me when she had lost interest and I “finished” it up in order for it to be on display at our house. 😦 I know, I know. Bad Mommy.
Items that you will need for this craft:
gallon milk jugs. (Empty and clean. Your choice as to the quantity. I started collecting them at the end of August to get 10 jugs)
Permanent black marker
Duct or Packing Tape
String of Christmas lights (your choice in color. I chose orange to make them look more Halloweenish but I’m sure colored or white look just as nice)
Be sure to have your milk jugs cleaned out prior to saving them so when you finally go to start this project, you’re not knocked unconscious by the fumes of the spoiled milk dregs at the bottom of the milk jugs that you’ve been saving for months. (I THOUGHT I had been cleaning them out all along)
Peel off the stickers. I figured this was something easy for my kids to do but I totally lost them after 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Oh well.
Using the black permanent marker, draw your pumpkin faces.
Take off the safety ring under the cap.
Color the whole cap with your black marker
Cut a 1-2″ hole in the back of the jug near the bottom
Tape the milk jugs together
Insert lights into the holes on the back of the jug, evenly distributing them through all the jugs.
Place the line of jugs upside down and tape them together on the under side to keep them together better.
Light em up!
The one thing I’m not quite sure about is storing these for next year. They seem kind cumbersome. Got any ideas?