Thursday, July 29, 2010

Negativity and Loss of strength

It seems we live in a day and age where people have either forgotten about or have not learned how, to be positive. We have been given more than any other people at any other time in history. Yet we seem to be the most unhappy people ever created. In this country, we don't have to deal with heat/cold. Most of us (even those of us that are "poor") have heat and a/c in our house to mitigate the outside temp. We have so many choices of "tasty" foods to choose from, that making healthy choices is becoming difficult. We can choose whom we will be, with whom we associate, where we will go, where we will live and what we will do with our lives. Yet, for all this, we only seem to be able to see what is wrong, not all that is right.

What set this rant off is that I've had a day where I received one too many negative emails and I wondered if you are as tired of negativity in general and specifically negative emails as I am? I just sent this out to my friends in hope that they will take it to heart. Thought some of you want to send something in a similar vein to those whom are negative in your life.

"Dear Friends,

As most of you know, right now my life is in shambles. The last of my kids has moved out, ending child support. My job is ending the last of Aug. which means I will have no more income at that time. I just got word that they will have to move me to a one bedroom apt (from the 4 bedroom house I'm in) - most probably NEXT WEEK. (just found out 2 days ago about the probable change in address). The economy is in the cesspool and jobs are scarce. Add to that, I can not stand all day at a checkout line or fast food place, so finding a job in this tourist town is going to be problematic. What few jobs are available, go to family and I have no extended family to rely on. I'm also fighting to keep from becoming depressed at these unwanted changes in my life. Trying to keep a positive attitude in the face of this much opposition can be challenging, but depression doesn't solve anything. It only stops progress and can debilitate you. It's one of Satan's tools. So, I'm trying to maintain a positive attitude.

I'm looking at many different avenues of income, but nothing is going to be a "quick fix". I am, however, working on my future by attending employment workshops, self-employment workshops and webinars sponsored both by my church (LDS) and other people to learn what I need to know to advance my business knowledge. I have people who have offered to help with some of the missing knowledge I need in exchange for using the skills they've taught me to teach others. I'm doing the research I need to do to create my business. I'm looking at a variety of opportunities to work from home (ones that aren't scams.) And I'm looking at selling off many of my possessions to raise money to pay for the business start-up - or at least downsize my stuff so it fits into a shoe box one-bedroom apt. And I have less than a month to get ALL of this done. Yeah, it's scary and I do NOT like "change" - especially changes forced upon me.

Dealing with the emotions that are generated by all of this, plus finding the energy to DEAL with all of this is becoming a real challenge. Truth is, I'd rather just stick my head under the covers and cower. However, that's not an option. Well, not a HEALTHY option because at the end of Aug, my situation would be worse for having ignored it. The choice of handling it now when it's medium-sized or waiting until it's a giant, is one I have to make. Now is better than later, so upward and onward!

However, the last thing I need is more negativity in my life and here is where YOU come in:

In the last 4 hrs, I've received 8 negative emails about this or that problem in the US/world. The day is not over yet, and am sure I will receive more of these email.
For the record:
I agree, the government is in the pits.
I agree that Pres. Obama should never have been elected, that he is a Muslim & Socialist.
I agree that we are being sold out - and that is an optimistic outlook.
In general, I agree the country is going to heck in a hand-basket. BUT THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT. OR YOU, FOR THAT MATTER!!! (except VOTE them OUT if you don't like them. However, they're not up for election.)
I agree there's a HUGE problem with immigration.
I agree people are tampering with the vaccines.
In fact, I probably agree with 99% of the positions you favor.

HOWEVER, the endless passing around of petitions and negative emails do not DO ANY GOOD. Nobody that CAN change things is READING the "petition" you've signed. Why NOT? Because you can not verify the petition signatures, so that is WHY no one is paying any attention to them! (How do they know if someone has signed the petition 3 times instead of once? How do they know if the "signatures are from "live" people or dead/made-up people?) If passing these things around WORKED, the problem(s) would have been solved by now and certainly, I would pass them on. If passing them on MADE A DIFFERENCE in even ONE life, I'd pass them on. But they DON'T! These types of emails simply make US more unhappy because of the negativity in them.

Now, if you want to pass negative stuff to your other friends and they don't mind receiving it (or do they and they've just not said anything to you?), then keep passing it on to THEM. However, the truth of it is that when you send it on to your friends, you're "preaching to the choir"! The people to whom you send this stuff believe as you do or you wouldn't be sending it to them! I have friends who think the sun rises and sets in the current administration. Do I pass ANYTHING that is contrary to that opinion on to them? NO, they would be offended. I know this, so why would I do it. Why would YOU do it. don't. See what I mean?

I'm begging each of you to Cease and Desist with the negativity. As the 13th Article of Faith states:
"We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

It seems to me that the people who pass on the negative things, tend to be people whom are unhappy with their own lives. All negativity does is make us MORE unhappy with our lot in life. It does NOT change a thing! It does not BUILD people UP (us or others), especially those that get a steady dose of it. Instead, it makes us feel aggressive, powerless, frustrated and downright angry. Good feelings for making the Spirit go bye-bye. And then how can we make a righteous decision without the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives? We can not!

I LOVE FUNNY emails. I need to laugh, we all do. I like CLEAN jokes. I even get a chuckle over clean political jokes. My problem is only with the "pass them on" emails; the "President (congressman, government, etc)is ____, doing___" send this on to your entire email lists, type emails. I've gotten to the point of just deleting them all and I'm about to get to the point of blocking certain people again.

I would also like you to take under consideration that if you've got problems/trials/heartache of your own, you request YOUR friends/family to quit sending YOU the negative stuff. What does it help? NOTHING! What does it DO? It pulls you down and saps both the energy you need and the Spirit, from your own life and the life of people who have to filter out the negative stuff you send. In other words, it DOES not improve ANYONE'S happiness. It does NOT LIFT anyone up. Not the people whom sent it to you, not you, nor the ones you pass it on too. It DESTROYS happiness, contentment and positive energy. And, hummmm....what is one of Satan's titles? Oh, yeah, DESTROYER! So when we pass on negativity, in any of it's forms, for whom are we actually working? Yep, Satan. Do you REALLY want to be associated with HIS team? I know I don't! So do you REALLY want to keep sending those on? Do you REALLY even want them sent to YOU?

So again, if you're reading this, please stop with the NEGATIVE emails. Funny ones, inspirational one are GREAT! I LOVE those, I NEED those. They BUILD me up. They make me SMILE. They CALM my troubled heart and mind. They give me HOPE. They remind me I'm not alone in the world and that our Father in Heaven is the one who is REALLY in control - though I do have to do my part in my personal "plan of salvation" to be doing what He would have ME be doing, where He would have ME to be. That's where the "study it out in your mind, pray over it, burning/uneasiness in bosom comes in. Only to feel the Spirit, you have to be CALM. You can't be calm when reading negative things.

Thank you for your love and friendship."

So now my blog friends, our assignment for today is: BE POSITIVE. BE THANKFUL for what you DO have. DON'T WORRY about/FOCUS on, what you DON'T have. NO ONE had EVERYTHING they want, because there's always something more to "want". But most of us DO have WHAT WE NEED. Focus on how grateful we are that there's plenty of food to eat, that we can afford a home - no matter how humble it may be. That we have drinkable water, mostly safe streets and mostly good neighbors. That we live in a country that is still free.

I'm not suggesting we ignore problems. It's one thing to learn about problems and then figure out possible solutions. But there are some problems we CAN NOT SOLVE at our level. So make wise choices at election times - or run for office yourself. Then leave it ALONE. If you've DONE what you CAN do, then THERE'S NOTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO! So leave it in the hands of a loving Father in Heaven.

Remember the "Serenity Prayer":

God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel Your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

Proverbs 3 (KJV):
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cook once, four meals: Chili, chili salad, bean burritos, and enchiladas

For those days when you need something quick, I have a tasty recipe that lets you cook once and then making three or four different meals out of it. And you can make it in the crockpot if you wanted to cook it while you're gone/busy. (That how-to follows the first recipe)

First a disclaimer. ANY chili recipe would work for these recipes. I just don't have a chili recipe that I love. At least not one that doesn't require a can of "Chili Magic". I know it's only about 69 cents a can. True, I'd rather make my own. It just that none of the recipes I've tried tastes like I'd like it too. Spicy, but not too hot as the kids wouldn't have eaten it. And perhaps the "old" recipe that I concocted years ago would fill the bill, but I quit using that recipe because it had "chunks" in it and none of my kids likes "chunks" (read: chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic or mushrooms) in their food. I guess I need to go dig that recipe out and try it again.

Second: Beans are beans. In whatever form you have them, whatever kind you have. I've made this with all types of beans - canned from store, canned from home, frozen and straight from dried beans. I've used all kinds of beans - pinto, black, navy and kidney beans. Shoot, one time I even put in a can of lima beans and another time I added in a can of PORK & BEANS - cause that was all I had and I wasn't making a trip to the store to BUY the "right" kind of beans. The only beans I don't really much care for are Kidney beans. That's because to me, they are a "tough" bean. It seems like no matter how carefully you prepare them (as in Do NOT boil beans, it MAKES them tough and breaks the skins on them), the skins of kidney beans seems tough to me. Just my taste buds/texture issues. YMMV

On to the Chili: The can of "Chili Magic" says to just add tomatoes and meat. I "doctor" it so that it goes farther. When I was feeding kids, I've added as much as 2 quarts of cooked dried beans. I've added as much as 28oz can of tomato puree. Obviously, the more you add to the little can of Chili, the more diluted the taste of the canned "Chili Magic". So then we'd add more cumin and chili powder to the batch or add a second can of "Chili Magic". Since it's now just me, I add less beans and tomatoes to the little can. Add more or less "extras" as suits your family.

You can freeze leftovers or can them in a pressure CANNER. (not a pressure COOKER!)

Chili (meal one): (this recipe can be doubled or more. Just use one can of "Chili Magic" for each additional recipe you're making) . This is just how I made it yesterday. It will change tomorrow as I add what I have/leave out what I don't have.

It should take less than 30 mins to grab the ingredients, chop the onion and cook it with the meat, toss in the rest of the ingredients then let it simmer on the stove.

One can of "Chili Magic" (found near the chili and baked beans or by the canned veggies in my local marts)

4 cups of cooked beans, any type

1 1/2 cups (14 oz can) of tomatoes (diced, paste, sauce, puree, home canned..whatever ya got)

1 diced onion

1/4 lb of hamburger (opt. Sometimes I use meat, sometimes I don't)

1 tsp adobo

1 tsp garlic powder (or a clove of minced garlic)

1 tsp ground cumin (opt)

Shredded cheese, tortilla chips or Fritos or popped pop corn, sour cream, guacuamole (opt)

Brown meat and onion in pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the spices over the hamburger and onions while they are browning. It's done when the meat is cooked and the onions translucent ("see through" instead of white.) and soft. I don't drain the meat - I use a low fat hamburger that I've had ground from lean meat that I bought on sale, so there's not much fat in it.

Add the can of Chili Magic, beans and tomatoes. (ok, you DO know to OPEN the cans first?!? Right? Just thought I'd ask in case Amelia Bedelia is reading this.) Stir together can contents with cooked meat/onion mixture. Over med. heat, bring chili almost to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. STIR FREQUENTLY! Any food containing beans and tomatoes likes to stick to the bottom of the pot, so stir it every 5 mins or so to make sure the food isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot so you're not burning the food on the bottom of the pan. (been there, done that; tastes bad; can't be fixed!).

Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes - again STIRRING frequently. (The longer is simmers, the more chili taste the beans will pick up. That's why things like chili taste better the second day. The flavors have had time to "marry".)

Serve plain or with opt ingredients


This should only take about 7 minutes to gather the ingredients, chop the onion and put it in the crockpot.

You can put this in the crockpot and let it cook for about 4 hrs on high or 8 on low. Then you don't have to worry about browning meat/onions or stuff sticking to the bottom of the pot. Just dump it all in, stir it around, put the lid on it and walk away. I can double this size recipe and it fits into a VERY full crockpot. I think mine is 4 qts.

Chili salad (meal two):
This recipe came about because I only had about 1/2 cup of chili left, a little bit of ranch dressing left, a half head of lettuce sitting there and I was hungry, didn't feel like cooking nor did I want to toss the little bit of leftover chili nor the 2 Tbs of ranch dressing that was left in the bottle. As you can see, I made a nice meal out of what others would have just thrown away!

This should take about 5 minutes to make.

Lettuce in bite size pieces
chili, cold (I didn't drain the "juice" off of it.)
ranch dressing
red wine vinegar

There are no amounts. This is according to how much you want to eat or how many people you need to feed. Today when I made it the second time, I used about 1/2 of a head of lettuce, 1 cup of chili and enough ranch to cover the lettuce (normal amount I would put on my salad) and then a couple of "chugs" of vinegar - probably about 1 tbs, on top of it all. That made one lunch/dinner for me.

You can also use this salad "recipe" from the burritos with the "doctored" chili. Either way, it makes for a tasty salad topping!

Chili burritos (meal three):

This should take about 7 mins to gather ingredients, pop tops on cans and heat it up, unless you're cooking meat, onions or mushrooms.

1-2 cups chili, any recipe. If the one you're using doesn't have meat & onions, you may want to add some to it before adding rest of ingredients.

1 can black olives, sliced or broken up into pieces

1 can mushrooms (or fresh ones you've sliced and fried up)

1-2 cups shredded cheese - any kind you like

Flour Tortillas

Opt: sour cream, guacamole

Heat the ingredients, minus the cheese and opt ingredients, together. Heat tortillas briefly in microwave or hot skillet. Fill with mixture, top with opt items if you're using them and then sprinkle cheese on top. Roll up and eat.

Yesterday evening, I made a batch of chili using the above recipe. I fed my daughter and son-in-love for dinner (I had already eaten earlier, but made more chili for them.) I made a salad for me today and have enough left to make a second salad for me and still have 2 cups left over to make the burritos for another day. This should easily make about 8+ burritos. I haven't made burritos this way in a long time and forget how many burritos I could make. But since you only use about 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup of filling, I seem to remember that this made a LOT of burritos! And if I remember correctly, 1/4 cup of filling was too much in a "Burrito size" tortilla, it escaped the burrito and made a mess.

Make your burritos all up at once, flash freeze what you don't eat, then roll up in plastic or whatever you use instead of plastic. Place individually wrapped burritos into a plastic container/bag (0r whatever you use instead of plastic) and place in freezer. Instant snack/dinner. Just take however many you want from the freezer, unwrap from plastic, wrap in napkin, paper towel, etc and nuke for 1 minute on high. Do each one individually. Just like the store bought burritos.


Enchiladas (meal four):

This should take about 8 minutes to gather gather ingredients, unwrap burritos and put into oven. It will take about 45 mins - 1 hr to bake, but you can be doing other things while it bakes.

Take frozen burritos, unwrap, place in a baking pan, cover with enchilada sauce and top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 mins - 1 hr at 350 until insides are hot and cheese is melted. Test with thermometer to make sure insides are at least 160 degrees.

You can also do this with individual burritos in the microwave. Take a frozen burrito, unwrap, place on plate and cover with sauce and cheese. Nuke for a minute. Only thing is, microwaved burritos are "chewy" from the tortilla being overheated.

Still have some leftover chili? Make Chili dip!

Chili dip:
This takes less than 5 minutes to gather ingredients and heat it up.

Chili, heated until it's warm (if cold/frozen). Don't have to preheat if from a can.

Shredded cheese or 1" cubes of Velveta

Mix together well, chili and shredded/cubed cheese in a microwavable bowl. Nuke for 1 minute and stir well. Serve with tortilla chips, Fritos, Dorritos, pita chips or veggies.

A tip to avoid complaints. Don't feed your family (or YOURSELF!) this 3, 4, 5, 6 meals in a row!

Have the chili one day. Divide whatever is left over into two parts. One part for the salad and one part for the Burritos. Freeze one part and put the other part in the fridge. Several days later, have the next meal with the chili in it. (Unless you need something for your lunch - then save some "salad"fixings out for you.) Then several days after that, make the next meal. That way they don't "burn out" on chili and refuse to eat it or complain about how often they're eating it.

Starting anew

Well, life has come full circle. The last of the at-home kids has flown the coop. He had the audacity to make Eagle Scout, turn 18 and move to dad's all in a matter of a few weeks. No more of my babies are at home. It sure is quiet around here now. YES!!!! lol

Things I miss:
I miss the hub-bub of having children in my home.

I miss totin' 'em to activities. I miss the miles we drove and the talks we've had in the car going to/from homeschool events, scout meetings and Church activities.

I miss not knowing what's going on in their day to day lives.

I miss "Mom, take us to the park." (When did they last ask THAT??? When was the last time we did that? Did I realize at that time that it would be "the last time"? Nope. It just never happened again. And I guess that question wasn't needed any more as they could walk or ride their bikes to the park themselves. Yeah, it's been a few years. In fact, quite a few of them.

I miss "snow days". If you homeschool and have a "snow day", you go play in above park. You drag 3 kidlets in the plastic sled to the park a mile away and take turns riding it down the slopes to the railroad tracks below. And then you load them all up again and hike back up the hill to your house with them in tow. And then you make "Snow Ice Cream". That too has been a few years ago. And the last time, well, I never knew it would be the "last time".

I miss all day reading sessions, where a good book was read aloud to them. We'd spend the day, the WHOLE day reading. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Boxcar Children, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and many, many others. We never got around to diagramming sentences, but my kids have a huge vocabulary and speak standard English very well. I think it was all of the reading we did. A lot of the books were "Classics". When was the last time someone asked; "Mom, read to me?" Another "tradition" that faded quietly away, never to return.

I miss being able to ask; "sweetheart, will you get me ___?" and having it appear. Now I have to stop what I'm doing, get up and get my own darn stuff. Phooey!

I miss those long philosophical discussions on life. But only if the discussion wasn't about why they shouldn't be in trouble for some infraction of house rules. lol

I miss being the center of a little one's world. Of being the go-to person in case of hurt or happiness. I miss skinned knees and new discoveries.

I even miss "mom, we have NOTHING to eat" in a house that has about 1000 lbs of wheat, 200 lbs of rice and 200 lbs of beans as well as shelves of canned goods. That translates as "mom, there's nothing available to nuke and I don't want to actually FIX something."

I miss having someone to talk to all day long. And those all night long talks too.

Things I DON'T miss:
Putting something down and having it sprout legs and walk away. Nope, sorry, don't miss that a bit. I LIKE that I can put something down and it is still there when I come back for it. Most notably: pens, paper, books, food, my knife sharpener, etc. Of course, my glasses STILL seem to walk around on their own. I think Great-grandpa Adams has moved in with me. I know for a fact that it was he who moved stuff in my Nana's house! Aunt Karalee TOLD me so!

I don't miss filling my jug with water and going to drink out of it and it being empty - 5 minutes after I filled it. Of course, now there's no one to make go fill it either.

The house now stays clean. Wow. I clean the bathrooms... and they're still clean four days later.

I straighten out the shelves and they stay straightened out.

I clean the fridge and there's no mustard or ketchup on the shelves.

I do the dishes and they're DONE. No more magically appear in the sink. Of course, now I have to do them ALL the time instead of just SOME of the time. But there's only a few to do. Unless I invite one or more to stay for dinner. Anyone want to come to dinner?

I don't miss the three "invisible foster children" I used to have. I'm sure if you have kids, these foster kids have spent some time at your house. You know their names or at least heard of them - Not Me, I Don't Know and I Didn't Do It. I say they are invisible because I've never actually SEEN them. But I know that they lived with me because my KIDS knew them! My own kids were great. They NEVER misbehaved, never got into stuff or made a mess! It was ALWAYS those rotten foster kids. My kids would SEE them do stuff. And were VERY willing to rat out such ROTTEN kids. Anytime anything happened, my kids would tattle on them.

"Who left the fridge door opened?

"Not Me!"
"I Don't Know!"
"I Didn't Do It!"

"Who left the candy wrapper on the FLOOR?"

"Not Me!"
"I Don't Know!"
"I Didn't Do It!"

But I do know WHY those poor children were in foster care. I've never actually MET their mother, but I've heard of her! You probably have too. Her name is "Everybody Else's Mother". I mean REALLY! Who ELSE would let their 10 year old get a TATOO? Or pierce their TONGUE? Or date a guy/gal that was 5 YEARS older than your teen??? Yep, only Everybody Else's Mother! THAT'S why her kids are in foster care. The rest of us have more SENSE than that woman!

So, all in all I miss them more than I'm glad they're gone. It's sad. When I finally removed all the reminders I have on my Mozilla Sunbird calendar, I HAD no reminders on my calendar. Well, I have "rent due", 'insurance due", "Phone bill due", and "Church" left on it along with family birthdays and anniversaries. Other than that, it's blank.

Wow, now I've got to get a life. It will be different than it's been for 21 years. Full of different things. Different opportunities, different trials, different hopes, different heartaches. But whether or not it's a happy life depends on me and my attitude. Will I choose to find the good in the new life or will I choose to excessively mourn the loss of the old life. Well that depends on whether or not I also choose to look at the happinesses and freedoms of the new life and remember the hardships and trials of the old life to go along with the nostalgia for things as they were. For the remembered past is colored in love and loss, but the unlived future is colored with uncharted territory and uncertain results.

And that's where adventure lies! So set you sails and "drink up me hardies! Yo ho!"