Monday, February 13, 2012

Those sneaky emotions....

I will post in red today in honor of Valentine's Day...aka Single Awareness Day. So, I am cruising through life--feeling pretty good. Everything seems to be going well.....just going through another day and then WHAM.....those wacky emotions crash in and turn you upside down. For me, it was sitting in my daughter's choir concert tonight. Of course, being the day before Valentine's Day--it is chock full of love songs and is called the "Love Concert". It was beautiful and she was beautiful. I loved it. However, as I was sitting there listening, Loads of memories flooded my brain and before you know it, I was sitting there thinking that I would give just about anything to keep from just totally sobbing there in the middle of her concert. That, I must say is an aweful feeling and can often catch me off guard. You see I truly am happy 99% of the time. I love my life. It is full of friends and my kids and lots of blessings. I truly LOVE my life. But sitting there in that concert of LOVE, I remembered when I was proposed to many years ago a few days before Valentine's Day because he just could not wait until the actual day. That led me to remember my wedding and his Mom--who I adored and who recently passed away. I remembered getting ready to have my first child--my precious Emma, just a few years after that. And, I thought about how it has been a few years since I have had a "valentine". I am going to blame all of this mushy sentiment on this "special" day getting ready to occur and I am going to be glad tomorrow when it is over for another year. I am guessing I am not the only one who gets a little teary eyed at this time of year.

Once A Month Cooking Part Two....

I thought I would do a little update with recipes, shopping tips, etc.
We just cooked again this Saturday....there were five of us cooking and seven of us getting meals. I think I counted 17 dinners and lots of muffins, muffin type bread, and breakfast burritos. My freezer is FULL! Most of these recipes are from I absolutely think this site is a lifesaver. When you pick your recipes, you can change the serving size to whatever you need. For example, this time I changed all of the servings to 36. It combines them all to make one total grocery list which is even separated into departments in the store. You can add in extra items you need. So far the list has been spot on.
For the shopping part. I always take at least one friend with me. We use two grocery carts. I usually call off items and they grab them. We get most of the items at Aldi. If they don't have something, I get it at Kroger or Walmart. I also sometimes get meat at the local meat market. The quality and prices are very good. This time I also got some items (rice and spices) at an International Grocery in Indianapolis. You cannot find good rice cheaper anywhere else. Spices and produce are very cheap there too...
I also get heavy duty aluminum foil, disposable aluminum pans in various sizes, and name brand freezer bags. I feel like they are worth the extra money. Our cost this month for everything--including buying three new stock pans, tupperwear, a new mixer, and measuring cups / spoons, was $150 per family.
Our recipes this month were Stephanie's Goulash, lasagna, meatloaf, beef and noodles, Indian Butter Chicken, Italian chicken, pulled pork, breakfast burritos, muffins of all kinds, french toast, ham and beans, chicken enchiladas, cheesy chicken pasta, and chicken with rice and broccoli. See recipes below....
Stephanie's Goulash 3 c chopped onions 2.5 c chopped green pepper 2 cups chopped carrots... 3 cloves garlic minced 3 lbs stew meat 1-6 oz can tomato paste 4 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp black pepper 4 cups hot noodles 1/2 cup sour cream. Dump everything except noodles and sour cream in freezer bags. Shake, seal, label, and put in freezer. On serving day dump in slow cooker and cook for several hours. Cook noodles separately and garnish with sour cream.
Do not cook this stuff before putting it in the baggies....just dump it all in raw and freeze. When it is serving day, dump in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours or high for about 3-4 hours. Cook the noodles and serve with sour cream.
This is a really simple pulled pork recipe. We shred the pork and put it in freezer bags. When you serve you can serve it as is with rice or potatoes or you can mix in bbq sauce and use on sandwiches. Yummy!
We have made this before! It is very very good. Last time we used fresh chicken breasts and cream of chicken soup. I liked it a little better that time. We used frozen chicken this time and it was not as juicy.
We left out the oil in this and used half oatmeal and half bread crumbs.
Not much to say....this is very good!
I recommend making twice as many servings as you think you need for this one. It seemed a little skimpy. Also, we tried just cooking it with the noodles and then freezing. The noodles were not very good. I recommend waiting to cook them until the day you are serving.
This smelled sooo good as it was cooking! Even the girls who were skeptical of this one thought they would like it once they saw it and smelled it. Note that I got the ingredients for this one at an international grocery. The prices are alot cheaper than local groceries and the selection is better. The garam masala and tandoori masala are both a mixture of spices. If you cannot find them, google how to make them yourself.
You just cook this for a few minutes on each side. On cooking day you can heat in oven or microwave. You can freeze it in whole slices or cut in strips.
We added the carrots to this but we did not add alot of extra water. We wanted it thicker like ham and beans. The recipe made it more like a soup.
Need I say more.....yummy!
We make these minus the black olives. One of our favorites.
We add ground beef to this and extra cans of diced tomatoes. I like the veggies really chunky in it, but if my kids find them, they won't eat it. So, this time we really chopped up all the veggies very small.
Happy cooking to you! Let me know what you try and how it works. I am always up for some new recipes or ideas!

Friday, February 3, 2012

How I became a single mom

People do not often want to ask that question....sometimes they do ask, often they wonder, and sometimes they just make their own assumptions. I really do not mind answering the question....I guess first of all, I should say that I never ever wanted to be a single mom. I really thought I would be married forever and raise my kids in a two parent home. I think many single parents (both male and female) feel the same way. Anyway, when my husband left the first time because he "wasn't happy", I was devestated. I did not think that I could do it on my own. My children were 3 and 5. They were so little and required so much attention. I remember feeling guilty because as much as I tried to be strong for them, I felt broken and scared. As time went by though, I got stronger and better. I just had to take each day as it came. I will say that during this time, even though he was not with me, he was a good dad. I never had to wonder when or if I was going to get support. He almost always took them when he was supposed to. He did not really see them much more than that, but we were on decent terms. I feel like God really helped me get through the rough spots. I think that when we go through difficult things like this, whether it is a divorce, an illness, or the death of a loved one, God gives us the strength we need. I have felt overwhelmed at times, but then there is always a friend that comes up beside me and helps out or something good happens to remind me of his presence. I sometimes wonder if things would have worked out if we had had support like there is at my church now. There are ladies that come beside women struggling in their marriage and do Bible studies and encourage them to keep trying. There are men that come along side of the men and encourage them to keep trying. There are Respect Dare classes and Marriage classes....I think these can be really rewarding if people accept the help. I feel like even though I struggled through a divorce, God has blessed me and my children and placed us in a postion where we can teach and help others. I hope that through me, others can be inspired to know that they CAN do it...that they do not NEED another person to be complete. I hope they see that their lives can be COMPLETE as a single person / parent. This situation is not what I wanted or I planned, but I am ok in spite of that. I guess I would even say ok is not the right life is great just the way it is. I have God in the center, my children next, and friends right after that....I have all that I need and more.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I generally feel like I am a person who has a lot of faith in God and his works....but this past month my faith was tested and I have to admit my faith wavered. Not in the sense that I thought God was not real or that I would not follow him, but in the sense that I questioned him in his plan. My friend Becky, (who is young-38, seems healthy, is thin and very active) collapsed from a heart attack at church. She is the mom of twin two year olds, a four year old, and two adopted older boys. She also has another friend of mine living with her family--an 18 year old who just recently found himself with nowhere to go. Becky is amazing. She and her husband Troy have fostered many children and adopted. When they take someone in they give them 100%. When I brought David over to their house to meet them for the first time (they had agreed to take him in just based on what I told them about him and before ever meeting him), Becky handed him a gift. It was a copy of The Blind Side in a gift bag. It was such an amazingly sweet gesture and immediately made David feel loved and wanted--perhaps for the first time in his life.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, Becky collapsed in the restroom after church. There were nurses there almost immediately starting CPR and using the AED several times. The ambulance arrived and they took her to the ER where they continued to shock her heart and intubate her. They then lifelined her to St.Vincents Hospital in Indianapolis. I went to see her the next day and my heart was broken. Before I saw her I did not realize just how severe the trouble was, but seeing her....well it was just sad. I worried about her family. The next day, Tuesday, I got a call stating that the neurologist said she was brain dead and had been since the moment she collapsed. I was asked to talk to David and that was maybe the hardest thing I have ever had to do....So, later that night, I received another message that another test had been done to confirm brain death and that it was conclusive that Becky was gone. This is the point when I wavered. Up until that moment, I had really thought that God was going to perform a miracle and show his power through Becky. But now, I had to face the fact that he was not going to rush in and save the day. How could he do this? Why would he do this? It just did not make any kind of sense to me at all. Her babies are little--would they even remember her? Her older boys had already lost their biological could they survive this again....her husband--how could he pull all of this off on his own....I questioned and stewed and kind of even maybe raised my voice a little with God....I tried to sleep, but I just tossed and turned all night. And then, well, then I got a call around 6 am from my friend Angela. I could tell she was crying and she said, "Did you hear? Did you hear?" My heart jumped a little hoping it was a miracle, but my head thought for sure it was more bad news. But, then she went on to say that Becky had started blinking her eyes and responding to simple commands like wiggling her toes in the middle of the night! My heart leapt...I sobbed....I was overjoyed. I still could not wrap my brain around it. That night I went to the hospital again. I did not go into her room, but just being there and hearing from the others that did go in felt amazing and made it more real to me. By the next day she was fully awake and trying to talk and overbreathing the ventilator. She was answering yes and no questions. When I had heard that she was awake, I still wondered if she would have any brain damage. Would she still be Becky? Would she fully recover? Well, the answer is YES! On Tuesday, exactly one week after she was pronounced brain dead, she had the ventilator removed. This week which has been another week, she had a test on her heart and had stints put in two arteries. Tomorrow she will be going home from the hospital. Now all of this is miraculous indeed, but this is only the beginning of the story.
Because of this tragic, yet amazing set of events.....our community came together in a little over a week and raised well over $20,000 to help this family. There have been people at their house around the clock watching their children, preparing meals, buying groceries, and driving their kids around. And in addition to that, this story has traveled around the world. People in nearly every state have been praying for this family. People who have never been to church are now attending church. People who have lost their faith have had it restored. People who have said they were lukewarm in their faith are now on fire for God. People are praying and openly talking about God and calling this a miracle. That to me is an even bigger miracle than Becky's recovery. It has made me wonder--what would this world be like if we all prayed like that all of the time? What more could I do if I prayed like that all of the time. What about the people who don't know do they get through something like this? And what about the people who don't have access to medical attention like we do?
The events of this month have changed me forever. They have made me really focus on my relationship with God, my relationship with my children, and my purpose in this world. I hope that I never lose this passion that I currently feel and that I am able to harness it to change the world. I am going on a mission trip to Brazil this summer. I was excited before, but now I cannot wait. I hope that these events have a lasting effect on my church, my community, my friends and family, and the world in general. Miracles do still happen. I BELIEVE.....Do you?

Once A Month Cooking

So, in our house, we eat out ALOT! I am a busy girl and many nights I truly do not have time to cook! The people at the drive up window knew us by our first names--for real. So, a few months ago I saw a blog about Once A Month Cooking. I had heard of it before, but the blog made me really want to give it a whirl. This month will be our third time doing it and I feel like we are really working out all of the kinks. The first two months were LONG cooking days, but we truly ate at home almost every night which made it worth it for me. Also, the cost could not be beat. Both months the cost was around $150. There are several links on pinterest and other places on the internet. I will post a link to my group on facebook. I have posted all of the recipes for this month and will update as we eat them. You can find the group here:!/groups/247236805319964/

Some tips: Muffins freeze very well. Reheat in microwave or just thaw and eat.
Pasta should be cooked slightly less than done so it is perfect when you thaw and reheat.
Meatloaf can be frozen raw....just thaw and cook.
Potatoes do not freeze very well.
Use disposable aluminum pans. Cleanup on serving night is a breeze.