Tuesday, January 3, 2012

These are the Days

Wow what a New Year!!! We had the best New Year's party ever -- there were up to 16 kids rambling through here at one point. Talk about exhausting but I absolutely wouldn't give back the laughter I heard from my own kiddos throughout the night.

Growing up, when I thought about how my life would be, I honestly never once pictured myself married. I wanted to write and I imagined myself being quite the loner. I'm glad that I left that path for a little while, because I have my children here with me. Now, in this New Year, I find myself hearkening back to that old dream. It's so exciting because for once I'm not trying to please anyone. I'm spending my time trying to get back to an authentic version of myself. I am so EXCITED!!!

A friend of mine and I are going to get together to work on a new wreath for the front door. "Woooo Pig Sooie!!!" -- of course it will be red and black. I hope we work a "Sooie" right in the middle or something. She is ultra creative and I can't wait to work with her. Just being around her makes me laugh!

My child insists that I read the Hunger Games so I imagine I will probably do that this weekend while the kids are at their dad's.

I want to lose 40 pounds in this New Year.

Next year at this time, above all else, I hope I can say for certain that I've solved a life-long mystery. A question always hidden in the shadows making me wonder. Often times causing my heart to hurt when my lack of an answer has been ridiculed by people whom I thought loved me. Yes, an answer and a connection at this time next year will be wonderful.

It's like that older movie "Waiting to Exhale".....not there yet. But inching forward everyday.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have embarked on yet another course in life. I have left a marriage and I have started a new life with my children. It is hard. It is sad. I believe in what I’ve done and felt like I had to do.

With that being said, this new direction I’m headed in is uncharted territory for me. I am realizing in these turbulent days that the women I’ve admired and that have spoken to my soul my entire life – Katherine Hepburn, most notably – speak to me because in many ways they are like me. I identify with them. I read their stories and they speak to me. I find myself saying “I would have done that” or “That sounds like me”. These are women I would be proud to ever be identified with. They are also women who embody class, feminism, independence, and the inability to lay down and let life hand them scraps when they know they deserve filet mignon. I haven’t embodied any of those things…..but they’re in me.

My high school math teacher at Biggersville High School, Scott Parvin, introduced me to the real Katherine Hepburn. I was admitted to the hospital because of a severe asthma attack (Surely smoking wouldn’t hurt me! I had tried it a few days before being admitted even though I knew I had the lungs of a waif – “want another?,” the doctor asked while I was there). I had quite a crush on Mr. P and being that I have always been a bold adventurer everyone knew it, including him. But he suffered my girlish ways and loved me like a mentor loves their student. “Read this while you’re here,” he said. “She reminds me of you.” I read “ME – Stories of My Life” in a day. He was right – her story reminded me of my own spirit.

Mr. P will probably never realize how I’ve come to understand him as a father figure in my life. I don’t know my father, not even sure yet who he is, and Mr. P stood in and continues to stand in for at least a small part of that vacancy. Truly, he is the only man that has ever looked me in the eyes and said “What in the hell are you doing? You are so much smarter than this!” He saw potential far beyond my “stupid girl” actions, loud mouth, and tough exterior. He believed in me and I believed because he did.

I have spent 35 years on a “stupid girl” course. That’s not really who I am and it’s exciting that I’m learning this right now….while I still have time to DO something about it. I am alone….and I am utterly content. It’s exciting that I am becoming the person that I knew was in here all along. I was just too afraid of rejection. Too afraid it was true what everyone else told me I was or wasn’t. I didn’t realize how much I was swallowing words meant to hurt me and “keep me in line”. The truth is, I’m none of those things I swallowed into my gut. They couldn’t know who I am, because frankly I have never known myself. I’ve done really stupid, idiotic things all the while hearing a voice in my head saying “What the hell are you doing? You’re smarter than this” – but I did them anyway. Truthfully, I don’t know myself now. I know that something about this time is completely different than any other time before. I also know that whatever Mr. P saw in me, I want to find it.

I know that no one deserves to be put down, trampled on, or abused. I know that every person deserves respect and their own place in humanity. I don't care if you make license plates or run Fortune 500 companies....you ARE valuable in the sight of God who created you and knew every mistake you would ever make. If you allow someone to take that away from you, you have ended your life adventure. The sad thing is, I've never met anyone who would treat another person as less than God intended, who was WORTH giving up your own adventure for! If they can't have their adventure along side you having your's, let em' go - POST HASTE.
Here’s to any and every girl that has picked herself up by the bootstraps and decided to step out of the “stupid girl” mold that we allowed ourselves to be in. Here’s to every girl that has laid down her very soul to become a doormat for someone who never loved her the way a man loves a woman in the first place -- AND THEN FOUND THE IMMENSE COURAGE IT TAKES TO STAND BACK UP. Here’s to every teacher that ever went beyond the call of duty and reached out to a student. Mr. P may never realize that HE is the voice inside my head anytime I have ever felt beaten or scarred beyond healing. You’re right Mr. P….I am so much smarter than this. Let’s find out just how far I can go….and when I get there…..if you are still around….I will send you a note from the top of whatever mountain upon which I’ve staked my claim…..

Anyone is invited to change that thing in your life right now that you know isn't good for you and even detrimental to you. It won't be easy but it will be so worth it. Let's be Hepburns in this Hilton world of Snooky(s) and Lohans. Class and self respect, never EVER go out of style.....


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall, Reflection, and Billy Joel

The Fall is my most favorite time of year, even though it always leads to a longing reflection of what I'd do over if I could. I figure most of us have those instances, decisions, those things we'd do differently if we could......

I'm looking out the front windows of our office, pining quietly to actually to be out in such wonderful weather, and listening to Billy Joel. Specifically, "Keeping the Faith". Lyrics are posted below, specifically those that are helping me remember that I am only what my experiences have made me. We've had a good bit of family tradgedy/drama/blessing lately and I think it's appropriate that it has happened on the eve of this particular season. There is nothing like failing and having to pick yourself up (I lost a lot of fights but they taught me how to lose okay)........nothing like having someone throw every bad decision you've ever made in your face in an attempt to drive you into a shameful abyss, not realizing you made peace with your past a long time ago (If you think I'm feeling older and missing my younger days, Oh, then you should have known me much better, Cause my past is something that never got in my way)........nothing like living your life in front of your children, who in their own maze of self-discovery berate the things you do or have done inevitably only to repeat some of the same mistakes.......Today, on the eve of this 2011 Fall, Billy Joel is helping me keep it all in perspective....and I wanted to share a little of that here.

I am glad, even thankful, at moments even proud, of all the crooked paths I've taken. I never would've become who I am today without them. And while you may not like who I've become, personally I just don't care, because I'm okay with me........

May your paths be crooked so that God can show you Himself in the turns you take in darkness,

Lyrics to "Keeping the Faith"

If it seems like I've been lost in let's remember

If you think I'm feeling older and missing my younger days
Oh, then you should have known me much better
Cause my past is something that never got in my way
Oh no

Still I would not be here now if I never had the hunger
And I'm not ashamed to say the wild boys were my friends
Oh, 'Cause I never felt the desire 'til their music set me on fire
And then I was saved, yeah

That's why I'm keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

We wore matador boots [read flat white keds]
Only Flagg Brothers had them with the Cuban heel
Iridescent socks with the same color shirt
And a tight pair of chinos [rolled up, of course]
Oh, I put on my shark skin jacket
You know the kind with the velvet collar
And ditty-bop shades, oh yeah

I took a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen
My old man's Trojans and his Old Spice after shave
Oh, I combed my hair in a pompadour
Like the rest of the Romeos wore a permanent wave, yeah
We were keeping the faith

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

You can get just so much from a good thing
You can linger too long in your dreams
Say goodbye to the "Oldies But Goodies"
Cause the good ole days weren't always good [ain't that the truth]
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems [thank goodness]

Learned stickball as a formal education [kickball]
Lost a lot of fights but it taught me how to lose O.K.
Oh, I heard about sex but not enough
I found you could dance and still look tough anyway, oh yes I did
I found out a man ain't just being macho
Ate an awful lot of late night drive-in food
Drank a lot of take-home pay
I thought I was the Duke of Earl
When I made it with a red-haired girl in the Chevrolet

Oh yeah, we were keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

You know the good ole days weren't always good
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems

Now I told you my reasons for the whole revival
Now I'm going outside to have an ice cold beer in the shade
Oh, I'm going to listen to my 45's
Ain't it wonderful to be alive
When the rock 'n' roll plays, yeah
When the memory stays, yeah

I'm keeping the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith

I'm keeping the faith, yes I am
You know I'm keeping the faith, oh yes I am

You know I'm keeping the faith, oh you are
(FADE: You know I'm keeping the faith, oh yeah...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parmesan Chicken....YUMMY!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Oh my heavens...you remember a llooonnnggg way back, before I dropped off the blogging community and into the wild blue yonder....I posted a pic of this fantabulous chicken recipe. This one is off the chain and fit for royalty! Here is the long awaited recipe. You can follow the link at the bottom for the sauteed asparagus that is recommended with it. It's a great site for just about any kind of recipe you could imagine!

Parmesan Chicken (from http://www.bigoven.com/)


2 whole Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

2 Egg whites

2 tablespoons Cornstarch

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup Dry bread crumbs coarse

1 tablespoon Fresh parsley

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

Zest of 1 lemon minced

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons Olive oil

Sage-Butter Sauce

3 tablespoons Shallots minced

1/2 cup Dry white wine

1/2 cup Heavy cream

1/2 cup Chicken broth

1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons Unsalted butter cold, cubed

1 teaspoon Salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste

1 teaspoon Fresh sage minced


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare the chicken by halving and then halving again lengthwise. (Whole chicken breasts are a bit too big. Making smaller pieces ensures that the coating will not burn before the chicken is cooked through.) Pound to about 1/2 inch thick. Blend the egg whites, cornstarch, and lemon juice with a fork in a wide, shallow dish; set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and zest in a second wide, shallow dish.

To crust the chicken breasts, dip each in the egg white mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs. Then transfer the chicken to a rack set over a baking sheet. Air-dry the chicken for 20-30 minutes to help set the crumbs.

To cook, first saute the chicken on the stove in an ovenproof skillet. As you put the chicken in the pan, lay it towards you. This way each piece will rest on top of any crumbs that fall off. Saute until the chicken is golden and crisp on one side, then carefully flip the pieces over. Cook until golden. Finally, transfer the whole pan to a 450 degree oven to finish. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes in the oven. If you are serving this with Sage-Butter Sauce and Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary, begin roasting the potatoes while the chicken is air drying on the rack, then prepare the sauce and keep it warm in a warm water bath. It will hold just fine for at least an hour.

For the Sauce - saute the shallots in butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until soft, 2 - 3 minutes. Add the wine, cream, broth and lemon juice. Simmer until reduced by half, 8 - 10 minutes. Whisk in butter, 1 Tbl at a time, stirring constantly. Do not add more butter until previous addition has melted completely. Finish sauce with sage and seasonings. Keep warm in a warm water bath until ready to serve.

Sauteed Asparagus

Love y'all!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TIPitty Tuesday - Quick yet Robust Spaghetti Sauce

Woot Woot! Who doesn't love a good tip to help with running a home, feeding a family, or just making life a little easier to enjoy? I need all the help I can get -- y'all know I'm telling the truth!

For this, the first TIPitty Tuesday, I have a shortcut to creating a robust spaghetti sauce. I love a good sauce for s'getti, but often don't have the time to let it simmer all day.

You need:

However much store-bought spaghetti sauce you typically use for your family. For our family of 9, I use 4 cans of sauce.

2 cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes (if you aren't cooking for a small army as I am, then use 1 can proportionally)

2 packets Italian spaghetti sauce mix (if you are only using half the sauce, then you only need one packet)

When I'm not cooking for picky children, I sautee green pepper and add a can of mushroom buttons to my sauce. Totally optional.

2 lb hamburger meat (sometimes I use pork sausage if that's what I have)

TIPitty #1 - STORE COOKED, GROUND BEEF FLAT IN THE FREEZER BAG! I buy ground beef in bulk and then brown it when I get home from the grocery store. Brown completely, drain the grease off and rinse (I use my colander for this). Then I divide into 2 lb portions and put it into a freezer bag. FLATTEN OUT YOUR BAG AS YOU ZIP IT CLOSED, SPREADING THE GROUND BEEF OUT INTO A SINGLE LAYER IN THE BAG. I usually put the bag between my belly and the counter and lean on it to get the air out....I'd take a picture of the process but y'all don't want to see all that!

This makes it super easy to defrost, and saves freezer space too! ; )

Fixin' the Sauce:

If your meat isn't browned yet, do that. Drain and rinse. Mine was already cooked and frozen flat!

Then add all other ingredients. DO NOT DRAIN TOMATOES. DO NOT ADD WATER AS THE SPAGHETTI SEASONING INDICATES. Just open cans and packages, pour into large enough sauce pan and stir it all up.

Cook on medium high heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Then turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or so while you cook your noodles. You can let it cook longer, but this sauce tastes great either way.

Robust flavor makes people think you worked on it all day!

Hope this helps someone out there! Cooking my ground beef and freezing it flat in an airtight freezer bag changed my life! ; )

Love y'all, Les

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nathan is Inducted Into the National Elementary Honor's Society

This morning my son, Nathan, was honored with initiation into the National Elementary Honor's Society. It was exciting to get to see him accept this honor along with other students from his school. It is the first ceremony of its kind at his school. Just had to brag a bit!

There were a lot of girls but only a handful of guys, and my little man was one of them! Go Nathan!!

My plans for the weekend are varied and I hope to make progress on several things!
* Fishing with the hubby
* Cleaning out closets -- this weekend I need to get all the kids' closets done
* Sewing -- I MISS YOU!!!!
* Plan for blog posts for next week -- I am DETERMINED to get more on here! I have so much to say but failing to plan is causing me to fail!
* Work on an upcoming get together
* I really, REALLY want to try cooking Paremsan Crusted Chicken -- it looks delicious and will be the first recipe I'm trying off my phone's cookbook app! (photo courtesy of bigoven.com)

What are your plans for the weekend? Trying anything new?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Moxie -- as in That Girl Has Moxie

Moxie. It's an old fashioned word but sometimes there are ladies who can only be described by this term. I must tell you a short story about my 8 year old, Lily-Cate. Lily-Cate is a shorty -- she only stands about an inch taller than her 6 year old sisters. Despite her smallish stature, she arrived in this world full of spunk and independance. At 8 months old she was walking and by 10 months old she literally could climb onto my table, and swing on my chandelier.

Our church had a short six-week "Basketball Fundamentals" for the kiddos. Lily-Cate is very athletic and wanted to go. When we arrived, there were only boys. She didn't care and insisted she still wanted to play. When I went to pick her up, she was crying. "I couldn't get the ball in the hoop." "The boys wouldn't give me the ball." Among many other things. I did my best to comfort her and listen. I assumed, naturally, that the child would not want to go back, and because it wasn't a sport we signed up for I wasn't going to force her to.

Fast forward to the next week. "Lily-Cate they have other studies tonight. I'm sure we can find one you'll like." And my short-stuff, my itty bitty girl says, "What are you talking about? I'm playing basketball." I was absolutely floored.

This whole thing has gotten me really thinking about living life with MOXIE. Talk about courage, spunk, independance and power! Now I have not looked MOXIE up in Webster's okay? I am using my own definition here of a term I use often to describe women I admire.

I learned a lesson from my little 8 year old, who turns out to be quite big after all. I can't tell you how proud I am of her. I also want to make sure that I live my life, and make my decisions with that same amount of MOXIE!

I do not have a picture of Lily-Cate playing basketball. But here is one of her playing hind-catcher on her softball team this past season. She is one of the smallest on her team but plays her heart out.

Here are some other ladies that I admire for their MOXIE:

Katherine Hepburn. Wow what an awesome lady! Talk about being independant. If you have never read her autobiography "ME", you certainly should. She made her own rules in a time when it was not nearly as accepted for a woman to be so dauntingly independant.

Sharon Stone. I love how no matter what she's doing, she has that "take it or leave it" look written all over her face. I wish I could walk with such grace while at the same time saying "forget you" to all who don't approve.

Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher was the United Kingdom's first woman prime minister. She held the office of PM for 11 years -- longer than anyone in the 20th century. Thatcher shored up a Conservative-led government, favored privatization rather than government expansion, led the country through the Falklands War with Argentina, and did it all with a stern no-nonsense flair that earned her the nickname "The Iron Lady." (courtesy of who2.com)

Michelle Obama. Whether you agree with their politics or not, the Obamas are a driving force in America today. You cannot deny their charisma and charm. Michelle carries herself with such dignity and grace! no account of women with MOXIE would be complete without her.

There are many other women in my life that have influenced the woman I am today. I salute you all and thank you for living life with power, independance, and courage. Lord let me live my life with MOXIE.

What women inspire you with their MOXIE? What do you need to change in order to live your life with more MOXIE?? It can only go UP from here ladies! - Les (TTTQ)