I would never go back to elementary school. I have painful memories of kindergarten through third grade. I attended a private Christian school in Orange County before we moved to Oklahoma when I was in the fourth grade. This is where things finally turned around for me.

Years ago, my family took a vacation together to Gulf Shores, Alabama. One night my youngest sister asked my parents what they would have done different raising us. My mother made a comment that she would have gotten involved earlier with the school. She would have talked to the teachers about how I was picked on and what could be done to fix it. She said that at the time she did not know how to handle it and she thought staying out of it was the best thing. I remember that conversation being so difficult for me. I was 26 years old and bringing up memories of school when I was 6-10 years old created a huge lump in my throat. I fought back tears and tried so hard to not remember, just as I do now when I write this.

In the 70’s I think the thought was let kids work it out and don’t get involved. School bullying was not an issue that was dealt with as it is now. I still don’t like to think about what happened and how bad it was for me. I never cried or was a tattle tell I was just ignorant and thought everyone was and would be my friend. I think the fact that I kept trying made me more susceptible. I have no idea why I was the kid that was singled out to be picked on: left to sit by themselves at lunch, no one would let me come near them on the playground, and finding a seat on the bus was excrutiating.

In third grade I was in love with my teacher, Ms. Shedd, and she loved me. She let me eat lunch with her at her desk and instead of recess with the kids she had me to little things in the classroom to help her out. I always thought it was because she thought I was wonderful. But that night, in Gulf Shores, I found out that my mom had talked to her and asked her to look out for me. When I look at pictures I think I was cute and not freaky.

So what was it about me? What was it that made me a target when I was only six and up until I turned ten? I know that initially it was my last name. But I think I just didn't get it and since I didn't get it in the beginning I couldn't change the perception of me nor did I stand up for myself. Anna is in first grade and already girls her age are starting the same crap that all girls have had to endure. My focus for Anna has been to not be the kid that made fun of others. I also have tried to let her know how much it hurts when someone is left out.

This week Anna has been the one to be left out. It has affected everything about her. Her attitude, her clinginess, her ability to follow direction, this has all been a struggle this week. On the advice of my mother I asked Anna this morning what was up? what is bothering her?

Her friends are running away from her. She says she goes up to her friends and wants to play with them. When she does this they all run from her and say they don't want to be her friend. My heart breaks a little and I want to hide her away from the world; but, I empathize and ask her if she has a plan to deal with it? Not right now she doesn't because she doesn't know why they are doing this. They were friends before and she doesn't know what she has done.

Personally, I have some ideas why they are mad at her but she doesn't need to hear that right now. She needs me to be on her side. She needs me to let her know I know this is a real deal. She needs me to understand and hold her. Today I asked her how things went at lunch. Better, she said, Carrington and her played together. Carrington wants Anna to be her best friend but Anna is thinking about that.

When my family moved from California to Oklahoma I had a fresh start. I started fourth grade in a public school where my last name was nothing in comparison to some of the Indian names my classmates had or were exposed to. The friends I made in my new elementary school and subsequent middle school are still my friends today. We have had many ups and downs but we are each others family. I know I am no longer that little girl in second grade that was never allowed to sit at a table with anyone while I ate lunch unless the teacher made them. But I carry her with me and I can never forget no matter how hard I try.

I can't hide Anna away from bullies and hateful little girls, and I can't fight her battles. But I can pray for her and do whatever I can to protect the spirit and the heart God gave her. Because with her personality, her exuberance for friendships, her tendency to be bossy and pout she sure is going to need all the prayer and love I can give her.
My job.......on one hand I am in a coveted position based on salary alone. I make triple what I made in 2000; not hard to do since I took a huge paycut when I moved to Oklahoma from California. However, there has been many studies conducted to gauge employee satisfaction and salary amount scores way down on the list. I could be a poster child for this study.

Here is an analogy of my job if I was a chef:

I have been told that my restaurant will be serving a seven course meal to the President of the United States and all of his cabinet. The date for this is set in stone. And just to punch it up they all have dietary restrictions!

The event planner has thrown out some meal ideas that have not been finalized and are exotic to the US and no one attempted to ever serve in a restaurant before. The President, excited that he will be the first to try, wants two of those new dishes, tweaked to accommodate the dietary restrictions. Hey! No problem.

There isn't even a name for the new dishes just the general idea that it is a new fish---found only in the waters of Iceland--during the last El Nino. The other dish involves a vegetable grown by a native tribe located "somewhere" off the Amazon River.

The event planner and restaurant owner assure the President and his cabinet that their choices are spectacular and everyone will be raving. In fact, the restaurant owner contacts a prominent food magazine and books a photo shoot. This will all happen in seven days!!

The event planner and the owner now approach me, the chef. They give me the menu with comments that it is exactly the same as we have on the menu but with minor changes. I am the chef, I am in charge of producing, I am responsible for meeting the deadline, I am responsible for sourcing my ingredients, and I am responsible.

I have done some research and I know what I need to order. I call all my vendors and ask for a RUSH/EXPEDITE for these rare ingredients. They laugh. I contact National Geographic, they laugh. I contact the delivery driver, just in case.....he can do it!! I don't know how, I don't know from where, but I have to give it a try, OH! it will cost a pretty penny. I have been told to make this happen no matter what, drop dead dates, no room for mistakes, the restaurant's reputation is on the line.

I prepare my staff and try to get recipes finalized. Somehow someway the ingredients have arrived. We start to assemble the menu for the photo shoot. It will not pass the dietary restrictions specified in the booking contract. We only have enough ingredients to make the meal one more time for the photo shoot and the main dinner. And I am responsible.

Have I mentioned that the restaurant is still open the normal hours and booked solid up to and beyond the President and his cabinet's dinner???

The meal gets prepared. The photo shoot has a few hiccups but nothing that food coloring and garnishes won't solve. The meal gets served without a hitch only because the President and his cabinet arrived one day later than planned.

Now for the fun part, the recap. The restaurant owner and event planner want to know why the invoices add up to more than the President's meal??? How could the chef, who is responsible, let this happen? What is this expediting bill? What is this extra labor cost? What can the chef do next time to prevent these overages??

I am going to be in meetings all this week going over cost reduction analysis. I can give a few ideas right off the top of my head how to reduce cost. Don't let Sales know what Engineering has in research and development until it is developed, sourced, product structure in place, drawings on line, and tested!! GRRRRRRR
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These pork chops are moist and delicious after braising in the crock pot all day. They have a slight Asian flare that kids will love. Serve with brown rice and a green salad and you will have a dinner that will tast like it took a couple of hours to prepare.

The ingredients:

  • 4 thick bone-in pork chops
  • 1 can Pineapple chunks in juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Onion
  • A bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange are sweeter than green but green will work)
  • French or Catalina Dressing (not pictured)

Coarsely chop the pepper and onion. Put them in the bottom of the Crock Pot. Season the Pork Chops with fresh cracked peper and garlic salt. I do not trim the fat off the pork chops in order to keep the moisture and liquify the fat while cooking.

Brown the pork chops on both sides in a little bit of oil. I used bacon grease.......of course. After they are nice and seared place the pork chops on top of the peppers and onions.

In a separate bowl mix the juice from the pineapples (keep the chunks), 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, several dashes of ginger, several dashes of garlic powder, and salt to your taste. Whisk this all together and pour over the pork chops.

Place the pineapple chunks on top of the meat and drizzle Catalina/French dressing over all. (this is the secret ingredient for the sweet moist taste) Depending on your timing for when you want to eat, set the Crock Pot on Low for 8-10 hours--the meat will be fall apart tender or High for 4-6 hours--meat will still be tender and moist but stays on the bone. Cook brown rice in chicken stock and prepare a salad.

Be sure to reserve the juice with the onion and pepper mixture and place over the top to serve. So good!!


I found this recipe today while looking through TD's mother's recipe books. She collected old recipe books some from the 1800's. She passed away when TD was a Junior in college so I have never met her but I have heard about what a great cook she was.

The hole that is left in my husband's heart from his mother passing away is...deep...that is the only word I have to describe his acute sense of loss. When I come across her writing on a particular recipe I ask TD if he liked that dish or if he remembers it. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. This recipe for Italian cookies sounded familar to him but he was not sure.

I decided to make it. I had no idea what the cookies would look like, how they are suppose to taste, and as you can see from her notes I wasn't sure how much flour it would take until tacky, how big they were suppose to be, drop on the sheet? cut with a cookie cutter? how long do they cook? This did not deter me and Anna from trying this recipe. I made some notes on the recipe so that I can make these cookies again.

I had to add quite a bit of flour to get this tacky. 5-8 cups (I lost count) but add a little at a time. Once the batter is more of the consistency of bread dough form into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Roll flat to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 3" biscuit/cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. They come out looking like this:

They remind me of tea biscuits. TD's family is from Modena, Italy so I assume this is a legitimate Italian family recipe. They are pretty, have good form, slightly sweet, and would be GREAT with a light icing. I am going to work with this recipe more adding honey, macadamian nuts, brown sugar....I don't know, but it is such a great platform to start with. Try it and give me more ideas.

After looking for more info on these cookies I found a link Paris Breakfasts and these might actually be an Italian version of a Macaron cookie??? Look and you tell me. I think Chocolate icing would be perfect. Maybe roll thinner put some jam in the center top with another cookie?? So good.

I have kept every piece of "art" that Anna has every created. I thought if I didn't, I would be a horrible parent that didn't see the significance of macaroni glued on construction paper. I even kept the finger paintings that just looked like one color of stiff tempera construction paper. But maybe there was meaning in the swirl of paint? What if she asked me for that particular "art" piece later? Would I single-handedly have destroyed a future artist's career by admitting I threw it away?

But then there were the folders that came home every single day in kindergarten and the after school day care at church. Her art was taking over rubbermaid bins. My OCD won out over my bad parent complex. From then on I would review her artwork and decide if it was a keeper or not; praising her and telling her how wonderful she did. After she would go to bed I would throw away the pieces that I did not want to keep. She never noticed! Typical of a single mom, worrying about the future guilt that will be heaped upon me just because her father and I didn't work out......bleh!!

A couple of weeks ago someone had a great idea for storing kids art work on Works For Me Wednesdays at Rocksinmydryer. Saturday I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a Memory Album and some extra inserts. I divided up Anna's artwork by age and put it in the folder by category.

Isn't it great? Easy to see, easy to look through.

Look at that Q-tip snowflake and puzzle piece Christmas ornament. Is there a more talented child than mine???

Once I had filled the pages from her preschool days when she was four I put the back cover on.

Obviously, I still have some issues with guilt. TD suggests zip ties........

We were all treated to an impromptu dance routine tonight after dinner. We have learned our lesson from past performances to limit the number to ONE dance. We have endured watched so many different interpretations of High School Musical numbers and Hannah Montana performances.

Anna loves to perform dances or cheers and lives for applause. TD's daughter is more of the choreographer and she can really sing.

I have always jokingly answered the question, "What do you want for your daughter?" with "I just want to keep her off and out of anyplace with a pole." Real flippant of me and half way joking.

However, watching the routine tonight I think I might have to really take up that cause. The moves were downright SCARY. Even TD's daughter has picked up some of the moves. Not quite to the extent as Anna but the backbend with a twist on top of the ottoman was a shocker. Anna sliding down into the splits while flipping her hair.....I can't even write it because it freaks me out.

But they love to perform and they love to perform together. I think the first 30 seconds of each "routine" is the best and then it breaks down into "the moves". We want to encourage them in all their talents. TD's daughter might be a natural runner and she definitely could be in her school or church choir. Anna loves to draw and paint. She has always loved to dance and has copied moves she sees on TV since she accidently watch Coyote Ugly was three.

But if they don't start making their interpretive dance routines more family friendly and less, "I dance for dollars", they might not make it out of the house once they hit puberty!

When Anna was born it was a welcome relief. Not just because I was hugely pregnant and miserable being nine months pregnant during the late summer in Oklahoma. No, it was more because my sense of fear and the anger of having to do this without a husband no longer seemed to matter. The embarrassment of going to Lamaze with my mother was such a distant memory. This baby girl was so perfect I had no idea why I was worried.

My pregnancy was nine months of riding an emotional roller coaster. After the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant and telling my husband, who had a vasectomy appointment scheduled, I had some major ups and downs. Mostly downs. Being served divorce papers at 10:30 p.m. just before leaving the next morning for Oklahoma was quite the downer. I thought I was going home to my parents so we could work through this.

It never happened. Many, many phone calls later it was a done deal. To this day I can't hear the factory Nokia ringtone without my stomach lurching. The conversations always ended the same way, that I was choosing a baby I didn't even know over him. We had an agreement don't you know. No. Kids.

Fast forward six years.

Last night TD, Anna, and I went to Target. They had both gotten out of the car before me and were walking toward the doors. When I came around the vehicle there they were. Holding hands. She had just automatically reached for his hand. He automatically took her hand. When she saw me she took mine too and the three of us walked hand in hand through the parking lot.

(Until she swung up so hard that she about ripped both our arms out of socket....but that kinda takes away from the moment)

The love of a step parent and step child may never be the exact same as the biological parent but watching the fondness progress to love is a humbling and gracious experience.

TD has stepped in to help me when I lose my cool. Like I did during my cousins wedding reception this summer. But this picture was taken soon after and she doesn't hold anger toward him like she sometimes does to me.

He has taken the time to teach her what Fly-Fishing is while on vacation with my dad and his wife. TD has so much more patience then I do with her.

He took her for Dads and Doughnuts day at her school. Those special times I knew were coming and my heart was breaking in advance.

She can irritate like no ones business. And spazzes out without any warning. He takes it in stride and waits for the moment to pass.

She is still not sure what to call him. She has tried out Daddy but she said that didn't seem right. She refers to him as her dad to all her friends. But right now it is his first name that she uses. Her stepsister, TD's nine year old, has said that Anna can call him dad because she doesn't have one and so it won't hurt the feelings of anyone. He already has two kids call him dad another one won't matter. We all still struggle with mine, yours, his, and theirs but eventually we will get it.

My daughter's after-school program has something called Special Snack. It happens every Friday and as expected the kids anticipate what kind of sugar will be brought to feed their addictions satisfy their after school hunger.

Thinking I would save time and creative thinking skills, I signed up for last Friday, the day after Valentines. There would be sales at the supermarket bakery and I would be able to choose from an assortment of cookies or cupcakes. Yes, I took the easy Special Snack day.

Except..........I forgot. Not just forgot to go and pick up the reduced Valentine snacks. No. I completely forgot.

In fact, I didn't remember until 5 p.m. when I was shutting down my computer at work. My heart fell to my stomach. I opened my calendar on my Palm but I had not set a reminder....... snacks for 21 kids..........

Oh the guilt and shame, and if anyone can heap on the guilt for themsleves, I can. I was just imagining my daughter and her disappointment. She had reminded me all week and I kept telling her not to worry because I had. it. covered.

I started to project the blame, why didn't her teacher call me? why didn't Anna call me? They just had a Valentines day party they didn't need anymore snacks this week. We should have kept our meeting at work instead of taking it to Applebee's then I would have remembered. Aaaggghhhh!

I called my husband who after listening to my sob story replied, "So you are trying to blame her teacher?" I hung up.

On my way to pick up my daughter I had a fabulous idea. I called the church and asked them to send my daughter down to the front desk so I could rush in and pick her up. Part of my shame avoided. (Pathetic, I know. Chicken, oh yea baby)

When I got there I rushed in, all frazzle like, signed her out and grabbed her hand scurrying out the door. Immediately I heard about how I had forgotten special snack, that her teacher asked her when I was coming, that my daughter had asked to call me, that she was told to wait just ten more minutes, that I never showed up, that everyone was mad at her, that.........

It had to stop! I took both her hands in mine, looked right in her eyes and asked her to please forgive me. I was so sorry and that I will try harder next time to keep my commitment. She gave me a hug, put her hand on my cheek and told me it was okay she knows I didn't mean to forget.

I wonder if her teacher and classmates will touch my face and hug me when I have to face them?
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I love making a roast for Sunday dinners. They remind me of home and make me feel all Hannah-Homemakerish. Sometimes it is pork loin and sometimes I choose beef, but my family likes them both. We just refer to it as "Meat" since all three kids are miniature carnivores.

My dad and his wife took us to a very nice restaraunt here in T-town, Mahogany's, for our pre-Christmas dinner. TD and I had already reviewed the menu and we knew the kids could almost eat an entire steak on their own. So when we ordered the 12oz filet for the three of them to split. My dad was not sure we had ordered correctly, "Don't you think that is too much for them?" he asked. We told him no, while thinking to ourselves they will still ask for more from the rest of us.

They did not disappoint---well unless you think we should be raising vegetarians---then yes, it would be disappointing because they ate. it. all. And just like we thought, wanted more. OH! the parmesean corn! Total hit! The kids even asked the waitress for the recipe.

Sooooo, back to the roast, it is simple, fall apart tender, and smells so good while cooking you might be prone to eating your arm-----but that is cannabalism not to be confused with carnivores.

This particular Pot Roast recipe (I have several different variations that I make up) calls for the following ingredients:
  • 3-4lbs Bottom Round Roast
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Steakhouse seasoning (I LOVE this stuff, and the garlic pepper grinder--WOW!)
  • Minced Garlic (you can mince fresh but who has time on Sunday morning?)
  • Packet of Dry Italian Seasoning mix
  • 2 tbls Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 1 heaping tbls of beef base (if you have a can of beef broth use it instead, I didn't)
  • one small onion cut into quarters or thick rings
  • Last but not least BACON GREASE!!!

In a bowl, that will fit your roast, mix together equal parts, enough to coat, kosher salt, cracked pepper, and the steakhouse seasoning--I bet any type of steak rub would be great too. Coat all sides, even the ends.

Since I am sure everyone feeds their family a fabulous breakfast of bacon and eggs each morning then use the bacon grease from breakfast.

Oh I am soooo kidding!! I told the 4 year old to get some peanut butter crackers out of the snack drawer when he asked for breakfst Saturday morning. But I am pathetic and wanted another cup of coffee while I watched Landscapers Challenge so I couldn't possibly make him anything.

TD had cooked an entire package of bacon for me the night before so I used the bacon grease from that. If you do not have bacon grease you can use vegetable oil. Get the oil pretty hot, I would like to say real hot but what if someone burns themselves am I liable???

With tongs carefully put the seasoned roast into the pan and sear on all sides, keep track of which is the fatty side. This normally take 2-3 minutes on each side depending how hot your oil is. When it is seared on each side, turn down the heat a bit and add the onions to sweat, about 3-5 minutes.

Take the meat and make 'X' cuts in various places on the meat. I like to add quite a bit of garlic if your family doesn't care for it then do 2 cuts on each side.

If using store bought garlic scoop about 2-3 tablespoons into a small bowl. This is to avoid contamination. Using your finger and a spoon stuff the minced garlic into the 'X' cuts. Push the garlic down into the meat as far as you can.

In the Crock Pot pour in 1 1/2 cups of water (or can of beef broth) add the beef base and stir, this will break apart more as it cooks. Add the rice vinegar and stir.

Place the seared roast, fat side up, into your Crock Pot. Pour a packet of Dry Italian Seasoning mix over all and in the water/broth. This will make the gravy even more delicious. Place the onions on top of the roast. If some slide off no bigee, still wonderful in the gravy.

Turn your Crock Pot to Low for 8-10 hours. This can be made to be ready for after church. Change the setting to High for 4-6 hours.

Remove and slice. Pour some of the au jus on top and take some out to use for gravy. Thick brown gravy can be made from the au jus, but who has the time???
This was scrumptious and so worth the time in the Crock Pot. The wonderful smells, the anticipation, the company for dinner...............

the mountain of dishes. Now I know why my mother looked forward to going out to eat for Sunday dinner.

Pot Roast recipe to come. And just to wet your appetite, it includes BACON.

This is a quick and fabulous dinner. Add a green salad and the meal is complete. You will need 50 minutes (5 for prep, 45 for cooking) and the following ingredients:
  • 4 Chicken breasts. I cut mine in half because the kids can't eat a whole breast and it makes for faster cooking time.
  • Stuffing mix for chicken
  • 1/2 -1 cup Shredded Parmesean cheese
  • Basil, Garlic, and Oregano diced tomatoes
  • Garlic salt and pepper
  • Italian dressing
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and prepare your chicken breasts that is best for your family. Lay the pieces of chicken in one layer in a baking dish. Season with garlic salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle Italian dressing over all.

In a separate bowl dump the entire contents of the stuffing mix. Add the entire can, with the juice, of diced tomatoes. Add the amount of parmesean cheese you would like. Stir until stuffing is coated and moist.

Spoon the stuffing mixture on top of the chicken. Spread evenly. Drizzle a little more Italian dressing, just to give a little more moisture. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let stand for another five and serve. YUM!!!!

**I would have included a picture of the dish, fully cooked; but we were all too hungry after smelling this for the last 30 minutes.


Aren't these beautiful? They were delivered to my work on Wednesday. I absolutely LOVE them. He completely amazed me with his choice of flower and it was a wonderful surprise.

So why on the weekend following this show of affection and the wonderful night we spent together, do I feel like .... well I can't even put verbage to it. Bashing and gnashing of teeth are the only things that come to mind. How do I work those into a sentence that will not come back to haunt me?

I love him so much for loving Sybil me. God help him, he has Sybil me all weekend............
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Our church has a two services on Sunday, traditional and contemporary. We attend the traditional. TD has too much high church catholic in him to be able to go to the contemporary service.

When we first started dating he went to church with me. I was attending a fairly large church downtown that had a terrific and active singles program. I loved the services. The music was great and not too "rock-n-roll" for me, and the minister had sermons that were relevant to my life.

TD went a few times and each time he was uncomfortable with the occasional, and I mean occasional raising of hands. However, if there was one person in the congregation that raised their hand TD saw it. We wanted to find a good church where our kids would get involved and one where we could join a small group. The only request TD had was to please attend a church where as he stated:

"A church where there aren't so many people asking questions."

For me that was just fine. Considering I attended one of the strictest Christian University in the U.S., I was not super comfortable, myself, with all the questions.

However, I was just starting to listen to Christian contemporary music. I had switched to this genre of music now that my daughter was old enough to repeat back lyrics of songs. (Uh, come on Gwen Stefani how could you with the whole banana "cheer" song???) TD understood this and has encouraged me with purchases of Mercy Me music and even a concert.

So really it is HIS fault that I am completely stuck on this song, since he got me this CD.

If I promise not to ask a question can we go to the contemporary service on Sunday, just this once? And definitely not TWO questions at the same time.
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The kids absolutely love these burritos! The reviews were fantastic tonight. The four year old ate TWO!! The nine year old said, "I love these. This is the best night". The seven year old was overheard saying to her sister, "The chicken was the best tonight, the juicest, moistest, yummiest that we have had".

If only I could get this praise for the meals I actually work on. I made the chicken when I went home for lunch in less than FIVE minutes. Let me show you how.

Take 2-4 frozen, boneless, skinless, chicken breast, Rotel, and Taco Seasoning. That is it!! Easy peasey.

Pour a can of Rotel over the chicken and generously sprinkle taco seasoning over all. Normally I use McCormick or Pace Taco Seasoning but we went to Sam's this weekend and I got this. I noticed no difference.

***If using more than 3 chicken breast add a half cup of water to keep moist.

Set your Crock Pot on Low to cook for 5 hours. Yes, most slow cookers will say 4 hours is high so I set mine to 8 or 10 hours so I get a low setting. You could also start this in the mroning just put it on the lowest and longest setting. Today I only used 2 breasts because I didn't want leftovers.

After coming home put the kids to work. Get the table set and get out the next ingredients: Refried Beans, Tortilla (burrito size for adults, taco size for kids), sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, lettuce, and any other condiment your family likes or you have on hand.

Refried Beans can be optional but our family likes them and I tend to think it makes the burritos/tacos more filling. I added Taco seasoning to the beans as the seven year old was cooking them.

If you do not own a comal then wrap your tortillas in foil and put in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes to warm them up. (My friend Carol would call me a guera if I put tortillas in the microwave)

Shred the chicken, there should be just enough liquid to make it perfect. Take the tortillas out, put all the condiments out and call them to the table!!

Did I mention he ate TWO??!!

Their burrito folding skills do not stand in the way of devouring these chicken burritos!

Yes, the nine year old was right, this was a pretty perfect night.
I love my new jeans! They fit great, look great, and are super comfy. I might even say I look hot in them.

TD and I were on a mission, well more I was on a mission. To find some jeans that fit and are comfortable enough to wear all the time; yet, stylish enough to wear with everything I have and be able to go out on the town in them, or go to the grocery store. You know those ever elusive jeans. These were at Dillards. There are different washes, different lengths, and different styles.

However, after watching Stacy on What Not to Wear, rip apart a girl for her jeans I decided to listen.
The objective:
  • No antiquing wash on the front of the thighs--makes thighs look bigger and wider, draws attention to them.

  • No faux worn wrinkling in the front at the top of the thigh--draws attention to the hips and makes them appear wider.

  • No low cut so much that they are not work appropriate and create the coveted muffin top--well this should be obvious.

  • No low sitting back pockets--pockets that come down past the "buttocks" and rest on the top of the hamstring emphasize the derriere and create a flat, no shape bottom.

  • No showing of crack when I bend down----actually, Stacy didn't mention this but I am

I tried on about TEN different pairs. Each time TD would point out, "Isn't this what you are trying to avoid?" When almost all patience had been used up TD finds this perfect pair. I love him he actually listens to all my complaints and doesn't give up!

And they come in Longs!!! Waa-hoo! Now go and git ya sum!!

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Something happens to me and TD when we are kid free. We forget the packed freezer of prepared-in-advance meals and the Joy of Cooking at home. Or how much I absolutely love my Crock Pot and how we are committed to debt reduction. During child free weekends Dining OUT is the name of the game.

When my daughter is spending the weekend with her grandmother, Marmie; and TD’s kids are not with us for the same weekend we try and take full advantage of the free time.

During these child free moments I live like a teenager/frat boy. If I unwrap something I just leave the wrapper where I unwrapped it; not wasting a precious moment to walk the 2 feet to the trash. When I take off my shoes, let’s say, in the middle of the floor; they will stay there the entire weekend unless I wear them again. Towels? They drop on the floor. Bed? Completely unmade. Dishes? What dishes?? We are Dining OUT.

We didn’t even drink coffee at home! We went to Starbucks and bought a paper and read it THERE. Because we could. I had run out of milk for my coffee and I Was. Not. going to the grocery store on a FREE weekend.

In a way, drinking coffee at Starbucks was frugal, we didn’t have to use our money for Starbucks because my dad and his wife gave me a Starbucks gift card for Christmas. So I kept my head in the game for some an hour of the weekend.

Saturday night we met some friends for dinner. We all had a great time!! So much fun, so much conversation. She and I used to work together and it had been so long since we had seen each other. They actually met TD on our second or third date.

My friend’s husband ordered every dip they had. Notice the empty basket of chips. ElGuapo is not known for their legendary service. Not. At. All. (it's big brother McNellie's has excellent service though)

Service was not that spectacular. But the company of adults? AWESOME!!

We also went to the mall. But that is another post because I have found the HOLY GRAIL for jeans. LOVE THEM!!!!!

In addition to Monday night being a hectic time for me our family, Wednesday night is a rush.

The normal routine of coming home, playing and relaxing for a bit, eating dinner, doing homework, taking baths, and bedtime with a story is thrown off by Wednesday night church. NOT that we don’t all love and are committed to our church’s Wednesday night program; but, we have to be flexible. Not my our best trait. Totally a different post all together.

Okay, back on track. In order to save money by not eating at the church (yea, we are that pathetic frugal we won’t spend $12 to save time) I try and make something in the crockpot on Wednesday nights, especially if we have TD’s kids that night……2 more just adds to the rush and routine implosion….once again off topic.

Back to it.

I took a recipe from a Crockpot Cookbook but added to it because I am smarter than a published author no one in my family likes mushrooms (c'mon they are like biting an earlobe, shiver). This soup smelled so delicious when we came in the door and the kids could not wait. The meat just fell apart and the kids gobbled it up. Leftovers for lunch the next day were even better!

The list of ingredients and instructions are at the end of the post. I still have yet to learn Document Imaging for linking to a Word Document, the knowledge will come but I am still at the "Wax On, Wax Off" stage of blogging.

Slice the meat in approx 1/4 inch strips. I cut the strips into 2-3 pieces. This saves time when cutting up the kids food.

Slice up the onion. It cooks for so long and is so saturated the kids might not even notice the onions in the sauce. So someone I know could maybe even hide them from her husband. :)

Now to the list of ingredients. Very simple and easy to put together. You do not have to add the wine. I do not think my mother cooked a single thing with wine when I was growing up. There are a lot of Betty Crocker recipes that call for wine and we never even missed it. Personally, I do not like the smell of wine, especially port, cooking but it does enhance the flavor----said in a Okyfied Julia Child voice.

Since my family does not DO mushrooms I added the cream of mushroom soup. Not super fond of the reduced 98% fat free but it is what I had. Probably another reason why it was not thick enough as expected.

Here it is!! Your three components of the meal. I made this the night before so that in the morning I could just throw it all in when I am running walking out the door for work.
Put it in your Crock Pot on High for 6 hours, Low for 8-10. Mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl with 1/4 cup of cold water. You have to mix vigourously because it hardens up fast. Once cornstarch is dissolved then pour into Crock Pot and cook on high an additional 15 minutes.
Now make noodles or rice. I used wide egg noodles (kids love them). Before serving stir in a 1/2 cup of sour cream (I use more because I LOVE sour cream). Spoon over noodles in a bowl. So good and VERY comforting. Grab a quick made salad and some french bread and you are set!
Beef Stroganoff
(From Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery with small changes by me)

2lbs of Round Steak
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
1 sliced onion
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbls of Worcestershire
½ tps Paprika
1 can of condensed Beef Broth (I would half this if I did it again)
1 tbls Ketchup
2 tbls Dry Red Wine (for quick reference Cabernet is a good dry and wine is optional)
1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
*the recipe calls for ¼ lb. of fresh mushrooms, sliced , Yuck!
3 tbls of cornstarch mixed in a bowl with a ¼ cup of water
1 cup of sour cream
Cooked noodles or rice

Cut the steak into strips and season with salt and pepper. Slice up the onions. Put onions and meat into your crockpot.

In a bowl mix Worcestershire, paprika, beef broth, ketchup, wine, and cream of mushroom soup together. Pour over meat and onions.

Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8-10.

To thicken the sauce stir cornstarch into cold water, stirring vigourously until cornstarch is dissolved; pour into crockpot. Turn crockpot on high for 15 minutes and allow to thicken.

Cook noodles or rice per package instructions. When ready to serve stir in sour cream into crock pot. If soupy like mine serve in a bowl and call it SOUP!

Sooooo good the next day.