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Broccoli Soup January 15, 2014

That’s right veggy fans, Broccoli Soup!

As much as I would like to take full credit for this recipe I can’t. All the credit goes to Gordon Ramsay (you might have heard of him.) That gorgeous, half crazy, chef that I can’t seem to get enough of. Over Christmas while I was Googleing his Beef Wellington preparation I happened on this broccoli soup recipe and thought; there is NO WAY it’s that simple. As a dare to myself I decided to make the soup to debunk the recipe, like the tail wagging the dog.   Image

I’ll say it, I’m a complete &$#!*%* idiot. Not only is is simple, it’s simply delicious.

If you’re in the mood to impress your friends with a fantastic soup and you don’t want to divulge how long it took to make, or the complete ingredient list, trust me, you’ll look like a genius.

Gordon Ramsay’s Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 bunch of Broccoli – you’ll only need the florets

Water

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 small log of Goat Cheese

That’s it.

Bring the water to a rapid boil in a 5 quart pot (water level should be enough to cover the broccoli.) Do Not add anything to the water – just water and broccoli. Cook the broccoli until a paring knife goes through the broccoli easily (do not overcook the broccoli – it should be slightly firm.) Using a slotted spoon take the broccoli out of the water and put into a blender. Take the broccoli water (you just made your own broccoli stock) and fill the blender 1/2 way with the water. Season with salt and pepper and pulse the blender until the broccoli blends with the water, then give it a full spin for about 45 seconds. Taste the soup, add salt and pepper, blend again, taste again until you have the soup to your liking. Remember you can always add salt and pepper, you can’t subtract, so don’t be too heavy handed. Image

Cut or crumble the goat cheese into the center of the bowl and pour the soup from the blender into the bowl. Pour around the cheese so the soup doesn’t cover it.

I’m not joking, it’s beautiful, easy, and delicious!

 

Soapbox * Disclaimer – Opinions Are My Own December 23, 2013

soapbox

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have a slight, if not significant dispute with God.

Actually, it’s quite significant.

I sometimes feel like a hypocrite because I send my son to catholic school, even though I haven’t been to church in years. Not because I don’t believe in God (even though our relationship is very strained.) It’s because I don’t want to sit in the back of church sobbing, that’s why I haven’t been to church in years.

Look, I have rules. The two things I don’t talk about ever on Social Media:

  1. Religion
  2. Politics

Because honestly to whatever, whomever, you do or don’t believe in… I seriously don’t care. If I care about you personally, I will do whatever I can, whenever I can, if you need me I will be there to help you in any way I can.

Then I’ve seen all this crap spewed over Facebook and Twitter over these Duck Dynasty assholes,

Congratulations, you’ve got everyone talking about you. Good for you A&E!

I’m sure the hillbilly’s have never blown anything except a duck call device.

So I suppose I’ll break one of my own rules. Look, my parents paid a lot of money for me to go to catholic school, and I AM PAYING A LOT OF MONEY FOR MY SON TO GO TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL. That, by the way, does not mean that I agree with all of people that call themselves “Catholics” or “Christians” or whatever the hell they like to call themselves these days. It’s been my experience that all the heavy handed “God Squaders” (as I like to call them) are the biggest sinners. They’ll look you in the face and stab you in the back; unfortunately I’ve experienced this first hand.

Shame on you.

That’s right.

SHAME ON YOU.

Have you ever heard the expression “people that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?” While you’re preachin – you might start thinking about practicing what you’re actually preaching.

So why don’t you (that would be all of you barking up this tree)  just shut up?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the idea be to LOVE?

Love – Beyond – Politics

Love – Beyond –  Religion

Love – Despite differences.

It’s easy if you try.

I think someone wrote a song about that once…..

 

Sometimes My Son Reappears December 13, 2013

We’ve had growing pains, Kameron and I. I don’t like that he’s not my sweet little boy that he once was, and he doesn’t like that his mom is extremely hard on him. Thankfully, every once in awhile that sweet boy comes back, if even for a moment. Tonight he did, and I thought I would share.

Assignment: Write a letter to a Kindergartner from Santa about Christmas.

“Dear Kindergartner,

I am delighted that you wrote me this letter of your Christmas list this year. My elves are working on making and buying all the other children’s presents for this year, including yours. Mrs. Clause is in her kitchen baking cookies and our feast for Christmas Eve, which is full of mashed potatoes, green beans, pudding, and roast beef. Our weather in the North Pole is freezing compared to Indiana. The polar bears are cold even in their fur coats, the penguins are hiding in their igloos, and even the reindeer are feeling like icicles. Dasher is running all around the house. Dancer is dancing his hooves off. Prancer is not prancing but pacing. Prixen is eating all of the Twix chocolate bars. Comet is trying to fly across the sky. Cupid is showing love to me and everyone else in the North Pole. Donder is bonding himself with joy. Blitzen is sprinting at the speed of light. Rudolph is shining his nose to show positive energy. Meanwhile, I am checking my list to see who was naughty and nice.

I am getting ready with my sleigh, my sack of presents and coal, and I will be at your house very soon.

Thank you for writing this letter of your list to me and have a Merry Christmas.

Sincerely,

Santa”

That’s my boy….

 

The Question I’ve Avoided For 14 Years.. September 24, 2013

me and kam

Until tonight.

“Mom, why did you and dad get a divorce?”

Honestly, I’ve prepared myself for this moment for the last three or four years. I’ve gone through the situation in my head over and over again until it was completely exhausting. I’ve read books, watched so many Dr. Phil shows it’s almost embarrassing, but nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for tonight when my son asked me that question.

We were just sitting around the dining room table finishing up dinner and doing social studies notes when he looked at me straight in the face and asked “why did you and dad get a divorce?”kam glasses

I sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, it was probably only a couple of seconds, but it felt like the last fourteen years of my life has suddenly passed before my eyes. I looked across the table at Mr. D who looked as surprised as I was, anxiously waiting for me to answer. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I got my son into counseling about two months ago. He was having some anxiety about being in the eighth grade, high school, puberty, girls, friends, stress – I’m happy I found him someone to talk to, but I wasn’t expecting my usual non confrontational son to ask me about the end of our “happy” family at 7:30 on a Monday night.

The truth is, I should have seen this coming. He was questioning his dad (I use ‘dad’ very loosely) about why he didn’t get any one on one time with him. Why he wasn’t as important as his other kids. Why his “first son” wasn’t as important to him as his other children. I mean I gotta tell you, I’ve always encouraged some kid of relationship with his dad, no matter what it was, but his dad is a poor excuse for a dad. He’s an embarrassment if you want to really know the truth. If you don’t know me, I’m kind of a loud mouth, but I have made the exception with my son’s father, no matter what he says. I’ve watched enough Dr. Phil to know that children learn what they live, and saying something detrimental about his father would someday come back to bite me in the ass. He would resent me, it’s just a fact. I’ve kept my mouth shut, bitten my tongue more times than you can imagine, and it all comes down to that question.

I sat there and looked at my son waiting for him to look away, but this time he wasn’t looking away. He wanted answers, and I suppose it was high time I gave him the best answers I could. So I did.

kambo

I told him that his dad and I were married and that we were both very mean to each other. I told him that when I found out that I was pregnant with him, his dad and I were very excited and optimistic about the future. I told him that when he was born it was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me or his dad. I told him that when he was about a year old his dad and I started having problems, grown up problems, that didn’t have anything to do with him (even though I know kids have an amazing way to feel like everything is their fault.) I told him that we tried the best we could, but in the end, his dad and I decided that being together wasn’t the best thing for him. I did tell him that his dad and I did not do everything we could do to save our marriage. If I told him that we did it would be a lie, he was looking for answers, not lollipops and rainbows. I asked if he ever remembered his dad and I being together, he said no. Which I think is a blessing. I’ll admit I made mistakes, but I honestly gave my best effort the last time with his dad. In the end, he decided other things were more important, which reflects how he is today, and the relationship he has with his son.

The best part of this story is that my son has my husband Mr. D. He’s everything any kid would want in a father. He’s loving, appreciative, patient, kind, funny, responsive, active, I could go on and on, but I don’t want to inflate his ego…

Being in this position is terrible. It’s just a bad situation. The worst part is that I don’t have any answers for my son except for the answers I gave him tonight. I don’t know if that is the end of the questions, I doubt it. At least my answers now (I hope) ensures that he won’t hate me later. Maybe those answers he’s looking for he will figure out for himself, if he hasn’t already.

I know I’ve done my absolute best, I know it. I’m good with that.

 

Want A New Floor For $75 Bucks? August 25, 2013

I hate the floors in my house. I mean look at this mess in our master bath.

1       2  Ugly right? I mean I’ve lived in this house with Mr. D for 6 years. I’ve painted, changed the décor as much as I could or afford, but nothing could be done about these floors. There was always some bill or something more important than spending $500 to replace the floor in the bathroom or any other room in the house for that matter.

Then I remembered brown paper bag floors. As much as I can’t stand my ex-mother-in-law I remembered a floor treatment that she did in a bathroom at a house she lived in. It was beautiful, and inexpensive. So I Googled brown paper bag floors and poof there they were. I read a blog post (I’m ashamed that I don’t have the url for it – but I do have the text to the post if you’re interested – or you could just keep reading here.) A woman that hated her floors and didn’t have the chunk of change to throw down to replace them with something fabulous, so she did this brown paper bag treatment. Easy and not expensive – right in my wheelhouse.

I’ll cut to the chase, here’s what you need:

1 roll of “builders paper” or brown shipping paper

1 gallon of Glue All

1 bucket

1 package of latex gloves (trust me – you want these)

1 gallon of polyurethane

1 measuring cup

1 paint stick (to stir the glue and water)

Patience and Ibuprofen

OK – let’s get started!!

The first thing you have to do is tear the brown paper and crumple it up into wads. Like this:  8

My suggestion – keep the straight edges separate from the other filler paper you’ll put in the middle of the floor. You’ll want to start with the edges up against the wall and work your way out – it’s a lot easier if you separate the paper (thank you OCD.)

Next, get your glue and water mixture together. Ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of glue. Mix it together with your stir stick.

Now you need your latex gloves and ibuprofen.

Take the crumpled paper and submerge it into the mixture. You want to make sure that the paper is completely submerged in the mixture. Take the paper out and squeeze it like a sponge, you want the paper wet, but not sopping wet, and lay it down on your floor. That’s it – keep going… My suggestion is to tear even the pieces you’ve already torn when they’re wet, it gives depth and layers.

During pic:       3      4

Keep going until you’re done.

This is our finished product without poly on it.

5    6    7 You can also stain the paper if you want a darker finish, but I’m happy with the color!

So we can’t use this bathroom until the floor is dry. Then we’ll put the poly on it with a large paint brush. The suggestion is about 10 coats to make sure it seals properly. The plan is to poly once in the morning before work and once before going to bed.

This floor is extremely durable and the only clean up is a damp mop, which is fantastic!

You can do this treatment on any floor. You can pull up carpet and do this, I just might, by the way.

 

“Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee” August 7, 2013

At least that’s what Muhammad Ali said….

How about stung by a wasp, and by the way, your momma is gonna collapse tomorrow?

That’s how I feel.

Sunday may have been the most scared I’ve ever been in a long time. Kam was out mowing the backyard and he got stung by a wasp on his ankle. When he came in he was scared, and obviously hurt, but nothing that he couldn’t recover from. As I was looking at the sting to see if there was still a stinger in his leg he started screaming and ran away from me. What I didn’t know, and found out seconds later, was that the wasp that stung his ankle crept into his shirt and continued to sting him. He became very frightened, which made me extremely frightened. He ran into his room screaming, Mr. D and I literally had to hold him down while he was twisting, screaming, and crying to pull his shirt off and kill that damn wasp.

That wasn’t the worst of it.

It hurts me, I mean it physically hurts me to be this honest. I just can’t lie, it’s just not part of my DNA anymore.

My son is damaged, and after this, there has to be something done. I’ll spare you the intimate details because he’s my son, I love him, and I would never ever do anything to hurt him. He’s hurting and I have to help him, and I’m the “CAN DO” person to the absolute extreme. I will do anything and everything to make absolutely sure that my son has the best life. It’s not negotiable.

I spent two and a half hours on Monday calling counselors. He didn’t want a female counselor, he wanted a male counselor. (By the way if you’re in college and thinking about a counseling career and you’re a upstanding male, that truly cares about children, I would highly recommend it, because you guys are in demand – big time.) The last call I made was to an out of network counselor that was accepting new people. I think the lady that I spoke to had pity on me (because after two and a half hours I was in tears) scheduled an appointment for my son because I basically begged her. I told my son that I had an appointment scheduled for him and he seemed happy about that, I was in turmoil. Questioning every move I’ve made for the last fourteen years.

“You’re only as happy as your saddest child” is what Dr. Phil says. I’ll be damned if that isn’t the truth.

I just have to believe that I’m doing the best thing for my son. I have to pray that the people around me will understand, and know that I have everyone’s best interest at heart.

But my son comes first.

 

What I Wish I Didn’t Wear June 17, 2013

necklace sA necklace.

If you work with me or know me you might have noticed I wear a silver necklace. It’s a longer necklace so the charm on it isn’t obvious unless I pull it out or it makes its way out of my shirt. What hangs from that necklace means more to me than most things do. It can’t be replaced. It’s my Dad’s thumbprint.

It’s hard to believe that my Dad has been gone for four years in September.

People leave memories with us that will last for the rest of our lives. Some of the memories my Dad and I shared were the best times of my life. Teaching me about football, and watching me learn to love it. Kameron being born, and what a great Pop he was.  Mr. D and I getting married, knowing that the third time really was the charm.  Going to Lambeau Field together, our first trip together! Watching the Packers play in Indianapolis, tailgating with those silly Indianapolis fans.  Sunday football, coming over to my house every Sunday to watch the Packers play. Catching my first fish.  Teaching me how to jump a car. The difference between a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver. How to check a breaker and change a fuse. How to buy a car. How to make home made french fries. That Mikesell’s Rippled Potato Chips work best with Dean’s French Onion Dip. And the way to his heart was through my deviled eggs. Those are just a few of the millions of things that he taught me.

The selfish part of me missed my Dad, even though I know he’s in a better place.

The worst part about it for me now is that I know he would be so proud of me (not that he wasn’t before.)  He would be so ridiculously proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. It really has been awesome, and I thank sincerely the people that have (REALLY) supported me (Firebelly Team – Duncan Alney)  -my gratitude and your belief in me is immeasurable. I sincerely from the bottom of my heart thank you. I’m so happy!

Without my Dad there is a space in my heart that can’t be replaced. I don’t get to tell him about the awesome day I’ve had. I don’t have that smile, or pat on my shoulder anymore, he was the one person who always believed in me, no matter what the circumstances.

Things aren’t the same without you Dad, I love you and miss you so much.

I’m kicking ass Johnno, I hope you know.

 

What Mom Doesn’t Want For Mother’s Day May 11, 2013

I know, ok, I get it. I’m guilty of last-minute shopping. It’s not an accident that someone coined the phrase “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.” Someone went through some stuff to come up with that phrase, let me tell you.

I’m in a giving kind of mood today, so I decided to help you. Here are some things that you should never, under any circumstances, ever get your Mom for Mother’s Day.

* Another hand painted ceramic piece of pottery. I mean it was cute the first time, and if you have grandkids we might give you a pass on this until they’re like five. Seriously, we have enough of those things to fill up an entire cabinet in our kitchen, and we’re running out of room in our kitchen, which makes us really cranky.

* Anything with “World’s Best Mom” on it. We already know we’re the best. Actions speak louder than words. Do a load of laundry, fold it, and put it away if you really want to yank on our heartstrings.

* Another gift set of soap or lotion. Think of the last time your mom took a bubble bath. Case closed.

* Made up coupons. Like the ones that say “1 free car wash” or “1 breakfast in bed.” We can drive through a car wash if we need to. Breakfast in bed? So we can clean up the dishes after you make a mess?

* Cleaning supplies. Even the fancy “green” stuff. All that makes us think about is housework, which we despise.

* An apron. For what exactly? So we can make you dinner?

* A memory charm bracelet. We’ll wear it once, and you’ll never see it again. Remember?

* A planter. Really?

* Any type of kitchen appliance, unless we specifically ask for it, just don’t.

* A scale. Unless you want to die.

 

Dogs and Spirits April 22, 2013

Johnno at Lambeau

Johnno at Lambeau

While I was dishing about my Food Network addiction earlier on Twitter something else happened. Some of you might find this a bit bizarre and that’s ok. By now I’m use to the questions or comments I get sometimes after I spill my guts all over the social media world. Don’t mind me while I spill, again.

I’ve heard more than several times in my life that dogs can see spirits, or ghosts, whatever you care to call it. I don’t like the word ghost, especially after my dad passed away. I’m sorry, I just don’t see Johnno floating around in some Casper-like state. Whenever I think of him I always think of him in jeans and a Packers or green golf shirt. That was standard issue Johnno garb. Another thing I don’t see my Dad in is wings. I can just picture my Dad entering the gates of heaven and giving a big “Hell No” to St. Peter as he tries to give my Dad wings. Wings the group he liked, the feathery things, not so much.

I believe in an after life. I believe when our time comes that we will see the loved ones that we have lost in our lifetime. I have to believe that, I have to believe that A LOT. I also believe that every once in a while spirits like to have a little fun with those of us here on earth. Us and our pets.

I have a leather couch it seats three comfortably. When my Dad was over watching a Packers game everyone had their “assigned” seats. They weren’t really assigned, but you would have thought they were if you came over to my house every Sunday. I sat in the middle, my Dad to my left, and Mr. D to my right. I still sit in the middle, and Mr. D still sits on the right. We don’t do it on purpose, we’ve just did it that way for a number of years, I guess it’s a tradition. My dog Shayla takes up Johnno’s now empty spot. It’s where she crashes out for 18 hours a day. Seriously, I think my dog is part cat.

Anyway while I was confessing my Food Network addiction on twitter Shayla was nuzzled up right next to me, which is weird. She really only does that with Mr. D or Kameron, Sam when she’s home. I really hadn’t noticed she was there until her tail started the happy thump. Then she looked up in the air and started licking the air, like someone had put their hand in the air in front of her and she started to go to town on it. I sat and watched her thinking she had lost her mind, but she kept at it, for like two minutes. I said “Shayla what are you doing” she stopped to look at me but went right back to it. I thought of my Dad, he would always pet Sha-na-na (as he called her) when he sat down and she would lick his hand. I decided to put my hand above her to see if she would lick it, nope. When I took my hand away the tail thumping and air licking continued. I closed my eyes and placed my hand on the left seat of my couch, expecting it to be cool to the touch. It was warm, like someone had been sitting there. Then Shayla stopped her licking and put her head down.

I think my Dad can sense when I need him around. Sometimes it’s an unexpected penny. Sometimes the lights go off. Sometimes he plays with my dog. Whenever those things, and other things happen I smile because I know he’s with me. Someday we’ll be together again.

 

Keeping Your Word – Even On Social Media March 26, 2013

Mr. D is a meteorologist, bet you didn’t know that. Yes, he is an engineer, but his degree from Purdue is in Atmospheric Science.  Sounds fancy doesn’t it? When all of the news stations were predicting major snowfall over the weekend I rolled my eyes. When Channel 8 broke in during the NCAA tournament games on Friday I sighed loudly. On Saturday I couldn’t take anymore of the snow nonsense, I took to my Facebook page and posted this:

“Everbody is talking about all this snow we’re suppose to get. No offense to the weather people, but they’re never right. So if there is above 5 inches of snow at my house on the ground Monday I’m taking a picture of me laying in it in my bathing suit.”
I glanced over at Mr. D who happened to be sitting next to me when I wrote it. He looked at me and said “are you sure you want to post that?” I looked at him coyly and said “duh.” He said “I don’t know if you want to do that” I said “why, they’re always wrong, you know we’re not going to get that much snow.” Looking outside at the sun he shook his head as I pressed post. I got a few comments and likes, nothing unusual.
Things started to heat up about seven o’clock  Sunday when one of my friends asked if I was getting nervous. At that point I really wasn’t, it was snowing but nothing alarming, certainly nothing to make me think I was going to have to put my bathing suit on. My son’s school cancelled class for Monday, no big deal, they cancel for anything these days.
This morning when Mr. D told me he was going to shovel the driveway and go into work I thought nothing of it, he likes a shoveled driveway, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up I didn’t even look outside. I instinctively grabbed my phone to check out Twitter and Facebook. Lying in bed I noticed that my Facebook page looked like it had some activity so I went there first. I immediately sat straight up in bed when I started to read the posts. “6.5 inches Steph, bring it on!!” “Yup, we are waiting for that photo you promised.” “So..what about that picture?” “If you wimp out you will never live it down. Just Do It! “Peer pressure – Do It!” 
I thought, is this happening? I thought quickly, ran through some scenarios, then I stopped. I got up, grabbed the bathing suit I had on last week in Cancun (where it was sunny and 80 degrees everyday) and put it on. I looked at my hair in the mirror and thought, I’m going to need a hat to cover up this messy hair. What a joke.
I posted to my Facebook page “I’m not wimping out – jeez you people! Kameron (my son) will have to take it (the picture) it may traumatize him for life!”
I knew there was no explaining this to Kameron, I mean what do you say? So I yelled for him to come downstairs, I needed him to “do something for me.” He came downstairs and saw me looking outside in my bathing suit and said “MOM WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I laughed and said “I need you to take my picture outside in a minute.” He looked panicked and said “why?” I looked at him and said “because I made a bet, and I lost, so I need you to take a picture of me laying in the snow.” He said “who did you bet, betting is stupid.” I said “sometimes it is, but when you say you’re going to do something you better do it. People will remember if you said you were going to do something and didn’t do it.”
So I did it.
The funny thing is while I was sitting in the snow I thought Kam’s not going to forget this. The time he took his crazy mother’s picture in the snow because she lost a bet. Someone actually mentioned to me that he would never forget it. It might be one of those stories he tells a friend or maybe even his kids about me and I’ll laugh and say he’s full of it. I hope he does remember it, mostly I hope he remembers what I said about keeping your word. It’s an important thing, something I’ve always believed is extremely important. Life isn’t any different than business. If you talk the talk you better be able to walk the walk. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. A client may or may not forgive, but they won’t forget.
snow
Was it cold? Yes. Did it kinda stink? Yes. The reaction and comments I got on Facebook made it priceless, and I missed the mail lady by two minutes, can you imagine? Good lord.
Tonight I asked Mr. D if he was surprised I actually took the pictures. He said “no.” When I asked why, he said “it wouldn’t be you style not to.” He’s right.
snow1
snow3