Thursday, July 28, 2011

The swag and I...!

So today I gave in and signed up for swagbucks. My sister in law has been using it for sometime now, she is always redeeming her bucks for amazon gift cards and as I decided I want a Kindle those would come in handy. SO far I am finding the website really easy to use, I have earned 163 today alone and though I have a long time to go until my goal nothing beats free and easy. All I have to do is watch videos, play games & surf the net. I do those things anyway, why not get paid for it???!!!

If anyone would like to join and check it out, you can help me out by using the following link to join the site. You put me one step closer to my kindle which with all the health problems I have been having I cannot afford to buy and you get freebies for yourself. Just click the ad below and be on your way to easy earning, they have tons of different ways to spend your swag bucks!

Search & Win

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Feeling unworthy of love or care!

I don't normally use the family blog as a place to complain about my life or my husband but I feel almost as if the walls are closing in on me because I feel so uncared for by my husband. I have shared these feelings with him but all he does is scoff at me and vanish into the bedroom. One week ago today I had a pretty decent amount of surgery, I had part of my cervix removed, cancer lasered from my body, a D&C and 2 more things that I can't even remember at the moment. I have wanted to and tried to sit back and take it easy as I am bleeding quite a bit from the procedure and in a moderate amount of pain from my back, to my stomach, to my legs but I have failed miserably. After the surgery I came home and went to bed, the next day , even though my husband went to work and my kids were running crazy I laid about on the couch. Those first 2 days my husband did a few things to help, it was easy since neighbors and friends were bringing our meals. The first 2 days of any surgery I have ever had have been "my rest days" as it seems 2 days is the amount of time it takes me to get better in the eyes of my husband. 2 days is the amount of days that help STOPS, dead stops unless I ask him, sometimes not even asking helps and we get into an argument. This was the same behavior after all of my C-sections as well. 2 days, 2 days and no matter what the extent of the surgery I am perfect again. Of course this is nowhere near true, I should be with my feet on a pillow relaxing as we speak but no, I am doing no such thing. Right now, at midnight I am doing laundry, laundry he dropped "off" in the laundry room an hour ago. Laundry I thought he was going to wash himself until I asked "did you forget to turn on the washer" and he said "no, I just left it for you to do later.". At that moment, minutes after a scab fell out and blood started pouring out of my body my jaw dropped and I almost broke down into tears. It occurred to me that I have become NOTHING but the person who does his laundry, his dishes, cooks his meals an cleans his house. I am no longer a human being with feelings who is hurting and fighting, I am a paid employee with no benefits and we are no longer partners. Have we ever been real partners? I am so disturbed right now that I can't even remember when we were. I know some of you are thinking "I wouldn't have done it" but alas he is the bread winner and he has a job interview tomorrow so he needed clean clothes. I rather enjoy food in my kids bellies and having a roof over their heads (and mine!). So after he gave a childish "Oh fine, fine, I will just do it, I only have to be up at 4am, 3 hours of sleep is fine" (yeah, I have to be up early to care for our CHILDREN but that doesn't matter I guess) to avoid the argument, because I am hurting and don't have one in me, I did it. I honestly do not know what it would take to get my husband to be more of a partner than some sexist pig who seems to think I will live forever. We just recently went through a month of thinking I might be dying from cancer and that didn't even phase him, will anything? I love my husband, he has so many other redeeming qualities, I know he loves me but I am starting to wonder if he actually loves "me" or if he just loves the idea of having me around because he thinks I won't ever leave. All I can say is that this isn't the first marriage boat I have taken. I met the last straw once before and after all we have gone through the past few years (some insane stuff!) it seems to me the last straw might be coming around for another visit. I fight daily to forgive because that is what my father would want, but my father in heaven would also want my husband to take care of me when I needed him to....right?

I don't know what to do but I do know that I wish everyone would quit telling me to let others do for me or to just let it all be. 1. There is NOBODY to do for me. 2. When you have a disabled child with a HORRIBLE immune system who is blind and will trip over crap in the floor filth is NOT an option.


PS. This is what my house looks like right now. Dishes/food still on the table, piles of dishes and filthy counters in the kitchen, piles of laundry in the laundry room (including more in our room) and crap thrown all over the living room floor/furniture. It isn't HORRIBLE but after breakfast, it will be! By the way, I even made his lunch, couldn't even get him to put his own meal into Tupperware!








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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love and Relaxation; My life with food!


"Sit back , relax and let someone else cook for you"

Those words have never quite sit right in my stomach. Possibly due to the fact that I am a little bit anal about the food that I eat but mostly due to the fact that I absolutely LOVE to cook. And I mean anything, I love to bake, fry, grill, boil, broil, saute and just about anything else that gets my food creativity flowing. Cooking is one of the only things in life short of sleep that actually RELAXES me and it always surprises me to hear that anyone could think this thing I love so much was stressful enough that in the event of a life crisis I should let someone else do it to take stress off. If I weren't cooking or baking something chances are you will find me twiddling my thumbs in a corner somewhere bored to tears. Sure I do other stuff but most of the stuff I do is enveloped by cooking. If I am on the computer or watching TV, I probably have something cooking in the crock pot, coming to a boil, simmering in a pot or baking in the oven. If I leave the house at the very least it is either to BUY food to cook or to EAT at a restaurant where I know they would give food as much love as I like to give it. Food is my $100.00 per hour therapy only for that $100.00 I get a whole WEEKS worth of therapy. In fact when I look back on the choices in my life the one and only choice I would ever change has to do with food and that is my education. Instead of going to business and fashion school in Los Angeles I would have gone to culinary school in San Francisco to share my love of food with the world and I KNOW I would have been damn good at it. One day I hope to open my own restaurant or bakery, a dream I have had my entire life. My husband Tom said to me once that he has never seen anyone associate their life with food as I do. Every experience I have had in my life is immortalized with food. I can tell you what something tasted like that I ate 10 , 20 years ago. I can tell you the most delicious French food I ever ate was at Eurochow in Westwood, Ca , the best thing on the menu was the Filet Mignon in which it's peppery goodness melted in your mouth like butter and the Walnut Shrimp that were the size of my hand had a crunch like nothing I ever experienced before. The best Cajun meal I ever had was at Killer Shrimp in Los Angeles and the best burger I have ever eaten I made myself. I can tell you what is in just about any food without anyone giving me an ingredient list. Killer Shrimp has long come and gone but in a matter of minutes I managed to replicate their original shrimp dish for those nights where the memory of that meal overwhelms me to the point that I MUST have it. Food makes me happy, it is my talent, my nourishment, food is my best friend, someone who has never in my life let me down. Cooking doesn't stress me out, people stress me out but when you put raw food in front of me and say "cook for the people" , people suddenly become less stressful. I love my food and my food loves me, I will never part with it and nobody can ever convince me that making food better is anything but my solace!

Now, time to go throw those cinnamon rolls that have been rising for the last hour into the oven. :)


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Monday, July 25, 2011

PLEASE VOTE for my 9 year old niece??!!!

My 9 year old niece who is a super reader and an excellent hard working honor roll student has entered a contest to win a book and a small scholarship. We would all LOVE it if you would help her in an effort to win a contest which ENDS TODAY. If all of my readers vote, she might have a chance. And if you feel the need to help her out even more, please post the link in your blog, twitter or facebook and ask your friends to vote for her as well. THANK YOU!!!




PLEASE VOTE & share if you can!!!!

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Mission Disaster Play Room!

I have had it! When we decided to let the girls cohabitate in a single bedroom for Miriam's safety from toys we cleared all the toys that were broken, that weren't played with or were just old away. Since then not only has the toy supply been replenished (even though we made them trade toys for Christmas to give to kids who needed them) but the room has turned into an even bigger disaster than the bedroom ever was. When we created the playroom we naturally thought it would be nice to have a few of those neat plastic toy boxes with lids. We never expected that these expensive "kid proof" boxes were utterly useless as the lids don't stay on and are bulky as heck. We could have achieved the same effect, though not nearly as "kid cute" with a few $4.00 plastic bins. Which is just what I did when I reached my breaking point today.

The Disaster Zone



After going through the toys and ridding the room of 2 garbage bags full I decided each girl got a box of toys, not including sporting goods & dress up clothes. I labeled each box & it's matching lid with pictures of either the girl the box belonged to or the contents of the box and created new play room rules, or shall I say additions to our rules.

Playroom Rules

1. ONE book off the shelf per girl at one time.
2. NO TOYS from the pay room in ANY other part of the house.
3. Only the box that belongs to the person actually IN the playroom can be opened. You can ONLY open your own box.
4. If you leave the playroom pick up yours toys and put your lid back on.
6. REGARDLESS of whose box a toy came from ALL toys are community property as long as the person whose box is opened remains in the room. YOU MUST SHARE!
7. If someone leaves the room but you are playing with a toy from the other persons box either A. Give them one of your toys to make room in your box for the toy. or B. Give it to them to put in their box and play with something else.
8. Sporting goods & play clothes may be opened by anyone.

Playroom transformation...







So far the girls are following the rules. We still had the "ONE book" & "no toys in the play room leave the play room" rules. They have a play area in the living room with a few toys & books so they aren't exactly going to suffer at the hand of "toylessness" because of it. We will see how long this lasts but I plan to stick to my guns and force these new rules which once learned should be a cake walk. I am by no means a stickler for super clean but I want to be and this is a start!

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The Simple Life & Tortilla's

Lately I have been on a real kick to simplify our lives by making everything we eat from scratch. Some people might say that would make life more difficult but I maintain than saving over $100.00 per week on groceries, producing only 1/4 of the trash we did previously and having less food to GRAB and Go enabling us to have non diet weight loss HAS simplified things. We make our own breads, cookies, cakes (not using mix), dish soap, laundry soap, butter and much more. We even shop late night for meat section bargains (grocery stores mark down meat by nearly half after 10pm!). Living like this took our grocery bill from $200.00 a week to about $80.00 a week with one week at $150.00 (stock up week, we buy much in bulk) bringing our grocery bill to only $340.00 a month for a savings of 460.00 a month. We do not eat anything processed but breakfast cereal and the occasional "treat" on treat day which is Friday. Sunday is my baking day in which I bake our goods for the week which I freeze. Our bodies feel better, my stress is down from all of the baking and it seems our family is a little happier.

I am constantly looking for areas where we can simplify things and that includes new EASY recipes. One recipe I have found is multi-use and can be used daily if wanted. The recipe is for easy tortillas but I have found that you can either roll it out paper thin for the best tortilla you will ever eat or you can roll it out thicker for an excellent flat bread. It bakes well too! Tonight I will be whipping this little recipe up for some yummy garlic/parsley bread cooked in butter on the stove top. Here is the recipe, following the recipe you will find some of my use ideas for this dough! The recipe makes about 8 8-6 inch tortillas, I usually double up. Enjoy!

EASY Tortilla's/flat bread



2 Cups Flour
1 - 1 1/2 TSP baking powder (more powder , more rise when cooking)
1 TSP Salt
2 TSP oil
3/4 cup luke warm milk

* Sift your flour and milk into a large mixing bowl.
* In separate bowl (or measure cup) milk, salt & oil to your milk.
* With mixer on low speed slowly add milk mixture to flour, mix until smooth.
* Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
* Divide dough and roll into balls (or use a press).
* Let the bread balls rest for another 15 minutes.
* Meanwhile, warm your pan on low-Med. heat coated with cooking spray, oil or butter.
* While pan is warming on a lightly floured surface roll or pat out a ball to the desired size then place in the pan and cook until browned on each side.

You should have plenty of time in between bread to roll out another ball. You will need to add a bit more oil, butter or spray to your pan between each piece.








NOTE: Flavor ideas:

Cinnamon sugar tortillas (when each is finished roll in a mixture of cinnamon/sugar)
Cinnamon raisin flat bread (add raisins to your dough, then do the same as above)
Garlic/Parmesan (add a touch of garlic to the dough, then brush with either a mixture of garlic, parm, butter or olive oil.)
Cheddar/ Jalapeno flat bread (add chopped/drained jalapenos and a cup of cheddar to your batter.)

These are just a few of my ideas, I am sure you can come of with some amazing ideas of your own. Feel free to share the ones you come up with in the comments section so we can all try them! :-)


PS. Make your own and you will NEVER turn back to those packaged brands!


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Worlds BEST Oatmeal cookies...

My whole life Oatmeal cookies have been a cookie I either liked or I hated. Every Oatmeal cookie is so different, often too dry & flavorless or too cakey. It is so hard to find the perfect Oatmeal cookie. But here I am to tell you that I have indeed found the perfect oatmeal cookie. A cookie that stands on it's own with no additives such as raisins or chocolate chips. It is buttery, sweet but not too sweet, fluffy in the middle but lacy around the edges. This is possibly the most dainty but tasty oatmeal cookie in the world! Enjoy!



Ingredients

* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup margarine, softened
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 3 cups quick cooking oats

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In a mixing bowl with mixer on Medium speed, cream together butter/margarine, white sugar, and brown sugar.
3. Add eggs one at a time.
4. Add vanilla.
5. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
6. Mix in oats.
7. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.
8. Shape the dough into balls (about the size of walnuts) & place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
9. Flatten each cookie with a large fork dipped in sugar (lightly wet fork to hold sugar).
10. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
11. Let cool for about 1 minute on cookie sheet then move to rack to cool.

NOTE: Using margarine AND butter makes the difference in these cookies. Do not skip this step! Feel free to add nuts, raisins or chocolate chips but these cookies are DELICIOUS alone.





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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recovering...

The last few days have been a real eye opening experience as I recover from having cancer removed from my body. For about a month I was a nervous wreck fearing I might not live long enough to see my daughters grow up after my DR. found cancer sitting on my cervix waiting to attack. Tuesday I went into the hospital, had the cancer lesions removed, part of my cervix removed, video shot of my insides to see if anything was affected, had polyps removed and had a D&C which was a must thanks to a recent miscarriage. It was a "fun" few hours (of deep rest under sedation...lol) but in the end I kind of have a new appreciation for my life. My daughters smiles seem so much brighter and the air I breath feels so much cleaner going into my lungs. I hate that it took such a life scare to get me to appreciate everything as much as I should have already but at the same time, how many of us fully appreciate life as we are living it? I am glad to be here, with my family and I am so thankful the last few months are over. For the most part....

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Butter / buttermilk making 101

I have always wanted to attempt to make my own butter but always thought I needed a churn. Little did I know that I could easily accomplish this task using nothing but a lidded jar and a little elbow grease. Today I decided to share this adventure with my 4 year old Georgia and it certainly made for a wonderful memory!

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE BUTTER & BUTTERMILK:





What you will need:

*Heavy Cream (or heavy whipping cream, at least a pint)
*Jar with lid
*paper towels
*Covered butter container
*Measuring cup (easy pour)



Steps:

1. Pour Cream into Jar and place lid on tight.





2. Start shaking container. (will take about 12-15 minutes)



video


Time lapse:
After 4 minutes...turns into whipped cream.


After 7 minutes...turns into STIFF cream or consistency of whipped butter.

After 9 minutes... Starts to curdle (IE: clump, beginning stage of separation)

After 11 minutes....Separation occurs (IE: Butter separates from milk creating butter and buttermilk.)

After 12 minutes...75% separated.


3. At 75% separation carefully pour buttermilk into the measuring cup. (I have found straining at this point to make the final stage go faster. I use a measuring cup because I like to know how much milk I have.)

4. Place lid back on and shake another 1-2 minutes.

When done it will look like this,


5. Careful drain remaining buttermilk into the measuring cup.

6. Place a few paper towels down and dump out the butter on top of them. LIGHTLY pat top of butter to remove extra moisture.


7. Place butter in storage dish.

8. OPTIONAL: add a pinch of salt & stir.


9. STRAIN buttermilk into a serving dish or storage container of choice. (the milk makes an excellent creamer but is also delicious to drink or use in recipes. I plan on using mine for cornbread and fried chicken...YUM!)

10. Taste your efforts! Mmmmmm.... ;-)


This butter is a delicious and cheaper alternative to butter plus you get buttermilk which is also pretty costly. The butter is creamier and tastier than anything bought i a store and the homemade buttermilk lacks the sour quality of any store brand as it is thinner (but still thick) and sweeter , it is considered "traditional farm" buttermilk. Each pint gives you "about" a pound of butter and about a cup of milk.

Price breakdown: (I would normally buy cream by the quart but they were out, saving me an extra 1.00)

A pint of cream cost me 1.78
Cost of butter per pound is an average of 2.98 + Pint of buttermilk 1.98 (*2 cups)
Savings $ 2.19

NOTE: For an easier method you can use a food processor or blender but it seems to me nothing is more fun than shaking your way to butter with your children! I should also note that you may find whole cream even cheaper if you contact your local dairy farm and buy it straight from the source. You will probably have to buy a bit more than normal but butter freezes well and this buttermilk can be used as regular milk. :-)


ENJOY!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Rewarding? in all honesty....REALLY?

I was reading a blog post from a friend of a friend who is a part time step mom to a severely autistic child. She refers to her life as "mother" of said autistic child as "rewarding". Though I can say that I have learned a lot from my daughter who is blind and autistic I cannot claim to feel rewarded. It is hard to feel rewarded when my day consists of non-stop raging fits triggered by ANYTHING and everything, seeing her injure herself (she bites herself), watching her spin herself in circles until she pukes or praying that today isn't one of those days where she uses her own poo as a paintbrush! All of the moms of autistic kids I know look like they are half a second from pulling their hair out most of the time. But like I said, I have been taught a thing or two, I have been taught patience 10 fold, taught never to take a hug or smile for granted and that I should STAY ALERT to the contents of pull ups. Hearing someone go on and on about "rewards" makes me wonder what they are doing that they never have to deal with any of the things I or all of the other mom's I know have to deal with. At the same time, I feel a little insulted that she sums being an autistic mom up to only the good things which with an autistic child really are few and far between (about 25% of the day). Where is she the other 75% of the time? If you are going to claim to be a real "autistic mom" you shouldn't sugar coat it, we moms need to stick together and give GOOD information, not misleading information. No...rewarding isn't the description I would use to describe my life as an Autistic mom. Stressful, frustrating, thankful that it isn't worse and that my child is one of the "smilers" is more like it. But honestly, I don't feel rewarded about having an Autistic child in particular though I do feel rewarded to have a child in general! In fact, I feel MORE than rewarded by that, I feel down right blessed but I feel the same way about my non autistic children as well. Then again, I never hear her bragging about her other stepchild, I guess having one of the "normal" ones is a little boring to her exciting autistic momdom!


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cancer, motorcycles and hugs..oh my!

It is always so long between blog posts. Things are always so hectic around the house these days and the present moment is no exception. Between raising 3 girls we have recently been given a few trials from the Lord that we are currently working through. I was recently diagnosed with cancer on my cervical wall. I have been going to and from appointments having things done and to get the results from those various things. Thankfully the cancer has not spread and can be removed , that will be happening on the 18th. I will be going in to have a LEEP procedure to remove the cancer and a part of my cervix, at that time I will be having polyps removed from my ovaries which apparently has been the culprit behind crippling pains I have been having the past 2 years. This has been a frightening ordeal but I am thankful to have been able to make it through it with my head still attached to my shoulders.

To top that off Toms father was in a horrible motorcycle accident over past holiday weekend. He was thrown from his motorcycle and ran over by a car. He is now in the hospital fighting the greatest fight of his life with broken bones pretty much head to toe. The Lord was with him however because he had no severe internal injuries, all fractures and breaks. Of course that is severe but it could have been much much worse. He is currently doing better having been moved to his own room out of ICU. He has a long road of surgeries and physical therapy but we are confident he will overcome this trial.

The girls however are all doing fantastic! We were complimented recently from the leader of Miriam's Sunday school class. We had not been to that particular church this year and after a class with Miriam she was amazed and asked us "What have you been doing with Miriam because she was amazing in class, she spoke, played and was very cooporative." I told them we had removed her from school and began teaching her at home. The leader said to us "Well, whatever you are doing at home...DON'T STOP because she is amazing!". I think perhaps having her here with us all the time we don't really notice 100% of the changes in her so it was nice to have our choice validated. But then again, Miriam herself validates it each and every day! Just the other day we brought home a small puppy, Miriam has always been so annoyed by pets but we noticed that she actually enjoyed a small dog a friend of ours had so when the chance to bring home a small dog was presented to us we jumped on it. We let her pet the dog and to our amazement she laughed , giggled and called it "doggy". But when I put it in her lap she calmly pushed the doggy away and said to me "I can't handle this anymore." That was Miriam's way of saying I want to pet the dog but my lap is a bit too close...lol I too am amazed at how much speech and physical activity we have managed to get from her from playing with dogs , to asking to play with her dolls or cars, to asking her sister "Georgia or Sophia wanna play?", to asking if she can take a bath or a shower. She has come such a long way! It is nice getting to see her play with her sisters and actually play with toys. We have been blessed!

Georgia and Sophia are growing like crazy and are such a mess. Georgia still loves to learn and her care for others is truly amazing. I have never seen a child worry so much when someone isn't feeling well. She literally pets all of us when we are sick, she is wonderful! Sophia is Georgia's shadow and Miriam's favorite. There isn't a time I don't see Sophia giving her big sister Miriam hugs, she even climbs into bed with her at night if she gets scared. Sophia is a handful right now as she goes through the terrible 2's, I think perhaps she has combined the 2's and the 3's. But as did Georgia I have faith she will grow out of them even though I do not look forward to the next 2 years!




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