Friday, February 17, 2012

Organized Pantry

Just want to show off my organized pantry.  I love glass jars.  They let you see what’s inside and they’re pretty! AND best of all … they keep my dry goods fresher than leaving them in their original packing.  How do I know what's in each? First off, I have them categorized ... sugars on one shelf, flours on another and pastas on another.  You get the picture.  Then so I know the self-rising flour from the all purpose, I cut off a part of the original packaging labels and tape them on the bottom of the jar. With some, like the grits or pasta, I cut off the cooking instructions and tuck them down inside as well.  

My spices on the door ... well they're kinda organized by type but mostly by the size of their jars but sooooo much better than putting them in a cabinet where the least used get pushed to the back and you NEVER know what you have and what you don't.  Keeping my pantry organized sure makes cooking so much easier … grocery shopping too.  You don’t go out and buy something and find out later that it was just stuffed in the back of the pantry.

Now this pantry is just my dry goods, spices, vinegars, flavorings and such.  I have another pantry for canned goods and other grocery items but it’s not near as organized because its waaaaay too deep and things do get lost … at least on the shelves where there’s only one of a certain item.  Scott does all the grocery shopping (well 90% of it anyway) and he buys in bulk so when we put in canned goods (tomatoes, beans, veggies, etc.) we rotate them and it’s easy to put them in 6-7 deep.  But those other items that you just don’t need to buy in bulk (cause it is just the two of us), like nuts or popcorn or croutons … well they kind of get lost.  I’m working on getting it more organized but I think the dang thing is just too deep!!!

Keeping your pantry(s) organized makes cooking more fun and definitely easier! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not Just Another Valentine’s Day

It must be human nature to take life for granted … take our loved ones … our friends for granted … not intentionally, by no means … we just let hours turn into days and days into months and so on and next thing we know … we haven’t truly let the people we love … family or friends, know what we think of them … know what they mean to us.  No matter how many times we tell ourselves and others “Life is short” or that we are “living on borrowed time” or that “we are never promised a tomorrow” … we somehow forget that in our daily lives.  Why?  I don’t know … I sure do think it all the time … think of someone and what they mean to me … maybe its because people just don’t like ooey gooey … I’m not sure … maybe the words don’t come as easily as we think them in our hearts.  I know they don’t for me.  I know I’m guilty of it just like everyone else.  Guilty I know for not telling my parents, before they were gone, exactly how much I loved them and why … why they meant so much to me … not because of the obvious … they were my parents … but what they did for me … how they raised me … how they were such a huge part in the person I’ve become.  Forget about the mistakes they made … I turned out to be a pretty good person and I owe it all to them!  The good stuff is all that really matters in the end … not the mistakes getting there.  I know in my heart I never told them and how sad that makes me feel … so very sad.  Oh some will say “they knew Debbie” … but did they really?!?  Did I miss that opportunity year after year?!?  I think so … and that makes me really sad.

I’ve been writing my beautiful baby girl everyday since she’s been at USAF BMT … just like I did her brothers before her but I find it hard to say the things I really feel … the words just don’t come out right when I try.  Oh I tell her I love her and I’m proud of her and what a strong woman she’s become … all the obvious stuff I feel but why is it so hard to say more … go into depth about my love for her … for her brothers (my sons) … do they really know what I’ve sacrificed for them, that I put my heart and soul into raising them properly, that my love for them runs so deep, that no matter how grown they are they are my babies … oh how I struggle with my feelings and expressing them … it shouldn’t be so hard.  Every time I hear that song (and I’m not good with song titles so forgive me) that goes something like this “I’d catch a grenade for ya, take a shot through the brain for ya, do anything for ya” (I know I’ve probably got all the words all wrong but you know which song I’m talking about) … anyway … that song makes me think of my kids … that’s how much I love them … I’d die for them.

Today, I went out to buy my baby girl a Valentine’s Day card, something I haven’t done for the kids in years (when they were growing up I would make heart shaped homemade cookies decorated with red and white icing or buy them candy hearts, cards and sometimes I even made them cards but for a very long time now I’ve done nothing … treated it like another day).  Anyway, I felt the need to do it for Alayna since she’s so far away from home and very homesick.  I ended up buying her two … it took two to say what I wanted to say.  Then I bought a few more … they boys were on my mind too … I even broke down and bought one for Scott.  Why?  Because I found cards that said exactly what I was feeling and felt what better way to say it then in a card.  An unexpected card, mind you!  To me, Valentine’s Day is another chance to say what you’re feeling unlike my husband’s views on the holiday.  He’s always been in the retail field so he believes it’s a retailer’s way to make more money.  When I told him today that I bought the kids Valentine’s Day cards, he just rolled his eyes at me.  I said what a great excuse to say what you feel to those you love and he said … “you can say the same thing in a text message for a lot cheaper”!!!!!  Really?  I didn’t hesitate with my response to that one … “okay Scott, you just do that … you send me a text on Valentine’s Day and see what happens!!!”  Yea a text message might be meaningful but a red and white beautiful card with ribbons and lacey drawings … hand picked just for the person … that means a lot more doesn’t it?  Means you took the time to read and read and read some more all the beautiful cards til you found the perfect one for your loved one … that would mean more wouldn’t it?  Then some old text message! 

No matter what you might think of Valentine’s Day … it is a day (an excuse) to say what you’re thinking.  Yea we have another 364 days each year to say it and yea we really don’t need an excuse to buy a sweet card or send a gift for no reason at all … but holidays are that extra push we sometimes need in the crazy busy life we all lead.

I vow to be better at saying the words that are in my heart … not waiting to say them on a special occasion but when I thinking them … I vow to try to be a better person, mother, friend … to let my loved ones know how much they mean to me … I vow to always try my best to put into words all those ooey gooey sweet thoughts I have … at least I’m gonna try!  And isn’t that what Jesus would do and what He’d expect of me?  To just say the words no matter how ooey gooey they feel rolling off my lips!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vegetarians and Vegans … Are they really healthier?

My son, Alexander, is a very strict Vegetarian and has been for quite some time now … about 6-7 years.  At one point he was a strict Vegan but that lifestyle proved to be unhealthy for him.    He may not like me writing about this but after eating out with him and his wife at a Vegan restaurant, I felt the need to blog about Vegetarians and Vegans.
First let me say, I totally respect Vegetarians and Vegans … eating lots of veggies is a good thing. This isn’t to say that there aren’t lots of good vegetarian and vegan foods out there … there are … I just need my meat. =)  NOTE: Now I do believe our meats have become tainted (for lack of a better word) with steroids and anti-biotics and other chemicals and that organic meat is better for you though hard to find and certainly more expensive.  AND our fruits and vegetables now being GE (Genetically Engineered) or GM (Genetically Modified) are not good for us (it’s a proven fact) and that organic is best but again harder to find and more expensive.  But that’s a discussion for another blog.

Alex, from a very early age, never really liked meat except for seafood, he did love his seafood, and often I said (probably out loud and I may have even influenced his decision to become a Vegetarian by my saying it so often) that he could easily become a Vegetarian when he grew up.  He loved his veggies!!  Well he did.

For those of you who may not know the difference between the two ~ here’s an explanation:

VEGETARIANS eat NO meat (no beef, no pork, no chicken … AND no seafood … no meat period) though they DO eat meat bi-products such as eggs, cheese, milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt and other dairy.  If you hear someone call themselves a Vegetarian yet they eat fish or seafood or even chicken … they are not true Vegetarians.  No meat whatsoever is eaten by a true Vegetarian ONLY exception is animal bi-products as I just mentioned.

VEGANS eat NO meat and NO meat bi-products whatsoever.  So again if you hear someone call themselves a Vegan yet they eat dairy products, they are NOT Vegans they are Vegetarians.  There IS a difference.

Now … knowing this, what is your perception of how a Vegetarian or Vegan is built?  Healthy slim figures?  Healthy glow to the skin?  Physically fit?  Healthy looking?  This was mine BEFORE I ate at a Vegan restaurant.

What changed my opinion was merely walking in the door of the Vegan restaurant and seeing the owners/cooks.  Whew!  My perception was wrong!!!  Why, you may ask?!?  LOL

Now in this particular Vegan restaurant the owners/cooks were Jamaican so the entire menu was Jamaican influenced Vegan dishes.  I’m sure not all Vegan restaurants have Jamaican influenced menus.  The ENTIRE menu was Vegan from the French fries and what they were fried in to the Chili Burgers to the Mac and Yease (don’t ask me what ‘yease’ is lol) on down to the Vegan ice cream and cheeses.  I actually ate the Sweet Potato Fries and Chili Burger oh but don’t be confused by the word ‘burger’.  The Chili (which you could order as a side also) was made as normal Chili is yet the meat part of it was Tofu.  Now I’m not talking the gooey, mushy, watery Tofu you may be thinking of … no this was awesome Tofu … seasoned and closely resembling the texture of real meat but not quite.  And no meat flavor … just spiced up tofu.  The ‘burger’ portion was a slice of perfectly seasoned Tofu that had been grilled.  It was actually very delicious!

Now back to the shocker … the owners/cooks, who were extremely friendly and gracious, were enormously overweight … I’m talking Biggest Loser material here folks … grossly obese.  Seeing this just blew my opinion of Vegetarians and Vegans as being healthy looking people.  NOT!  Obviously, as we all know, eating healthy is a good thing BUT as was proven to me when I visited this Vegan restaurant … like anything else … too much of a good thing and you become very unhealthy and grossly overweight.

Moral of my story?  Too much of the good healthy food is just as bad as eating unhealthy food choices. Moderation!  Everything in moderation!  AND … Portion control!  No matter what your eating choices are … MODERATION and PORTION CONTROL!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Book Review)

My daughter-in-law suggested I read this book … the first in a trilogy.  She said both her and Anthony read it in a day and were hooked. I bought it before Christmas and just now got around to reading it (had a couple books I was trying to get through before starting a new one).  Man, this book was hard to put down.  In fact, I’m going out tomorrow to buy the second and third books and am looking forward to the movie coming out in March. I just watched the trailer and was amazed that the setting looks as I pictured it and so do the characters. (See the movie trailer link at the end of this blog post in red letters)  Going to be a great movie!!  It is a Scholastic book so its written for young adults but so was Harry Potter and I loved those books too.  LOL

The story is set in the ruins of a place once known as North America in the nation of Panem.  The lead character is Katniss, a 16 year old girl, who comes from District 12.  District 12’s purpose is to mine coal for use and distribution by the elites (those who rule the country).  In Panem, you have the haves (the elites or “Capitalists”) and the have nots (those in Districts 1-13).  As is the case in socialistic societies, there are more have nots than there are haves.  The have nots sole purpose is to produce (as in agriculture, coal, etc) for the Capitol and the Capitol decides how and to who it is distributed.

Once a year the Capitol holds its annual Hunger Games and one girl and one boy (12 years up to 18) is chosen randomly to represent their respective District to fight to the death on live TV … an updated version of the Coliseum Games in the Roman era, it seems.

Great book, very well written and an amazing story … you won’t want to put it down!!!  I’m obsessed!!!

(NOTE: The terminology used in this book review are my own based on my perception of the book.)