Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween and Birthday

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, along with Easter and Christmas. I love to decorate for Halloween with all of the cute ghosts and goblins.

As a kid, growing up on a farm, out in the middle of nowhere, we had few neighbors for me to trick-or-treat to. I remember going up in the field to our neighbor’s house. Her kids were all grown and I was her only trick-or-treater. I swear that she would buy 40 bags of candy just for me. Some years she made popcorn balls or candied apples. She sent home tons with me, keeping just a few for her and her husband to enjoy. After stopping there we were on our way to my Aunt S and Uncle A’s house. They weren’t really family, but Aunt S and my grandmother had been friends for like 100 years. At least that’s what I thought then. Like us, the neighbors to the north; Aunt S and Uncle A lived in the boonies. I was there only trick or treator. So you can imagine what two stops did to that poor little plastic pumpkin; he was full and often overflowing.

To experience the full effect of Halloween, I often when into town and went trick-or-treating with my best friend. Otherwise I only got to knock on three houses. There were never any tricks either, I was too sweet, (and please, no comments from the parents on this one.) :)

There was one other house that was on my list, but this house was different. It was more like an extension of home, except without the toys. This house was less than 50 yards from mine. It could be walked to in under a minute, and ran in under 30 seconds. It was the house that my grandparents live in. This stop was the most important of all.


Halloween is my grandfathers birthday; or as he was christened by me, my Gangie’s birthday. This house was usually hit twice in one night. Once for a birthday dinner and birthday cake or pie (he always picked) and a second when I was all dressed up in my costume of choice.

I asked him once why he was born on Halloween and he told me it was because he was a spook.

Tomorrow we would have celebrated his 87th birthday. He was a very special and unique person. He was one of those adults that most kids loved. My best friend adored him. My husband adored him, and my husband John missed out on the good stuff. My grandfather was 77 when we got married, and he didn’t have the energy to do some of the things that he did when I was a kid. Like riding up in the field and playing in the mud while he moved water, and the learning to shoot that 22 rifle, with bailing wire holding the butt together, at old oil cans. He missed him stopping in the road to pick something up because it might come in handy one day. He missed him taking stuff apart and not being able to get it back together, just so he didn’t have to buy it new. Then he ended up buying it anyway because he couldn’t get it put back together. He missed the gardens and the little ditches he drew in the dirt in the orchard when he watered the trees.

However, John did get to listen to his time in the Navy. He got to listen to stories about me growing up. He got to hear stories about his childhood and being born early and how his mother used the oven to keep him warm. (Think incubator). How he terrorized his sisters then, and now. John was the butt of a few pranks, as my grandfather was capable of making you believe something. My favorite memory of Gangie doesn't directly involve him, but it was something he would have done. I was 5 or 6 and called my grandparents and back before call waiting you got a busy signal. I was sooooo infuriated because I thought it was Gangie on the other end of the line making that "bongit bongit" noise. It was something he would have done.

Gangie lived with us for 7 months, before we had to place him in the nursing home. Those months were the best and the worst of my life. We laughed and I learned more about the time he hitchhiked to the South Plains fair with Bonnie and Clyde. I hear more Navy stories, more things about when he worked on the Navajo reservation, his first car, his sisters, his mother, and my grandmother when she was younger. I probably know things about him and his life that even his daughter, my mother doesn’t know. I wouldn’t have traded those months for anything. We knew his time with us was short and we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

So this year, like all the ones prior, I’ll send a Happy Birthday wish to my favorite spook. I’ll have one of his favorite meals for dinner, and birthday cake. I’ll be thankful once again to have been blessed to have grown up with him and I’ll be thankful that one day I get to see him again.

Happy Birthday Gangie, we love you!

“I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.”

“Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”

“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”
~Emily Dickinson

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winning the Lottery

If you were to win the lottery what would you do? This is a question that we have all thought about at one time or another. Would you buy a house, car, get out of debt, or give it to charity?

I thought I had the answer nailed down to this question, until a co-worker and I were talking this morning about how little time we had and it made it hard to juggle work, school, families and the gym. He has plans for a house and other things that he would want, just as I do, but he said something that has been plaguing me ever since. He said that he would buy time.


You can't buy time.

It's issued to you at the beginning of each day. You get 24 hours to spend it however you want. You can add to that or take away, it's the same amount without fail each day.

I instantly knew what he meant. Having that kind of money would give you the freedom to quit your job, and have the time to do the things that you wanted to do. You would, in a sense, be buying time.

Yeah, I would still want the house that had the kitchen that I wanted, and the small SUV for me and the pickup for my husband, as well as a motorcycle and a sports car. Probably a vette, because it's all made here by Chevy. But once those things were bought, there isn't much else I would want. No fancy jewelry, no yacht, no mansion. Just a simple 4 bedroom house with a garage and shop and the kitchen of my dreams. This house could realistically be built and furnished under 1 million dollars. I would pay off my parents mortgage and their car, because after my dad's heart attack, money is a luxury that they don't have. They do have time though, and I'm not sure that they realize how precious and luxurious that is. I would pay off my in-laws mortgage as well. And then I would anonymously pay off my dad's doctor bills and pay for insurance each year for them both. They would know who did it, but it would be more fun making them wonder. It's always fun to do something wonderful for someone else, when they have no clue who did it. Then I would invest the rest in various things and live off the interest.

These plans are probably not as grandiose as someone else's might be. They are simple, but like my co-worker said, they are buying me time. Time to read, go to the gym, watch the sunrise, watch the sunset, stitch, watch a movie with my husband, and lay in the floor and play with my puppies.

You don't realize how valuable time is, until you don't have any. Just ask someone who has only months to live. Ask someone who sent their baby off to kindergarten. Ask someone whose baby was born weeks early. Ask someone who is so busy that they don't remember what it was like to not be behind.

How valuable is your time? Mine is worth so much more than what I could win in any lottery. What is your time worth?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cooking and Recipes

I love to cook. So consequently have about a bazillion recipes. I have a modest collection of cookbooks as well as a ton that I have printed off the internet over the years. Most of my recipes are "healthy". They sound like they are fattening and instead they are good for you. It's a win-win situation, especially if you are trying to loose a few pounds.

Since this is my blog and I can write about what I want to, I'm going to post new recipes that we try out. Mostly so that I can make grocery lists while I'm at work and conserve time. I'll always post recipes that I have actually made, with my planned alterations for next time, as well as how it rates on a 5-star review. Then you can make it yourself and post your own comments in the comments section. (This is obviously in hopes that more than 5 people read this blog.)

UPDATE - my recipes can now be found at Gourmet Chef in Training

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I love animals. My mom can tell you horror stories of me adopting animals from the surrounding 12 counties and dragging them home. Of course my mom, being the meanie that she was forced me to get rid of them. It probably didn't help that I brough home an average of 1-2 a week.

I don't resucue animals near as often as an adult as I did when I was a kid. I have to be practical, which bites. But I can't afford to feed every stray critter in the county. It just breaks my heart to see a stray dog running around with it's ribs sticking out. I just want to pick them up and take them home and love on them.

I'm not too sure how my babies would feel about that. I have two babies, or as some people call them pets. But these two aren't just pets they are a part of our family. They are missed when we are away, they are spoiled, they get birthday and Christmas presents and treats. These are my babies.

This was in my email, and I wanted to share it with you.


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can't bear to watch. Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." ~Mark Twain

"Ever consider what dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!" ~Anne Tyler

"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." ~Rita Rudner

Friday, October 16, 2009

What are you passionate about?

Here lately I find myself frustrated and tired. Between juggling a full time job, a full time class load and family, it’s hard to find a happy medium. It seems like I never have any down time. All this lack of time has got me to thinking. Yeah, I know with a lack of time how do I have time to think? It’s called multi-tasking. You should try it sometime. I highly recomend trying both. :)

What are you passionate about? I’m not talking your husband/wife, significant other. Though I hope you are passionate about them. What are your passions? What makes you get up in the morning and what keeps you up late at night? Cooking, reading, writing, crafts, singing, teaching, working, working out. Not sure where your passion lies? Then take this little journey with me.

Say that something tragic happens in your life and your lifestyle has to completely change. What are the things that you would be willing to sacrifice and what would you fight, and fight hard to keep? What do you give up?

I love to read. Reading let’s me live vicariously through another person. It opens up new ideas and helps me see how I want things to be in my own life. Since I have started school, I haven’t read a single book that wasn’t school related. Well, there has been one exception and that was the instruction manual to program my calculator at work. I wasn't too passionate about that one. Have I missed it? Yes and no. I bought a new book by my favorite author and I’m so ready to read it, but I don’t read during the week. Because I stay up all night and read the book. My point being, if I had to, I could give it up. There would be moments that I missed it and longed to get lost in the pages, but I don't see my soul withering up and dying if I gave it up.

Cooking is another story. I love to cook, I love to find new recipes and plan on making them some day. Cooking is sorta a necessity, unless you eat out all the time. But when life is crazy and we are eating out or I am cooking meals in advance, I miss it. I plan out time to cook. I’m not sure that I could give it up without a fight.

There is one thing, other than my husband that I couldn't give up. Cross stitch. That is the one thing that I would fight for tooth and nail. I would scrape and save and do whatever I needed to, to keep this. Everything that I make is a part of me. My time was spent making it, sometimes a few hours to a few months. This is not something that I could give up, and it’s the one thing that since I have started school I have managed to find time to do. Not as much as I would like, but enough to keep me happy. Enough to make me feel complete and at peace.

There are things that I miss doing, but could give up if I had too, like my gym membership. I love going, but I would scratch it if I had too. The time I spend with my husband, I wouldn’t give up. With his job and his school, he has very little time as well.

My point with this is…what are you passionate about? What could you not give up because part of you would wither and die? There is something in all of us that drives us when the going gets tough. Some call it motivation, some call it fear, some call it the desire to succeed. But isn’t it something that we are usually passionate about? I want to finish my degree so bad that I can taste it. I have dreams about the job I will have and the house that my husband and I buy when we don’t have to settle. And that taste and hunger keep me going, even when I’m frustrated and tired. It pushes me to go to the gym, when I would rather stay home and catch up on CSI. It lets me find time to cross stitch, when I should be cleaning, or sleeping, because I'm passionate about it.

So what are you passionate about? What motivates you? What gives you joy? What is worth any sacrifice great or small? Ask yourself these questions, and find out what your living for. Find your passion. Find your purpose. Find you.

Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go stitch for a while.

“To have passion, to have a dream, to have a purpose in life. And there are three components to that purpose, one is to find out who you really are, to discover God, the second is to serve other human beings, because we are here to do that and the third is to express your unique talents and when you are expressing your unique talents you lose track of time.” ~Deepak Chopra

“A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others.” ~Chin-Ning Chu

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Life Begins at 30

I think that life begins at 30. 12 years ago I would have guessed that it began when I graduated high school. That once I had that diploma that I was an adult. I had most of the knowledge I would need to trudge through life. If I had only known what was in store for me when I walked across that stage in that hot gym on that Friday evening in May.

I had planned on college. I wanted at least my bachelor’s degree in accounting. Then I was going to become a CPA and auditor, in hopes that one day I could work for IRS as an auditor. Little did I know that God had other plans.

Instead I graduated high school, spent a year doing the college thing, met my husband, got married and begin a new chapter of my life at 20. I couldn’t even drink legally at our wedding. Neither could he. J I thought that was the beginning of my life.

I was moving up in the crop insurance industry, and I spent the next few years learning how to be married and working on a career. Then we decided we needed to add a chapter, or two and begin a family. Once again, God had different plans; plans that didn’t include adding a child to our team. But, it was another chapter.

It was titled moving on. We have spent the last 2 years trying to do that. Which is hard, especially when all your friends are having their first or second babies. I have two babies too, mine just bark and don’t provide me a tax deduction. They do suck money out of me at an incredible rate. I also have the benefits of missing the terrible two’s, and the teenage years. So I guess it’s an even trade.

This year, at age 29, I started another chapter of my life. College student. So I’m a little late, I never was into doing what everyone else was. My theory is, I was never normal 10 years ago, why start now? Finishing a college degree at 34 and beginning my career, isn’t what I had in mind at 18. But, it’s what I’m doing. Better late than never I guess. At least I’m not alone, my husband, who has never stepped foot on a college campus, except for an occasional football and baseball game, will be joining me. So at least I’m not alone. We may even start our own sorority/fraternity. We are thinking of calling it a Spouseority. He and I will be the only members, and I really can’t see any wild parties or hazing rituals gone wrong. But there is still hope for all of that, it’s only in the early planning stages.

So what purpose does this have? Other than to give me something to do at work? In a little over a month I’ll turn 30. According to my 8-year-old niece I’m ancient. I remember thinking that at 8 too. It was just last week.

My plans for my 30’ies have changed from 10 years ago. They have had to be adjusted around a bigger plan and a bigger picture. I can’t tell you what my plans are for the next 10 years. Neither can you. You don’t know what God, and life have in store for you. We could be divorced, widowed, have 5 kids. Be missing an arm, an ear, our minds. Sure, I know what I want to happen. But life doesn’t always work out that way. It’s constantly changing, moving, growing, shrinking. I could be just making the first turn, really getting ready to run, or I could be in the final lap. No one really knows.

What I know is this – In 4 weeks I’ll celebrate my 30th birthday. My life isn’t where I expected it to be. There have been a few detours, and wrong turns, and road construction. My car has been off road, on course, through tunnels where the light took a few miles to be seen, even flooded out. But each bump, hill, mountain and canyon has been ironed out, or a bridge build. I’m still out there driving around.

It’s a birthday that many dread. It’s the ending of a chapter and the beginning of another. You are no longer a child but a person with little credibility. You are no longer a college student. You are an adult and have responsibilities. I must have missed that memo.

There are so many possibilities for the next 10 years, so many plans, goals and dreams. Some will be reached, others traded in along the way, and some that we will still be chasing in another 10 years. Life doesn’t end at 30, or 40, or even 80. It ends when our time is up.

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
~ Abraham Lincoln

Monday, October 12, 2009


I have always wanted to be a writer. Not just any writer either. But a writer who you can relate too. I have wanted to be able to make you laugh, cry, and relate to the things I wrote about.

I have decided recently that if my 52 year old father, who is completely goofy and wonderful can write a totally weird and strange blog, then why can't I write a semi-normal blog. So, this is all his fault. (Insert Sarcasm) Besides it's not like I don't have anything better to do.

My dream to write started out at as a side job. I had always planned on being a farmer. I guess with that comment, I should give you a little more background info.

I grew up on a farm. It wasn't large by most standards, but it was big enough for a kid to have lots of room to run around on. My grandfather farmed it until I was in middle school, and then he retired. We had cows, pigs, chickens and guineas. At least when I was smaller. The older I got, the more that those animals disappeared, they were too much work for my grandfather to manage alone. The cows were the last to go. I say cows, when I should say pet cows. They were giant dogs, they followed my grandfather around and sniffed his pockets for treats. Then again, there weren't many creatures that didn't follow him around and sniff for something. He was a wonderful man.

Most people don't see me as a farmer. Why? Well, because I'm of the female gender, and I am the ultimate girl. At least that's what my husband says. I like ruffles and lace. Baby dolls and stuffed animals. Ribbons and curls and bows in my hair. I think he is wrong, I don't "primp" like most girls do. Make up is simple, hair is simple, clothes are simple, and ruffled and lace. He's a guy what does he know? But I digress.

I wanted to write. I wanted to be able to vocalize things that would mean something to someone. Other than turning in an assignment. Or sending an email to our supplier, although those have been known to move them to tears. I wanted it to be my "out". Instead I took up cross stitching. I have always thought I could never write. I always thought I could never go back to college either. Guess what I did in July?

I guess I lacked confidence in me. I have spent the last 10 years "fixing" my husband. Letting him follow his dreams, building up his confidence, giving him the support he needed, that I forgot all about my dreams. Until I read my email. I subscribe to these amazing and wonderful stories by Bob Perks. The message was entitled "Your Wakeup Call". I highly recommend signing up for his emails. They are an amazing source of joy and inspiration.

It's amazing how God knows when to kick our butts into action. This was my wake up call, and the motivation I needed to take that first step into going back to school. I'm halfway through the semester and maintaining a full course load with a 3.95 GPA. Oh yeah, I work full time too!

So I decided this morning, when reading my father's blog, and feeling God pushing me into posting some of the things I have written over the last few months, that it was just another shot of motivation to see this through. I can't promise the posts will be often, I do work full time and go to school full time. But stick around, I might surprise both of us.

Please be kind, and remember that I don't care what you think of my writing. So don't be offended when I ignore your comments. This isn't about you. This is about me and following a dream to see where it takes me.


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