Friday, May 24, 2013

Best Shrimp EVER!

And easiest.........Oil the bottom of a casserole.
Slice up one large lemon and line the bottom of the casserole.
Dump an entire bag of deveined and peeled shrimp (thawed) on top of the lemon.
Mix about 2/3 cup of olive oil with a packet of dried dressing mix (I've used both ranch and Italian) and pour over the shrimp.
Sprinkle shrimp with Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

You can eat as is or use in other dishes like I did last night when I removed the tails from the shrimp and put them in taco shells, topped with cheese, heated in microwave to melt cheese and then, topped with taco sauce and lettuce. It was DELICIOUS!!!

Double Rainbow

I've always heard that double rainbows bring good luck and I hope that is right because I know so many people in need of some good fortune. You have to look closely to see the second one because it is faint but trust me, it was there. :)


Introducing T.J.!

My newest, great-great nephew, T.J., arrived this morning at 3:27 AM. He weighed in at 6lbs-9oz and was 20 inches long. As you can see by this photo, both the little man and his beautiful mom, Ashton, are doing just fine!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Monsters

This post is actually a revised letter/email that I sent to a good friend. Both he and I are struggling with old demons at the moment that are keeping both of us from getting in shape and me from eating a healthy diet. This post basically outlines in detail my monsters and hopefully, by bringing them out into the light of day, I'll be able to destroy them for good or at least leave them in the past where they belong.

I'm struggling with my eat for comfort mode. When I was little, whenever I'd come home from school upset over something, my mom would first cook me a warm and comforting meal before she'd ever ask a question. When I became a teenager and I was dealing with a father who drank too much and I coped by hiding out in my room and avoiding friends so that I wouldn't be embarrassed by him drunkenly flirting or saying something inappropriate to my girlfriends and boyfriends...well, forget that.....both of my parents either "bought" me off with food or tried to comfort me with it. Whenever Daddy made his nightly trek to the store to buy his booze, he'd also get me bags of candy which I'd eat while I watched TV at night, shutting out every thing else. My mom made cookies and popped herself and me popcorn every night to enjoy in front of the "escape hatch" called TV. My house was full of junk food and I called it comfort. It was a wonder that I didn't weigh three hundred pounds then but thank the heaven for a teenager metabolism and my active lifestyle when I wasn't hiding out in my room. I'm not trying to get you to feel sorry for the teenage me, that girl learned how to cope or at least hide well but my point is, these deeply embedded habits are very hard to break and I've carried them with me most of my life. Whenever something happens that tips over my emotional apple cart, I do what I've been doing lately, I eat and usually I do that eating while losing myself in front of the TV. Of course it isn't healthy foods I stuff down my emotions with, it's cookies (I've managed to find a gluten free one that I absolutely breath in), ice cream (the expensive gelato which I can't afford to constantly keep on hand so that's what's saved me from weighing even more than I do right now.), chips, pizza (gluten free of course and its prohibitively high price is also its saving grace...or mine) and a new passion I've discovered, gluten free hot dog buns that I can turn into sandwich rolls, fill with cheese and meat and dip in olive oil and herbs...my own invention. Add to that the fact I've stopped exercising and started watching TV again (so much better now as a means of losing myself with thousands of movie and TV choices at my fingertips...but not better for me) when I want to escape. I've never admitted this to anyone not even myself. You're all serving as my confessors whether you want the job or not. What I'm hoping is, by finally admitting that I'm doing this to myself, maybe I can finally break these habits. Exercise would be a much better outlet for my negative energies and certainly less fattening. Heaven knows that I'd feel better and more energetic if I were eating fueling and nourishing foods instead of junk. I'll admit something else to you that I've admitted to no one even though this one is like pulling teeth to get it out...I weighed in this morning at 212 pounds! After months of struggling and my weight yo-yo-ing by as much as 20-30 pounds and finally falling below the 200 mark for the first time in years, I am right back where I started from last year when I swore to myself that I was going to lose the weight. I'm not happy with myself right now but realizing and admitting what I've been doing to myself, both the comfort and sabotage, might be the catalyst I need to finally change my habits and lose the weight. It is discouraging that the weight is so hard to lose at my age but here is the kicker, every time I have started shedding the pounds, I'd suddenly get scared and digress to old habits. I don't know what that's all about...maybe that once the pounds are gone, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to actually start living my life again! Maybe it's because I won't have anything to hide behind any longer, not the weight, not this computer screen, not my distractions of food and TV.  I am battling some old habits that are not wanting to die but  I found a very appropriate and inspiring saying that I posted on Facebook a few days ago. This may not be the exact wording but it said something like, the rest of my life will be the best of my life.  I'm tired of being on the sidelines of my own life. I am sick and tired of being a spectator. As my friend Brandy McDonnell use to tell me, "It's time to cowgirl up!" 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Let the Festivities Begin!

Today is the Biscuit Festival in Knoxville. It looks like a lot of fun but I can't attend or rather, I can't indulge so why attend. I decided to make my own gluten free homage to the biscuit. For lunch today, I made two biscuits, one savory as the entree which included herbs, bacon and cheese biscuits topping sliced chicken and the entire thing topped with melted Sweetwater Valley cheese

and one sweet biscuit for dessert which included cinnamon and chopped apples and was topped with a mix of coconut oil, palm sugar and walnuts. Both were yummy if I do say so myself. And although neither of these may be healthy, they did have good intentions. ;-)

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The return of the bear......Last night, when I was feeding the horses, Mouse became extremely alert and stood very tensely staring into the woods. It was nearly dark and my old eyes don't function well then so, even though I walked down toward the woods for a closer look, I couldn't see anything. Steve says, "Probably just a turkey or deer." I said, "Why would Mouse and the others react that way to something they see all of the time?" Mouse was very agitated and for her attention to be somewhere other than her food--it had to be something.

When I was feeding the horses today, Sadie, my dog, started 
barking very loudly and frantically at something in the woods. It was so different that even the horses looked up in that same alert way they did last night. Then Sadie came running like crazy out of the woods and went straight to my truck trying to get into the cab. She kept looking behind her....oh, I forgot to tell you about the roar, didn't I? There was a roar right before she came running out of the woods. Didn't see it so can't say for certain what it was roaring (but know what I think it was) but I can sure tell you...and Steve...that it wasn't no darn turkey or deer!
Sadie surprised me jumping in my truck last night so that she could return to the horse pasture. After we got there however, her behavior changed. She didn't run around playing and dashing into the woods like she usually does. No, last night, she was both mine and Steve's shadow. It was as if she was attached to our legs with invisible string because she stayed at our heels.

All of this has made me think of something. Years and years ago, at least fifteen but I'm thinking even longer (the memory is failing fast), we had friends visiting and we took them to Cades Cove to go horseback riding. It never fails, whenever I've gone on one those type of trail rides, I always get the crazy horse. Of course, they never tell you this until you're already in the saddle. As soon as I was seated, the guide handed me a stick and said, "This guy is a little loco. He'll probably try to stop on you or lag  behind and when he does, whack him on the shoulder with this stick." I asked if he was kidding me but he not only said no, he also didn't seem to have a sense of humor at all. 

So, off we go and old Loco, as I was now thinking of him, was behaving well. He started slowing down and we started falling behind the others. I tapped him, not whacked him, on the shoulder with the stick and Loco did not appreciate that at all. He snorted and turned his head so that he could bite at my leg. That kept us occupied for a while and then Loco actually speeded up a bit, catching up with the others but grumbling all of the time about this crazy woman they'd put on him. Then Loco suddenly stops, he tenses and he becomes extremely alert. I was ready to yield the stick again and angry enough at him to really whack him just like I'd been told to do but I then I looked to see what had caught his attention and stopped his feet from moving. Not fifteen feet away was standing a very large black bear. Trust me, it looked nothing like the cute little guy in that photo. Loco has decided it is time to move on but I yell, "Bear!" Instead of having the affect it should have and moving everyone on down the trail at an accelerated pace, just the opposite occurred, every other rider stopped their horses and began to "oooh and ahhh" over the bear as if they were watching it on TV or behind a sturdy fence in the zoo and not within swatting distance of those very large and sharp claws!

That is when I decided that old Loco wasn't so loco after all. He was probably smarter than all of us because the boy recognized danger when he saw it. We left the others and their obviously mentally inferior mounts in the dust as Loco and I decided to head toward safer territory. Old Loco is probably grazing in heavenly pastures now but I will always be grateful to him for that day. I think bears are lovely creatures but only when observed from a safe distance....like several miles instead of several feet!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting squeezed today! First mammogram.....and yes, I do realize it is way overdue. Actually, our insurance company insisted so I can't put it off any longer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lost in Memories on a Rainy Day



This is such an appropriate song for such a rainy weekend. Besides, I love this song and I love Bonnie Raitt. She takes me back to a happy time. She takes me back to those long often 15 hour journeys by car or rather van in order to haul all of my stuff to arts and crafts shows. We listened to lots of people in the late 80's and early 90's on those drives besides Bonnie, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springstein, Chris Isaak, John Cougar Mellancamp, Tina Turner and other people who were hot during our "hot" years. It was a lot of work getting ready for those shows. We'd often work for 48 hours straight before we'd actually pack up and leave. We've driven on little sleep and with a deadline looming and we'd arrive with little or no time for set up. We even got locked inside a convention center in the middle of D.C. once and had to beg the security guard to let us out. He did release us but not our van at first. The husband of the lady, a customer, who'd so graciously opened her home to us, had to drive across town to pick us up. By the time he reached us, we'd finally talked the guard into unlocking the gate so we could leave. That wasn't our latest night. For all of my obsession with planning, I never seemed to plan those trips very well because being late was our norm. All of our friends and the show promoters came to expect it. The problem was my poor husband's lack of time. I would carve or sculpt my whimsical characters and creatures and he would assemble for me because he was just much better and neater with power tools. I could have done it myself if he'd have let me but he insisted on doing assembly. The only problem with this was that he always waited until the last few days to do this task and I usually had a large amount of pieces that needed his assistance. Even working together, it would still take far longer than we anticipated. It certainly didn't help that we were both...and are...perfectionists. I think it is that singular trait that has prevented me from making much money with my art with the exception of the pieces I designed for Enesco and they reproduced. And, even with those, I had it written into my contract that I got final approval on the products they created from my designs before they went to market.

Despite all of that hard work, I do so miss those days. Steve and I worked together and were together most nights and weekends. Totally unlike these days when he's always at his friend and business partner's farm nearly every second he isn't at his 9 to 5. And me, I've become a slacker in lots of ways. I keep having great ideas and a multitude of inspiration but I just can't seem to get another business off of the ground. At the time, I didn't realize how happy we were or how much Steve helped me. I don't think I appreciated him enough because part of me resented the fact that I had to rely on him. Now, I wish he were here more and lending me a helping hand and even a shoulder to cry on when I need it. I'm practically joyous when he is here but there is another side of me who has come to accept solitude. For many years, whenever I was alone, I always had to have the TV or radio on. It wasn't so much to entertain me but rather to occupy my mind and to keep me from thinking about things I didn't want to think about, all of the sorrows and losses of life. Lately though, I'm learning to enjoy the silence and accept the losses and bear the pain. There are times though that I still want to hear Ms Bonnie's beautiful voice cutting through the silence and carrying me back to times that I remember fondly. I know they weren't always happy and sometimes, I truly wonder why all I remember are the good times, the fun times, the laughter not the tears because I lost my mother during those years and that was the greatest loss I'd ever encountered in my life.

But it is with great affection that I remember the highs and the joys. I remember being fit...I certainly miss that body....., active and fitting into the cutest clothes. I remember turning heads...not so much these days. Something they don't tell you when you're young or maybe they do and we just don't listen, time is a thief. It sneaks up on you and one day, you wake up and realize that you are old and you will never be young again. Try as you might, you can't regain that body, that vigor. You can't recapture those times, not even the laughter knowing what you know now. And that is why, hearing the songs that bring back those memories is truly a bittersweet experience. It's kind of like the ending of the Waltons...if anyone remembers that show from the 70's. They would all say goodnight to each other as the lights went out in their house to close every show. Mama told me that her family used to do that. So she, Daddy and I started doing that every night. After Mama died and then Daddy, it was a long time before I could watch the Waltons because it brought back that memory. It was a very happy memory but it still made my heart ache with the loss.