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finding out.

hi all. 

I’m a numbers  person.   Not in the way that most would normally think.  I’m numbers vs. math 
My Husband?  He’s great with numbers. Percentages.. budgets.. finances.. he gets all of that.  ALL of that.   I always joke that math-wise, I can understand *just* what I need to if I’m cooking, sewing or knitting.  Other than that? Forget it.  

When I say that I’m a numbers person, I more mean that I see constant connections with numbers. Thinking back, I can’t remember. Time when I didn’t. 

So based on the fact that this is 2017, and 27 is my lucky number, and that 2017 scrambled is actually my birthday, one would think that perhaps this year should have been an epic one for me 
Except that it hasn’t been. It’s been by far the most trying, difficult, frustrating year that I can remember.  I’ve spent SO much time feeling sorry for myself.  Pity slowly tumbled to self-loathing, which is pretty pathetic. No one likes a self-loathing, pity-party pathetic michelle.

I’m currently on a plane headed to see my daughter.  I used to be a horrible flyer.  Blah.. blah.. blah..  I’ve written about it in the past. The fam would draw straws so to speak to see who got stuck sitting next to me. 

People like time, change…sometimes for the good, sometimes for the better. 

I’m halfway through my flight and I’ve had zero anxiety. Not leading up to this, not packing, not going through security, not wondering who I’d be sitting next to. Nada. 

I downloaded a few movies to my iPad.  I always chose movies that I’ve never heard of. And try to keep in mind that whoever is sitting near me might catch a glimpse of my iPad screen, so I try to keep my choices appropriate 
( I once sat next to a couple of men on a flight.  Once we were in the air, they proceeded to watch a very graphic gay porn cartoon ( side  note.. nothing really phases me, it just made me think that for myself to always be cautious of what I’m watching when I’m near other people. )   One of them pulled out an entire loaf of banana bread wrapped in plastic wrap. He unwrapped it and the proceeded to pass it back and forth, eating it like it was a burger.  Both were very polite and offered me a bite, which I declined, but appreciate the thought. Anyway..  since then I’m always careful what is on my screen) 

Anyhooowww..  I just watched a movie and it got me to thinking. Life IS short.   But as short as it is, there are days, weeks, months, years that can drag on and seem like it’s forever. 
I’ve been mediating a lot these last few months.  It’s had me start to change the way I think about certain things. And it’s been a great lesson for me. 
I have many people in my life going through some tough things… for some, it’s just a bad day. For others, it’s a much bigger event.  Many of them ( possibly you if you are reading) have confided in me. This means so much to me. 
In turn, I’ve been able to confide in others as well.  It’s been a real lesson in growth.  For me, and I hope for my friends as well. 
What the hell am I talking about?  Honestly.. I don’t know. But what I do  know is this.. life is short.  It’s not a dress rehearsal. Find joy in everyday things. Even when it seems like there’s no hope, there’s always a bit of hope. So don’t give up.  Keep doing what you are doing.  Treat yourself with grace. 
Find something small that makes you smile.   I have a few of these things in my life right now.  Tiny little tokens that would mean nothing to the average person, but they mean the world to me. 
I’m loving the messages on my tea bag each night.  They are little verses, some very corny, but I look forward to reading them with my nightly cup of bedtime tea .

It’s a tiny thing, but it makes me smile 

Ok.. rambling over. I had some thoughts in my head and wanted to scribble them here. 

As I leave you, promise me this…  whatever you are going through right now, good or bad, amazing or devistating, remember… in the end, this is just a tiny footnote of your life.   It’s there in the corner.. it’s part of who you are. It’s part of what made you, what shaped you into the you that you are today. The you that you’ll be next week. The you that you’ll be in 9 years. 

It’s these footnotes who make us uniquely who we are. 

Keep writing your story.  It’s going to be a beautiful read . I promise. 

Oxoxo 

Shel 

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thinking about posting regularly again..

puppy love.

I’m blessed to have 3 amazing pups.   Technically, one is my son’s pup  who both live with us, but I’ve trained her and so I consider myself at this moment to have 3 pups.
My eldest is 13.5 years old. And a boxer. On the heavy side of a boxer’s lifespan.  It’s killing me. She’s nicely medicated and her vet and I check her organs regularly just to make sure she’s handling the meds ok
Her tail wags all the time
She begs for treats
She’s eats and drinks
She BEGS for treats ( this stated again for emphasis)
But

She cries. A lot. It kills me. I honestly think it’s just because she wants a treat (because she jumps right up if I do ) but I also think she’s hiding her pain.   Only because I am an expert in this.

How do we do this?  She’s almost 14. With multiple issues.  I cannot imagine her pain. Why the fuck can’t our pets talk to us?

…’twas the night before Christmas 

Is not what my family reads on Christmas Eve..  grab a beverage, curl up in your favorite chair and indulge my inner storyteller as I share my story with you.

The year was 1995. I was 25 years old, working full-time and had 3 young children.  My oldest,Jason was 7, Ryan was 3 and Ali was 1.
As most you you know, I was a cosmetologist.  I worked for 20 years at the same salon.  It changed ownership 3 times, but like the toilet, I was a fixture there.  As a result, I developed a lot of great friendships with my clients.  I’m still friends with many even today. 

A lot of my clients were older and gave me some excellent advice over the years.  I honestly learned so much from these ladies.  I’ve shared This story before, and today I have another. 

Jason was at the age where he was starting to question Santa.  It was breaking my heart.  I had missed the Christmas before because I had complications with my pregnancy with ali and spent Christmas in the hospital..
I desperately wanted just 1 Christmas where all 3 of my kids believed in all of the magic of Christmas. 
I was telling my client, Eileen about my delemina.  She took my hands and said, ‘Michelle, listen to me.. you need to go buy the book The Polar Express’
Eileen never had kids of her own, but had nephews that she treated like her own. She had given them this book the year prior and said it worked magic. 
I called around to find a bookstore that had it, and there was one that was 20 miles away. It was Christmas Eve day and time and money were tight.  She made me promise that I would find a way to go get it. 

And she told me a few other things too…
I bought the book, wrapped it and put it under the tree and told the kids they could open that one goat on Christmas Eve. 

( I feel the need to add that this was years before the movie came out, which honestly, I can’t stand) 
I snuggled with all 3 of them and read them this beautiful story and put them to bed. 
Christmas morning, Jason came running down the stairs screaming..”santa was here!!!  He left his bell on my pillow!!”
I was so happy that I remember tearing up.  It was all that I wanted for Christmas, and I got it. 

A few years later,  a good friend gave my the polar express whistle. Every Christmas Eve, I read the story, my youngest niece blows the whistle at the right moments trhoiout the book. And every year, santa comes!

Moving across country has been hard, especially around the holidays.  Today is the day that my family is celebrating Christmas 1,834.3 miles away.  Through the wonders of modern technology, I will still be reading this to my family. My neices have the book and later tonight, we will all snuggle in our pajamas and FaceTime while I read this story to them 
We also throw reindeer dust. Each and every year 

Here I am sharing a glass of wine with my mom and sister!
Merry Christmas, my friends..  

May you always believe

….spicy tomato-ginger jam 

I forget where I first tasted tomato jam, but I can tell you that I instantly fell in love with it!
I’ve been searching for a recipe for a few years, and the few times I attempted to make it, it did not come out well🙁
I’ve been doing a lot of research ove the last few weeks, giving that I have SO many tomatoes! (You can see just how tall my tomatoes a in my previous post) 

I played around with a recipe yesterday and I have a winner!  I based it on This recipe, but made a few changes.
 I didn’t take too many photos because honestly, I wasn’t too optimistic after my previous failed attempts. 
It’s not a quick recipe.. but it is super easy.  
And the flavors..
Oh.

My.

Goodness!

spicy tomato-ginger jam 

4 pounds tomatoes, cored and peeled ( for details on how to do this see This post)

3 cups sugar 

1/2 cup lemon juice 

1 jalapeño, halved and seeded

3 pieces of crystallized ginger 

2 cloves

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 

1 tsp cinnamon 

Sea salt

Ground pepper 


Place all ingredients in food processor of high-speed blender and pulse until chopped up to the point just before puréed 


Add mixture to heavy non-reactive pan.  Bring to a boil and the reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 


It’s starts out pretty soupy, but slowly thickens. It took my batch close to 5 hours! 



As it gets close to the end, it will start getting glossy looking and thick.  You have to stir more often as it gets close to being done.  Essentially, you’ve condensed the sugars and don’t want it to burn. 



You can store it in a jar in the fridge, or you can process it, like I did 

It’s amazeballs on crackers with cream cheese… ( these are my favorite crackers, btw… they are amped right here in Denver, they are super thin, tasty and figure-friendly!) 

It would be incredible on bruschetta with a thin later of ricotta.. and maybe some prosciutto on top.. 

And it’s a good thing that I don’t have bread right now, because this would make a most excellent grilled cheese with white cheddar cheese 😍
Maybe I’ll treat myself later this week…
The jam has what I’d call a ‘sweet heat’. Think jalapeño pepper jelly ( which I made and processed last week) 
It’s elegant enough to have on a special occasion/ holiday.
I’m going to make another batch and process from holiday gifts.  I think it’s that good! 
On another note… I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I’d like to introduce you to our newest family member 

Meet my Jersey Girl 🐾😍❤️️

roasted tomato dip 

It’s that time of year! There’s an abundance of produce locally grown just begging to be presrved for the long winter ahead.
My Grandparents always grew tomatoes.. and to carry on their legacy, I grow them every year now
look how tall they are!!!
I’ve been making sauce with them, canning them, and having unlimited caprese salad.

Last weekend I decided to make a dip for the game and used my cherry tomatoes as inspiration!

 

 

Roasted tomato and garlic dip

about 1 cup cherry tomatoes

3-4 garlic cloves, skins left on

1 scallion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup cream cheese

about 3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

-parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, scallions, whole garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper .  Roast for about 15 minutes or until tomato skins blister.

carefully remove from the oven and squeeze softened garlic from jackets into cream cheese.  Mix well.

Add  milk to tomato mixture and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all of the flavor


stir cream cheese mixture in and top with mozzarella

return to oven to bake until cheese is all melted.


Garnish with parsley and serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lentil & white bean stuffed delicata squash 

oh my goodness… I don’t think I could fully express just how much I love fall!  

Everything is just so beautiful.  We started our day at our local farmers’ market yesterday 

Just look at that color! 


I scored a great deal on tomatoes

So that means it’s canning time!

I love the process of canning.. because it is a process. It also brings back nostalgic memories of my amazing Grandparents. Gosh, I miss them😓. 

I spent yesterday prepping the tomatoes, and started canning this am. 
My first jar broke when I put it in my canning pot 😂. I sputtered many not-so nice words. ( who meee?)

I tend to be very careful about following the proper procedures when I’m canning so I was really very upset when this happened. After doing a little research I actually think that I might put a little bit too much liquid in the jar before I sealed it either that or I filled it to tightly so I am currently waiting for my water to boil again so that I can try this again.
In the meantime while I’m waiting for the water to boil I figure this is a great time for me to share a recipe. Wayback in the beginning when this blog was brand-new one of the reasons that I started it was because we had joined CSA and there I had been introduced to a most amazing squash call Delicata.

I actually love all winter squash however the thing I love about Delicata is that the skins are edible making prep work next to nothing. 

This, my friends, is a delicata squash.  It is in season right now. You can find it at your local farmers’ market as well as most grocery stores. 

Lentil & White bean stuffed delicata Squash 

1 delicata squash

1/4 cup dried brown lentils

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup low sodium canned white beans, rinsed and drained 

1 tomato, chopped

About 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsbp olive oil

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese




Preheat oven to 325 degeees

Wash the squash, half the squash and remove seeds. ( I’m finding that a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges makes easy work of this) 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast upside down on a baking sheet in the oven for 20-25 min depending on size. ( mine took about 22 minutes) 

It is done when a knife can be easily inserted into outer skin.


Using tongs, carefully flip squash over 

While squash is cooking, prepare filling.

Cook lentils according to package directions, adding the whole garlic cloves so that they soften.( I’m enjoying sprouted lentils, because they are easily digestible and cook quickly.. if you can’t find them dried brown lentils work just fine)

Once lentils are cooked, remove garlic clove and mash together with the white beans. Add back to pan and stir in tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from the lemon into mixture. 

Divide mixture between both halves and fill 


Sprinkle the cheese on top,drizzle with the olive oil and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts

This makes a perfect make-ahead dish, take-away lunch or side dish for dinner! Enjoy!

Click here for another delicata recipe from a few years back
Keeeping Florida and all in the path of hurricane matthew in my thoughts.  Including my son and Daughter-in-law and 2 of my grandpups, and many friends in the area.  Please be safe! 

one-pot creamy pasta

Happy Friday, friends. 
The recipe I’m sharing today is not my own.  It was in Martha Stewart’s magazine a few years back.  It was one of those pull-out recipe cards. 

I must admit, I didn’t think much of it when I saw the recipe, but a snowy afternoon with limited ingredients in the house led me to try it.
Holy cow batman!  Is at as good as fettuccini alfredo?  Nope.  Pasta, cream, cheese butter garlic..  not much can compare with that. 

Was it amazing? YES!

Was it easy?  YES!  Easier than making a box of kraft mac and cheese ( which, btw.. it also kind of amazing it it’s fake orange cheese nostalgic way ☺️) 
Here’s the original recipe for One pot orecchiette, chickpeas and olives

Admittedly, I’ve followed her recipe to a tee… but I’ve also used it as a guideline to play a little. 
Here’s her original recipe, just subbing the kind of pasta I used 

12 ounce dry pasta ( I had bow ties, so I used bow ties) 

* note..  many companies make ‘no bake’ pasta these days.  For this recipe, just use your regular pasta.  I haven’t tried it with GF pasta, but I’d imagine it would work, just keep an eye on it and add more water if  needed) 

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted ( you can buy them pitted.. don’t fret )

3 cloves garlic, smashed ( or 1 tsp garlic powder ( make sure not garlic salt) 

Sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 

2 TBSP tomato paste ( buy the tomato paste in the tube.  It’s in the canned tomato isle.  Believe it or not. Whole Foods has one of the least expensive tomato paste tubes.  I believe Trader Joe’s also has one) don’t pay more than 3 bucks for it

( optional.. but I always use in any soup or stew.. small piece of Parmesan rind) 

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I also added a bit on cheddar ends that I had in the fridge )

2 cups baby greens 
Place everything up to cheese in a stockpot. 

Add 5 cups of water 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, stirring occcasionally. Check pasta in 12-15 minutes ( thicker pasta will require longer.  Check at 15 min to see). It should be mostly cooked, with just a slight bite to it. 

Turn off heat, but leave pan on burner 

Add the cheese, replace cover for 5 min so the cheese can melt. After 5 min, stir and if cheese still needs longer to melt, cover for additional 5 min.  Discard rosemary sprig, if used. If sauce seems a bit thick, stir in a bit more water until you get a creamy consistency 


Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes 


Please try this!  I have a lot of friends who are just learning to cook.. a lot of girls just on their own, either senior year in college or just out on their own.  This is a great recipe to start to learn to cook 

You can assemble in the morning and add water and cook when you get home from work
You can play with the ingredients…sub out broccoli crowns and cooked chicken for the chickpeas and olives

Or chopped red pepper and cooked sausage for the chickpeas and olives

Or ground beef and onion,  and pepper jack cheese for a Tex-mex flair

Or you can eliminate the cheese to make this vegan. 
Full credit of this recipe goes to Martha Stewart.  I just wanted to share it because it is insanely easy and tastes like it took a lot longer than it did to make. Try it! 
Enjoy!
Ps…. happy birthday to my long-time friend, Laurie! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🍷🍰😘

caramel-apple sangria

as I mentioned in my last post, my oldest son and  Daughter-in-law Amanda were in town for 3 weeks. ( click Here for more info on why such a long visit )
Last fall she was telling me about a sangria recipe that she stumbled upon somewhere that required caramel apple vodka.  My son drove all around Jacksonville looking for it.  When she finally made it, she said she couldn’t wait to visit so that we could make it 
( she also makes a mean citrus sangria that’s usually waiting for me when I visit them ) 

For the first part of their visit, alcohol was off-limits, but near the end we were able to enjoy this 

She couldn’t find the actual recipe (I think?) so we improvised 

When we first made it, it was a bit strong… So we tweaked it just a bit
1 part white wine

1 part caramel apple vodka ( Denver friends, I found it at Target in Glendale on the corner of Colorado boulevard and Virginia) 

2 parts apple cider 

Sliced apples

Cinnamon stick (which we didn’t have, but I’d add one next time)
Add the liquids together in a pitcher.  Slice the apples and add the cinnamon stick. 
Refrigerate overnight. 
I rimmed a glass magarita-style with apple pie spice and filled with ice. 

This was sooo tasty! Another friend of mine was just telling me about a fall sangria that used fireball candies!  Doesn’t that sound fun?

I’ve been taking pictures and writing recipes down..  I’m trying to get better about sharing them with y’all.   I also have a few ideas for fun giveaways! 
fall is my favorite  time of year!  I come to life in autumn 😎

 Here’s some of my past apple recipes

Cream of butternut and apple soup

Apple pie
Easy apple butter 
And came across This which has me nostalgic for days gone by… 

So.. What’s your favorite thing about fall? 

family time~corn maze style

howdy friends! 
My oldest son Jason and daughter in law, Amanda Sue been visiting us from Florida for the last 3 weeks.  (you can read more about why they are here for so long in her blog as I know it

Yesterday we decided to go to a local corn maze..  We’ve done this in the Past, but it’s been awhile. 


The maze itself had 6 pictures of ‘lost’ farm animals.  We divided into teams of husband and wife. Our challenge was to find all 6 animals, take a selfie with each of them and be the first couple to do so And find our way out!

Let’s go!

I’ll spare you all 12 photos of us with the animals, but here are a few of them.  Y’all are super smart, I’m sure you can imagine the rest☺️

There was a SCARE pumpkin crow ~ looking thing and although it wasn’t part of our challenge, we both took a photo with it 

Great minds think alike!


My crazy kid…

Guess who won! 


But just by a few minutes 😎

If you have a corn maze in your area, I highly recommend! 

Next up…. Amanda made us a fall sangria.  

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