Monthly Archives: August 2013

MIA For Awhile…

Watch out, or your face will FREEZE that way

Wow… seems that some people HAVE been reading~!  Aw, this is my little guy towards the end of 2006.  Oh wow, that made him a few months shy of two years old.

Sooo, thought I’d do something that I’ve never done before.  I’m letting you know that I will not be anywhere near the internet for the next few days, into next week.  My antenna will be up and hopefully I will return here with a post or two.

I’ve come across some amazing blogs lately and I will miss reading them, but looking forward to catching up when I get back. No major vacation or anything.  We’ll just be in and out, visiting with family, like my dad who is only in Pennsylvania but might as well be in the Tasmanian desert, under a rock.  We tried to get them connected, if even with just an email gadget to send/receive pics and keep in touch with email.  Two months ago my dad FINALLY bought a laptop, but returned it TWO days later because he got frustrated getting the cable connection hooked up… Whaaaaaat?  ugh.  He really should’ve called someone who could walk him through this.  Now he’ll never get one, grrrrrrr!

Tomorrow we will be visiting some of the in-laws.  They are really nice people and we so rarely see each other.  Just found out that one of the grandchildren has gotten bitten by the knitting bug.  Knitting, crochet… all the same.  It’s all fibery goodness. If you remember, I said that I needed to drastically cull my stash.  This has proved quite the opportunity.  So much I feel that I cannot part with, but because it was going to family, and a young person at that.  Anything to nurture the craft.  It was so easy to pick out yarn, the more expensive stuff.  There is still a lot, I realized today, that I simply could not part with and I told myself, “I don’t know what she likes. I don’t know what colors she likes. I don’t know what weight yarn she likes to work with,” and well, you get the picture.  I could go on and on rationalizing why not to put more in the box.  I can’t wait to talk to this girl who I have watched grow up, but have never really spoken to.  Her family has SHEEP on their farm, the dad is a master beekeeper…Biology~! Now THIS is the stuff I love to talk about.  My brain will be tickled pink and I will be loving it. Yeah, I’m even bringing some knitting books.  I just wish I knew remembered this sooner.  I only had a couple hours to ransack my stash, but I have tons of patterns I could give her. Will just have to wait for another time.  If I knew what tools she needs, I could also have put some of those aside.  Yeah.  Again, I am putting myself into the hero role… You know, like I’m the only one who can make this happen.  You know, it’s ALREADY happening because she’s already knitting and maybe doing crochet. I hate my ego sometimes.  Well, the times that it’s so obvious that I can’t help but see it.

One thing I want to see if I can do while away, but doubt it without the internet, is attaching photo credits to pics that are not mine.  I never thought much of using someone else’s pics, but I realize that it’s just not right.  I figured it was okay because the internet is so open, and I never claimed them for my own; but I was thinking today about how I never post my poetry for just this specific reason and it just hit me that I was doing the same thing and how wrong it really is to post without at least linking to the original site.  Monumental task since this blog has been around since 2005.  So, I apologize to everyone out there who has had their content stolen and credit misplaced to a stranger.  I’m going to try to right the situation and will probably replace some pics with my own.

Have a great rest of the weekend and into the week.  Meet ya on the other side…

To Speak or Not to Speak


Daily Prompt: Standout

When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?

This morning I am sitting here listening to my Barry Manilow music…. loudly.  It’s not too often that I play loud music.  My son is very sensitive to loud noises, but I’ve been noticing lately that since he got interested in drums, he’s been tolerating it, soooo…. Today’s assignment seems to be an extension of yesterday’s Daily Post, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall,” which is fine by me.  It suits me, actually, because it’s like one of my long-winded tangents, except this one is legal.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to blend into the woodwork.  As a kid and young woman, I either was not interested in the conversation or if I was, I could not find the right places to interject my voice.  I had a bad stutter, and that combined with my lack navigations skills, could not get a word in edgewise.  By the time I could get my thought into the circle, the conversation was two or three topics ahead and nobody even acknowledged I said anything.  Yeah, I noticed that and eventually, I just stopped trying to talk.  Even later on, I stopped even trying to seek out being with people.  I was happy miserable.

I can safely say that the last time I “stood out” in a crowd, had their attention, was at my mother’s funeral.  I actually got up and said a few words about my mother.  I have no idea where that came from, but it felt good to have everyone silent and to so obviously know that I had the crowd’s attention.  Since then, my husband and I became lectors at our church and so, of course, when we are reading, people are giving us their attention.  A few cell phones may go off…..

A long while ago, I took a speech class, an adult education class at a local high school.  That was the best thing I could ever do for myself.  Instructions on the different forms of speeches and how to put them together, in the right situation, and how to deliver them.  I gained a sense of confidence from that experience, and really, that’s all you need.  Well, you need your head, to keep it, I mean.  Then there was one time I taught a customer service class to new employees to an inbound calling center.  I had expressed to my manager that my dream was to teach customer service and she gave me that chance.  I had a supervisor sit in on the class and I was supposed to get feedback from the higher uppers.  Unfortunately, I never got that feedback because word came down that the company was dissolving our department and letting all of us go.  The focus was then shifted to closing everything down…. and so it goes.

My last word on this is that now I do enjoy standing out in a crowd, but only if I feel confident and passionate about what I am talking about.  I do not readily feel intimidated as I used to.  I’ve learned to stand up for my beliefs and not feel ashamed of them amongst a crowd that does not share them.  I’ve also learned to respect differing beliefs.  I’ve learned that there are times to steam roll ahead with my thoughts and that there are times when I should not.  Deep down, and for different reasons, it’s always more comfortable for me to fade into the woodwork and what I am the most grateful for right now is that now it’s become a choice.

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

by michelle w.

Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?

Mirror, mirror on the wall
The face you’ve shown me scares me so
I thought that I could call your bluff
But now the lines are clear enough
Life’s not pretty even though
I’ve tried so hard to make it so
Mornings are such cold distress
How did I ever get into this mess

Harmless and innocent you devil in white
You stole my will without a fight
You filled me with confidence, but you blinded my eyes
You tricked me with visions of paradise
Now I realize i’m

Mirror, mirror I confess
I can’t escape this emptiness
No more reason to pretend
Here comes that same old feeling again

Snowblind, can’t live without you
So fine I just can’t get away
Won’t you throw me a lifeline
I’m going down for the third time
I’m snowblind, and I can’t get away

~~~Written by dennis de young and james young 

So, the question is posed again:  Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?

I haven’t blogged lyrics in such a long time, but these were the first words I thought about after I read this question assignment for today.  “Paradise” is one of my all time favorite albums.  Yeah.  the “A” word that you kids can’t even begin to know or appreciate.  I’m going to miss the deadline, but eh, I’m up and can’t sleep on the cusp of a new day. 11:44pm.

My first internet persona was “dragonsigr.” This was over at aol back in the late 1980’s, early 1990’s.  It stood for “Dragon Singer, ” a book title by Anne MacCaffrey, from the Dragon Riders of Pern series.   I have since and forever been charmed by dragons.  I love that her dragons have the ability to talk with their riders, and later we find out that they can speak telepathically to anyone they choose.  Also, I love to sing and that played into wanting that name.  Dragons are beautiful. Dragons are mystical.  Dragons are wise.  The down side is that it was not a clear name and I had to explain myself all the time. Gotta love it.  Anyway, when I left aol, and by the time I was interested in a new name, I was a new mom and thought, “dragonmommie.”  So many dragon moms and the “ie” was a good way to get a unique name without losing the meaning. Plus I had a hard pregnancy, or I should say a challenging one.  Guess what, and I just found this out yesterday:  I had no idea that there is a whole culture of “dragon moms” out there.  I was torn about giving up the name and keeping it, but I’ve decided to keep it because I am a bit of a warrior, myself, when it comes to advocating for my son, so…. and I’ve had this name since 2005.  I am dragonmommie all over the net, though I don’t go scooping up the name just for that sake.

I just returned to the Mystique theme after experimenting with others.  I really like the magazine style theme, but my pictures were not all displaying on the cover page and I didn’t have the time to figure that out.  I really like the social media buttons on the top of this theme, so came back to it.  I had a photo as the background but it made the blog “too busy” so I just put a nice plain color there, a beautiful lightly colored lavender, I love lavender.  Currently, I’m working on the appearance of the blog.  I had too many widgets up and some were not working.  If I didn’t yet, I need to take down the facebook feed.  It’s blank anyway.  Also, my next target are the categories.  I have too many and I want to condense that list and stick with those that have been major trends. My goal is for a cleaner look.

My bio is just stating who I am and I try to include a lot, but I had to pare that down, though I have an ABOUT page with a longer version of me.

Posts.  Whatever I write about comes from my gut, sometimes my heart, and sometimes that gets me into trouble; but I don’t care. This is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to… heh.  I find that I simply cannot write well unless I’m passionate about it.  Oh, I’ll write, but I’m not happy unless it’s from my emotions.  My blog doesn’t really have a theme, per se.  I write about whatever hits me in the face that day.  I started this blog originally to have my words, my thoughts available to my son should I pass on before I could speak them to him, myself.  It’s that simple, but us writers will not rest until our thoughts are put out there in the universe.  I don’t have a huge readership, but that’s okay.  The STATS tell me that my voice does not fall on deaf ears completely.  I write about our experiences with Autism.  Our son is autistic and it’s been quite a ride, that I’m still on, specifically with the Public School System.  It’s not been all bad.  As a matter of fact,  it’s been one of the better stories out there.  I’m learning how to advocate for my son by taking SPAN workshops and it’s been an eye opener.  I write about platelet donation… I write about a wide variety of stuff… it’s my life, my world.

I’ve written a lot up there, but what’s scary is that I overwhelm myself.  Can I really be all these people?  Do I want to be? I have to be a mom and that encompasses a lot.  I’m living a life that is more complicated than I want it to be.  This blog helps me sort things out.  Knocking that oppression down a peg or two, I have a lot of interests with no time to devote to every single thing.  I never thought I’d go down this road, but I want to cut back on my knitting.  Saying that might brand me as a traitor, but I really like spinning in the fiber art arena so I’m going to devote more time to that.  I’ve started to whittle away at my life, my “stuff” and little by little I will get rid of things that make me feel like I’m living in a closet….. so it goes.

So for now, I’m Snowblind.  My eyes are open and see a lot of white noise…. PUMP IT UP~!


Can’t We All Just Play Nice?


Daily Prompt:  P.C.

by michelle w. on August 11,2013

Is political correctness a useful concept, or does it stifle honest discussion? 

My opinion on this is that political correctness DEFINITELY stifles honest discussion.  Way too hot topics are racism, gay rights and abortion.  NOBODY will touch these topics with a ten foot pole; but I really do wish that people would have honest discussions about them.

If we could all put aside our differences and openly admit that we do not know everything and that we each have our tendencies to say or do things that will offend others.  If we can all check our baggage at the door, that would be great, too. Nobody is perfect and hell, yes, we were all raised in different environments, leaning toward one or another belief.  We all have things, pleasant and unpleasant to others, ingrained in us from childhood and though some of us might choose to act differently, what is ingrained in us will never completely leave.  What we CAN do is choose to act different, be more accepting of other people and their right to live how they choose.  That’s not to say that we give up expressing our core beliefs, but recognize that although we are a part of this world; but we cannot control everyone in it to our own way of thinking.

Most importantly, I think, is that we all must be prepared to enter into these conversations open-minded and acknowledge that it might get unpleasant.  We must not be afraid of that but I realize that will be hard to really trust people, I mean really trust that their motives are pure. Also, we must be prepared to deal with ignorance in a less than snarky manner.  We must LISTEN. We must be prepared to face up to our wrongs… and I mean EVERYONE.  This is crucial.  There needs to be a give and take.  There needs to be respect.  I read a book this year called, “The Faith Club.”  This was such a great book about three women, one Jewish, on Muslim and one Catholic.  They each had a burning desire to learn and understand each other, the traditions and well, I think they wanted to understand what made the others tick.  They were wanted to learn so that they could teach their children.  What happened? In a nutshell, it was a rocky road, but they all persevered through their sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle differences and became friends.

Are we all so different that we don’t trust ourselves to tread these waters?  The tension, the hate, the distrust must stop. These are the choices we make.  We have the power to break the mold, but we’ve got to want to do it.  People fit so well into the victim mold and find it more comfortable than they should.  I say that because once in there, you just never want to leave. I’m sorry, but do we really want to be victims forever?  It’s hard to leave the comfort zone, but it CAN be done.

United We Stand,
Divided We Fall

Old Scripts

I was having a conversation with some friends the other day and they were talking about the neediness of a person they knew.  I found myself trying to make excuses for a woman whom I’ve never met.  I found this curious even as my mouth was going.  I recognized myself in the things they were saying about her and felt compelled to explain myself, really, not her.  I was trying to point out that there may be reasons and they said that the woman was always telling them the hard life she lived.  Her need to be acknowledged spilled over their words.  They said that “hard” life was long past for her and that “then was then and now is now.”  It makes sense but when you’re hit with a blast from the past, old buttons can be pushed and you fall right back into that old mold.  Old hurts are resurrected and sometimes with a vengeance.  I understood this woman but I knew they were right.  I felt myself drowning in her pool of obscurity.

Does anyone know or care what goes on behind a person’s private pain?  No.  Should they care?  Well, I guess a person can but when you think of it, no one can do anything about it, or fix it.  They are helpless to do anything other than nod and listen. But who wants to go through that when all it does, if you really care, is make you feel helpless and your friend doesn’t feel better.  It is what it is.  I have no answer for this though I’ve been trying.  I guess when it comes time for my reincarnation (if you believe in that), I’ll either relive the same life or get demoted and live a worse one.  I have a feeling that I’ve been living the same life over and over for centuries.  There’s a locked door somewhere and either I’ve not found it or I don’t have the key.  I don’t know.  I guess I don’t “get” anything.

On Self-Knowledge
 Kahlil Gibran

Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge.
You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.

Smell You Later


Daily Prompt: Smell You Later

by michelle w. on August 9, 2013

Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

Someone else wrote about the smell of freshly baked bread… and OH how I agree with that; but there IS another smell that I will never forget, smelled it once a good 48 years ago and it’s still so fresh in my head….

…. and that’s the smell of the chocolate at the Hershey’s factory.  It was so strong and permeated the air around me.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  The headiness was not duplicated until my teens when I experimented with marijuana and never again since those days.  They say that when you visit the Hershey factory that after a while the smell sickens you.  I didn’t feel sick but it seemed LOUD, if a smell can be loud.

Godiva_Chocolate_MartiniTo this day, I love chocolate and I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Is it more psychological than a physical hunger or desire?  I’m not sure, but I know that if giving a zillion choices at the ice cream shop or bakery, or for anything sweet once chocolate is mentioned don’t tell me any more.  I choose the darkest chocolate I can.  Or, maybe it was my friend John who turned me on to chocolate when he gifted a group of us with Godiva chocolate.  Though I forgot the holiday it was representing, St. Valentine’s Day or Christmas, I will never forget the taste of that chocolate.  You ruined me for others, sir!  My favorite ice cream is Häagen-Dazs Belgium chocolate.  The mall by us has a Häagen-Dazs vendor stand in the middle of the food court.  Gotta know where those safe places are.

OOH my GOD… Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles melt as soon as they hit your tongue…. and YEAH the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is for you… HA, like I need an excuse!


Socializing is a Bitch

The girl is alone on the porch and my son wants to go outside and play with her.  I say yes and he scrambles to get his sneakers on and runs outside.  He is making conversation with her and I am amazed.  I am elated that he even wants to go outside.  Those social skills groups are working miracles.  This good feeling was doomed to be short-lived, however.

She was waiting for two boys to arrive for a play date.  One of them comes and she is engaged with him.  My son tries to keep her attention and the bad habits flare up.  He raises his voice and cuts off the other boy from speaking.  I cringe.  The two exchange glances and smiles while my boy goes on and on about stuff that I don’t even know about.

I sit behind the slanted blinds, fingering the pages of a book, “The Autistic Brain-Thinking Across the Spectrum.” Naively I thought I was going to be able to read this, originally intending on keeping tabs on him since it was the first time I let him go outside by himself.  Now, I want to cry and I wonder why I let him out.  He leaves them to go and put the box of chalk away in the backyard (because I couldn’t take any more and called him inside).  He drops the box of chalk and tries to get them to come and help pick them up and I hear these two making inside remarks and gestures like an inside joke, “what’s wrong with him, what’s he trying to do?” They regarded him as a curiosity, but I don’t think they knew about the chalk he was trying to pick up.  Sigh.

The other boy comes and she jumps up and down squealing, “He’s here, he’s here….!”  My son tries to talk to the parents walking in, but my heart aches listening to him sound out of place with his voice raised, desperately trying to get their attention.  One talks with him briefly, that was nice.  His conversation was all over the place.

I’m proud of myself for not getting aggressive, but my voice sounds acerbic as I try to tell him that he cannot follow them upstairs.  He gets upset and I take him into my room and explain again.  I distract him with some rough and tumble and he laughs.  Still, he keeps verbalizing the statement, “They have a play date and they never invite me.”  The truth is that they have a pretty busy schedule and not around when we are.

Well, just something I had to write down.  Something I had to remember.  Each day is indeed to be taken as small, tiny baby steps.  I’m glad I felt comfortable letting him go outside without seeking to shadow him.  Hopefully, next time will be better. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

Green-Eyed Monster

Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster

by michelle w. on August 3, 2013

Write an anonymous letter to someone you’re jealous of.

Wow.  This assignment is pretty much a license to whine all day.  Just for the record, I am not PMS’ing today.   I’m writing my letter to everyone out there who has a job. I’m jealous of all of you.  I never thought I’d say that and up to a couple of months ago I was not missing the work at all. Indeed, I am still loath to re-enter the workforce and giving my life to an employer who would most likely not look at me as a valuable employee.  That is the trend.  The climate has changed so much since I started working.  What the hell happened? It was a world in which employers actually valued their employees, invested in them; and if you worked for a good company, you could expect to spend your entire career there.  

I’m writing this post not because I envy people who have jobs (because I do) but because I’ve listened one too many times to people grumbling about their jobs.  I’ve witnessed one too many times incompetence.  Too many times waiting endlessly in a doctor’s office, listening to office workers happily gabbing, gossiping, complaining and not doing any work. Too many typos in professional documents and most of them coming from school administration offices, lack of professionalism, lack of pride in ones work. Man, the list goes on and on; and I stand here knowing I could do a much better job.  It simply kills me.  I guess that is where my anguish lies.  You got the job… earn your money!

I was brought up with workplace etiquette ingrained in me.  The generation my parents come from appreciated the opportunity to earn money.  My parents taught me to be a good, loyal employee to the company I worked for, to be punctual, to not steal company property and that included everything from office supplies to toilet paper.  It goes without saying I gave more than 100% of my professional efforts to my company.  I was not a clock watcher.  I did not stop work exactly at quitting time.  I did not take even a minute over my lunch time allotment, however short. I stayed until at least my task was completed, even if that meant staying an hour or more, depending what that task was.  Companies today do not value these qualities; or if they do, why do they betray those dedicated and loyal employees?  It’s like they are distancing themselves on purpose to justify not investing in their employees’ future, which essentially is the future of their companies. They pretty much expect a high turnover rate now a days, or more likely they are encouraging it so that they do not have to give pay raises and opt out of providing health benefits.  Oh, and lest I forget age discrimination. This is enough to discourage anyone, let alone myself who is definitely over the age of 50 and my prospects for any type of employment are little to none.  I’ve been looking for a job, any job, since 2008 and I’ve not had even ONE interview.

I’m not going to summarize my situation in detail, but it’s been pretty depressing for me.  My standards have been in a spiraling decline for this past year and still no luck.  I live in a city that discriminates against the English speaker.  I need a local job and my field is customer service, especially in the medical industry.  When my dentist heard this, he basically shook his head and told me to keep trying, but we both know the climate here.  Locally, those jobs would be in a doctor’s or dentist’s office and bilingual skills are required.  Can’t blame them since this is an immigrant city, but I feel a lot of resentment against the discrimination.  Currently, I’m looking for an overnight position to accommodate my husband’s budding teaching career… or hopefully, he will have a teaching career.  This has not proven fruitful as of yet; but I have hope.

To all the objects of my jealousy, DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR JOB~!  Be grateful that you have one.  Be grateful that you have a roof over your head (I know that I am) and whatever food you have in the fridge.  Be grateful that compromising your child’s nutrition for a cheap meal is not on YOUR plate.  Be grateful that your next meal will not be a very big glass of water.  The last time I gained employment, 8 years ago, I pledged to give my church a good part (or maybe all, I forgot) of my first paycheck with that next job.  I felt that my prayers were answered and I handed my pastor a check.  I was so happy… and so life goes on.

Okay… time to put the monster away….

Pending Changes…

Just a heads up to another pending change.  I hate having to go through this again and I really like this magazine style theme and really love the pale lavender color, but my pictures are not showing up on the little summaries and I don’t like that.  Also, there are other features that don’t seem to be included in this Suburbia theme, like the “follow me on….” feature that invites people to follow you on other media forums.

So, don’t know yet what I’m changing to because I’ve got to go through all the choices again to see which will be a good fit.  I did like the Choco theme but not liking the brownness of it and they don’t give a lot of color choices for that one… which is okay.

Cooking: Keep It Interesting

I love watching Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef.  If I catch another cooking show like Lydia’s Kitchen, I’ll watch that, too. I’ve become an ingredient snob.  The only olive oil I will use is of the “first cold pressing” and I must see the sediment floating around in the oil.  It’s a MUST~!  That is where all the flavor is.  I love to eat tuna steak, shark steak, and swordfish, you know, that fish meat that makes you feel like you’re eating something.

New olive oil, just pressed. It has a dense co...

New olive oil, just pressed. It has a dense colour at first; later, it clarifies by decantation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love what great ingredients can do to a dish!  I’m a true Italian in the cooking arena. Creative cooking is so much a part of me that it makes my whole body sing.  “Like Water For Chocolate” is one of my favorite movies.  The connection Maria has with the ingredients and the food she makes is phenomenal and inspiring. That’s how I feel when I’m cooking, like my whole self is going into it. I’ve got to chuckle because sometimes my experimentation is not appreciated and sometimes for good reason.  DH hates mushrooms.  He can’t get out of his mind that they are fungi.  My dad’s neighbor in PA is from the old country and knows how to forage for mushrooms.  He dries them and gives to my dad, and he in turn gives me some.  What a different taste.  Another item that once you’ve had the real thing, you can’t go back to canned.  Canned mushrooms are so bland and scuzzy I don’t buy them anymore.

Herbs.  Fresh all the way.  I used to have a pretty nice herb garden up until last year… until my landlord’s son pulled everything out because he wanted to make his girlfriend happy and give her a flower garden.  Don’t mind the fact that his father gave me permission years ago to plant there, AND that same December they broke up… but I won’t go there.  I got over it and we ironed things out.  Still, I miss the rosemary and English and French lavender bushes.  I miss my lemon thyme and greek oregano.  I miss my basil and spearmint.  I managed to fit quite a bit in my little plot of clayish earth.  This past year or so, I’ve splurged on saffron and two years ago, whole vanilla beans.  Once I started grinding up my own spices, I started blending them for my cooking.

Myristica fragrans Nutmeg. The picture was tak...

Myristica fragrans Nutmeg. The picture was taken in Zanzibar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once you taste fresh nutmeg, mace, allspice, cinnamon, etc., you can’t go back to the pre-ground up kind.  Mace.  I thank my friend Pauline for turning me onto that one!  She gifted me with some fresh whole nutmeg nuts, so I had the luxury of trying out fresh mace, and I will not soon forget that.  See that reddish web-like stuff around the pit? Thats mace.  Smell that?  Ah~!  I use nutmeg (sometimes mace) on chicken in the oven.  I discovered that when I stopped cooking with salt and needed to find other substitutes.  Now, while I do use salt, I use much less than recommended in recipes.  Oh, and I love using course sea salt.

I’ve always been one to experiment in the kitchen, and now I’m adding home canning, and pickling into the mix.  I have my mind set to try out homemade dairy products like making butter, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and utilizing whey and whatever else, oh, cream.  There are plenty of tutorials on the net with loads of pictures and that’s right up my alley.

Oh.  so the reason for this post.  This past year, I’ve had to pretty much give up on quality ingredients for my cooking.  Or rather, I don’t cook much at all.  So what I’d like to do here is tell you how I am getting by on pretty much nothing fresh.  I hate it, but I keep telling myself that it’s temporary until things start looking up around here.  My pep talk pretty much consists of me telling myself that it could be worse and that others have it much harder than we do.  It’s temporary.

My basic goal is to cook everything in one pan.  First cook whatever meat, chicken, beef, whatever.  Then remove the cooked meat and use those juices as a base for sautéing veggies.  I don’t like to cook veggies too long.  I prefer my veggies to have bright colors to them.  Also, if you recook them another day, they won’t be totally overcooked and mushy.  After the veggies are done, I quickly throw the meat back in and whatever extras and serve when everything is hot.  You can imagine my glee when I found a recipe online for a one pot pasta dish.

Pasta.  Pasta can be healthy and it can be filling.  My favorite experiments are with left over veggies and pasta, Pasta Primavera.  There is no set-in-stone recipe; but the key, I think, is to have at least one veggie going in there that is not a left over.  The cool thing about primavera is that you and use any veggie you want.  Another thing that I strive to do as much as I can is “One Pot Meals.”  Just found one recipe on Pinterest and it blew my mind to put dry pasta in with all the ingredients into one pot, cover, cook, and VOILA, it’s a meal 20 minutes or so later… and all the water is used, no draining. Pasta, Tomatoes, Veggies Recipe link.

As it stands now, we buy frozen veggies.  Not fresh, but much better than canned.  In addition to the excessive salt content of can, those veggies are mushy and I hate that.  I only tolerate canned corn and peas for their texture.  What can I say?  We don’t eat as nearly healthy enough as we should.  It’s temporary.  I throw out nothing.  I make use of left overs within the week.  Actually, I love repurposing leftovers and creating another different meal from them.  Left over broccoli? Broccoli and egg omelet the next morning or for lunch.  Stale bread?  Don’t throw it out!  Make french toast or bread crumbs.  Two or three bowls of fragmented veggies hanging out in the fridge?  Do I see beans in there?  Throw it all together for a primavera dish tonight, or add a bit of tomato sauce and make a nice side dish.  Do you have garlic that’s not looking so plump anymore, or onions in the same predicament?  Chop up those babies and stick them in a sandwich bag and into the freezer they go.  What I like to do with garlic is mix it up with butter in the food processor with some basil, if I have it, and whip up some delicious garlic butter.  Add some olive oil and you have a nice spread.  Some milk that’s approaching the questionable point?  Throw it in a blender with some ice and a packet of hot chocolate mix for a quick summer’s chocolate treat for the kids (or yourself).  Add a teaspoon or more of instant coffee and make it a mocha.

Okay, I guess that’s enough to boggle your mind with today.  These are just some things I like to do to keep things interesting and useable on a limited budget.  Once you try out some ideas, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to just think up something new, delightful and unique to your own refrigerator and cupboards.  Next time maybe I’ll talk about how easy it is to make your own pita chips and roti.  Oh, and easy slushy-type drinks.

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