Accepting The Job

2017 ~ May 28 ~ Accepting The Job

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I have been called … actually I have been called a LOT lately.  God keeps putting opportunities in my way.  Yes, IN my way.  I keep steering around them thinking it is not time yet.  I mean, life is extremely busy.  I don’t have the time to commit to learning a new skill or to expand on what I already know.  I only have time to do what I am already doing.  Isn’t that enough?!

But the answer is “NO” and not a simple little “no” but a HUGE, BIG, FAT “Are you kidding me?! NO.  It isn’t enough.  You have a gift.  Use it.  Now.  Believe in yourself and all things shall fall into place.  Don’t doubt.   You can handle this.  I have chosen you.  You are the special one.  The one I need for this task.  Follow me and I shall lead you to peace.  Come.  Let’s start.”

It’s true.  I have been declining God’s job offer – not because it wasn’t a great offer but rather because I didn’t believe I was qualified.  Sure, I knew I could perform some of the duties, but seriously He really thinks I can do all that?!  Has He seen my life?  Most days I feel as though I am barely holding it together the way it is.  How could I possibly add anything else to my plate?

As I have told my kiddos so many times, “Do not look back.  It is not about where you have been but rather where you are and the direction you are headed.”  I am sure they thought it was all quite crazy hearing that as they learned to peddle their little bicycles without training wheels.  But it is true.

We have endured various struggles in life – those situations which tear us apart at the seams.  When looking back, it is easy to say “How in the world did I make those poor decisions?  Why would I have placed myself in such a situation?  I am so ashamed of myself.  How could anyone want me after that?”

The truth is …. We all fail.  In fact, I fail quite often.  It is not because I don’t care or am just winging it in life.  I care so much my heart hurts.  I give of myself to an extreme knowing others do not care the same.  I lay my heart out there knowing most likely it will be trampled.  But I care.  I do not know how else to be.

So pain is part of life.  Along the path of life, I shall be run over by some yet picked up by others.  I shall be squashed beyond control yet see a hand reaching to pull me up.  It is those friends, those people who when you are down they come to your aide and mend your heart with their kindness.  Those tender people whom I call friends.  So, yes it seems as though I have had more than my share of sorrow and heartache, but in the process, I have found the handful of sweet-spirited men and women whom I could trust with my life and the lives of my children.

So it’s time to put myself back out there again – to trust in God’s opportunity.  He is my biggest fan.  I know thru Him all things are possible.  Now it’s time for me to step up to the plate, be bold and courageous, and believe in myself.  If I stumble and fall along the way, it will all be okay.  He has already given me a foundation of friends who will pick me up and a light to always follow – His love for me in never-ending and always forgiving.

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“Spicy Kicker” Cheese Ball

2017 March 26

Snack time is calling your name!  As hard as you try to ignore it … you can hear the call of the tempting goodness of the spicy, creamy cheese ball and a good movie.  So, there’s no time like the present to make this mouth-watering treat!

Our kiddos enjoy cooking and baking …. Ok, actually they LOVE being in the kitchen scouring the many cookbooks, flipping thru magazines, and browsing Pintrest for the best possible recipes to surprise my husband and me.  Today was no exception.  As the hubby was busy cleaning the garage and I sifting thru the pile of papers which magically appeared somehow on my desk, the kiddos were quite active in the kitchen.

After perusing many recipes, they made a slew of goodies.  The most incredible was the SPICY KICKER CHEESE BALL – their own personal creation.

So, without further delay, let’s get this party started so you too can enjoy an incredible treat!

www.Midwest2Metro.com

Spicy Kicker Cheese Ball – http://www.Midwest2Metro.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 package of dry taco seasoning mix
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded taco cheese (inside mixture)
  • 1/2 cup shredded taco cheese (exterior of mixture)

Steps:

  1. Remove the 8 ounce block of cream cheese from the fridge and set aside so it may come to room temperature.  This takes aprx. 30 minutes.
  2. Place the 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese in a mixing bowl.  Add the 1/2 package of dry taco seasoning plus the 2 1/2 cups of shredded taco cheese.
  3. Using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the ingredients.  Due to the thickness of the ingredients, stop the mixer at random to remove the ingredients from the beaters so they may mixer together evenly.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.
  5. Once chilled, utilize the plastic wrap.  Place the mixture on the center of the plastic wrap.  Bring all the edges of the plastic wrap together so the cheese mixture is surrounded.  Form into a ball.
  6. Remove the cheese ball from the plastic wrap.  Place 1/2 cup of shredded taco cheese in a small bowl.  Roll the cheese ball in the shredded cheese until coated.

Note:  This recipe may be made by hand, without the use of an electric mixer.  For convenience and speed, a stand-up electric mixer was utilized.

It’s time to eat!  Grab a plate and a huge scoop of the SPICY KICKER.  Pair it with butter crackers and pretzels as we did …. or … apples, celery, and carrots for an even healthier choice.  Be prepared though, you most likely will find the “need” to go back for seconds.

We would enjoy hearing your thoughts on the recipe.  What did you pair it with?

 

American Girl- 2017 Girl of the Year!

2017 – January 2

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WARNING:  This article includes a multitude of pictures of a beautiful doll and her amazing outfits.  It may cause a desire to visit your local American Girl store and join the fun.  We are not responsible for any spending that may ensue.

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Have you heard the news?!  It’s crazy amazingly fun!  Gabriela McBride Has ARRIVED!

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Enjoy a sunny fun-filled day at your local American Girl store!

American Girl has released the 2017 Girl of the Year – GABRIELA McBRIDE!

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American Girl – 2017 Girl of the Year – Gabriela McBride

Each year AG releases a featured doll celebrating the character’s unique talents and special storyline – complete with clothing, accessories, books, and a scene . . .

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American Girl – 2017 Girl of the Year – Gabriela McBride

. . . plus clothing for girls to enjoy.

Gabriela is a 9 year old girl from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose love of poetry helps her overcome the challenge of stuttering.  She works to save her community center from closing.

Gabriela loves dance – specifically tap, hip hop, and ballet.

A bonus, free craft/goodie is always offered at American Girl with every doll release.  Check out the adorable notepad, cookie, and doll billboard!

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American Girls – 2017 Girl of the Year Gabriela McBride – Craft/Activity & Goodie – http://www.Midwest2Metro.com

Of course, there is always a photo op just around the corner!

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American Girl – 2017 Girl of the Year Gabriela McBride – Store Photo Opportunity

Did you catch the OTHER NEWS?!  Press releases stated Gabriela will be available for “2017 and beyond”.  So, while usually the doll of the year is JUST for the calendar year, it appears Gabriela is here to stay awhile longer.

Kuddos to American Girl for diversifying their line of “Girl of the Year”, which has been historically Caucasian characters.  We hope to see many other ethnicities represented throughout the years to come.

Running The Race

Running The Race

2017 – January – 2

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Today’s THE day …. Day 1 …. again.  Yes, again.  I have attempted this crusade before only to give up after a few weeks.  This time…. THIS time … I am determined to make it become my new lifestyle not just a chore, an errand, a must do … a let’s just get this thing over with.

So, this morning I grabbed my tennis shoes, threw on an old t-shirt and capris, and forced myself out the door.  I am not a fancy gal – more of “let’s get things done” type.  Even sitting in my minivan in the driveway, I really wasn’t sold on this “new” idea.  There were so many other things I could be doing this morning.  You know it is 7 a.m., the house is quiet, the kids are still sleeping …. Peace on Earth.

But no, I told myself, this is a life choice.  You MUST do this for yourself.  You’ve spent the last 10 years focused on others, letting yourself go, and feeling the disappointment every day, every time you look in the mirror, every outfit you try on.  TODAY is YOUR DAY!  That’s right!  YOUR DAY!  Let the kids sleep in!  Take this time for YOURSELF!  Noone will notice or care … except YOU!  (and that inner little voice whispered in my ear “You deserve this.”)

As a wife and mom whose heart is truly about helping others and giving back, this concept of “deserving” anything is tough to accept.  To think I “DESERVE” something, well, feels extremely selfish.  Sure I would LIKE a LOT more things in life than I want to admit, both material and relationship wise, but to “deserve” something as though it is owed to me, let’s just say a bit of guilt sets in.

Sitting at the stop light, I could feel the pull of my favorite coffee place …. WaWa, yes, I heard you calling (and calling again).  Dreamily I imagine a fresh cup of half decaf/French vanilla cappuccino warming my hands – the sweet smell filling me with peace and energy to tackle my day.  I could hang out in the parking lot for the next hour quietly sipping my precious drink – no children asking for anything, no pressing work emails, no sense of obligation to tackle some household chore.  Oh the determination it took to continue onward.

It was a long 2 miles to the fitness center.  So many places I could spend the next hour – Target, I heard your offer of super savings on holiday items.  Starbucks you beckoned me with your sweet hot chocolate and lemon bread.  Even the lure of the quiet parking lots urged me to just stay awhile.  Imagine … the peace of nothing, no obligations, no one needing anything … for an entire hour.

My van made it to the fitness center.  I took this as a sign, I am meant to do this, really do this – not think about it, not talk about some day making a change, but actually take the first step.  I tried this 18 months ago, just so you know, but my self-doubt won out.  Life took over.  I found so many other ways to spend my time – claiming, of course, my life was just too busy to fit yet another thing in my schedule … such as my own health.

Each step along the way, each corner and stop light and opportunity to turn around and take the easy way out, to accept my self-doubt, letting my insecurities win, throwing in the towel before it was even taken out of the gym bag … I would be lying if I didn’t admit, it was super difficult.  I mean, really, really, extremely difficult.  Who am I to be the person I remember before children?!

But, I took a deep breath, opened the door, and heard that little voice gently whispering …. “This is for you.  Soon you will feel better about yourself, which is truly your goal because you know once you feel better, you will be better for others – especially those dearest to you … your family.”

Much to my surprise …. I STAYED!  To survive, I tuned out everything and everyone around me.  I didn’t want to look like some wanna be or make a fool of myself.  Fortunately at 7 a.m., there were only a few cars outside so I am guessing less than 10 people working out.

I really stayed – not just for 5 minutes or 15 but for the entire time of my original plan.  I could not begin to count the times I thought about leaving as I thought about all I could be accomplishing at home.

But I chose to stay, to do this for me, to believe in myself and make a difference for myself, my health, and those I love.  I accomplished 1.59 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill.  And much to my surprise, I look forward to going back tomorrow.

 

P.S.  I didn’t even stop for coffee on the way home.

Delicious … Baked Crab Rangoon

Delicious … Baked Crab Rangoon

2016 – May –  22

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Are you ready for the BEST homemade crab rangoon ever?!  I know, right …. HOMEMADE?  Yes, definitely homemade!  What does this mean for you?  Ummmm….. You can feast on these delicious, inexpensive treats whenever you desire.  Now that makes it taste even better, right?!

I was craving Panda Garden and, well, even the closest location is just not an option considering it is a couple days drive.  So the next best option was to try local Chinese joints – only to be disappointed.  Then, as luck would have it, I stumbled across (ok, actually I searched for hours browsing so many websites and images I lost track of where I first started looking)  … Krafts Foods recipes for BAKED CRAB RANGOON.

I adore SIMPLE, DELICIOUS, QUICK (and INEXPENSIVE) recipes.  There’s nothing like being hungry for just the right snack but not really knowing what it is until you happen upon it … THEN … In the silence of a very satisfied, hungry family enjoying an amazing snack, you find … BLISS (that silence when noone is asking for anything, everyone is happy, and you feel like SUPER MOM (Ta Da!) for making the most amazing snack).

So, I won’t keep you any longer.  Let’s gather the ingredients.

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Ingredients:

  • Imitation Crab Meat (16 ounces, which is 2 packages)
  • Cream Cheese (16 ounces, which is 2 packages)
  • Miracle Whip (1 cup)
  • Wonton or Egg Roll Wraps (1 package)
  • Green Onions (4 stalks/onions) … Remember these are the small onions bundled together (about 10 stalks) in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Of course you can cut the batch in half … but seriously, why?  It is that delicious!

Oven:  Preheat to 350*.  When it time, you will bake for aprx 15 minutes depending on how “golden brown” you prefer.

Hint:  Use a Pampered Chef small/medium cookie scoop for portion control.

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Okay, grab a large bowl, cutting board, rubber spatula, paring knife (you know, the small knife you use to cut fruit), plus  your mixer/beaters.  Sometimes our store is out of the small wonton wraps so I purchase the larger egg roll size then simply cut them into 4 pieces.  Ok, now place the cream cheese and Miracle Whip in the mixing bowl.  Dice (cut into small pieces) the imitation crab meat.  It will break down into smaller pieces when mixed.  Now it’s time for the green onion … BUT WAIT! …

Suggestion … Already knowing you are going to LOVE this recipe, I suggest recycling your green onion to avoid another errand to the grocery store.  So, here’s how it is done.  Simply cut off the onion aprx 1 inch above the roots.  Fill a flower pot about 3/4 full with gardening soil.  Insert the onion piece so it is completely covered with soil (about 2 inches)  Lightly water daily.  Within a week, you will see beautiful spouts pushing thru the soil.  Within a couple weeks, you will have usable, new green onions – just in time for another batch.  Sometimes we just cut off  the greens to use, other times we pull the onion and start the process anew.  This definitely saves time as I normally keep imitation crab meat in the freezer.

So, you have added all the ingredients.  It’s time to use your mixer to thoroughly breakdown the ingredients into a nice rather smooth mixture.  This is when the magic begins to happen.  Doesn’t it look amazing?!  In just moments you will have a delicious snack.

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Grab your Pampered Chef small or medium cookie scoop.  Place a level scoop of mouth-watering goodness (also known as “filling”) onto the center of each square wonton.

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Then fold up the sides almost bringing the tips of the side together in the center..  Basically you are making opposite sides of the wonton touch.

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And 15 minutes later …. Our home became quiet.  My kitchen was filled with adoring family very interested in the intoxicating smell.    Waiting, smiling, saying ever so kind words, as they were hoping I made extras just for them.  The clouds parted, the sun shone, and I was elevated to great delight with my accomplishment (but moreso the amazing recipe).  Yes, they are THIS amazing!

The Blank Page ….

The Blank Page …

2015 – January – 1

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Oh how I cherish the blank page on my calendar! You know, the page with absolutely NOTHING written on it … not a thing to do, place to go, call to make …. just BLANK. So you sit there with this amazing sense of peace, pondering what you are going to do with this magical FREE DAY. The possibilities are endless …. go to the beach with the kids, sew amazing sundresses for the girls, read a brand new book for hours (wait, not happening as I would have to leave the house to buy the book then the magical spell would be broken). So you vow to ENJOY THE DAY as these prizes are so few.

Then you remember WHY the page is BLANK …. The obvious, while you may not have any PLACE to be, you definitely have THINGS to GET DONE. In fact you have SO MANY THINGS to GET DONE that itty bitty calendar page could not possibly hold them all. The night before in order to get to sleep, you found yourself getting out a NEW 80 PAGE NOTEBOOK to document the HUGE, oh so VERY HUGE, MONSTEROUS MUST GET DONE SINCE I HAVE A FREE DAY LIST.

So now the challenge is to see HOW MANY THINGS YOU CAN GET DONE. NO!!! The day is turning into a MARATHON! I will teach it …. I WILL NOT GET OUT OF MY PAJAMAS! I REFUSE! Then the day can not start. I will stay in my PJs, lay in bed, look at my beautiful, BLANK CALENDAR dreaming of all the creative, peaceful ways I could spend my time. Oh the things I could do that I enjoy.

And REALITY sets in to snap me out of my obvious DAYDREAM … I chose to be a wife and a mom. Our children are young so my job of raising them is full-time. Not to mention, this IS a THURSDAY! What was I thinking? There is home school to teach, laundry and dishes to wash (and hopefully get put away), and our 1 year old puppy to train. That is just the TIP of the ICEBERG, the monumental, oh so wishful, definitely unattainable list of what I would REALLY LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH in one day. The list that would only be accomplished if time stood still for, oh maybe like an ETERNITY. Seriously! What was I thinking? I am only human. Did I really think I could possibly accomplish ALL that in ONE DAY?!

Here’s what I do know … No matter whether your calendar is BLANK or an OVERLOADED, YOU determine how your day is going to turn out. Seriously. YOU ARE IN CHARGE! There may be an abundance of phone calls; demanding emails, mail, and text messages; screaming children; or a multitude of other aggravating circumstances …. but know this …. YOU DECIDE HOW YOUR DAY WILL PLAY OUT!

You may struggle at times with situations. I know. It sucks. All you wanted was a simple, happy, calm … FREE DAY. Life goes on though. No matter what you do, there will always be a things-to-do list hidden somewhere, sort of like the Disney Search-and-Find books I spend hours with our girls looking thru and they just can’t believe how long it takes sleepy mommy to find all the characters … but, I know YOU CAN OVERCOME ANYTHING set before you! How do I know that? Simple. While we may doubt our own strength, GOD gives us only what we can handle. HE knows our strengths and is waiting for us to realize our potential. So, JUMP out of bed, GET DRESSED, and TAKE CHARGE! What are you waiting for? The alarm clock is buzzing on YOUR LIFE! Whatever comes before you, take a deep breath, remember to smile, and choose your words carefully as they last forever … and, of course, know that THRU HIM ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start …

2014 – December – 31

Here I sit … the day before my fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to be who I want to be …the new year 2015. Saying goodbye to 2014 and all the hopes I had for it, accepting the disappointments and reminiscing about the wonderful surprises. I had many expectations for 2014, some of which beyond my control and other goals which I half-heartedly pursued. I dreamed of many new accomplishments greater than the time I allowed to complete the necessary tasks. So, it is time for me to take stock in my inventory – to be truthful with myself as to my priorities, my desires, and my life.

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What really matters most? God. Family. Self improvement. Overcoming fears. Learning to believe in oneself. To sum it up … My focus for 2015 is to be the best I can be. I shall remember patience with others as I appreciate their patience with imperfect me. I shall exhibit self-confidence in pursuit of long-held personal pursuits squashing the negative thoughts. In doing so, I will remember each day is truly a gift, a chance to work harder, believe more, and cherish time with loved ones.

I challenge you to take some time to hold yourself accountable, to be truthful about how you want to live your life, to really delve within yourself and decide who you really are. Now, grab a pen and paper. Write it out. Make it happen. There is no time like the present. Do not hesitate. Now is the time to make it happen! Imagine being able to look back on 2015 and proudly smile saying “I did MY best!”.