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Baking in a Tornado by Karen Bakinginatornado - 2d ago
I've been feeling the ravages of time lately. No, not my age, although I could write (and have written) a post or two about that as well. This time-suck is the dreaded minute. You know the one I'm talking about, the 60 seconds that invariably manage to drag by in about an hour. Those times when you feel compelled to grab onto that second hand and physically drag it around the clock.

Although it happens to us all now and then, this has been going on for me with frustrating regularity for over a month. It started, as far as I can remember, at PurDude's graduation. We were in line outside the hall, standing in 90 degree weather and I was, of course, wearing 3 inch wedges. Mine were black leather with gold accents, open toe, with a pretty woven wedge. You know, the kind that look great on so you have to wear them with that graduation outfit even though you'll still have remnants of the blisters 2 months later.

That's OK, I can make it, gotta suffer for fashion, right? And they're going to open the door in one minute. 

One minute that although literally lasting right around 60 seconds, felt like a melting, excruciating hour. Or two. And I had the frizzy hair and blistered feet to prove it.

More time-bending "in a minute" fun torture:

PurDude was streaming the Red Sox game to the TV. Boston was winning 1 - 0 when it froze. PurDude said he'd be back in a minute and went upstairs to check the laptop we were streaming through. Apparently Windows decided to update at that moment. He switched the streaming to his other computer and the game came back up. It was only a minute, felt like an hour, and we were losing 2 - 1 when we got the game back. Wait. What? What happened? (As a funny aside, PurDude has a friend from college who works for Microsoft. He texted his friend and told Riley he better fix Windows 'cause it ruined our game).

I'm almost home, just a minute away. But if I don't get out of this bra now, I swear it's going to dig into my skin so deep I'll need to have it surgically removed. If you, dear reader, are a woman, I've said enough, you know exactly how long that minute can last. Forget hours, years.

When you bake anything chocolate the house smells divine. As the time winds down and it's almost ready, mouths water. On Saturday we were at that point. All inhabitants of this house converged on me in the kitchen wanting to know when the cookies would be done. I looked at the clock and informed them all it would be just a minute. And then I stood there being stared down by 3 men for what seemed like an hour. And PS: good thing you can eat cookies hot because if that had been a cake this would not have ended pretty.

Nothing in my house freaks me out as much as spiders. Not even my kids, though there were times they sure seemed to make a full time job of trying. I was walking up the stairs the other day and hanging there by the window was a spider. I screamed out "quick, quick, come here and bring a tissue" to which College Boy answered "be there in a minute". I swear that minute lasted long enough for that spider to have gotten married, bought a house (in my hallway) and had twins.

I've had enough of this minute lasting an hour thing. I SO need a Chata Iced Coffee. Can you make me one? And don't you dare say "It'll be ready in a minute . . ."

Chata Iced Coffee

Chata Iced Coffee         

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (per drink):
3 oz brewed coffee
1 oz french vanilla creamer
3 oz Rum Chata
1 oz cinnamon liqueur

OPT: scoop of french vanilla ice cream

*Mix the hot coffee and the creamer. Refrigerate until cold.
*Remove from the refrigerator and mix in the Rum Chata and cinnamon liqueur.
*Serve over ice or with a scoop of ice cream.

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Baking in a Tornado by Karen Bakinginatornado - 6d ago
Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I'm using:  swim ~ towel ~ aloe ~ snowflake ~ hot dog ~ Kool-aid  They were submitted by Dawn of Cognitive Script.

We recently brought my younger son home from college. I'm still traumatized. Don't get me wrong, I love having him home. In my nice, neat, clean home. But what I saw up there, and especially when we unpacked back here, well, I can never un-see. I mentioned in an earlier post that I thought he was living in a house with a few friends. It wasn't until I got there that I realized he was living in a cave. A dark, disorganized, dilapidated cave. 

I know he's a boy, and I know boys will be boys, but I cannot believe the way he had been living. I am the most organized person on the planet. Apparently he is the least organized person on the planet. 

Somehow he had decided that he would only pack up what he needed or wanted at home for the next few months, then when his lease ran out in July he'd drive 10 hours back, pack up his 2nd floor room, and move it all down a thin staircase and out of the house by himself. So he was partially packed. Or so he said. 

In his bedroom upstairs were a half filled trunk, a half filled suitcase, and a body sized duffel bag I was too afraid to open. In his outer room were about 40 partially filled bags and 6 boxes completely covered in white dust and plaster (management had replaced his door at some point, who knows how long ago). It took me two days to convince him that he had to move his furniture out while we were there to help him, and that it made no sense to move partially out, then drive back for the rest of his belongings.

I did consolidate his trunk, suitcase, and bags before we left so we could fit everything into our cars. I didn't have a chance to go through anything, just noting that there was no rhyme or reason to what was where. Unfolded clothes were packed with toiletries, papers, whatever.

Once home (and after spending 2 days explaining that we would not be leaving everything in his unpacked until he moved out again), I worked with him to be sure he had everything organized. I still cannot believe what we'd transported home. 

I threw out about 10 pounds of trash. There were old receipts, plastic silverware, empty packaging. He had 3 bottles of aloe (which had apparently moved with him twice) from when he got a sunburn freshman year at a football game ("I'll skype with you, Mom, but don't freak out when you see me", just what every mom wants to hear). There were 14 sticks of deodorant, 10 bottles of hand lotion. Apparently the way toiletries work is that you use them once, misplace them in the morass and just buy another. Who knew?

There were about 50 batteries, a can of lighter fluid for the lighters he didn't have, and 3 packets of Kool-aid, which he does not drink. Had I found a half-eaten hot dog, I would not have been surprised. The body bag, I'm relieved (but bewildered) to say, was completely full of cords.

He had almost all of my missing beach towels, though I don't know why. And he had a new beach towel as well. Seems the one time he had an opportunity to swim, when he went with friends to Vegas for the weekend, he'd forgotten to pack a bathing suit and towel so bought new ones there. 

It wasn't until we got to the boxes that I realized he had packed them covered in dust, drove them home covered in dust and moved them into his room (yes, you guessed it) covered in dust. My turn to roll my eyes at one of my kids. I told him to take them outside and wipe the dust off of them so we could find what treasures lay inside. 

Later that morning College Boy and I were taking breakfast out to the deck. The outdoor dining table was covered in white. "What is all over the table?" College Boy asked. "Looks like snowflakes".

Loaded Egg in a Bagel Basket

Yes, it was plaster and dust. Guess I should have been specific, pretty much the only place I didn't want him to clean off those boxes in all of the outdoors would have been on my table. {{sigh}}.

If I ever, ever, am in the position to move this kid out of anywhere again (other than my house), the process will be simplified. Everything goes straight to the trash {{claps hands back and forth with finality}}. Done.

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Loaded Egg in a Bagel Basket

1 bagel
2 TBSP butter
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cooked salmon, chopped
1 green onion, sliced

*Slice the bagel lengthwise into thirds so you have 3 round slices with a hole in the center.
*Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bagel slices and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from pan.
*Melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Put the bagel slices back in the pan, cooked side up. Crack one egg into the center of each slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. 
*Carefully flip the bagel slices over. Cook for 1 - 2 more minutes or until the egg is done to your liking. 
*Remove bagels from pan. Serve topped with salmon and green onion.

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There's an app for that. What, you ask? Everything. Pretty much everything. Well long before apps there were holidays (or fake holidays) and celebrations and yes, it seems as though there's one for everything. Anything. 

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it. The humor, anyway. Whenever I need a laugh I know I can just google what holiday there is this day or week or month and I'm in for a good chuckle. In fact, I don't even have to look them up any more, just remind myself that there's a World Garden Naked Day and as laughs go, I'm good.

Today the Monthly Poetry Group has chosen to celebrate International Kissing Day. It was actually a little over a week ago, on July 6th. Hope you took full advantage of the occasion. I know I did. So did Julie:

 Just One Kiss

"I love you more than words can say",
star struck Johnny looked her way.
Julie blushed and looked away,
ran off with the girls to play.

Never one to just give up,
approaches her each day: "wassup?".
Never touching his little buttercup,
'cause "no" means no, only "yes" means yup.

"Let me give you just one kiss,
on the cheek, I will not miss.
Then for life I'll be in bliss,
when on this day I reminisce".

On and on it went like that,
striking out with each at bat.
Buzzing around her like a gnat,
All through kindergarten turned down flat.

True love calls for monumental feats
Saved allowance, brought her treats,
"Just one kiss? For all these eats?"
Then took in stride all his defeats.

Rustic Butterscotch M&M Bars

The day came as he knew it would,
summer vacation, no Julie, no good.
Then at the pool, right in his hood.
He looked up and there she stood.

"Do you know what day it is?"
"Friday" he answered, "is this a pop quiz?"
"International Kissing Day I hear 'tis",
she said as her eyes locked on his.
She puckered up and leaned his way.
His feet were mush, his eyes saw grey.
His breath got caught in his airway.
All saw him faint then, clear as day.

Before you go, click on these links to more poetry from some of my friends: 
Dawn of Cognitive Script shares Finding Her Prince
Kim of That Writer Junkie Writes shares 슬픈 사랑 or This Sad Love
Diane of On The Border shares Just Kiss Him!
Lydia of Cluttered Genius shares The Kiss That Shook Me

Rustic Butterscotch M&M Bars

2/3 cup butterscotch baking chips
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
2 over-ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP mini M&Ms

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Microwave and stir the butterscotch chips until completely melted and smooth. Set aside.
*Beat the butter or margarine, bananas, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and carefully beat in. Mix in 1/2 cup of the mini M&Ms.
*Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Drizzle the melted butterscotch chips over the top and swirl into the batter. Top with the remaining mini M&Ms.
*Bake for about 30 minutes or until the sides are brown and the center completely cooked. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Today’s post is the next in our series of Blog With Friends theme collaborations. Each month a group  of bloggers get together and each publish a project based on a theme. What I love about this partnership is that it’s not bloggers with similar interests or strengths but a diverse group coming up with a variety of posts. In any given month we may have a recipe, sewing tutorial, crafts projects, book review and/or a technology post all related to the theme of the month.

This month's theme is Anti-Boredom Month.

There will be individual project pictures and links to what everyone else has to offer at the end of my post, but here’s a peek at what we all came up with:

I made Layered Thai Shrimp Salad.

Let me tell you why. Anti-boredom to me means thinking up new recipes. It's my way of being creative and of keeping occupied. It's fun for me, especially when the meal is a success. When it's not, well, it ends up being a joke that just keeps on giving. "Remember that time . . ."

There's another reason I chose this recipe for my anti-boredom post. It's because in my world, in the summer, anti-boredom means a day at the beach or a pool. It means getting out there with a family and enjoying cooling off together on a hot day. And since, once at home, showered off and sitting down to relax we need to eat, this meal is both make ahead and served cold, the perfect ending to a hot day.

It's even pretty enough to serve to company, if you want to invite friends over.

As I often do, I used leftovers for the base of this recipe. I had made my Thai Shrimp Skewers earlier in the week and deliberately created the leftovers for this dish by doubling the recipe.

I made my dressing and popped it in the fridge until I was ready for assembly if serving right away or to pour over the salad if serving later.

Then I prepped the rest of my salad ingredients, washing and chopping the lettuce, shredding the carrots, slicing the green onions, stemming the spinach, halving the tomatoes, clipping the chives and shaving the parmesan.

Once that was done, it was a simple matter of layering the salad. If you're serving it right away, include the dressing in the layers. If, you're serving later, don't add the dressing to the layers or it will wilt the lettuce and spinach. Just layer the vegetables, cheese and shrimp, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until meal time.

I recommend rounding out the dinner (or lunch) with a homemade quick bread, a favorite is my Cinnamon Nectarine Quick Bread, also made in advance.

And as a special treat, end the evening with a slice of my Lemon Raspberry Ice Cream Cake

You guessed it, made this ahead too. 

As always, any time you make one of my recipes, feel free to post a picture of it to my Baking In A Tornado Facebook Page. I'd love to see it!

Be sure to visit all of this month's other Blog With Friends projects:

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade shares her recipe for Buffalo Chicken Celery:

Jules of The Bergham Chronicles shares Boredom, Boredom, Go Away, a list of simple ways to beat boredom:

Kim of Georgia Vegan Peach shares 5 Fun Vegan Recipes to Cure Mid-Summer Boredom:

Tamara of Part-Time Working Hockey Mom shares The "Hockey Mom, I'm bored" Bottle:

Lydia of Cluttered Genius shares how to make the Easiest Scrapbook Ever:

Layered Thai Shrimp Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp black pepper

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cleaned and chopped
4 carrots, shredded
2 cups uncooked spinach, stems removed
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
1 1/2# cooked shrimp from Thai Shrimp Skewers
1 TBSP chopped fresh chives

*Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, sweet chili sauce, grated Parmesan and black pepper. You can make this ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.
*NOTE: If serving right away, layer with the dressing. If refrigerating the salad to serve later, layer without the dressing so the lettuce and spinach don't wilt, then serve when ready with the dressing on the side.
*In a large glass bowl, layer the lettuce, 1/3 of the dressing, then the carrots and spinach followed by another 1/3 of the dressing. Top with the green onions, Parmesan and tomatoes. End with the rest of the dressing, the shrimp and the chives.
*When serving, use long serving utensils to be sure each serving includes all of the ingredients.  

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Baking in a Tornado by Karen Bakinginatornado - 1w ago
Welcome a Secret Subject Swap. This month 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.

My subject is: Be honest: are you a cup half full or cup half empty kind of person?
It was submitted by: Carol of Never Ever Give Up Hope.

The real answer is "both". 

Or "it's complicated". 

Truth is we all like to think we're "cup half full" kind of people, because we connote it with being positive, upbeat, and by association happy. For some of us it's easier than for others, be it nature or nurture or some combination of both. 

The whole concept serves a purpose, though, and that's as something to strive towards. There's a "glass half full" light at the end of all tunnels, it's just up to us to get there.

It's easier to achieve "glass half full" in some circumstances and I like to think that I succeed in those scenarios. There are other times when it's a struggle and honestly sometimes I get there and other times I just don't. Truth is, anxiety empties that glass faster than I can fill it. And it does so on a regular basis. You'd think that the longer you strive for that positivity the easier it would be, but that's just not so. Life gets harder, the cumulative burden gets heavier and the impetus of being a good example for little ones now grown is no longer a motivating factor.

So for some, like me, glass half full moments are not natural, they're a triumph. And glass half empty moments are expected.

I'm reading through what I've written so far and laughing. "Debbie Downer" comes to mind. But it's not like that, really. If I were truly she, I would never write try new recipes expecting that I could succeed. And yet I do, and I do it all the time.

Cinnamon Nectarine Quick Bread

It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there, both through writing and through recipe developing. And each time I do, my belief that my glass can and will be half full is validated. 

There are a few big piece of the equation that have to be considered. One is just circumstances. Not one event, but those times when crap comes at you like it's blowing through a fan. You know what I mean, when it seems that bad luck doesn't come in threes but in three hundreds. There are times when you just get warn down. You may start out being positive but with each blow it gets harder. Does this make you a negative person? I don't think so. Not as long as you maintain perspective, know that although you're down, you'll be up again. In my book, hope is the great equalizer, it keeps that glass half full even when current circumstances make you feel that there are just a few drops at the bottom.

The other piece is your circle. We all have circles of friends, those we're closer to and those we keep a little further out. There are people, not necessarily bad people, but those who don't help us raise ourselves when we feel like we're sinking. When we're at our most vulnerable, brutally honest friends, though still legitimately friends, aren't what we need in that moment. Unlike most people's feelings, I don't think that circle of friends is solid, I think it's fluid. Who in our lives are most equipped to help us get to seeing the glass half full is situational. It's up to us to make those adjustments, find the right support for the current situation.  

The flip side of that is that we all need to strive to be that person for those in our lives, to try to put our own feelings aside to be what our people need when they need it. Because, honestly, nothing makes us feel better than knowing we've helped someone we love find that their own glass is really half full. 

So . . . am I a "glass half full" or "glass half empty" kind of person? I'd have to say hold on, I'm still pouring. 

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Cinnamon Nectarine Quick Bread

Printable Recipe

1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP sugar
3 nectarines
6 TBSP butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3 TBSP orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peach yogurt
1/4 cinnamon baking chips, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

*Grease loaf pan. Mix the 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 2 TBS sugar together and dust the greased pan with the cinnamon/sugar. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Discard the stone from the nectarines and chop the fruit.
*Cream the butter, brown sugar and remaining white sugar. Beat in the eggs, orange juice, vanilla, yogurt and cinnamon chips.
*Mix in the flour, salt and baking powder, just until incorporated. Mix in the chopped nectarines.
*Spread into the loaf pan and bake for approximately 55 to 65 minutes or until the center of the top springs back to the touch. Cool for 15 minutes in the loaf pan.
*Remove the bread from the pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.
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Baking in a Tornado by Karen Bakinginatornado - 2w ago
I come from Boston, a state steeped (get the tea reference?) in the history of these United States. The Tea Party (the original one, in Boston Harbor, with actual tea), The Old North Church ("one if by land, two if by sea"), Paul Revere's house, Plymouth Rock, Old Ironsides (The USS Constitution), the Revolutionary War battles of Concord and Lexington. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I grew up surrounded by our earliest history. 

Today I, like so many others in this country, am knee deep in Independence Day celebration preparations. I'm gathering up red, white and blue paper plates and plastic forks, lining the driveway with flags, checking on punks for lighting the fireworks, pulling out bug spray, forming burgers, and baking all things red, white and/or blue.

Blueberries and Cream Pie

I hear so much talk at different times of the year about how we often can't see the forest for the trees. People comment all over social media on days like tomorrow about their fear of, in our zeal to celebrate, our loss of the meaning of holidays like Independence Day (and Memorial Day and Christmas) in all the festivities. We are admonished for not remembering what exactly we are celebrating and why. Instead, social media posters lament, we've made it about eating burgers and lighting up the sky with pretty colors.

I'm going to have to disagree. I think that despite the party atmosphere, the vast majority of us do celebrate the roots of what this holiday is about. We remember that we are observing the genesis our democracy and the price our ancestors paid for it. We are cognizant of the fact that it's not just about celebrating independence, but being proactive in preserving it. The time off, the food, the parties, cookouts, festivities and fireworks, they are all reminders.

It's on all of those other days, the 3rd of July, the 9th of October, the 8th of April, the 19th of March and the 20th of November that we need those reminders. Our sovereignty, our liberty, our constitutional rights, our democracy, we should never take these for granted. Not just on the 4th of July.

Celebrate our freedoms each and every day. 

Oh, and vote.

Blueberries and Cream Pie         

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
3/4 stick butter, melted

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp orange zest

1 pint blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP orange juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 2 TBSP cold water

Opt: whipped cream for garnish

*Spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick spray. Mix the vanilla wafer crumbs with the melted butter ans pat into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
*Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp orange zest until smooth. Carefully spread over crust. Refrigerate.
*Place the blueberries into a saucepan over medium heat with the sugar, orange juice and remaining orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer 1 minute. 
*Add the cornstarch/water mixture to the saucepan. Turn heat down to low and stir until it starts to thicken.
*Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature (can refrigerate to cool), then pour over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate.
*Opt: Garnish with whipped cream for serving.
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Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

 Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Dawn of Cognitive Script.

1. Husband to his wife: I'd be happy to clean it out for you hon, but the vacuum cleaner won't fit in here.

2. Husband to his wife: I'm sure we have a wine opener somewhere . . .

3. Husband to his wife: Honey, are you SURE you saw a spider?
Wife (in a panicked voice): Do you think I'm standing on this table for my health?
Husband (sighing): Well, probably not. But I don't see anything.
Wife: Just so you know, you'll be there and I'll be here till you do. 
Husband: I was afraid of that.

4.Wife to Husband: I know I said to look everywhere, but under what set of circumstances would your car keys be down there?

5. Husband to Wife: Hey, we have a coffee grinder. Wait, and a juicer. Oh, and look, a panini press. I should have checked this out years ago, it's like Christmas in here.

And now for something yummy, a delicious grilled side dish: 

Italian Style Grilled Zucchini

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

Cognitive Script
Southern Belle Charm
The Bergham Chronicles

Italian Style Grilled Zucchini

2 Zucchini
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
3 large grape tomatoes
1 TBSP grated parmesan cheese 
1 tsp chopped parsley

*Preheat your grill to the medium low setting.
*Rinse the zucchini, pat dry, cut off ends and slice in half lengthwise. Rinse the grape tomatoes, pat dry, slice and set aside.
*Place the zucchini, seed side up, on a plate. Brush with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper. 
*Place the zucchini on the grill, seed side down. Cook for 3 minutes. Keeping the zucchini seed side down, turn them about 180 degrees. Cook another 4 - 5 minutes until they start to soften but still have some crunch. Remove from grill.
*Place the tomato slices on the zucchini slices. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

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Baking in a Tornado by Karen Bakinginatornado - 3w ago
The day we dropped my older son off at college, I missed him before we even headed home. And I told him so, as my husband rolled his eyes, texting him from his dorm parking lot. He was only an hour away, but no longer a daily physical presence in our lives. It was an adjustment. 

He stopped by both when I knew he was coming and sometimes just unexpectedly. I kept a bag of supplies for him in his locker in the laundry room, still actively involved in supplying his needs (and wants). On any weekend I could find myself cheerfully setting another place at the family table.

Cordon Bleu Grilled Cheese Pockets

When he and a number of students got food poisoning, many ended up dehydrated in the hospital. The wind was whipping dangerously the day I drove to school to get him, car bouncing around the highway like a ping pong ball. I brought him home and spent a week nursing him back to health. Because I could.

When my younger son went to school 10 hours away, it was a whole new level of separation. There were times when, as a mom, it was achingly difficult not to be near him, like when he broke his leg, and when his friend/chef died. Or even when I just walked by his room, feeling the emptiness to my core.

But I was able to support him from afar, advise him and provide for his needs. And I knew the environment he was in, that he was learning and growing, that he was free, that he was safe. I could talk with him any time, fly him home frequently. In fact, it was rarely more than a few months between visits. 

He's home now having graduated last month. We went to pick him up knowing exactly where he would be and when to be there. He's in my home now, planning his future with his family. Sitting at our table daily.

My son is better, stronger, smarter for his experience. He will leave again, and I know how much I will miss him again. But it will be not be open ended, and it will be not with fear in my heart, but pride. 
I was going to say that unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the controversy that came to a head this past week over the administration's zero tolerance (anti)immigration policy. It resulted in both a change in the parameters of approved circumstances under which refugees can request asylum, and a new immigration enforcement policy which, when enacted, saw thousands of children of all ages ripped from their parents and placed in internment camps. Indefinitely.

Truth is, even if you have, in fact, been living under a rock, you have to know this is happening. And the resulting controversy.

For a week now I've been vacillating between trying to understand what these people are going through, and desperately trying not to.

I think about how much I missed my sons, even though it was a planned, voluntary, emotionally safe separation. I'm not trying to make a comparison between these circumstances, there are none. I bring it up as it's the only time I had any inkling of what it was like to be physically separated from and missing my children. What at the time was emotional for me, was in fact just a temporary physical-only disconnection, so trivial given what I'm now witnessing as to be embarrassing.

With perspective I have come to some stark realizations, most mortifying is the visceral, visual proof that there is no correlation between a gentle parting and the aberration of violent ripping. 

There is separation and then there is amputation.

And I just cannot begin to imagine.

Cordon Bleu Grilled Cheese Pockets

Ingredients (per pocket):
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1/4 celery stick, chopped
1/2 green onion, sliced
1 TBSP butter
1 pita pocket
2 slices Swiss or cheese of your choice (I used Pepper Jack) 1 slice thick ham (I used leftover Marinated Grilled Ham Steak), cut in half

*Mix together the cooked chicken, mayonnaise, celery and green onion. Set aside.
*Cut the pita pocket in half. Break up the cheese slices to fit inside the pocket halves without hanging out. Place a slice of ham in each.
*Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pockets and cook until the bottom starts to brown. Flip over and cook the other side. Remove from pan.
*Using a knife, immediately carefully pry the pocket open, fill with the chicken salad.

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Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 5 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

College Boy and I were out at about 10:00 pm and stopped by a store to pick something up quickly on the way home. It was a hot night and we had the windows down. As I was driving out of the parking lot, I could see that where I am about to stop at a stop sign, the sprinklers on the lawn there had turned on. There were a whole row of them and would be on the passenger side of the car as I approached and then stopped at the corner.

I turned to College Boy and told him to quickly put his window up so he didn't get wet. 

Did he? Of course not. As I drove through the gauntlet of cold water, he ducked. Since he was now blocked by the door, he was completely dry. I, on the other hand . . . yup, soaked.

Thanks, kid.

We had to have a lot of work done to our sprinkler system last year and I was happy to know that turning it on this year wouldn't be an issue.

Not so fast.

Hubs, who is the least handy person I know, went to turn the system on for the season.

Hubs: Well, the sprinklers work but water is bubbling out of the top of the thing on the side of the house.
Me: That doesn't sound good.
Hubs: Yeah I'm not sure what's wrong.
Me: Google it. 
Hubs: You can't google "water bubbling out of the top of the sprinkler thing on the side of the house".

Actually you probably can, but he grabbed the manual and went down to the man cave.

He comes upstairs with the manual and a pair of pliers. Yeah, this isn't going to end well. 

He comes inside soaking wet with the manual dripping. 

I didn't ask a thing, just headed straight for the liquor cabinet, where I intend to stay until the Fall. Or until he calls the sprinkler repair people. Whichever comes first.

There's been a lot going on around here in the last few months so some things got away from me, like editing our pics from our Marco Island vacation in March.

I was just in my 2018 picture file looking at the pictures from PurDude's graduation and saw the vacation pics. Most of them were great, which is unusual since I suck at photography. Some of the pics made me smile, a few made me laugh, like this one I called "plowing the field, Marco Island style"

And then there's this one I called "pelicans on the gulf"

Or not.

Yeah, there's the old picture taking skills everyone's come to expect from me. {{sigh}}.

My entire family suffers from seasonal allergies. I'm sure they're made worse by the fact that our house backs up to woods that are lined with Cottonwood Trees. The cottonwood flies all over the lawn and the deck and we sneeze until it stops.

Now I love my lilac shrubs. I have them over on the side of the house where, sadly, they bloom for such a short time each spring. 

I always go out and snip some to put in a vase on the counter. We all suffer, but sometimes you have to suffer for beauty. 

Apparently not this year. My family put their collective feet down and made it clear I was to enjoy the lilacs in their natural habitat. In an effort to wear them down, I brought it up again at dinner and to my surprise, Hubs gave in. Not only that, he offered to create the display himself.

The next afternoon I came home to find my vase on the kitchen counter. And propped up against the vase was this picture from years ago.

I need a less conniving family. And new password for the picture file on my laptop.

You'd think that after all this time nothing I would do could surprise my husband, but, well:

Hubs (walking into the kitchen): Are you OK?
Me: I'm fine, why?
Hubs: You're limping.
Me: No I'm not.
Hubs: It looks like you're limping. What are you doing?
Me: Trying to get over to the sink without the blob of food I dropped on my foot slipping off onto the floor.
Hubs: You're doing what?
Me: Do you really want me to explain it?

Hubs (walking away shaking his head): No. I guess I really don't.

Mixed Berry Oreo Whipped Dessert

I love having my youngest son home. This time between graduation and when he starts his new job is really precious to me and I'm loving every minute.

Many of you who follow this blog know that PurDude took the car on the left away from me the day he got his license. It's 14 years old but he won't give it up, he just loves it. It took him through high school and all 4 years of college.

The other day I opened the garage door.

For the first time since I'd gotten my new car, his car was back home and I couldn't help but smile. This picture just says it all.

Only me.

I know better than to, when I ask Hubs to pick something up for me, be anywhere other than beside the phone. But last week I did make a request of him and while he was gone jumped in the shower.

Realizing my mistake as soon as I stepped out, I ran and grabbed my cell phone to find his missed call. 

Somehow, don't ask me how 'cause I couldn't do it if I tried, I realized as he was answering my call back that I'd enabled "video call". And yikes, as I said, I'd just stepped out of the shower.

Hubs: Hello.
Me: Don't look.
Hubs: Huh?
Me: Don't look at your phone.
Hubs: Well you know that's just gonna make me look.
Me: It was a mistake. I don't know how I did it.
Hubs: What are you talking about? Are you having a stroke or something?
Me: {{sigh}} Did you call me?
Hubs: Yeah I had a question.
Me: What is it?
Hubs: Forget it, I already checked out.
Me: I think I'll go have that stroke now.

I don't mind mowing the lawn, but it was really long and had to be bagged, so I opted out. Hubs was going to come home early from work to mow but PurDude was home, noticed the lawn needed mowing and went out to do it. I called Hubs to let him know.

But my husband and my brother-in-law (my sister's husband, they live in Boston 1500 miles from us) have the same first name and I was shocked when I pressed the wrong one in my cell phone and realized I was talking to my brother-in-law:

Me: Oh.
Him: You pressed the wrong number on your cell phone, didn't you?
Me: Yes, OMG. I guess you don't really need to know that PurDude is mowing the lawn.
Him: No, can't say as I do.

Not only did I call the wrong person, but I bothered him at work. And even worse, when he saw my number come up on his phone at work I scared the crap out of him, thinking something was wrong.

We chatted for a while, but let me tell you I felt like the biggest idiot. 


PurDude was looking for a snack after a tough morning (and half the afternoon, truth be told) of sleeping in.
Me: I'll make some cookies.
PurDude: What kind?
Me: How about whatever you want. Tell me what your favorite mix-ins would be and I'll add them. Candies, cookies, flavoring whatever you want.
PurDude proceeds to name all of his favorites.
Me: Hmm, there's gonna be a whole lot of junk food in these cookies.
PurDude: They'll be delicious. You should put them on your blog.
Me: I'll have to think of something to call them. Like "PurDude's Junk".

He didn't even have to roll his eyes and shake his head while he walked away, I heard it myself the minute it came out of my mouth.

My older son loves Chipotle Ranch Salad Dressing. He has it on pretty much everything. I've even used it in a few recipes with him in mind like Grilled Sriracha Chipotle Ranch Chicken and Sriracha Chipotle Ranch Chicken Nachos and Spicy Broccoli Slaw and Chicken Salad.

I tried a new recipe the other night. I wanted to make Chicken Parmesan, but I didn't want to have to pan fry the chicken breasts so I was trying to make them in the oven but still be crispy.

I served it with my Homemade Marinara.

Me: Do you like the Chicken Parmesan made in the oven?
College Boy: Yes, but you know what would be really good?
Me: What?
College Boy: If instead of marinara, you served it with Chipotle Ranch Dressing.
Me: I tell you what, I'll slather those things in Chipotle Ranch dressing if you can name one food you actually don't think would taste good smothered in Chipotle Ranch dressing.
College Boy: Ice cream. 

Well, he got me there.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Menopausal Mother 
Never Ever Give Up Hope  
Spatulas on Parade
My Brand of Crazy

Mixed Berry Oreo Whipped Dessert        

1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup chopped raspberries
2/3 cup chopped strawberries
1/3 cup sugar

12 oreos, crushed

3 oz box blue or red jello flavor or your choice

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

*Mix the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries with sugar in a bowl. Place on the counter for an hour, stirring now and then.
*Into a small strainer placed over a bowl, strain the fruit saving both the fruit and the juice.
*Boil 1 cup of water. Add the jello and mix until the crystals dissolve. Mix in 1/2 cup of the berry juice. If you don't quite have 1/2 cup, add water to make 1/2 cup. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
*Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks hold. Beat in the jello. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
*Strain the fruit again, reserving any additional juice for drizzling over the top when serving. Mix in the crushed oreos and reserved fruit into the jello mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour to thicken.
*To serve, either scoop into a bowl or scoop onto a slice of angel food or pound cake or marbled brioche. Drizzle with any remaining juice.
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If patience is a virtue, I'm down one check mark in that virtue column. I may be down quite a few, but that's a story for another day. Whatever, I know I've got integrity and ethics so I'm not completely without redeeming qualities. Or at least that's what I tell myself. 

But patience, well, I've always been lacking. I know it's me and not to put it off on those of you blessed with this virtue, but there are strategies that I might be able to offer if you have people like me in your life.


To husbands everywhere:
If I ask you to show me where the broken piece on the sprinkler system is so I know what to point out to the repairman when he arrives, I do not want a dissertation on the history of sprinkler systems and how they work.

To the checker in the supermarket:
I don't want to be rude, if you want to tell me all the cute things your dog or cat or kid did this week, I'll listen and smile. If you have to stop checking my groceries to act out each circumstance, I'm not going to listen. Or smile. You might even hear a "grrrr". 

To the person driving 15 miles per hour below the speed limit:
That right lane isn't there just to look pretty. And straddling both lanes is an equally aggravating strategy. If you do not take your place in the proper lane, it may force the driver behind you to show you that the first two and the last two fingers of one hand have clench shut leaving that other finger pointing to the sky.

To little kids sitting at the dinner table:
Listen, if your mama says you have to eat one bite of your vegetable to have dessert, time is not your friend, sitting there looking at it will not make it disappear. Be smart, hide it under the lettuce in your salad like I used to do or throw it onto the floor under your sister's chair like my sister used to do but for the love of all that is holy, make your move.

Baked Crispy Chicken Parmesan

To the car repairman:
Listen, I get it, you can't always judge time accurately. Maybe the car ahead of mine needs more repairs than you'd initially thought. That's fine. But do not tell me my car will be ready in an hour and wait for me to get a ride to pick it up to tell me you haven't got to it yet. Call me, email me, text me, send up smoke signals, the options are endless. But if you wait until I'm standing there, chances are pretty good that what you see from me will not be patience.  

To the nurse at the gynecologist's office:
Don't tell me to take off all of my clothes, cover myself with a piece of material the size of a bandana and lay down on the torture table because the doctor will be right in if the doctor's a good half hour out. You know the longer I lay there the better the chance I'm gonna have to pee. And if I end up heading to the bathroom with my butt hanging out? Well, that's on you.

To my son:
If I ask you, and you agree, to mow the lawn before the storms come through, I don't mean for wait to head out there until the thunder's so loud you fall off the couch. Chances are I'll have something to say at that point. And it won't be "thank you".

To restaurant waiters and waitresses:
I have been a waitress so I know that sometimes when there's a rush things get absolutely crazy, you may need to say "I'll be right with you" and not get back for a while. So, being on the customer side of the situation, let me give you a hint as to how to assure your customer's patience. You can take as long as you need to fill my water, take my order, to bring my salad, to even bring my meal and I'll be fine with it as long as you do this one little thing. Get that cocktail order taken and delivered. Fast.

In fact, now that I think of it, that cocktail strategy might just work for the husbands, supermarket checkers, slow drivers, kids, car repairmen and nurses . . .

Baked Crispy Chicken Parmesan        

Printable Recipe

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded provolone
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup marinara sauce, my recipe for Homemade Marinara HERE
2 TBSP dried parsley flakes

*Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Cut each chicken breasts into 3 pieces of fairly equal thickness.
*Whisk the egg in a bowl with 2 TBSP water. Mix the seasoned bread crumbs and parmesan cheese on a plate.
*Dip the chicken pieces into the egg, then coat completely with the bread crumb mixture and place into the prepared baking dish.
*Melt the butter with the garlic powder. Drizzle over the chicken pieces.
*Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle the provolone and mozzarella cheeses over the chicken. Sprinkle with the parsley and return to the oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Chicken must be completely cooked through
*While the cheese is melting, heat the marinara sauce and serve the chicken with the marinara drizzled over the top and/or on the side. 
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