Friday, February 24, 2012

JOY suckers

I have a word that hangs in various places around our house - it seems to move about and rest in a place where it's most needed. Sometimes it's right by our front door, a gentle reminder when we enter the house after a crazy day. Other times it's in the kitchen - it seems to land there right when Type 1 Diabetes is morphing into a monster as it does from time-to-time. Lately it has been hung rather precariously beneath our mantle, with family photos above a clock appropriately marking time.

Today my eye caught sight of "JOY" right after a joy sucking moment. You know those moments - those little bumps along the road of a day which suddenly take us from joy (or at least contentment) to irritation. It could be someone driving in a manner we don't agree with. It may be an off-hand comment that reminds us of a short-coming. Sometimes it's a little reminder that there are areas of our lives that need tweaking but we haven't had the gumption to tweak.

I have a few of those tweaks that are long overdue. None are enjoyable to engage in, though I do realize that the end result will solidify joy a bit more in my life. The tweaks will heighten my joy which will only increase the joy of the people currently perched in photos on my mantle. And as if to further remind me what dragging my feet is doing, the clock sits with a face staring at me....asking me why I'm just so dense....why I drag my feet....why pleasing people not perched on my mantle is taking precedence over increasing the joy of those photographed subjects.

Being joyful always goes hand in hand with praying continually. And the joy suckers also do a lot of the work keeping me from that continual prayer. So today, as I receive yet another reminder that I need to get to tweaking, I look at that lopsided - yet properly placed - "JOY" and pray...not quite continually, but with earnestness, that I can make the difficult decisions - the tough tweaks - thereby increasing the joy for the more important people in my life.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hard To Help

Did you ever encounter a person that makes it hard to help them?  I'm sure that introductory sentence is full of copious grammatical errors.  It doesn't even read properly.  But I'm keeping it.  (And I'm keeping the two sentences following that begin with 'but' and 'and'.)

Here's the type I'm referring to:

  • Suzy has a lot of time on her hands.  It's a wonderful gift, mind you, she's a dying breed this stay at home mom, and many of us are extremely grateful to have Suzy around.  She is quick to volunteer and, by golly, when she volunteers she even offers to be President/Chairperson/Leader/Point Person (you get my drift).  This sounds awesome!  Way to go Suzy!  But then Suzy makes it really hard on everyone else.  It starts subtly with Suzy's complaints over how busy raising money for the first grade class is making her.  Then parents get the cutesy newsletters home with the not-so-subtle phrases about being the only person involved in this or that.  Soon we receive a list of donations "required" to pull off some function Suzy deemed necessary.  Finally, when a well meaning parent offers to bring something from the list Suzy counters with specifics on brand, type, exactly when the item must be delivered to "her function".  Oh Suzy.
The Suzys of the world can do a lot to kill the spirit of volunteerism in a group.  Whether it's a school, a church, or Girl Scout Troop.  Suzy, in her over-zealous desire to fill her hours and days, does suffer from burn out.  Burn out turns to full on martyrdom and, more than likely, Suzy already has some ego issues.

The sad thing is, Suzy is probably clueless over how her helping is actually hurting.  It is scaring some parents off from volunteering at all.  It is leaving her with work that could have been shared, had she let some people bring their own brand of potato chips, and it has rendered some fundraising stagnant because no one wants to donate to a toot-my-own-horn type.

Suzy is hard to help.  Suzy will probably always be hard to help.  Suzy, perhaps, needs to get a job for a while where she answers to people above her.  Or Suzy needs to be okay with barbecue potato chips, when what she really wanted was rippled. 

Don't be a Suzy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bean & Kielbasa Soup...the right kind of carbs for my little diabetic

Having a Type 1 diabetic in our home makes us all a bit more sensitive to carbohydrates. Not for vanity, but for being truly healthy. Eating a cupcake or a box of saltines is not the best use of carbs, eating legumes (beans, people) is a good use of carbs. In fact, they seem to help regulate our young diabetic's blood sugars in a truly wonderful manner.

And if they do this for her, they do it for all of us.

Now here's the thing - the moment legume/bean is mention many tune it out. Ewwww....I don't like beans......ewwww they're slimy....ewwww texture. I am a tough love kind of mom around the dinner table - I made it, I served it, you eat it. If I ask that of my children, asking it of adults doesn't seem unreasonable. PLUS with this recipe, there is some blending involved and some great flavor. So get over the EWWWWWW and embrace a good for you, good tasting soup....

2 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped yellow (sweet) onion
2 cloves garlic
4 cups chicken stock
2 large links kielbasa - cut in half and in chunks
3 cans great northern beans - rinsed
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 T oregano
1 T salt or garlic salt
1/2 T cracked black pepper

Saute carrots, onion, garlic in 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. Continue until the veggies start getting soft.

Add the cut kielbasa and saute again for a couple minutes.

Add the rest of the chicken stock, the beans, seasonings.

Let this simmer for a while. A while is about 5-10 minutes. At this point if you have an immersion blender use it in the pot, creating a creamy looking soup rather than the thinner version you have now. If you do not have an immersion blender, scoop 2-3 cups of the soup out and use your blender or food processor to creat that thicker texture - then put it back in the pot.

Final step, put in the spinach. Serve immediately. Store nicely in a freezer container.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ina Garten...It's your birthday!

In CELEBRATION of Ina Garten (a/k/a The Barefoot Contessa) check out a kitchen worth drooling over.  Just don't drool in the food you're prepping.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easiest - Bestest - Fiesta Chicken

Easy is great.  Best is...well, it's best.  Fiesta is a party.  Chicken?  Well it's this low-fat poultry that can be kind of boring.  But it's good for us.  And so we eat it.

This, my friends, is the easiest and best tasting chicken I've had for use in Mexican recipes calling for chicken.  We use it in tacos, enchiladas, on nachos.... 

And did I mention easy?  Very easy.

I use a traditional, round crockpot.  Not a small/mini, but not the super large oblong roaster version.  A very standard issue pot.  My ode to it, in fact, is the stuff of history.

Fiesta Crockpot Chicken
Clean the gunk from chicken breasts.  You know what I mean.  That gunky stuff left on the edges of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  The leftovers you know we don't want to eat.

6 whole chicken breasts - put them in the pot after trimming
1 jar salsa - use your favorite
1 package taco seasoning - try to find the MSG free stuff...your body will thank you
1/4 T crushed red pepper flakes
Cook on low.  You'll know when it's done - probably a good 5 hours. 
Pull the chicken from the pot, keeping all the good stuff that's still in the pot.  And apart those chicken breasts.  (One hint - easy shredding can be had by cutting against the grain of the meat....opposite the direction you cut when you want those pretty slices from a roast or bird).  Put the shreds back in the good stuff in the pot to keep it warm. 

If you're not using right away go ahead and freeze everything or refrigerate for future use.  Make sure you do either including the chicken with the salsa-y stuff in the pot.