If . . .

If you ever find yourself watching a two-year-old.

If it goes quiet.

If you note said quietness and go to investigate, but walk in the completely wrong direction.

If you backtrack and find her.  Her being someone else’s two-year-old.

If you inhale so bad you deplete oxygen for the whole room as you notice she’s smeared nappy/diaper rash cream all over her cardigan and a square foot of your 2.5-year-old carpet.

If you’re glad you bought a steam cleaner a few years ago, but quickly realise it’s not taking it off . . .

Be grateful for Google.

Shout Triple Action (clothes) stain remover.  Huggies Thick N’ Clean wipes also came in handy.

Damage removed.

Nightmare gone.

Take that how you wish.

A Voice From the Dust

There has been silence here.  Dust has settled and I have been very sporadic in my visits to others (blog-wise).  One of my reasons was March.  I couldn’t face it at all.  It was when we left for Scotland a year ago, and I have been pining for it off and on ever since.  I didn’t think I would miss the familiarity of it since I have become so embedded here.

But I do.

Part of it is my Gran though.  But if I go back she won’t be there anyway.  Yet another reason March was tough to handle.  It gave me my perspective on life though.  I felt like I had become so consumed in making sure I was caught up on others’ lives that I had come to love so dearly, that I was ignoring my real life going on right in front of me.

But how do you say goodbye to something you have been doing diligently for 4 years?  You can’t.

I love writing.  I think about each word I use, and, as a result, some posts have seriously taken a lot of of me.  Blogging and keeping up with the likes isn’t easy.  I’m definitely not turning my back on it.  I just need/needed to refocus.  I should have left a note.  I should have called.  I should have done something!

And strangely, my husband has missed my writing.  Once, when I was still actively blogging, he even remarked, “I see less of you, but so much more of you.”  But even with the prodding, all I could think about was how I felt compelled to blog, but not because I wanted to,  because I felt I had to, and that’s when I realised I had come to the point of doing it for the wrong reasons.

But something else has taken my attention a little.  Something little just now, and maybe not so little in the future.

I have been staring at a family photo on our entryway wall, and much like a scene from Back to the Future, I felt like someone was missing.  If I’m being honest, I’ve felt that way for almost a year, right before we bought the Dodge Caravan (the ’92 Ford Explorer was such a money pit anyway, but still).

I am currently 14 weeks pregnant and doing very well.  My to-be-determined little one is due the last week of October, which, if I am completely honest, feels like a lifetime away.  But.  But!  This is the first pregnancy where I can actually say I am having the baby the same year!

So, although life isn’t different, it is just a little.

Comfort Food

I should probably change the name of this thing to “a brit indifferent”, that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about blogging, especially after my long(-winded) post disappeared.

I’ve been keeping busy otherwise, specifically with trying out new recipes.  It seems all I do these days is try something new.  I think with the never-ending nasty weather, I just have to have something comforting.  Last night, it was Chicken Tortilla Soup.  It’s true, I’d never made it, but I found a great recipe.  If I have to offer one piece of advice it’s this: make sure your tortilla chips are still in the cupboard before you start; it’s not just a cleverly-named soup.

I can’t lay claim to this recipe, I found it at recipezaar, but here it is in its glory.
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1 (46 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie from the deli is fine)
2 anaheim chilies, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
3-4 large tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle pepper (optional)

Garnish
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, pulled from stem
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Directions
-Throw everything except the garnishes in your crock pot and let it cook on high for 5-6 hours.
-Dress with garnishes and give it a squeeze of lime (a must:-) and you’re good to go!
-Enjoy!
-If you are not using a crock pot, sauté the garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil before adding the remaining ingredients.
-Simmer for at least an hour so that the flavors mix together.

**  I only used 1 tsp pepper, and not quite a tsp of salt.  I used Monterey-Jack cheese on mine.  You can also see from the photo that I took the time to delicately shred the chicken like it said in the directions pahahaha!  I also accidentally picked up serrano peppers instead of anaheim, but it was still really good.

I’m In A Huff Now

I’m mad at WordPress.

I sat and wrote a long, thought-out post.

I was posting pics at the end and it wouldn’t load properly.

I decided to give up trying till it decided to work again.

So, I pressed Save Draft.

That was the last time I saw it.

Back and Firefox can’t save me this time.

There is no draft.

They’re off my Christmas card list now.

Jif Lemon Day!

If  you are American, today is Mardi Gras.  If you are Catholic, today is the day before Lent.  If you are British, today is Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Day!  OK, technically the same as Shrove Tuesday, but let’s skirt over technicalities here.

I have often wondered why I have never heard the term ‘Shrove Tuesday’ here.  Wikipedia set me straight:

Shrove Tuesday is a term used in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia for the day preceding the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent.

The word shrove is the past tense of the English verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving that English Christians were expected to do prior to receiving absolution immediately before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of “shrovetide”, somewhat analogous to the carnival tradition that developed separately in countries of Latin Europe. The term “Shrove Tuesday” is no longer widely known in the United States outside of Liturgical Traditions, such as the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches.  Because of the increase in many immigrant populations and traditions since the 19th century “Mardi Gras” is much more widely-used.

The festival is widely associated with the eating of foods such as pancakes, and often known simply as Pancake Day, originally because these used up ingredients such as fat and eggs, the consumption of which was traditionally restricted during Lent.

Like most other traditions (like how Americans eat corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day, even though the Irish never have.  When the great famine occurred and they fled Ireland and landed in America, bacon was too expensive to eat with their cabbage  — known as Bubble and Squeak, btw — so they adopted the Jewish tradition of eating the beef instead.  Never let it be said you don’t learn something when you come here), protocol is dropped, and regardless of your religious affiliation or not, everyone makes pancakes for dinner tonight.

Pancakes aren’t just looked upon as a breakfast staple in the UK, in fact, you can eat pancakes anytime you want, and you don’t even have to give the excuse of having ‘breakfast for dinner’ to do it either.  I used to love stopping by the local bakery on my way to work, and ask for a buttered pancake.  It was such a good treat.

Growing up, my mum made two types of pancakes, the thinner, more crepe-like version (served with sugar and (jif) lemon juice), and the other hockey-puck thick version.  My mum’s are much sweeter than my husband is used to.

n.b.  my mum uses a coffee/tea mug to measure out the ingredients.  Aye, I know.  So, when I say cup, I mean MUG.

Pancakes

1 cup sugar
4 – 4.5 cups of flour
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
3 eggs
20 fl. oz milk (a British pint)

Combine everything in a large bowl, adding the flour last, gradually.

Makes: emm . . . a lot.

Here’s a great recipe for crepes:

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, milk, eggs, and oil.  Add salt.  Heat a lightly greased 6 inch skillet; remove from heat.  Spoon in 2 Tbsp batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread evenly.  Return to heat; brown on one side only.  To remove, invert pan over paper towel.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Fill with your favourite filling.

Makes 7.

Another Reminder

There is so much I want to talk about and mention, so many things going on in my mind, but all I can think about is last week.

I had met Beth once in the Mall.  Although they work in different departments and on opposite shifts, my husband had mentioned her a few times and remarked on what a kind, gentle spirit she was and how he had been good friends with her at work.  Three weeks ago, he came home from work with bad news.  He mentioned how he had been working with her closely on some internal audit details and how he had been standing behind her when she made a call to her husband.  He works there too.  They wanted to work together to be close to each other.  They’d spent all their free time together out in their small piece of land, tending the few heads of cattle they owned; it’s what they loved doing.

She spoke in hushed tones:
“Can you come get me?  I don’t feel well.”

When he got to her desk, she whispered:
“There’s something wrong, I’m losing my sight, I’m going blind.”

As he was relating this to me, my initial thought was, ‘oh no, diabetes?

They then left and went to the local hospital, where a doctor told her she was having an allergic reaction to coffee — another reason I have blatant disregard for the local health care system and its staff here.

Unsatisfied with the diagnosis, her husband got her in to see a specialist 45 miles away, three days later, where they rushed her into Chemotherapy that day after they discovered she had acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) — the most aggressive of its kind.

Last Thursday morning, I got a worried call saying she had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was now in ICU.

She died that afternoon.

I can’t help but wonder how many reminders I need before I grasp the fragility of life(?).  This woman was alive two weeks ago, not knowing those were her last days.  She was just 39, with a college-aged daughter.  And her husband.  The love of her life has to just carry on.  Keep going to work.  But for what now?

Everyone has a right to their own thoughts and belief systems, but for me, it’s hard to fathom that colleagues are saying, “she’s gone, he’ll never see her again.”  What kind of hope for the future does that give?  It doesn’t.  What are we living for, if not for something far better than our imaginations can take us?  If that is true, all the love we share with others is null and void and for nothing.  It can’t be.  It isn’t.

Although I didn’t know her, it has been a eye opener for me.  A time to continue to appreciate and validate those in our lives.  A time to make the most of what we have and take nothing for granted.  A time to live in the moment and not rush to the next thing.  Life is too precious not to.
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Skills They Don’t Teach You in Preschool

Dear Mr. Netflix,

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  And you know what?  This ‘no late fees’ shenanigans is pretty smart business if you ask me.  You didn’t?  Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  There’s a local DVD place about 6 miles down the road that has a deal on Tuesdays where every DVD is $1.  I think it’s a fantastic deal.  You might counter back that they have late fees.  Yes they do.  I’d like to also submit the notion that you do too.  If I forget about a film  — which I have on a few occasions — I’m still paying for a service I’m not technically ‘using’.  I have to admit though, my intrigue with Netflix isn’t about saving petrol money or the convenience of forgetting I have legs or the innate ability to portray some sort of social skills by interacting with other humans in public places.  No, it’s about lists.  I can create a list from a huge database and somehow, that cheers my soul.  I also like getting stuff in the mail.

There is a personality behind my faceless membership number, and skills I don’t readily get to employ on a regular basis, at least with the viewing public.  You should count yourself lucky you are one of the very few to lay witness that I can piece back together a paper product that has been shredded by toddler ingenuity.  I think you’ll agree that this is one piece of impressive engineering.  And you’re welcome.  It’s the little things that show you care.

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Cheers,

abritdifferent, a list lover.