Posted in News, Self, Travel

Star Struck

HI THERE!  Apparently, I’ve been on an extended vacation from my blog since April!  I didn’t realize it had been five months until yesterday when I was searching the site for a recipe!

I’m going to try to bring you up to speed and then go into a little more detail about the fun stuff we’ve encountered over the last five months!

April and May were basically a blur.  I spent a lot of time planning for our Disney trip and try to lose the last bit of weight I wanted to lose before leaving on vacation (this was a fail by 9 lbs. by the way, but more on that later).  The girls made it through another year of school and the youngest graduated to the high school!  Incomprehensible to me, but true all the same.

In early June, we all drove home to Maryland to visit family and friends and to drop the kids off at their dad’s in Virginia, which we did casually and quickly from the back of a limousine!  Originally, my plan had been to drink some wine, ride through D.C. and take copious amounts of photographs during the ride, but plans have a way of going awry and none of that even came close to happening.

We wound up riding to Virginia to drop the girls off after having lunch with my best friend and her family (the same BF that I went to Tennessee to be with in the last post).  To allow for more girl time and catching up, we invited her and her daughter to ride with us, which they happily did.  It was nice to hang out – always is, but all the plans that I’d made were then null and void.

Also during our trip we stopped by the church where I used to work as a nursery school teaching assistant.  We showed up unannounced and that’s always fun, I love surprising people!  It was so good to see my former boss and co-workers.  I really miss some of them.  Even though I only worked there a couple years and my boss was only my boss for a year of those two, she became a friend, a confidant and a huge influence on me.  She became someone that I admire and greatly respect.

Before we left the church, I was standing outside my car talking to a friend/ex-co-worker of mine when a man and two women exited the building.  I took a double take and immediately recognized the man.  I said to my friend, “I know that guy!  He’s on one of my favorite TV shows!”  To make sure I wasn’t losing my mind cuz I was really excited about seeing him, I facebooked him and asked if it was indeed him.  Lo and behold it was!  And then, I was even more excited that he answered me!  And just to let you all know, I’m not easily star struck – at all.  The only other person I was even partially excited about seeing was a woman from the T.V. show “Starting Over”, Andy Paige and I saw her in a casino in Atlantic City, NJ!  I never approach them, but I sure do recognize them!  Here’s my excited – albeit short – exchange!

File Aug 28, 9 51 24 AM.png

 

Now, if you know anything about me, you know I just LOVE Hoarders!  And one of the reasons is Matt Paxton!  Just watch THIS and you’ll see why!  I didn’t realize this but apart from “Hoarders”, he also works with people in downsizing and estate planning, which is a fantastic service, especially for the elderly.  I wish I had known about this before my mother decided to give – slash – throw away half of the things she ever owned.  If you’re interested in reading more, here’s a link – Legacy Navigator.  I only found this info because I’m nosey like that…

July was my birthday month and also finally, our summer vacation!  The one that I overplanned and had HUGE expectations for!  I’ll post more about our vacation in a new post!  Thanks for reading and sticking around, I should be around more myself now!  Hope everyone has a great Monday!

xoxo

Advertisements
Posted in Family, Self, Travel

Home Again

DSC_8514.JPG

This morning, I plugged in my card reader to go through the photos I took Monday at my best friend’s mother’s graveside service.  I’ve known my best friend since we were in Kindergarten, we were 5.  Our birthday’s are only 12 days apart, to this day on my birthday she calls me “old”.  That’s basically the only chance she has to throw that word out there and it not quite apply to herself, but only a few days later, she catches up!

My best friend’s mom was considered my second mother.  That’s even the way she signed her cards to me, she was probably one of the only people I could be myself around and she’d still accept me when it was all said and done.  This being said, my best friend wasn’t always my “best friend”, but she’s always been the friend I’ve known and kept the longest, 40+ years!  I was the only non-family member at her mother’s service there on my bestie’s behalf.  The service was bittersweet.  Since my best friend and I don’t live close to one another any longer, we don’t see each other very often, but when we do, it’s exciting and fun and it’s great to see one another.  This time, we came together with many different emotions being involved, but thankfully, the service went well and visiting her family went well.

I’m so glad I was able to be there, to give my second mother a final farewell and to remember her for who she was.  A beautiful, kind woman who gave birth to my bestie and loved me despite the fact I was no relation to her.  I will remember her forever and miss her always.

Posted in Family, News, Travel

Show Me the Mickey!

Well – I’m doin’ it.  I’ve been in a rut long enough now.  Time to shake things up and git to gettin’ happy!

(First, I have to admit – I absolutely freaked out a little while ago.  My blood pressure went up, I started to shake and I felt like I was going to pass out, all because I updated the OS on my mac!  I started thinking about all the stuff I don’t have backed up!  Does anyone else do that?!?  Good Lord, I thought I would jump out of my skin waiting for this thing to update.  Thankfully, it’s all still here!  UGH!  Can you say heart attack!?!?  Yeah, not a good way to go out for sure!  Anyway…here’s my happy!)

The last couple nights, while lying in bed NOT being able to sleep, the gears were a-grindin’.  ‘What sounds good, fun, exciting!?’  I’ve been toying with the idea of a cruise for a while now.  It’s been FOREVER since I’ve been on one.  Just few months ago, I posed the question on my personal FB page, ‘what cruise line do you recommend?’ and after a few posts, I started my research there.  Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity were all mentioned – even Carnival, but I know better than that!  I started looking and pretty quickly thought I’d made a decision.  Then – somehow for some reason – Disney came to mind.

Now let me give a brief background here about my relationship with Disney.  I have a long term love affair with WDW that started when I was about 2.  I have always loved Disney, suffice it to say – a lot, whole bunches with my heart and soul.  I won’t go into too many details because I’ll start to get emotional and probably won’t be able to finish this post.  Over the last few years I allowed my love affair with Disney to die a peaceful death when my ex started going on a regular basis with his current wife.

There’s a LOT of sadness and a LOT of baggage there.  I mean, it was my most favorite vacation destination EVER!  But in the last 10+ years, I’ve been only once, for an afternoon, with my girls.  My youngest daughter’s face in the photo below tells you exactly how I felt about being there at the time.

But now, I’ve come to the realization that I’m tired of allowing the old to disturb the new, I’m sick of missing out on the fun and the good times, all because of something I can’t and couldn’t control.  I miss Disney, I miss the fun, the colors, the movies, the rides, the attachment to a place that was always so good to me, I miss the resorts, the food, the monorail, I miss the anticipation and excitement of planning, I miss the hospitality and I miss the awesome, personalized customer service!  Screw it, I’m not missing any more!  I started reading the cruise reviews and all of them are exactly like I left them 10 years ago – Top Drawer – without question – they are – the Premier in Pampering!  And by God, I am so ready to be pampered!!  My decision was made…but first I had to clear it with the gang.

I was a bit hesitant about approaching the 15 year old, as ya just never know.  It’s hit or miss during the teen years.  I was surprised when it was my 14 year old that was like, “eh, I don’t know Mom, that sounds kinda babyish”.  But then I hit her with the Teen Club thing and she was in.  As of this morning, I have everyone I need on board!  I’m in this and I’m so totally excited!!  My 15 year old said, “and you can get married on the ship!”  Say what did you say?!  Hey…yeah…we could do that!!  Because Disney’s all about making Fairy Tales come true!

xoxo

 

Posted in Family, Food, Travel

Zucchini Bars…anyone?!

I’ve really been concentrating on my weight loss lately.  Trying NOT to indulge in baking all the yummy things I enjoy, but the ole Waffle Blog is suffering – it’s just too quiet over here!!

This past Thursday, we drove to Shipshewana, Indiana.  Just for a mini getaway before my mother arrives.  We didn’t really “do” much, just saw the sites and walked around the town…oh, and of course, ate.

For one early dinner, we visited the Blue Gate Restaurant and had their buffet.  It was good, I’d give it a B- as I thought it needed more vegetables but the taste was good.  It was the standard hometown fare – fried & baked chicken, mac & cheese, you know the drill.  I should have stopped at the salad and the baked chicken, but nope…I just had to try the desserts!

All that I tasted were good, but there was one in particular that I enjoyed more than the others.  It had chocolate chips sprinkled on the top and it wasn’t super sweet like the other cakes and it had green “things” in it.  My first thought was – zucchini cake although to my knowledge I’ve never had zucchini cake before.  I asked the waiter and after checking with the kitchen staff, he claimed it was zucchini bars!  They were delicious!!  Of course, ever since I ate it, I’ve been on the hunt for THIS particular recipe…chocolate chips on top, no frosting, mild spice flavor like cinnamon, zucchini bars or zucchini cake.  So far I’ve found one with the chocolate chips on top, but it was made with Bisquick.  I’m going to take a guess that that ain’t it.

This week, I WILL be baking SOMETHING with zucchini in it, so be on the look out for it!  And if anyone may have a recipe for zucchini bars that sound like the one I had in Shipshawana, please, please let me know!

In preparation for my mother’s arrival this evening, I’ll be making some creamy chicken soup and some pull apart pumpkin bread that I found on Pinterest.  Be on the lookout for an update to this post as well!

Have a great day everyone!

xoxo

Well – the layzies set in.  I cooked dinner, but I didn’t make the pull apart pumpkin bread.  Of course, as soon as my mother walked into the kitchen, “Did you make dessert?”  LOL  Uh, no…I didn’t, but here’s a pork chop.  I did make some Creamy Chicken Soup though!  I followed a recipe from @cj_losingit on Instagram!  It’s delicious and SO easy!

Here’s my version:

Creamy Chicken Soup
10 servings about 287 calories per serving

2 (32 oz.) boxes chicken broth (I use Swanson’s)
chicken bouillon
1 Family Size Healthy Request Fat Free Cream of Chicken
1 (12 oz.) can 2% or fat free evaporated milk
Chopped or sliced – onion, celery and carrots
1 (8 oz.) pkg. wide egg noodles (I started using Inn Maid)
3 trimmed chicken breasts, meat only
1/2 c. frozen peas, optional
salt, pepper, parsley

Boil the chicken in the broth.  Add bouillon if desired for a stronger chicken flavor.  Add vegetables and allow to cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is done and pull-apart-able.  Remove the chicken from the broth and pull apart, add it back to the broth.  Add the cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk, stir to combine.  Then dump in the whole bag of egg noodles.  All those to cook until done.  Add peas and any seasonings you may want and allow to cook until peas are cooked.  Serve and enjoy!  

I love this soup and so does my family!  It’s so easy!

Have a great one!

xoxo

Posted in Family, Food, Holidays & Birthday, School, Travel

DC Bound

I’ve decided that today – I write.  Not that I haven’t tried during the last eleven days mind you, but I haven’t been able to write an entire post that I felt was worthy or that was really even complete!  But today, I’m home alone with minimal pressures to get things done so with coffee, phone, and quiet house, I’m ready to go!

Sunday evening, the youngest boarded a transit bus. She and four full buses of other 8th graders made their way to Washington, D.C. for their class trip.  She (and her sister and me too) was born there so basically she took a very expensive bus trip home.  Her father still lives there and yesterday was her birthday.  Although I haven’t had an update yet, he was supposed to meet her at their hotel to meet her friends and celebrate her birthday.  I can’t wait to hear all the details! *A very brief update – he showed up with cupcakes and cash, it was good.  And like I said – I can’t wait to hear all the details!

This trip brings back memories of my own trip to D.C. when I was in the 9th grade.  I was living in S.C. at the time and although I was born and raised in D.C., I’d never toured the White House or the Washington Monument or really any of the main landmarks you think of when you think of our nation’s capital.  It was where we lived, we didn’t “tourist” there.  My parents were divorced and my father still lived in D.C. so the same situation applied, my dad met me and all my school mates downtown, it was just an exciting and memorable time.  I’m hoping the same for her, that she’ll look back on her trip with good memories.

dc-trip

The trip and her birthday were a couple of the reasons I didn’t have a chance to formulate a full post!  I had to make sure she had everything she needed and we decided to celebrate her birthday prior to her leaving, not to mention it all coinciding with the fall orchestra concert and the end of the soccer season.  Then of course, trying to keep up with Hurricane Matthew and his whereabouts since most of my family and friends live on the East coast.  It’s been a fairly active eleven days.

H’s cake selection this year was a pumpkin spice ice cream cake.  I followed the original ice cream cake recipe that I tried last year and came up with this beauty!

dsc_6321

A layer of graham cracker crust, a layer of Edy’s pumpkin pie ice cream, a layer of caramel sauce with crushed gingersnap cookies and toffee bits, another layer of Edy’s pumpkin pie ice cream, all frosted with a layer of Cool Whip.  And I have to mention, I thought it would be cute to decorate the cake with those little Brach’s candy pumpkins, so I bought a bag, and then…I made the huge mistake of reading the ingredients.  The rest of the bag was promptly tossed into the trash.  When the wax candles were blown out and removed from the cake so were the wax pumpkins and before anyone could object they all went into the trash.  Once I read the word shellac on the ingredient list, that was that.

20161008_093830

Kerria-lacca-Thailand.jpg
lac tubes created by the kerria lacca insect

Here is the description of confectioner’s glaze from Wikipedia and the reason I’ll never purchase these again <gag>, “Pharmaceutical glaze is an alcohol-based solution of various types of food-grade shellac.[1] The shellac is derived from the raw material sticklac, which is a resin scraped from the branches of trees left from when the small insect, Kerria lacca (also known as Laccifer lacca), creates a hard, waterproof cocoon.[2] When used in food and confections, it is also known as confectioner’s glaze, resinous glaze, pure food glaze, natural glaze,[3][4] or confectioner’s resin.[5]”  Seriously?  Ugh!  Sometimes I think I would be better off to not know so much.

2016-10-11-06-22-10

 

I’d give the cake a C grade.  If I were to make this again, I’d change a couple changes.  The crust would be half as thin as this was, it was simply too thick and it was hard to cut.  I wouldn’t use (at least this particular) pumpkin ice cream again.  I would purchase vanilla ice cream then add real pumpkin and spices to the vanilla.  I found this pumpkin ice cream too artificial or too “perfumey” tasting.  And of course, I’d leave those shellacked wax pumpkins at the store.  The idea was good, but the execution needed a little fine tuning, a couple minor changes and I think this could be a really tasty dessert!

We are on fall break for the next two weeks, so the rest of this week should be a breeze.  I’m looking forward to finishing the posts I started and posting regularly again!  Have a great day everyone!

xoxo

Posted in Food, Photography, Travel

Smoked Turkey & Summer Vacation

Good morning fellow bloggers!  I’m going to do my best in the next couple weeks to bring this blog up to speed on current events!  I’ve really been slacking!  My prolonged absence was due to our summer vacation originally, then school and other life events just seem to keep coming!

First, let me pass this delicious recipe on to you that I tried recently.  Although I couldn’t bribe anyone else to eat it, I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich!  If you like turkey and cranberry sauce, I suggest giving this a try for something a bit different!

Smoked Turkey and Cranberry Sandwiches
Betty Crocker’s New Eat and Lose Weight Cookbook

1/3 c. fat free cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. whole berry cranberry sauce
8 slices whole grain bread (I really like Healthfull by Oroweat)
6 oz. deli style fat free smoked turkey (I used Dietz & Watson)
4 lettuce leaves

Mix cream cheese and cranberry sauce.  Spread over bread slices.  Place turkey & lettuce on bread slices.  Top with remaining bread.  Enjoy!

In June, we had a wonderful, relaxing, two week summer vacation.  We didn’t set the world on fire, but it sure was nice to get away for a while.  Once we arrived at our destinations, we pretty much stayed put.  We didn’t explore, we didn’t hit any tourist destinations, we just enjoyed our immediate surroundings.  And thankfully I was afforded a chance to visit with some friends that I haven’t seen in over 20 years!  Because of that alone made it a successful vacation for me!

I won’t go into too many details so as to not bore you to tears if you’re reading, but our main destinations were Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I have friends and I hadn’t been since 1999.  Tybee, Georgia where we visit every year and for the first time ever, Clearwater, Florida.  We spent four relaxing days at each destination and we spent most of our time people watching, walking and eating – with of course, a little bit of shopping, drinking and visiting with friends and family!!

 

We met some great people on vacation, had some great food and just basically enjoyed what took place day by day.  I think next year, we’ll settle for visiting only one or two destinations, since hitting three with such distances between them were a little much.  Now with school back in session and everyone back on somewhat of a schedule, I should be able to catch up fairly quickly!

xoxo

Posted in Blog, Family, Travel

Letting Go

So today is one of those days.  One of those days where I get to give up being a parent – temporarily.  Don’t get me wrong, in some ways it’s a godsend, a termination of responsibilities for a period…or for lack of a better word, a break.  I know a lot of parents don’t get these breaks/respites and personally, I’m not really a fan, but…this is what happens when you are divorced…and you have children.

I don’t like putting my children on a plane, I don’t like waving goodbye, I don’t like letting them go.  A mother shouldn’t have to be away from her children, she shouldn’t have to be without her children, at least until her children are “able” to be without her, when they’re independent and ready to be without her.

I enjoy my time with my significant other, I enjoy being an adult sans kids, but that wasn’t the role I signed up for. I wanted them, I wanted to be a mom and I wanted to be and go places with them.  This wasn’t the version of the life I chose.  But it’s the hand I’ve been dealt, this is the one I must endure. I just hope they know how difficult it is for me to let go and that it’s tough and I so hope for them that history doesn’t repeat itself and they don’t have to experience the sacrifice that I must every time…I wave goodbye.

IMG_0293.JPG

IMG_0303.JPG

IMG_0310.JPG

IMG_0325.jpg

IMG_0315.jpg

IMG_0326.jpg