Come back baby come back

So late last night in my wee morning crankiness it hit me.

…no not the ambien, that came a few moments later, but the thought that I went from so confident & ready for a new adventure to feeling hopeless & lousy.

I think its because when I made the decision to leave my last job, the world appeared to be opening wide. Ready to embrace any dream I could toss its way & follow like a kite. By doing something for myself I was showing how much I valued myself. I had dreams of making my home more of what I would like. Had ideas of new jobs where what I did made a difference & I would be respected. I also had a purpose to my days. Job seeking is a full time (with overtime) position if you are doing it right. I also was loving getting closer with my family. Restrictions were gone.

Sweet Colors.....

BUT then reality hit.

I landed a job. Sounded great but reality is that its further away from home than I want – which means HIGH gas bills on less of a paycheck & more time away from Baxter, who is barely used to ANY time away from me. 😦 The great benefits & chance to learn new skills and experience in a setting unlike any other is a big pro. With taking the position, I slammed the door on all the other maybes.

Now I see how much I adored the maybes.

Still another downer has been that I can’t get the work done around the house since spending money without making money is not smart business. So project on hold & with the lower pay & higher gas cost, I’m starting to doubt that vision will ever be achieved. This is probably GREAT news to my family, who seemed to hate every aspect of it anyway.

That has been another eye opener. Funny how trying to live your life in anyway other than the “expected” is frowned upon. As unemployed, I’m expected to be worried, panicked & saving every dime. Instead I felt empowered & free. A vacation I really needed sounded perfect! Live the moments I have missed hiding behind a desk. Nothing crazy, but lunch at a favorite dining spot or a day trip didn’t seem out of the question to me.

Guess I’m just mourning the loss of the freedom, the dreams & sad that in times where I thought I would have been supported, I was instead looked upon as I had lost my mind. Nope actually I think I was finally IN MY MIND.

Happiness is bliss.

waking or going down?

& soon I will find my way back there. Just have to find my balance.
For now I just need to pull a Houdini on this trapped feeling. Free my heart to dance amongst the stars in its rightful place. Forget the ties that bind. Heart strings can keep you alive or they can weight you down. For now, I just need to be me again.

Maybe one day I will find a way to make the things that make me happiest, be the things that sustain me… emotionally AND financially.

Til then I just want something that doesn’t make me feel like I am selling my soul… or worse my spirit.

So nice, had to do it twice

Yesterday was one of those rare days lately where I ate at home. Something I have gotten way too out of the habit of since I was restricted with the hand in recovery last year. Lifting heavy pans while cooking was just too dangerous & even washing dishes was difficult one handed. Just too easy to go out or bring home take out.

But then I missed delicious meals like this…


ahh… berries, black eyed peas, dry salad (I know I’m weird) with coconut chicken!  On purple sparkly glitter plates!!

Sure it wasn’t exactly a lot of cooking going on, but it was enough to feel home cooked & healthy.  I loved it!  Something I have really missed, although Wilmington has some incredible spots to dine that certainly have a home feel with the delicious fresh food and friendly familiar faces.  Still getting time to actually sit down and eat a real lunch is bliss.

Its one of the biggest things that got on my nerves with my previous job.  Duty calls and I did the job, but it was a benefit I missed for sure.

So today I put in sometime with applications and submitting resumes and then it hit me…. LUNCH TIME!

Same meal, but I switched it up to meatless monday!  Substituted the Quorn patty from the back of the freezer for the chicken & added in some BBQ sauce to spicy it up a tad.  One thing about living alone is there seems to always be leftovers!

Nothing like having Baxter begging for blueberries & being able to share some with the birds.  A gal could really get used to this.

But then again…. there are the bills.  So more applying, more thinking & budgeting.  I could dwell in the situation & how the uncertainty looms, or I can thrive in the moment & enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to regroup.

I have a sense that things are going to be just fine.  (& yes I realize fine is not always easy, but in the end its going to be ok)

PLUS I get to dream of great places to work…

which may or may not let me have lunch breaks, but for the moment I am loving each & every one of them.

Supper. Simply.

Somethings just seem to come with the changing of season or the coming of holidays.  After Halloween / Samhain (repeat AFTER) has past, its time to start the holiday choas.  It starts with Veterans Day, which many forget completely, & seems to go non-stop right up to Valentine’s Day!  One thing that I tend to associate with this time of year is pie.

In November I am far from alone.  Some can’t imagine a holiday meal without the pecan or pumpkin pies.  Others go for chocolate or apple.  Either way with the bikinis tucked away for most of the country the indulgent season begins.  A slice is comforting.

One site I am watching lately is AllRecipes.com’s Pie Countdown! The pictures & descriptions make my mouth water with a new temptation daily.  I wish I had the time to make each & every one.  Then again I can’t imagine what I would do with a new pie each day.  I long for someone else to make them & let me try a slice!

I love the idea of pie… just not the abundance.

Which leads me to doing things like buying pumpkin pie flavored lip gloss, scented candles & even a fragrance to wear that smells like pumpkin pie!  Something I ordered my 2nd bottle of last week & it arrived today…

Along with a few others! ONE WAS EVEN A SURPRISE FREEBIE!  I adore Demeter Fragrances.  I miss being able to go to Ulta & other places & just spend a while smelling the various different scents.  I can still find popular ones, but it doesn’t seem like anywhere here has the library.  So I ordered a few online from them directly.  The Frozen Margarita one was a total surprise! I love the way they smell so close to the actual items.  Well the best parts of them anyway!  I never had a margarita that smelled that good.

But alas on to dinner….  something quick & simple.

A trusty favorite – Bell & Evans Coconut Chicken Breast!  Simple & better than any frozen chicken I have ever had in my life.

The directions for cooking always give me a giggle!  I go for the oven baked route, but I’m sure that pan frying is good too.  However no one should be using a microwave for anything this good! Even says so right there on the box.

Also was dying to try the lime pepper seasoning on some fresh asparagus! No disappointments there! Again simple as can be.  Just snapped off the woody ends off the asparagus, sprayed a little oil on the stalks & sprinkled the seasoning on.  The tossed them into the oven to bake along side the chicken tenders.

While they were roasting, I decided all this talk of pie had me craving something sweet & warm.  Also something that wouldn’t be around to haunt me for days & days…

So thanks to an apple, a bit of butter & some instant maple & brown sugar oatmeal – I ended up with something delish!  Simply sliced the apple thinly & layered the slices in a dish.  Topped the slices with the dry oatmeal mix (be sure that its mixed up – you know how the sugar tends to wander to the top of the packet at times….) then dab on a few slices of butter.  Next it was tossed into the party happening in the oven to bake away beside the asparagus & the chicken.

Oh my! Looks like a couple of mozzarella sticks got in there too.  Ooops. {guilty grin} This was a quick & VERY easy way to end the day in a healthy & delish way.

Without any pie!

😉

Oops I Ate it Again

yup. another frozen lunch day. 

Yesterday I got lucky & my boss treated everyone to homemade chili for lunch.  I really have a wonderful boss who is a great cook!

 

I had brought in a frozen meal since it was chaos arriving home Sunday night & I just didn’t feel up to doing anything for the Monday lunch.  (Future challenge here – Monday lunches!)  I thought I would have gotten enought sleep & caught up by last night but nope.  Zonked out again.  With the frozen meal still waiting to be eaten at work, I didn’t stress.

However…. this must change ASAP.  I need real food to look forward to. 

Thankfully the frozen meal turned out to be quite yummy!  A Marie Callender’s Sweet & Sour Chicken actually did hit the spot.  The only thing I would change was the texture of the rice.  It wasn’t bad, just not the standard rice texture.  Surprisingly I was impressed that the chicken pieces actually seemed like fresh chicken breast.  I abhor the pieces of frozen meat in most meals based on the consistency alone, but this one seemed like it came from a local chinese take out. 

So now to start planning tomorrow.  I have a few ideas I am kicking about & foresee a trip to get fresh food for the fridge in my future!  Something warm and fall like to look forward too.

It Taste Like Fall Around Here

Fall mornings should be special! My favorite way to begin the day is with a nice pumpkin spice latte, but some mornings it just isn’t an option.  Which is probably good for my wallet.

Still today was exciting since last night I picked up a jar of pumpkin butter!

Perfect way to jazz up the plan old piece of toast.

Delightful blend of pumpkin & spices from Oregon Growers & Shippers.  Can you tell I am a big fan of pumpkin? Also for anyone that has given up on gluten, pumpkin butter (at least this one & most I have seen) are gluten free!

Dinner however was incredible.

Basically I got lazy & decided to stay home tonight.  The goal was make something out of whatever I already had.

I ended up picking up some harvest pasta when I got the pumpkin butter so that was fresh on my mind.  Also had a sweet potato that was calling my name.

add some frozen spinach souffle, tuna & the thai peanut sauce from earlier in the week… & ta- dah – dinner!

Started by slicing the sweet potato into thin discs, spraying them with a splash of cooking oil then dusting them with some pumpkin pie spice.

Popped them in the oven & started on the pasta.

Once the water for the pasta was going, I got a chance to prep the tuna.  Lightly drizzled oil on the tuna with a sprinkle of garlic salt & freshly ground mixed peppercorns.  Then I topped it with the thai peanut sauce.

Had to wait for the sweet potatoes to finish before switching the oven to broil for the tuna.  While the pasta cooked & the potatoes finished I broke out an old favorite standby – spinach souffle.  Even as a kid it has been a favorite.  Seemed perfect to accompany the rest of the meal which needed a bit of green to go along with all the orange carbs.

All in all I loved dinner – even if it wasn’t anything planned out specially in advance.  Even if I did end up over broiling the tuna or as my mother would say, I actually cooked it.  I think wars have been waged over the proper doneness of tuna in my house – I’m a pink on the inside girl but this still tasted delicious with the thai sauce adding an extra note of flavor.

Now I’m stuffed.

The windows are open & letting in the slight breeze with the calm chill that tends to nip now & then this time of year.  Getting ready to relax with a glass of red wine, a snuggly pug & a good scary movie via Netflix. 🙂

Yup, its a pretty perfect ending to the day.

 

Pumpkin Devil’s Food Delight

(originally posted October 13, 2010)

So today for lunch I took the easy way out – the dreaded frozen box.
Wait before you click away, I did end up going a healthier route than mac & cheese or some breaded “chicken” & sides in institutionalized compartments.
I turned to Kashi.
Specifically I turned to PLANTAINS! A favorite of mine for sure.
Kashi’s Mayan Harvest Bake!
Plantains, black beans, sweet potato & kale – OH MY!

Might be in a box, but the spice is right on this one.
Doesn’t feel like I am short changing myself at all. The polenta & grains were a great touch! This vegan dish is full of flavor & fiber! 8 grams to be exact. Still I don’t feel bloated or like I ate a fiber bar. Just pleasantly full. Certainly don’t have the run down yuck feeling that some frozen “entrees” give. I feel like I had a real meal. Plus I never would have thought of adding the kale to the mix but it is great. Just barely there – not bitter like kale can be sometimes.
Also I am spending my lunch dreaming of two things….
One being the family vacation to Disney next week!

& the other is chocolate cake that is waiting at home for me!

Everyone dreams of chocolate cake now & then right?

This one at least is packed with a veggie boost added in there. One of my favorite parts of fall is pumpkins & I will try anything almost if you tell me it has pumpkin in it. When a friend mentioned that she tried a great recipe for cake that used pumpkin, I had to give it a shot. I am so glad I did. Now I feel a little less guilty having a slice knowing that I am getting something nutritious as well in each bite. Plus it adds a richness that hides the simplicity of the recipe.

Start with a standard box of devil’s food cake mix.

Add in one can of pumpkin (the small can of pumpkin, not the big can of pumpkin pie stuff!) and one cup of water. Mix away & toss into a prepared pan or cupcake pans.

Use the box directions to determine the heat of the oven & how long you should leave it in, but be careful. The pumpkin will add some time. Use a toothpick to determine if it is ready or not. The toothpick shouldn’t come out with a smear of wet batter on it when inserted in the middle. The texture of this cake is more fudgy than typical but you want fudge not soup.

Allow it to cool & then dive in!

I opted for just the cake itself, but I’m sure a good dusting of powdered sugar or icing layer would be splendid as well. Still I wasn’t going to add on calories I didn’t need. When something is good, it doesn’t need extra to make it work. Then again sometimes by adding a dash of pizazz you can make a star go from shine to sparkle!