Right, Left, or American?

Okay… So I’m going to get a little political on this post. Not in the “if you’re not republican/democrat you’re wrong” way- don’t worry. It’s just that I just can’t help but be frustrated and disheartened by the mere fact of turning on my TV or opening up a social media platform. The negativity on both sides of the aisle is just overwhelming! (Amiright?)

Regardless of who holds the office of the presidency- he or she deserves respect. I’m not saying you have to agree with all of their policies or clap and cheer every time he opens his mouth to speak. No, I’m saying that be it Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or Tommy-Joe from down the street- we, as Americans, should have the decency to show basic human respect. To defend our causes relentlessly- but in a way that understands that not everyone in the world has the same opinions or holds the same causes as dearly as we- and that includes the President of the United States. Defend your causes, but do so with the understanding that the person in the office of the presidency has taken on the most difficult job in our nation. Not only are they responsible for the social and economic well-being within the borders of the U.S., but they are responsible for diplomatic relations with every other country in the world. The president has never been a president before- he or she has never held such an important role, regardless of whether they have been in politics previously or not. Defend your causes, but do so respectfully and with understanding.

I will be the first person to admit- “President Trump” was not exactly the outcome I was hoping for in this last election cycle. (Just to clear the record, President Clinton was pretty bottom of the barrel for me.) But President Trump is who we got. He’s loud, he’s rude, he can be vulgar, he’s certainly not politically correct, he could be more careful about what he’s putting on social media- with all of those, I agree; but I believe the man is trying. He’s honestly trying to make good on the promises he made on the campaign trail. He’s trying to find a way to fit into a world of proper politics instead of his Hollywood lifestyle. Unfortunately our media and career politicians on either side of the aisle don’t want to give him a chance.

Instead of uniting and using their national platforms to spread messages of hope and unity, our politicians and media are so focused on proving who’s right or wrong- so focused on getting a one-up on their oppositions- that they are causing hysteria on both sides of the political spectrum. It’s wrong. It’s wrong on so many levels. Are we not all Americans? Should we not be standing united as one? What difference does it make who your neighbor voted for? The mass media as well as national and local politicians should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for, directly or indirectly- depending on who you talk to, causing this mess, this dysfunction, this complete rift between the American people. And to be honest- we, the American people should be ashamed of ourselves for letting such a small group of people influence our relationships and sense of “togetherness” the way they have. We know better. Deep down, I think we all want better. We deserve better. Our children deserve better.

It’s not about being democrat or republican or anything in between… It’s about being human and showing respect, love, and tolerance for our neighbors, families, and ourselves. First and foremost we are children of God, then we are husbands/wives/parents/grandparents/children/friends the list is endless… who we voted for the last election cycle should be the least of what makes up our identities. We are all humans. We are all Americans. Let’s act like it.

“There is more strength in unity than in division.”  Emanuel Cleaver

X’s & O’s

Amber

Eat the Damn Cake

So, as a relatively new mother I find myself noticing more and more Facebook posts, blogs, Tweets, Pins, etc on “fit pregnancy” or “How to Loose the Baby Weight” “How to Have A Healthy Pregnancy” “Beach Body After Baby” and the list could go on. Absolutely nothing  is wrong with any of those- But I’m here to tell you, don’t stress, it is okay! 

It’s okay if you’re not a fitness guru:

It’s okay if you don’t do crossfit, run 15 miles a day, and lift weights while you’re pregnant… or even if you’re not pregnant, honestly. While I would suggest not completely nixing physical activity- you don’t have to force yourself into some crap that you hate every single day because you don’t want to become a whale. You don’t. Find something you enjoy (zumba, riding a bike, yoga, etc..) clear it with your doctor and go for it. I’m not saying you can’t be a fitness junky while you’re pregnant either. Some people truly do enjoy torturing themselves for 2 hours at 5:00 every single morning- power to you. Just don’t ever forget- it is okay to not fit the mold, to not follow the trends, do what feels good to you. 

Let yourself have that piece of cake!

When I first found out I was pregnant I had the worst fear of becoming “that girl” who “pregnancy did not treat well.” I read blog after blog and read tips on top of tips on top of tips on how to eat while pregnant. Articles like “How to Gain only 10 or less Pounds During Pregnancy” and other ridiculous articles similar. I forced myself to ignore my hunger and pretty much survive off of lettuce and water. Guess what. I felt like crap and on top of all of that… after two glucose testing appointments- because there’s no way that first one was right, I still was gestational diabetic. It didn’t matter that I had eaten the most healthy I ever have in my life this past 4 months. It didn’t matter that I was on the lower end of “normal” gestational weight gain. It didn’t matter. And you want to know what my doctor told me? She said “You have got to stop worry about this. Don’t deprive yourself! If you want that chocolate cupcake have one- just one, but allow yourself to have it. Eat your protein and veggies, drink your water, but allow yourself your cravings. You will feel so much better.” She was right. Be healthy- don’t gorge yourself on crap. But allow yourself to indulge. Moderation is key. After we had that talk I let go a little, I allowed myself to eat until I was satisfied, I allowed myself a cup of coffee and a sweet tea here and there- and I felt- and feel so much better.

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Who cares what “they” think.

Seriously. Who. Freaking. Cares? Whether you only gained 7 pounds and had the most fit pregnancy anyone has ever had and bounced back to your post pregnancy body almost instantly or if you gained 50 pounds and are still trying to shed the pounds 3 years later. Who. Cares. As long as you are healthy (key word here) and happy, what everyone else thinks is irrelevant. If the people who are important in your life won’t accept you either way- it’s time to evaluate the people you are surrounding yourself with and weed some out.

Loving yourself is a daily decision.

The ticket to loving yourself and your body is a decision you make every single day. If we’re being honest, more days than not I struggle to love myself. I struggle to love the way I look. I struggle to believe I am good enough for my husband or my child. It’s a struggle for me to ignore the little extra around my mid-section or the stretch marks on my thighs. It is hard not to doubt yourself- believe me, I know. But as long as you are either working to be better or doing the best you absolutely can do with the situation you are given. Wake up, look in the mirror, find that one positive thing about yourself that you just love- be it your eyes, hair, how freaking awesome you are at doing makeup- whatever it is. Find it. Focus on it. Let that confidence radiate through you all day. Decide to be happy. Decided to love yourself- and love the process, whatever that may be.

 

You are beautiful. You are enough…. and eat the damn cake.

 

 

 

 

Ice Storms, Fires, Blizzards, and Hail- Heartbreak in the Heartland

This first 5 months of 2017 has taken its toll on the 5-State area surrounding the Oklahoma Panhandle. With a devastating ice storm hitting right in the thick of calving season. “Dark Monday” and it’s 1 million (+ or -) acres burned across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, Southwestern Kansas, and Eastern New Mexico and Colorado- which destroyed thousands of acres of grazing lands, scorched hundreds of miles of fence, multiple homes, stole 6 human’s lives and burned thousands of head of cattle and wildlife alive. A crippling April 30th blizzard which left hundreds more cattle dead in Eastern Colorado, Western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The most recent a hail storm which carried with it baseball-softball sized hail that tore through the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northwestern Oklahoma killing calves, destroying crops which were only a few weeks shy of being harvested, as well as countless homes, vehicles, and other buildings.

But you won’t hear much about this on the news. 

The recovery process is still taking place- and will continue to take place for months. Our hearts are so full for the help and love we have received from so many agriculturist across the nation. But I would be lying if I said that each day isn’t still a challenge to keep our heads up. It’s hard to watch your life’s work go up in smoke-literally. Or watch the wheat that you have tended to and prayed would come out of damages caused by ice and and snow coupled with 60 mph winds survive just to be pounded into the ground by hail just before harvest. It’s so hard not knowing how you are going to make the equipment payment. It’s hard to have to walk through your pastures and see and even have to put down suffering animals who couldn’t escape the flames, or to pull up to your pasture ground to find your cows and calves had looked for shelter in a draw which is now covered in snow- and those mamas and babies have all suffocated- or the babies who couldn’t weather the baseball sized hail who had been literally beat to death in the night. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking- loss of profits aside.

So today, while you go about your life- while you go to your 8-5 job with a guaranteed paycheck and little risk to your livelihood, when you go to the grocery store and notice the price of food slightly higher, remember, the places where your food comes from has been ravaged this past year. There will be a shortage- not in the “oh my gosh we can’t feed everyone and we have to ration” sense, but as compared to years past. The ranchers and farmers will struggle harder than usual to make their payments this year.

We are strong, we will rebuild, we will continue to raise our cattle, we will continue to plant our crops. We will wake up every day and continue to go to work- just like you. But our hearts and our land will take some time to heal. Remember us in your day to day activities too. 



“A farmer has to be an optimist- or he wouldn’t still be a farmer” 

Will Rogers

 

Y’et Yet Chilli Pork Salad- Easy weeknight recipe

So, I’m the master at “winging it” when it comes to cooking. 9 out of 10 times I have no idea what I’m going to cook- I’m the worst meal planner. That being said- I almost always have a fairly nutritious and edible meal on the table every night. I also hate grocery shopping. I hate it. Which means, a lot of times I have a lot of varying ingredients that may or may not go together, usually they don’t.

I had set a pork shoulder out yesterday morning, not fully knowing what I was going to do with it, but figured I’d wing it when I got home. Ya’ll this was one of my best improvised meals in a long time!

The Pork Shoulder was thin sliced, so I seasoned in with Serendipity brand seasoned salt, cumin, and pepper then browned it just until there was a nice sear on the outside. Then pulled it out of the pan and let rest for a few minutes (mainly because my toddler was screaming for a drink, but it sounds better to say it was intentional.) I then sliced the pork into thin strips and put in a baking dish with a touch of olive oil and about 1/2 cup of Y’et Yet Chilli blend (see photo) covered and baked on 350 for 30 minutes. The pork shoulder was so tender and juicy!

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(picture from amazon)

While that was baking I sauteed sweet peppers in olive oil with red pepper flakes, minced onion, and minced garlic, warmed up a can of pinto beans and some rice I had left over from the previous night’s meal. I also chopped some lettuce and grated some cheese.

Once the pork was ready, I put the lettuce, beans, rice, cheese, peppers, and meat in a bowl and served. My husband topped his off with sour cream and salsa as well. I have one picky eater of a husband, and even he loved supper. It was a win-win for all

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Recipe

Pork Shoulder

1 lb pork shoulder

1 tbsp Serendipity seasoned salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp pepper

1/2 cup Y’et Yet Gourmet Chilli Mix

1 tbsp Olive oil

Season raw pork shoulder with Serendipity, cumin and pepper and brown in skillet (about 3 minutes on each side on medium high heat)
Remove pork from skillet and slice into thin strips (think fajita meat strips) and place in an oven-safe dish with the olive oil and chilli mix. cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sweet Peppers

7 sweet peppers

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp red pepper flakes (give or take according to your tolerance to spice)

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp minced onions

pour olive oil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and minced onions into pan and heat up just a little, add sweet peppers and saute until peppers are soft.

 

Serve 

Serve over lettuce with pinto beans, (black beans would be good too) rice and cheese, add sour cream and salsa as desired.

total time spent cooking: apx 45 minutes

 

 

A Pinterest Recipe Review (or fail)

Okay, ya’ll, I apologize for the lack of photos- I just couldn’t with this one.

Chicken and broccoli spaghetti squash.

SO… Here goes. Yesterday evening I decided to try out a new recipe I found on Pinterest a couple weeks ago-Chicken and Broccoli with spaghetti squash (instead of rice.) I have been so excited to try this out, so, so excited. That excitement slowly died through the evening as I was preparing my meal. To be clear, I rarely follow recipes just exactly to the tee- as such was the case on this fateful evening. (don’t judge-usually it works for me.)

I have had spaghetti squash in the past and remembered really liking it, and I love chicken and broccoli- so what could possibly go wrong? A lot, that’s what.

To begin with- I cut my squash in half longways- just like the instructions said. I scraped out the seeds and rubbed the inside with olive oil, salt and pepper (I also added a bit of garlic) placed the halves face down on a baking sheet and set the timer for 45 minutes- as the instructions read. about 15 minutes in I started to smell an odd scent- I thought “surely it will get better as this cooks”  and continued on to prepare my chicken and broccoli- as I always do- and just the way I like it. As the squash is roasting, the smell keeps getting stronger and stronger. I kept hoping it was just my nose having been stuffed up for days due to allergies that my sense of smell was off.

I pulled the squash out of the oven and let it cool enough that I could handle it then scraped the meat of it out (hey, that was sort of a fun little task) mixed the chicken, broccoli, and squash into a baking dish along with cheese, cream cheese, and heavy cream and put in oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

By this time the smell was that of dirty feet- but I thought to myself “it can’t be that bad” and “you have spent a little over an hour preparing this food, you are going to eat it, and you are going to like it!” so, I persevered. I fixed a bowl of this concoction for myself, my son, and my husband. I got my son and myself situated at the table and watched as Gage delved into this like it was the most delicious thing he has ever had in his life and thought “dang, it must be pretty good- I’ve barely got our drinks to the table and he’s finished half of what I gave him” so I get myself a generous bite on my fork and take the bite. WORST. TASTE. EVER. Ya’ll, I’m not a picky eater, I never have been, but this? This monstrosity of a supper? I couldn’t handle. Before my husband even got the chance to take a bite I took his bowl along with mine and dumped it back into the dish which I then carried out to the dogs.

Guys, the dogs wouldn’t even eat it. When I went to work this morning, there lay an untouched pile of spaghetti squash nastiness by the corner of the house- and my dogs eat dead rats and donkey poop and lord knows what else. I don’t know how my son seemed to enjoy it so much,  I really think he was just that hungry from his long day of play. Has to be.

So, moral of the story I guess- when you’re making chicken and broccoli casserole- just stick to rice as your filler. Spaghetti squash is not “where it’s at.”

Strawberry Sweet Roll: Recipe

So Saturday was the annual Spring Fling festival in my community. A group I’m in had a bake sale which I had originally planned to bring cinnamon rolls to. Like many of my projects, I thought I had PLENTY of everything I needed to make my intended recipe. However, once I got home and got started I realized I only had about a teaspoon of cinnamon. 

I live far enough from town that driving back just isn’t feasible. So… I winged it. I had strawberry jelly and strawberry preserves and strawberries (my child as well as myself are strawberry junkies, don’t judge.) 

I followed my normal cinnamon roll/ bierox/ rolls/ everything that involves bread recipe (see below) then, instead of butter, cinnamon and sugar- I had a mixture of strawberry jelly, strawberry preserves, and strawberries. (I’m terrible at measuring so…I’ll get you as close as I can.) topped off with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries. 

   (I’m not the best photographer) 

Bread dough: 

2 tbsp active yeast

2 cups warm milk 

2 large eggs + white of one more egg

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

5 tablespoons salted butter, softened

6 cups flour
Mix sugar, milk and yeast together. Let sit for 5 minutes then mix in eggs, salt, and butter until well mixed, add flour one cup at a time up to 4 cups dough should be tacky, but not sticking to the edges of bowl. Add 1/8 cup flour until yay consistency is reached. 

Move dough from mixing bowl to a greased and lightly floured bowl and let rise for 1 hour. 

After dough has risen, place on lightly floured surface and kneed 4-6 times (do not kneed too much!) roll out, add filling, roll up and cut into 1.5 inch disks and place in 2 9×13 pans (will make 16 rolls) (I never do anything in perfect dozens) cover and let rise for 45 minutes. 

Bake for apx 10 minutes on 350 degrees F or until rolls are very, very lightly browned. 


Strawberry filling 

18 oz strawberry preserves

(Apx) 12 oz strawberry jelly

1 package strawberries diced 

Mix ingredients together and smear on dough generously 


Cream cheese glaze 

2 packages cream cheese 

5 cups milk

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract 

Mix until smooth, pour in ziplock and cut a small corner off, drizzle over rolls. 
*rolls do freeze well. Once rolls are completely cooled, wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze. To re-heat, place in microwave 25-30 seconds and serve!

Good Friday Ponderings

This morning I grumbled as I got up to come to work- on a holiday. I cussed the county offices for being open on a holy day. I’ve grumbled since I’ve been here about various things that just hacked me off. grumbled about parents who just can’t seem to get it together and about the lady at the bank who didn’t even double check the rather large fundraiser deposit I took today. Grumpy because my husband went on down to my grandparents’ this afternoon and I’ll have to drive there all by myself at 5. It just hit me that today- of all days I am grumpy about everything- I’ve complained at almost every single turn. But if 2000 years ago this day didn’t happen- I might not even be here. The course of the world would have been so much different than it is now. 2000 years ago- My Jesus was beat and tortured and hung on a cross so that I could have eternal life.

It took nearly all day for it to hit me- I’ve been so caught up in my own selfish feelings that I have forgot what today even is. Furthermore, I have let my contempt get in the way of showing basic kindness to those I come across. I’ve been terrible today.

The beauty of all of this, though, is that because of what Jesus Christ went through on this day- I am forgiven. No matter how terrible I have been- how much I have complained, how hateful I have been to those I’ve been in contact with- I am forgiven. Jesus carried every sin I have ever committed and  every sin I ever will commit to the cross with him. He suffered unimaginable anguish- not because he couldn’t escape it- but because he loved me and you so much that he wanted us to someday be with him in Heaven. Wow. That is love.

“My God, My Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood his mercy rains- Unending love, Amazing Grace” 

I can’t change my behavior earlier in the day- but I can for the rest.

Have a safe and Happy Easter, all.

Jesus loves you.

Amber