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Saturday, July 8, 2017

DIY Chinese Fried Rice

Like the average person who tries to stretch every last penny, I browse my local supermarkets for affordable cuts of meat to feed my family. OK - I'll say it, I tend to buy meat that has solely been marked down to save a buck. I can honestly tell you we have never had anything bad happen and we save a ton shopping this way. I feel you judging me with your judgey eyes.

I happened upon boneless pork stew meat, reduced of course, so I tossed it in the cart. Call me strange, but I've never used pork stew meat for anything and had no clue how to begin to prepare it in a dish, let alone resemble a suitable meal. Hey, it was on sale - I knew I would find it's purpose later. I did what a lot of you do when the creative juices for a good meal start flowing - I googled inspiration :) FYI - You can pick another meat is pork isn't your thing

I happened upon a recipe for Chinese Fried Rice and tweaked things from there to suit my taste. My plan was to make this a meal, not a side. It's a 2-step process, but I promise well work the extra effort and totally delish.



I used the recipe below to both marinate and cook the meat at the same time, in the oven.

Marinated Oriental pork

1 pound boneless pork stew meat
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 200 °F. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, honey & garlic in a shallow baking dish. Add in pork and toss to coat. Cover dish with foil and cook slowly in the oven until tender (about an hour). When done, set aside for Chinese Fried Rice.

Chinese Fried Rice

1 cup finely chopped onion 
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons oil 
2 eggs, lightly beaten (you can add more) 
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce 
1 pound cooked marinated oriental pork, chopped 
1/2 cup canned chopped carrot 
1/2 cup canned peas 
4 cups cold cooked rice, grains separated 
6 green onions, chopped 
2 cups bean sprouts 
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (adjust to taste) 

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan on medium heat (I used a 12" frying pan). Add chopped onions and peppers, sautéing until onions turn a nice brown color, about 8-10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix eggs with 2 teaspoons of soy.  Add 1/2 tbsp oil to pan. Toss in egg mixture, stirring frequently until cooked. Add pork to pan, along with carrots and peas; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes. Fold in 1/4 cup of soy sauce to rice mixture; stir-fry for 1 minute more; serve.

*This will serve 4 adults as a meal or about 8 as a side dish.

Friday, July 7, 2017

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When It's All Said & Done





Thursday, July 6, 2017

To Be Loved Like Flowers

Honesty without Tact Is Cruelty #DoYouNeedToBeRight



I stumbled across this quote months ago and it’s one of those things that I’ve read before, but finally, something inside me was ready to receive the message. This happens to me ALL.THE.TIME. Mostly because I know I feel something but I don’t know how I want to express it, so I go on a journey to see if anyone in the world can relate and well, Pinterest is so useful for that.

I tried to find the specific origin of that quote and while it’s been worded in various ways, it seems to me the closest thing I could find was this:

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
― Warren W. Wiersbe


While the longer quote was by an American pastor, I don’t think you have to be in any way religious to get the basics of this very important message. Let me quickly break the key words down.



  • Truth -  a fact or belief that is accepted as true
  • Love - an intense feeling of deep affection
  • Brutality - great cruelty (behavior that causes pain or suffering)
  • Hypocrisy - the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform
  • Tact - skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations with sensitivity


  • I’ve based my moral scale for years on being honest. I thought that because I was telling the truth, to whomever I was talking to, I had the right to say what I way saying because it was true. Surely if what one is speaking is absolutely, without a doubt, indeed factually based– that made ME right and if I’m right, that made the other person wrong and in turn - I WIN!!! Winning is the goal isn’t it?

    Off and on for years, I’ve spent many an argument with my husband, thinking I had the right to say how I felt about something without thought or tact (see definition of tact above because I lacked it). He’d told me for years I had no filter and surely, to me, that felt like a compliment, because I was the one willing to be brutally honest. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering why things weren’t getting better in our relationship. If you discuss a problem, point out everything that is wrong, that is all also TRUE and say “let’s fix this”, you’d think -simple solution, problem solved!!! My way IS right, because my way was based on honesty. Isn't that cute?

    But did I win, was anything really ever solved? The answer was no and I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that the issues we were fighting over kept repeating because of my approach. I kept thinking to myself, “I am explaining the same problems over and over again and getting no results” and then I read the quote….

    “Honesty without Tact Is Cruelty”

    What does that even mean? No one wins if you deliver a message, no matter how open and honest you intend it, especially if you package it with hostility and use it as a weapon of mass destruction at the expense of another’s self-esteem. If you are trying to solve problems you can’t, at any time, point out faults, no matter how true they may be and expect the person you are trying to reach to hear and understand your heart’s intent when you are flat out being mean. That’s where I had being going wrong and oh my goodness; you don’t know how hard it is for me to admit that.

    It was then that I realized, for the longest time, my need to be right, far outweighed my need to be kind. What I was saying during any given argument or discussion -as true as it may be, when I spoke, I did so without an ounce of love, respect, humility or thought to what I was saying or how it might be hurtful for my husband to hear. By the time I would finish whatever it was I had to get off my chest, he had already reached a point that he was emotionally cutting me off. Instead of having a discussion that was being productive and useful, I was setting up an unwelcoming environment that created a great divide - me vs. him - right vs. wrong. What I was saying, no matter how well intended, truthful or right I thought I was, I delivered it out of my mouth loaded with cruelty. When you hurt people, you push them away and that’s no way to have a healthy, productive relationship.

    I had been pretending to be a multi-tasking, problem-solver, a go-getter, but I was being a one-sided hypocrite and nagging, chronic complainer. Yes, I was honest, and that can be quite an honorable value to have, but I was lacking the most important traits to go along with it. Patience, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, love and tolerance, these values, when COMBINED with honesty can transform relationship problems into improved partnerships. I was going to have to stop making every fight into a competition.

    I sat on this quote for a bit, I let it simmer and really looked deeply into myself at this point and realized I can apply this quote in nearly every aspect of my life, in every relationship that I have. Issues may still rise up here and there, but I can tell you things started getting way easier for me, when I took the time to mull over what I wanted to communicate, before I let it just spill out.

    I started questioning myself before I would speak, especially on important matters. Was what I about to say not only true, was is kind? Could I present it in a loving way? Would I be willing to listen to the response with tolerance and patience even if the answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear? Could I be forgiving? Above all, could I sacrifice my NEED to be right because I valued my husband more than my ego? 

    Wednesday, July 5, 2017

    #Love

    The Ugly House and #CuttingCords

    Last year the hubby and I basically started our lives over AGAIN, from scratch. We had spent the past seven years moving, 5 times. Being in our mid-forties with 4 grown kids, I'm sure people assumed we'd be great at this "adulting" trend by now, but let's be honest....this whole grown-up thing is way harder than I imagined and sometimes life just hits you square in the kisser. We reached a point where all of our kids were going to be out on their own and it was just going to be us "empty nesters".

    My husband was finally able to return to work in February 2016 after a 4-year hiatus for medical issues. I, in the meantime, worked diligently to clean up my credit so that with his income and my credit we could afford to buy a home of our own, without anyone's help, financially or otherwise. That hard work eventually paid off!!! We were able to purchase a 1980 mobile home in a decent community. You gotta start somewhere right?

    I should have taken lots of before pictures, but honestly, even though we were proud because we accomplished something we had set out to do, we were tremendously embarrassed because we knew what we just invested in needed a severe interior make-over. Inside the layout was open, but everything was hideous to the naked eye. The floors were bare plywood, walls needed holes to be patched and everything from floor to ceiling needed paint, some poor soul had spray foamed around the bright yellow bath-tub and mismatched, poorly cut surround, cabinets were missing trim and outdated (really everything was outdated). We bought an ugly house.

    Moving day came, so the friends and family that helped us move in, kept smiles on their faces, but some made comments like "You've got your work cut out for you" & "I bet this wouldn't have passed inspection". No, no it wouldn't have....we couldn't afford an inspection, we weren't in a financial place to negotiate work, we had been given 30 to vacate our rental because our previous landlord was letting the house be foreclosed on. We didn't have time, money or negotiating power but what my husband and I shared equally was a shared goal to reach a place in our lives of stability and that was going to be enough.

    We knew that even though the mobile home was built in the 80's, the roof had been taken care of, the exterior was freshly painted, there weren't any bug problems, no mold, the plywood floors - they had just been laid. The lot was the largest in the park, with a long driveway and a carport with a large attached shed. We had a private back yard, a great screened in porch. The structure was solid, we knew the interior was ugly, but with hard work and a little love, we could bring it to life and make it our home. Our first night, in our ugly little home, I took a hot shower to wash off the day and cringed while trying not to touch the tub surround. Ugh...at least I knew where to start.



    Flash forward to now - TODAY, it's been 8 months since we took the plunge. During the process, I've rung up $3000.00 in credit card debt so that we could turn our dreadful interior into a welcoming, calming environment for the two of us to relax & unwind in. I've put sweat, at times a little blood, a whole lot of tears and even more love into making this a home, than one can imagine and it's all been worth it - every penny. Oh and I'm not afraid to take a bath anymore.



    We didn't pay anyone to do anything in our house, it was all DIY-style, from painting to installing backsplashes to laying laminate flooring. If we didn't know how to do it, we asked someone how to do it and if they didn't know, well - Google and YouTube became my best friends. There are still things to be done and some things I could do better. Yes, we live in a "trailer park", though to me, it's a good one with decent hard-working people. I feel proud when someone comes to my home now and they totally are amazed because they don't expect someone that lives in a mobile home to actually have pride in it. (You should read my post on judgement, remember? It's not about YOU!)

    Here's where I get to my point. So, curiously enough, a lot of people think my hubby and I have really green grass now and by saying that, I mean it in the most sarcastic way possible. To the outside world things look amazing! We drive a nice car, we have nice furnishings, we eat good food, our house looks nice on the outside (and finally, on the inside). This must mean we have mastered that whole "adulting" thing right? No, just no. We still have bills to pay, like any other normal, average person. Remember, those pesky renovations....yeah, time to pay up and that means time to crack down.

    Now I consider myself the "Budget Coordinator of the Household", it's a cute little title that makes me feel special, but with it, comes great responsibility. Basically I pay the bills - see doesn't sound so fancy now does it? I set up a little spreadsheet and wrote down every bill that's due each month. I quickly realized hubs and I had to give up certain extras that a lot of people take for granted. I needed a plan.


    1. I went back to couponing again. This time on a much smaller scale, being that it was just the two of us, and I only buy things we actually use and need. I also started using cash back apps any time I can. 
    2. Next step was ditching our cell phone carrier. We shopped plans with other companies that would better suit our budget and literally cut our bill in HALF immediately and sacrificed nothing in the process. Not service, not data, we lucked out. 
    3. Now up on the list, I called every single one of my credit card companies and negotiated my APR rates (yes, you can actually do that, I Googled articles and simple followed their steps). It worked on over half my cards. One eliminated my annual fee, others cut my APR rates in half for a promotional amount of time and another even gave me a credit for finance charges I already paid.
    4. Here's the BIG one - NO VACATIONS....are you still reading this....I just wanted to make sure you guys are still paying attention, I've already basically told you we're in debt, ain't nobody got time or money for a vacation! Back to business 
    5. I called the electric company and put our account on budget mode. This is basically when they take the past 12 months of your bill and average it out, so each month, you can roughly expect to pay a "set" amount, avoiding extreme highs. This one is especially helpful because we live in Florida and right now it's super hot, making my air conditioner work over-time. Knowing how much to set aside in my monthly budget ahead of time made me feel happy.
    6. Last but not least......our entertainment expenses. Bwahahahaha - In case you're wondering, for us, that simple means TV/Internet and guess what? The cable HAD TO GO. The area where we live is locked in with only one option and the company knew that, so we had no negotiating power once again and the rates they offered were laughable. I honesty didn't think I could do it. I knew we couldn't afford to keep it, so I started looking for back-up options because there are just some shows I wasn't willing to give up watching live I LOVE THOSE ZOMBIES.....and hubby, yeah - he's "THAT SPORTS GUY". Now there are all kinds of options to watch movies and shows that have already aired, but what we wanted, we wanted LIVE and we wanted it cheap. That's when I found these guys...... 
    Sling TV is everything you love about watching LIVE TV, offering over 150 live channels to watch instantly, including ESPN, NFL Network, Disney Channel, AMC, Comedy Central, HGTV, TNT, TBS & more. They offer several deals that allow new users to receive a free or discounted streaming device such as a Roku or Apple TV.

    Sling TV has a simple - set monthly price, as low as $20/month with NO long-term contracts and NO hidden fees. You get to pick your package, customize it and pay for what you use. You can use Sling on your TV, your tablet, your mobile device, or your computer.

    Looking for that something extra? THEY HAVE IT Watch ESPN and HBO Online with a Free Roku!


    So I clipped my cable cord and no, I don't miss it at all. I never watched 96% of the channels I was paying for anyway. I no longer have to worry about haggling promotional rates when my bill comes in and it's twice the price of the previous month because my contract expired and I had no warning, also renting cable boxes SUCK. I can have live entertainment at a fair cost, that fits my budget and lifestyle needs.

    So here we are, at the end of today's tale. I've shared a little more of me with you today, all of it true (yes I tossed in an ad, but I do actually use Sling TV and a girl has to run a blog somehow). I hope some of the tips I wrote help you, if anything, perhaps you can at least relate? Your grass is just as green as mine, it may just need a little water! We're in debt up to our eyeballs, but we're trying to be a little smarter about our finances by taking responsibility. We use every spare dime we saved, by using those little tricks and hammer extra payments on the cards so within a year, we can be credit debt-free. Bonus, we're no longer living above our means and for the first time, in a long while, hubs and I feel stability in our lives and we created it by ourselves.

    Tuesday, July 4, 2017

    Gratitude

    Monday, July 3, 2017

    Resilience

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    Wednesday, June 28, 2017

    This is Not A Break Down - This is a #MentalBreakthrough #ThisIsNotToday



    THIS is not today.
    THIS wasn’t yesterday or last week or even last month.
    What you are seeing is not me having a break-down – but a full on breakthrough.

    It may not look like a big deal to you, but for me, this is a moment where I allowed myself to be vulnerable, when I could have chosen a path that would have led me down a darker path as it has many times before.

    I took a picture of myself while I was crying, which kind of seems ridiculous I’m sure. I needed it as a reminder of this specific sliver of time so that I could sear it into my memory as a sign of new beginnings, a start to making healthy, rational choices. I was closing the chapter of who I thought I was and letting the real me finally come through.

    Why is that important?

    I’ve spent a lifetime it seems, always letting anger get the best of me. I would dwell on something someone had said or done that hurt me profoundly, pretending I didn’t care, standing stoic and putting on a brave face. I was not going to show any one that I was weak in any way, especially by crying. I didn’t talk about my innermost feelings; instead, I chose to bottle them inside and wait…..

    I’d wait for a day that had been long and tiresome, a day where every little thing had eaten away at my last nerve, a day when I just let all the little things become way bigger than they should have been. To the outside world, I looked normal; I was going through the motions of my daily routine with a smile. Inside - I was struggling just to take in a breathe, my body felt heavy, my spirit crushed, noises were amplified, the little voice in my head kept repeating everything negative anyone had ever spoken to me on a loop, I couldn’t focus. And then, inevitably, I would just snap.

    It could be anything that finally pushed me over the edge. To those around me, it came out of nowhere. One minute I was fine, the next minute, “Mom’s throwing Christmas presents all over the living room!” (That’s just an example for your reference, albeit a true one). In my head, I rationalized that those dishes in the sink, the laundry piled up and me walking the dog - for what seemed like the hundredth time that day was just more than I could handle and had the tasks been completed by another, it would have surely prevented this particular melt-down. The truth is, it was never about those things.

    To my loved ones who always seemed to be on the receiving end of my worst behavior, there was nothing they could say or do while I was mid-rage to calm me – there is no way to interject logic when a person is incapable of understanding reason. The best course of action for them was to wait it out, in silence, not feeding the beast that was rambling through my home.

    I could tell you stories upon stories of things I’ve said or done while in rage-mode but I assure you they are long, childish, shameful, almost always in 3rd person and embarrassing. Once the emotion of what I always thought of as anger had run its course, along with the adrenaline, I was left feeling empty & physically drained and had traumatized those around me needlessly. In the end, my erratic behavior had solved nothing. This seemingly endless pattern lasted for 27 years, even after being diagnosed at 30 with Bipolar I disorder, years of medication trials and error, transcranial magnetic stimulation, reading self-help books and attending talk therapy.

    Last year I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore and by that, I mean I didn’t want to feel angry all the time and have random, uncontrollable outbursts like a mad woman. If I wanted real change to happen in my life, to better myself - for myself, I had to be the one to invoke it. I had to let go of trying to control everything in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I will always have to take medication, but I had to step up my game and really focus on understanding the how’s and why’s of me.

    I discovered over the past year or so, that a majority of the time when I think I’m really good and mad, I’m not really angry, I’m extremely hurt and I had never learned how to express to another person "that" emotion. To express that I was hurt meant that I had to be vulnerable and let’s face it, being vulnerable is a scary thing if you’ve lived your whole life building walls to keep yourself safe and hidden. Being angry is uncomplicated, simple – anyone can do it and I was really good at it. Trusting someone, opening yourself to others, and believing wholeheartedly in them, that takes self-love, patience and work to master.

    I started small and this is where the picture way at the top comes into play, it wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time I actually captured the moment. That particular day I was sad. I had no energy, I felt I had no social life, hadn’t made good choices for my family or myself, I felt I couldn’t live up to anyone’s expectations, I was lonely and above all I was still carrying a hurt that I was trying really hard to forgive. Before this picture, I was at a crossroad. I could tell an argument was brewing and that it was based on my current mood swing. I could stand there in my living room and unleash my fury. Scream, curse, throw things and continue to wear my bipolar label like it was some warrior badge of honor to display with pride or I could try something different.

    I made a choice to take a brick from my decades old emotional fortress and lay it at my husband’s feet with a raw openness I had avoided for so long. I told my husband I was not in control of my emotions, that I needed him to walk away from me. That what I needed from him most was to let me calm myself and for me to do that, I needed him to leave the room and not come back in, not to say another word. With a puzzled look on his face, he did just that and I immediately exploded into tears.

    Now I know what you’re thinking “How can a husband just walk away, why didn’t he come back and comfort you?” You have to understand that up to this point, I have made it my life’s mission to never let another see me cry - EVER, especially my husband and in this moment what he gave me was a gift. I could not rationally verbalize what I was feeling. I needed to push myself past all the negative things floating around in my head that wanted to escape out of my mouth with rage and just sit with them in thought, letting them process BY MYSELF. What I was feeling was temporary, deep down I knew it was going to pass, so while it was here, I was just going to embrace it, acknowledge it and when it was gone, I’d be at a point where I’d be willing to talk openly with a fresh perspective. So I took the “ugly cry” picture, it’s an honest & authentic moment. I’m totally not having a break down but a mental breakthrough. I could not control the world, or the people in it, but I could take responsibility for my thoughts and actions, right here, right now, so I did.

    Ever since that picture was taken, when I started to feel upset, expressing what I am experiencing has become easier. I’ve reached a point where I just openly and immediately say out loud what I may be feeling and if I cry in the process, usually I discover it was just simple frustration. At first I would apologize for crying, because it was new to me, but now it’s just what I do because it’s so freeing to express myself openly..

    I didn’t realize that for as long as I could remember I lived in fear. Fear of judgement, criticism, lack of control, looking foolish, afraid no one would love me just as I am, being vulnerable, trusting another. I cared too much if people liked me, I always wanted to say and do the right thing, be who others wanted me to be. What about now? I still care, but I let it bother me way less and I don’t make it my identity. Maybe it’s my age or the things I’ve seen or my experience in life. I don’t sit on anger anymore; I look deeper into myself when I become frustrated and I try to view it from another standpoint. I ask myself "Why are you getting mad and how can you express this in an appropriate manner and solve the actual problem forever?"

    Start today by doing something you thought you never imagined you could do, even if it's something small. Today was a good day, because I decided to trust all of you with something so personal. Thanks for listening.




    Saturday, June 24, 2017

    Describing Your Dark Place


    I came upon this quote some time ago and it deeply touched me on so many personal levels. It is an excerpt written by David Foster Wallace

    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Really, It's Not About You..

    Do you realize that if you're so busy judging people, you have no time to love them?  Thank you Mother Teresa, that was deep and yeah, we've all done it, but now is a pretty good time to stop because a lot of the time, you don't realize how much you hurt someone when you lay a judgement on them.

    Someone is always going to have their opinion about how you live your life. Who knows, maybe that person with their strong opinion is on the right path - but guess what? There's not just one pathway in life and it's okay if you're knocking down trees and carving your own. Me? I'm still in the rain forest, but I've got plans.

    You wanna know the secret to not letting it bother you and eat your soul? It's taken me YEARS to learn this, but I kid you not, it actually works....

    At the end of every day, especially if it's been a tough one. I've cried, worried, weaved my mind into a tangled mess - because I've struggled to do the right thing. I close my eyes, bow my head and I picture the people in my life that I keep close to me. Those few people who have taken the time to sit with me over the years, I realize they know my heart has always been pure, honest and good, even when I've made mistakes. They have never once questioned my intentions, though, I'll admit perhaps sometimes my sanity. They remind me that I am worthy all by myself and whole.

    And then,..(THIS IS IT, SO PAY ATTENTION)


     I forgive them and I wish them the gift of forgiveness I forgive the person that judged me or judged someone I love. I let that shit go. Now at first you might struggle with it, but I promise it gets easier.

    WHY?


    I finally realized, it's not about me, the person that made a judgement, it's about them. They have something that they need to release, that they haven't let go, that they need to forgive. That's their job, not yours. I wish them love & light & the ability to forgive whatever burden they may still carry within themselves.

    Happy Friday - Go out and spread some positive energy this weekend. The world needs more of that.

    Make your own path