Thursday, March 3, 2016

What Is Time Worth To You?

I found the following dialog one morning on my FaceBook memories. Apparently I shared it a year or two ago because it meant something to me and it still means something to me now. I don't know who originated it, so I apologize for not sourcing it. 

SON: "Daddy, may I ask you a question?"
DAD: "Yeah sure, what is it?"
SON: "Daddy, how much do you make an hour?"
DAD: "That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?"
SON: "I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?"
DAD: "If you must know, I make $100 an hour."
SON: "Oh! (With his head down).
SON: "Daddy, may I please borrow $50?"

The father was furious.

DAD: "If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work hard everyday for such this childish behavior."

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think:
Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $ 50 and he really didn't ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door.

DAD: "Are you asleep, son?"

SON: "No daddy, I'm awake".

DAD: "I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $50 you asked for."

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.

SON: "Oh, thank you daddy!"

Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, and started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.

DAD: "Why do you want more money if you already have some?"

SON: "Because I didn't have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you."

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

A friendly reminder to all of you working so hard in life. Time is precious and it slips by so quickly. Don't throw yourself into work so much that you forget to take the time for what is truly important. Family is what should always come first. We are not irreplaceable to the company we work for. If we were to die tomorrow, they would replace us in a heartbeat. However, our family and friends that we would leave behind will feel that loss for the rest of their existence. Please, remember to share that $100 worth of your time with someone you love. It will make them feel like a million. Don't pour all of yourself into your work than you do your family. Remember, take the time for those moments. The ones that are worth cherishing, and always remember to embrace the positivity!!

Source: City Skyline

Man working

Piggy Bank

Father and Son

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Life This Week

Ahhhh Happy Saturday! A little rough go this week, but it's all good! We are a resilient bunch here. I am just taking a few moments with a cup of coffee this afternoon. 

So last week Monday (2/15), my son complained of a sore throat. He started taking one of our favorite products called Airborne. It floods your system with Vitamin C and usually will nip a cold in the bud if taken right at the start. So after that, his cold we thought was starting never developed in to anything and he didn't mention it agin, so I thought we were good. 

Well on Monday (2/22), he mentioned that he had been riding out the week with his sore throat and it felt like it was getting worse. This was as I was dropping him off to school so I mentioned to have the school nurse take a look and see what she thinks. Well sure enough, the school calls me and tells me he definitely has something going on as his throat is red and there are white spots. She suggested I might want our doctor to take a look. So I made an appointment. Due to scheduling with work, I made it for as late as possible but ended up with one of my least favorite doctors out of the four Doctor group practice. She would have to do. 

My clients husband came home from work early so that I could take my son in. Before we went in for our appointment, I took a look at his throat and sure enough, there were white spots on his tonsils. So of course I am thinking strep throat.

We head in to the office and after about ten minutes, he is called back. I'm waiting out in the waiting room and finally I am called back to have the doctor talk to me. She said she tested him for strep and it came back negative. She dismissed it as an "adenovirus". She told him fluids and rest. Umm, okay. So we left.

By that evening, my son started running a fever of 101. He missed school on Tuesday. Swallowing had become a little hard for him as it was painful. So Tuesday I decided to make some basic homemade chicken noodle soup like my mom makes. I managed to slip in some garlic and ginger without him noticing it in the flavor which was good; giving the soup some medicinal and antibacterial benefits. 

With him still running a fever, he missed school on Wednesday as well. He also slept most of the day. When I came home Wednesday from work, he said he felt like it was getting worse. So I took a look and it was red and looked like there were more white spots. Unfortunately it was close to any immediate care places closing and I didn't want to run him into an ER and have us sitting there all night. 

Thursday morning, he was still running a fever. I was feeling tired after taking my daughter to her clinical for school. So I decided to lay back down when I got home. Shortly after, my son came in and told me he just couldn't stand this anymore. Obviously he wasn't getting better with rest and fluids. His voice sounded constricted. I took a look and his tonsils were coated in white spots of various sizes and at this point, you could just see exactly how inflamed he was. I told him to get ready and we were headed to Mash Urgent Care!! I needed a second opinion!!

I have never been to Mash before but felt comfortable as soon as we walked in. I found everyone there to be very helpful and pleasant. We got called in and the dr came in, very laid back guy. He checked out my son and said there is one virus out there that tends to confuse doctors because it presents itself as strep throat. He said it is mononucleosis. I asked him "So you think this is mono then?" He says "I am definitely saying its mono." He told me of course we would run a test to make sure, but he seemed pretty positive that this what this was. 

The doctor sent the nurse in to do the test. She did a finger prick and got what she needed. She told us it would take about 10-15 minutes and the doctor would be back with the results. Next thing we know, Dr Mast is walking back in after about 2 minutes and said that my son turned an eight minute test to positive in about a half minute!! It was without a doubt, mono. 

The doctor put him on some prednisone as this can't be treated with antibiotics seeing that it's a virus. Technically, I learned there really isn't a treatment for it because it is a virus. They usually just suggest rest and fluids, but my son had inflammation so bad. The prednisone helps with that. 

I was happy to have an answer and I am happy to report he is on the mend. He is doing much better. The fever has been down now for about 72 hours and you can see his normal demeanor bouncing back. 

There was one day last week while we were going through all this that I was tending to him and his needs all evening from the moment I came home, right up til bed time. He said to me "Thank you mom for taking care of me." He's 17, and he still has those tender moments with me. When I come home from work, he is always there to greet me with a warm hug and ask me how my day was. If I've had a bad day, it's instantly fixed with a hug from him and just by showing the fact he cares. So when he thanked me for taking care of him, I just looked at him and said "I'm your mom. Of course I am going to take care of you."

My life hasn't always been easy. It still isn't. But I make it work. It took me a while to not dwell on the negative things that happen in my life, but rather to find the positives. To always cherish the good moments in the day, no matter how small and to embrace the positivity. 

I hope everyone else had a great week last week!!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Kids and My Positivity

I have been a single mom since 2009. My husband and I split amicably in April of that year. My daughter at the time was less than a month away from being 13, and my son had just turned 10 in February that year. While I am not the picture of a perfect parent, my ex really wasn't the parent he should have been. I was always the one that had to be the disciplinarian. I was the one who provided most of the care taking and participated with them. He just kept quiet most of the time. When he did speak, his words were nothing more than empty promises to them; not just when they were younger, but even now. It's not that he doesn't love his kids. He does love them, at least I think he does. But his actions over the past few years leaves me to question if he really ever knew his role as a dad. Young kids at that age shouldn't know, and don't need to know about "adult issues" that their parents are going through, or certain "adult situations" that they encounter. Many times, I got the feeling he talked to his kids like they were his friends/buddies from work, instead of talking to them at their level. I am not sure if he was trying to be a friend more than a parent, but it wasn't the kind of friend my children needed in their lives. 

I have full residential custody of my kids. My daughter, now almost 20 has distanced herself from her father for her own emotional protection. She loves him, but she can't be around him. She is too much of a positive person to be dragged down by his lifestyle choices and his consistent negativity. My son is 17 and he will go over and spend time with his dad usually a couple of Saturdays a month. Anyway, all of this is besides the point of this entry. I actually wanted to talk about the line that defines the parent/friend to your kids. As I said, while I am not the picture of a perfect parent, I must have done something right. I have heard plenty of horror stories over the course of the past few years of broken families that become even more broken once parents split up. I am blessed and proud to say my kids and I are stronger than ever. We have a great relationship and for that, I am truly blessed. 

I am proud to say that I am a friend to my kids. Yes, I am their parent, their Mom. But I am also a friend to them. It has always been that way. I know, there are many people, parents out there that will gasp at this and say "Oh no, not with my kids.....You MUST be a parent to have any kind of structure or discipline." There will be some that will tell you that there is no room in a parent/child relationship for friendship. Well, I have to say that I disagree. It's a fine line to walk along and try to balance, but it can be done. 

As in any other kind of a relationship, you need to define what you desire out of a relationship. As my kids were younger, we had structure and discipline. As they got older and began to understand more, I always wanted them to be able to come and communicate with me without fear of me going all parental on them. Once my kids became older, and right around the time the split happened, they pretty much knew, I can be Mom, their best friend, or I can be Mom, their parent. As Mom, their parent, they knew if they didn't do what was expected of them such as chores, keeping their grades up and such, Mom, their parent got a little more tough. As long as they do what is expected, we have a much more relaxed household, I feel its a more positive atmosphere that we have created. 

As a result, I have raised two amazing kids that any mom could ever ask for. Although, some credit does need to go to my mom and dad as well. The kids spent a lot of time there while I worked. I couldn't have done that without my mom and dad. My kids are always there to lend a hand. They are respectful, open and honest. We can have good conversations, for the most part, we can talk without yelling at one another (I'll be honest, I do slip up and yell on occasion)

I love my kids more than life itself. I love the young adults they are becoming. I am so blessed. When I have a bad day, or life sometimes just isn't going the way it should at times, they are my focus. They are my positive light at the end of they day. When I lay in bed at night trying to dismiss all the negativity from my mind so that I don't take that to sleep with me, the two brightest lights in my positive focus are them. I relive all the good moments we have shared, the laughter, the smiles and that is what I hold on to.

The parent/friendship relationship with your kids might not be easy, but it can be done. I feel we are living proof. As I said, there are some that will tell you it can't, and they have their own beliefs, and that's alright. All parents and kids are different and you have to do what works best for your family. But no matter how you define your relationship with your kids, always keep life positive. Don't dwell on the negative. At the end of the day, find those good moments, cherish them and always remember....Embrace the positivity,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekend Positives

HAPPY SUNDAY and Happy Valentines Day! How was everyone's weekend?! Mine has been pretty good, I can't complain. Saturday was errand day. My son and I had a few things to do, so off we went. My son (17) and I are close, as is my daughter (20) and I. Sometimes, when we are driving, he is in his own world. He has his headset on and is usually either lost in his own music or some kind of sports cast/radio, which is fine. I get it. We do have different music tastes. However, yesterday, for whatever reason, even though he had his headset with him, he never put on his headset. We talked. It was so nice. So when I get those little moments, they are cherished beyond measure. I don't really know how I got here so fast with a 20 and a 17 year old. I can still see them as babies in my head. 

Anyway, as I wipe the tears away, we went to the bank, out for a little bite to eat, and I had to run an errand downtown. Well, I completely forgot that he wanted to go to Walmart so he could get a little something for his girlfriend for Valentines day. He mentioned it when we were about 15 minutes from home and without even a second thought, I turned around and headed back towards Walmart! I think I was enjoying our time together so much that I just didn't want our day to end. So while I was there, I was able to get my ingredients for my soup I made last night and of course, I am going to share it with all of you!

This recipe is for a comforting chicken, orzo and ginger soup. This soup is always requested by my daughter when she is especially feeling a little under the weather and sometimes, just because she's in the mood for it. Although for last night, it was because she was feeling some sinus issues coming on, so this soup was her request. 

This soup, very easy peasy and, if you're on a tight budget, this is very inexpensive to make as well. As I usually most always do, the recipe has been doubled. But here is the original:

Chicken Orzo and Ginger Soup
adapted from: La Fuji Mama

9 c. chicken stock
2 oz. (about 2 Tbsp.) grated ginger (or more if you’re like me!)
1 oz. (about 1 Tbsp.) minced garlic
8 oz. orzo pasta
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
7-8 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
4-6 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Place chicken stock, ginger, and garlic in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add orzo and cook as per package directions (10-12 minutes) or until al dente.
3. Add chicken and cook for an additional minute, or until the chicken is warmed through.
4. Take off heat and stir in cilantro and green onions.

Now of course, if you have been reading my recipes, you know I always have to play around to suit it to my tastes. So my suggestion to you is, if you love garlic and ginger, have at it and add as much as you like, or stick to the basic recipe to try it, and play around with the flavors later. Please keep in mind that these pictures depict the double amount for a doubled recipe.
Garlic! I LOVE IT!!! Can you tell?! The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp, and ummm, well this is a lot more than that. I used heaping tablespoons, and I want to say probably about 6 of them. I used the minced garlic in a jar because it's just easier. Plus, I don't know, I can never find really big cloves of garlic. I always get little puny ones, which are fine to add a little flavor to some chicken or what not, but for a soup like this that I like to use a lot of, I go for the jar!
This is ginger root. I am sure I can get this in a jar somewhere, but personally, I find great joy in peeling it and grating it. Ginger has such a fresh, almost citrus like aroma that I find very therapeutic. What could be better than natural aromatherapy?

This is the fresh ginger all grated and smelling simply fresh and fragrant. As you can see, it's definitely more than what is called for in the recipe. Not only did I grate what was in the picture above, but a little extra. You do need to be somewhat careful with the ginger as too much can make the soup a touch bitter if you don't have a good ginger to liquid ratio. That's from my personal experience.

Once the ginger and garlic have met in the pot, pour in your chicken broth. I should have used 18 cups, but I only had 16 cups because I bought 4-32oz boxes of chicken broth and didn't think about 5th box.* Once that chicken broth, garlic and ginger start to boil, the house will begin to smell amazing as the ginger releases is tempting aroma.

Once it's boiling, add in your orzo pasta and cook til just about al dente. **Keep in mind that the orzo will keep absorbing the liquid, so you might want to keep an extra can/box of chicken broth on hand for left overs,

This is a rotisserie chicken that I bought, just to keep things easy. There is no rule saying what kind of cooked chicken you have to use. So if you want to cook up some chicken thighs, or breasts (although I believe chicken thighs would be cheaper and give you some better flavor), feel free to do so. You can probably even just boil the chicken, and use that homemade broth for this soup and then just add in some regular chicken broth as well. It would all work well, I'm sure. 

While my orzo is cooking, I chop up my rotisserie chicken and get ready to add it in to the soup once the orzo is done. 

The recipe calls for some green onion, Again, I used what I wanted for my own personal taste. The same with the cilantro. I am a cilantro fiend!! LOVE IT!! So this is just some rinsed cilantro that I have here, but I didn't use all of that.

Sliced green onion and my chopped cilantro all ready to go here.

Once the orzo is al dente, add in your chopped or shredded chicken and heat it through for a minute or so. Remove from the heat and then stir in your green onion and chopped cilantro.

This soup smells as amazing as it looks, I feel that with the garlic and the ginger, it also has some medicinal qualities about it, so when you're sick with a full blown cold, it just tastes so soothing, especially if you have a sore throat. But even if you're not sick, it's still a really delicious soup for a cold night and last night, we were in single digits. As I said though, my daughter felt like she was coming down with a cold/sinus issue and just wanted some of this comforting soup, so this was last nights dinner, served with a nice loaf of sesame french bread and butter.

As for the rest of the weekend, so far my Sunday has been very nice. It's cold, but we have a beautiful, gorgeous sunny day filled with clear skies. I took my daughter to work this morning at 6 am, it was -21 degrees according to my car thermometer. But the great laughs my daughter and I shared at such an early time in the morning warmed the car right up! 

As for Valentines day plans, I have none. My daughter and her boyfriend are going out to dinner. My son works and then his girlfriend is coming over later for the evening and that will be about it. It's going to be a very quiet evening of just keeping warm and cozy with the cats! LOL

Happy Valentines day everyone. I hope your weekend was a beautiful one, but if not, and you're going through some rough times, sit down and take a moment. Just breathe and think about all the good that's in your life. Find the positives, the good moments you've had over the weekend, I am sure you have had something good happen. Think back and find them, hold on to those and remember tomorrow is a new day. So cherish the good moments, and embrace the positivity. 

All soup prep images were taken by me. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Finding my Sunday Positivity

Happy Sunday!! More than likely, today's post will be done in shifts throughout the day here as I will be off and on the computer today. I also plan on making a pot of loaded baked potato soup today as well, so I thought I would share that. If not on this post, then definitely within the next day or so. 

So, for now....Good Morning! How has your week been? I had a rather early start to my day today. 3:30 am (EST) to be exact. My daughter works as a dietary aide for a rehabilitation and nursing facility. Well this weekend was supposed to be her weekend off, but she saw that there was some open hours and she decided to take them. Not only did she decide to take some extra hours, but she decided to pull a double shift. She normally works a 4 hour evening shift, but for today, she decided to take on a morning shift. Well, I was afraid she might oversleep, so I set my alarm for 5:30 am. So I think I might have been worried about oversleeping, so my internal clock decided I needed to be awake at 3:30 am!! I tossed and turned until I heard my alarm go off at 5:30.

 I went to check on her and she was awake. Her boyfriend who stays over sometimes was also awake. He was driving her in to work today. So I went back to lay down and as I am starting to doze off, I hear soft clinking noises. Her boyfriend decided to empty the dishwasher. He is such a good kid and we adore him, but the dishes could have waited til later. But it was ok. I went back to lay down and they leave. I heard him come back and I thought, ok...she's at work safe. He's back safe. I can go back to sleep for a bit. It's now about 6:40 am. 

I settled in and then Houdini starts his morning shenanigans! Have I mentioned I have 6 cats? You can meet the pride here. Houdini is the mischievous one of the bunch and he likes to climb all over me in the morning. He tries to lay down, then climbs on me some more, lays down again and tries to get comfy. But basically, he isn't happy until I get up! Anyway, after being off and on the computer and doing other things today, it's been a long day. 

So, now the Super Bowl is on and I am in the process of making some loaded baked potato soup on this fine evening. I found this recipe about 2 months or so ago. I've made it a couple of times now and it's so good. The hardest part is peeling your potatoes, but once that's done and they're cooked, this soup comes together fairly quickly. So you can check out this loaded baked potato soup recipe here.

So first, you start out with some potatoes. These are russet. I used four large ones and four smaller ones. Get those all peeled and cubed. or chopped. Whatever you prefer. I like a little chunkier myself. I rinse the potatoes, boil them til soft. 

As my potatoes are cooking, I take a medium white onion and chop that up. The recipe calls for 1/2, but I just go ahead and use the whole thing. I also add in some garlic here because I LOVE garlic in everything and pretty much use it whenever I can!! I don't really measure it, but this is probably about 3-4 tablespoons. The recipe doesn't call for garlic, but I throw it in. After your potatoes are done and set aside, you're going to start making your roux. You take a 1/2 cup of butter and melt that in your pot. I have an enameled cast iron dutch oven that is my favorite pot in the kitchen. To that melted butter, you add in your chopped onion and let that saute for about 6 minutes. Just before the 6 minutes are up, I toss in the garlic for about 2 minutes. To that, I add a 1/2 cup of flour and whisk that together for about a minute. Then I gradually add my milk about 1 cup at a time, gradually whisking that in until its all blended into my pot. 

I bring that to a boil and then turn it down to medium and let it simmer. Give it about 8-10 minutes to thicken. This is another one of those dishes that is magical to me. Not quite as magical as my split pea soup recipe that I found over at Valerie's Kitchen, but still a little magical to me as to how it just all comes together. Once, 8-10 minutes is up and this white liquid is nice and thick, I add back my potatoes. I add in some salt and pepper to taste. Now this is where it all comes together, and rather quickly, I might add. Add back in your potatoes, and cook for 5 minutes. Then I add in my cheese. The recipe calls for 2 cups, I add in 3 cups. I use 2 cups of a sharp cheddar and 1 cup of mild cheddar. 2 cups works just fine, 3 cups will obviously make it a bit more cheesier, but it works!! Then I add in the sour cream....confession here.....I didn't realize the container I had bought was a 16 oz container, and it all went into the soup. Again, it tasted delicious, but it really only calls for 8 oz. I add in a little bit more salt and pepper, if you think it needs it, then by all means, do so. At this point, stir well and its ready to serve. 
For garnish, the recipe calls for bacon bits which I am not a fan. They taste fake to me and I just don't like them. So I made up some real bacon and chopped up some green onions which I love using because it does give the soup a really nice pop of color!!

After I ladle out a serving of soup, I sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, a little dollop of sour cream, some crumbled bacon and some green onions, and we are ready to eat! The great thing about this recipe is I do NOT have to double it. It makes more than enough for my family and we have it for about 2-3 days which is really nice. 

So there you have it......Loaded baked potato soup!! It is definitely a rich and comforting soup. Again, you can find the recipe here. Let me know if you try it and how you like it. I think the nice thing about this soup also is, if you're looking for something comforting, but more healthier, I believe this could definitely have some substitutions made. Skim milk and a light sour cream would help trim the fat and calories. You could use the bacon bits, or even turkey bacon. Like my Dad says, a recipe is a guide line to follow. You can always tweak things and change things to make it the way you want to. 

So all in all, despite my early start to my Sunday, I found myself just counting my blessings for the day. I woke up and had another day. I have 2 amazing children who I love to the moon and back. I am blessed to have a roof over my head and a house full of love. As I always say to my client...."It's all good." So I hope you have a good week, and I hope life is treating you well, and as always, remember to take the time to find some good moments in your day to be thankful for, cherish them and embrace the positivity. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Positivity in Cooking/Recipe Review

I find great comfort in my kitchen when I cook, even more so since we moved into our new home almost three years ago. My current kitchen isn't really what some would consider to be a "gourmet kitchen", but to me, it's my gourmet kitchen. I love it, and it makes me happy! 

In our other home, my kitchen was rather small with very little room to work. It was hard to move around because the kitchen table was right smack dab in the center of the kitchen. I didn't have very much counter top space, and that tended to make meal preparation a little daunting. 

What makes my new kitchen so nice is that my table now has its own corner, out of the way from everything else. So what you are seeing above here is my whole work space, and for me, it's just enough. In our new kitchen, I love to cook. I love to experiment with new recipe's as well as being creative when I can. That is one thing I wish I could do more of and have a little flare for is being more out of the box creative. For me, cooking has become a very positive and a mentally healing experience for me. But I also think it can be a totally magical experience when you're creating new dishes!

As I said though, I do enjoy finding new recipes to try, so per my daughter's request today, she wanted split pea soup. Off to pintrest I went to look for a delicious, but simple recipe for split pea soup. I don't like to make certain things that are overly complicated with a ton of ingredients, if I can help it. So I found this great recipe from Valerie's Kitchen. Sometimes when I make these recipes, I do them as written. The next time I make them, I often put my own spin on it, but I have to say, this recipe is amazing as is, if you LOVE a good, yet simple split pea soup recipe. So let's get started, shall we?! 

I always double all soup recipe's because I am usually feeding at least 3-4 people, as well as I love to have left over soup, and sometimes I send some home with mom too!! So here we started out with 2-16oz bags of dried split peas and 2 Tbsp of minced garlic. I just used the minced garlic in the jar. I love that stuff. It's easy peasy and always ready to use. 

My next layer here is 4 peeled and chopped carrots, 4 celery ribs and 2 medium white onions. The recipe instructions said to chop small, but to be completely honest, I chopped them, not small, but not really big chunks either because as it cooks, and you're stirring, they're going to get soft and break down anyway. So I wouldn't worry about chopping them too small. 

Here we have some fresh thyme. I needed 2 Tbsp for my double recipe. I have never worked with fresh thyme before and it said chopped thyme. I had no clue what I was doing with my thyme! So I found a really informative video on Youtube. So if you don't know what you're doing with your thyme either, you can watch what to do here. 

So here is the thyme all pulled off from the stems, and then I just gave it a quick run through with my knife per the video before I put it into my crock pot.

So far now in my pot, I have the dried split peas, garlic, onions, carrots, celery and fresh thyme. 

Now, the recipe called for a meaty ham bone to be shoved down into all those yummy vegetables and then pour your chicken broth over just to cover. One of the past recipes I have used before called for a pork hock. It's a part of the pigs leg that is just above the foot and below the knee. I couldn't find any at my local store this time, plus I thought I had a few left in my freezer, but when I got home, I found out I didn't. Now, I always buy a ham steak to chop up into my split pea soup anyway, so as you can see, I have two ham steaks, one already chopped. I feared if that would be enough for flavor, but I called Mom and she said it would be fine. Plus these ham steaks have a little fat in them and that's where you get most of the flavor from. As I was chopping up these ham steaks, I did do a little taste test. They had a very nice smoked flavor and that did end up coming through in my finished soup. 

I layered the ham on top, threw in a few bay leaves and then I poured in about 10 cups of my chicken broth. I had a total of 12 cups as again, I doubled this recipe. As you can see, with all that goodness in the crock pot, I poured in what I could fit and then set the other 2 cups aside. I did end up putting in the rest later on. 

I set the crock pot on high with a plan of letting it cook around 8 hours. This was after about an hour of cooking. I gave everything a stir before going out to run a few errands for my Saturday afternoon. So my hope was to come back to an amazing smelling home. There is nothing quite like coming home to a really good soup cooking in the crock pot and the aroma is just filling the house. It's awesome!!

Now this is my favorite part. This is where cooking feels almost magical to me. We came home from running a few errands and as I had hoped, the house smelled so good. I just let everything simmer, the crock pot still on high and this was where I was at about 6 hours later. The magic that split pea soup is to me had taken place. This might seem silly, but this is just one thing I love about split pea soup! It starts out as this chicken broth based soup and you wonder how is that (see pic above) going to get to this amazing, warmth of comforting, creamy deliciousness?! It just does. The peas soften, the vegetables cook and as you stir it up, that creamy goodness just starts to form and you have this beautiful, split pea soup.

We weren't planning on eating for a couple of hours yet, so once the magic happened, I turned the pot on low and just let it simmer, stirring it occasionally because it does tend to separate as it continues to cook. It was fine though after stirring it a couple of times. I always serve a soup like this with a crusty bread, again, it's a comfort thing. 

Mom was over for dinner last night and we all enjoyed this wonderful soup. The recipe I found is definitely not one that I would do much tweaking to. The only difference I did was I used the ham steaks instead of a meaty ham bone. The steaks worked great, and gave some amazing flavor, but that wouldn't stop me from using a nice meaty ham bone if I found one the next time I plan on making this soup. 

I think out of everything I do make, soups are one of my favorites, especially during the winter months. I love having my mom over to visit. I love cooking for her and the kids. There is nothing quite like gathering around the table over some hearty soup, fresh bread (even if I didn't make that myself) and having family togetherness with some good conversation. That to me is everything. My life has become all about those little moments that I cherish. Life is too short. So find the moments that make you happy, cherish them and embrace the positivity. 

**Note** The original recipe called for fresh Italian parsley, which I just found in my fridge with my soup leftovers in the fridge. I completely forgot that I bought it and it never made the soup. It wasn't missed. But I'll definitely have to make this soup again and include the parsley! Sorry about that. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Positively Inspirational

Art comes in many forms. There are musicians, painters and even people that just simply sketch. But it doesn't stop at the actual art itself. What about those with disabilities? Even disabled people can still find ways to! Art can be amazing all on its own. But when someone disabled can find ways to express the gifts that hide within them, I believe it takes a life all on its own.

I'd like for you to meet Paul Smith. Paul suffers from cerebral palsy. Typically speaking, Cerebral palsy is generally caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. The brain damage can occur from a brain injury or abnormal development of the brain. The condition is evident by impaired muscle coordination or spastic paralysis and/or other disabilities.

This man, that no one believed would survive long enough to learn anything as a child, creates some of the most amazing artwork you'll ever see.  This is a definitely a feel good video that you will want to watch!!

We all have struggles and challenges in our every day lives. But I believe that if we can just take a few moments to find some focus and breathe, we can find just a little bit of good that happened in our day that we can be thankful for. A tidbit of positivity if you will. Cherish it, embrace it and let it help carry you to the next day. I think we can all find ways to make life beautiful in our own way just like Paul has.

Tonight as you wind down, take a few moments, cherish them and embrace your positivity. Thanks for reading.