Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Anniversary


Today was an anniversary. It wasn't my anniversary or the anniversary of anyone's wedding that I know of. It was the anniversary of a death. It happened a few short years ago and wasn't particularly unexpected. Even so, it was no less devastating to his loved ones, especially his wife. I had just bought my house the previous May and was overwhelmed and quite frankly amazed that in the condition he was already in that he made the trip to see it that same month. I had spent a little time with he and his family at that point but it was one of those friendships that felt much longer than it had really been. Living over 25 miles away, I wasn't with them the day he died but I cried for their pain. I wasn't with them the day they buried him two days later on my birthday but again I cried, rejoicing for him and grieving for her.
I spent my entire life knowing that we didn't do anything on St. Patrick's Day in our family because that was a different kind of unwelcome anniversary for our mother and so we never drew attention to the day. She told me simply, "We don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day." I found out why a few years later. I didn't want to spend my remaining birthdays being reminded of the one that I spent at his funeral. Maybe it was selfish of me but I had silently said my goodbyes the last time I saw him and when we left, I told him I loved him. That was enough for me.
I tell you all of this so that you understand our mindset today. We were meeting his wife for our twice a month after church lunch and knowing how hard today was for her every year, we planned to keep the lunch conversation superficial and we definitely weren't going to bring up that my birthday is coming up Tuesday. No reminders. The fact that she could even be in public today was a feat in itself, something I haven't managed to accomplish on a single Mother's or Father's Day since my parents passed.
We were almost finished with lunch, each of us probably quietly celebrating inwardly that none of us had slipped up when suddenly, the waitresses showed up with a piece of cake, all singing the restaurant's version of the happy birthday song. As they sang, she pulled a birthday card out of her purse and handed it to me. Arriving after us, she had tipped off the wait staff as soon as she got there. I was so shocked that I don't even remember the conversation after that. I'm not even sure that I told her that I love her when we left like I always do when we hug goodbye. The fact that she's not on Facebook to get reminders and probably remembers when my birthday is only because it's a sad anniversary for her makes me appreciate what happened today more than anyone could imagine. She is an amazing blessing of friendship. It wasn't just a birthday song and card. It was everything.
Move over George Bailey. Today, I am the richest woman in town.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chicken Cordon Jacci

     So, it was almost grocery shopping time and in my eternal effort not to waste ANYTHING, I checked the dates on the meager offerings in my refrigerator and came up with this recipe. Let's call it Chicken Cordon Jacci. I could use a little ego boost so I decided to name it after myself. Maybe one day I'll see someone pin this on Pinterest and I'll think, "Hey, I thought that up and it was pretty tasty!" I would definitely make it again. It's got boneless chicken breasts, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, cream soup and seasonings (all bought on sale, of course.lol).
     The first question on everyone's lips when they see me lately is, "How's the job hunting coming?" It's just not. I read that the average job posting gets 250 applications. I stopped checking on the status of one job I applied for last month when the number of applications topped 680. Yes, 680 applications for one minimum wage job. Let's face it. I really don't want to live in a ditch on the outskirts of town. I don't care how friendly the frogs are. In the meantime, I'll keep applying and trying to come up with yet another Plan B. Actually, I think I'm on about Plan F by now. All I can say is thank God for family and friends.
     Now, the first thing I did was gathered all my ingredients:

     1 pack of 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
     3 russet potatoes (medium sized)
     Shredded Swiss cheese (about half of a 6 oz bag- slices would work fine, too)
     6 thinly sliced slices of deli ham of your choice (I had honey ham)
     1 can of cream of mushroom soup
     1/2 of an onion (next time, I'll probably use a whole med one)
     1/2 pint of sliced fresh mushrooms (I'll use the whole thing next time)
     basil (3 shakes)
     thyme (3 shakes)
     salt (to taste)
     pepper (to taste-I used fresh ground from my pepper mill)
     A knob of butter to saute the mushrooms and onion

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
I got out my trusty Pampered Chef mandoline my Sister-in-law gave me and after I scrubbed my potatoes, I cut off and discarded the ends, cut them in half and started slicing away. I know the potato peel is good for you, so I leave the peel on usually. It's up to you.


     When I had my potatoes done, I ran a half of a medium onion through the mandoline and then coarsely chopped it. While I was slicing my taters (hey, I'm a Southern gal), I popped about 1 Tbsp of butter (butter isn't the devil this month, margarine is but feel free to use a little olive oil if you prefer) in a saute pan and when it had melted, added my sliced mushrooms and chopped onion.


     By this time, my chicken wasn't so cold anymore so I put the breasts between wax paper and proceeded to beat the heck out of them. They won't thin if they're really cold unless you're a bodybuilder or something. I needed them thin enough to be able to roll them up. Remember that guy talking on his cell phone yesterday that cut you off in traffic? All the stuff your Ex put you through? Yea, take your frustrations out on that chicken. I don't have one of those nifty little mallets so I used my rolling pin. Worked just fine, scared my cats a little is all. They need to learn who's boss around here anyway.
     While that sauteed, I sprayed an 8 by 8 glass baking dish with a little cooking spray and spread out my potato slices. Then I seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme and basil- about 3-4 shakes of each and the same number of turns of the old pepper mill. It was probably about a half teaspoon of each and should look like this:


     I then layered a couple slices of the thinly sliced Sara Lee deli Honey Ham I needed to use up on top of each chicken breast and then added a liberal sprinkling of the shredded Swiss cheese.

     At this point, my veggies were ready and I spread them over my potatoes.


     Next, I rolled my chicken and fastened each breast with a toothpick.


     Then, I put them on top of my potatoes, onions and mushrooms and topped with the can of cream of mushroom soup. I didn't add any other liquid such as milk or water because I didn't really want a lot of gravy, I just didn't want them to be dry.


     This is what they looked like after baking uncovered for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. If your potato slices are thicker than mine or if your chicken is thicker, you may have to cook yours longer. This is what it looked like fresh out of the oven:


     And here's the finished product on my Grandmother's Sunnyvale (by Castleton) china. I served it with Leseur garden peas just because they're one of the few cooked green vegetables I really like. Voila!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Ok, maybe not so much...

     Ever had one of those days? Yea, well I'm having one. I have about 5 art projects going on in my formal living room turned dining room turned art studio right now. It's always like that. As paint's drying on one project, I'll work on another. In an attempt to pull out one of the old dining room chairs, I knocked over a brand new recently opened can of green stain. Yes, green. All over my hardwood floor. Drat! If ever there was a time I wished I was Samantha Stephens, this was it. After the clean up, I briefly considered going back to bed but since it's only 3PM, I decided the smarter course of action was to stop procrastinating and write my first blog post. Sooo... let me show you one of my projects that DID turn out really well. Or should I say swell? Oh, never mind. I guess I'll have to give up my dream of twitching my nose to get the cleaning up done around here.

My Flea Market Find



     So, I saw this ugly wood, wrought iron and plastic monstrosity and thought, "I can do something with that." I had no clue what but I had just moved into a much larger house than my last little place and needed to spruce it up, do a little nesting and put my own personal stamp on it. I had also gone back to my maiden name recently (that's a whole nother story) and wanted to play up the Queen part. Naturally, I had to go with royal colors! I have always loved playing with red, purple and gold. I've had some amazing Christmas trees.lol First, let me show you the process...


     To begin, I taped over all the black parts. Then I took it outside and gave it a good coating of spray primer. Honestly, I have no idea what brand I used but since I'm broke and I knew this wasn't going to get a lot of wear and tear, it was probably pretty cheap. Just remember not to go too inexpensive. You get what you pay for. I've found it's much smarter to buy one can of good paint than 3 cans of the cheap stuff only to have it peel off later and have to start from scratch on a project. Always buy good quality paint. Anyway, here's how it turned out after I pulled out my trusty little bottles of acrylic craft paint from Hobby Lobby and Michael's. I'm big on using what I already have so the purple is Anita's Yard & Garden in Wisteria Vine and the red is Americana Gloss Enamel in Tuscan Red. The gold trim is a water based Precious Metals Premium Leafing Finish in Gold Leaf that I got for a fire mark project I did for my brother. I didn't put a sealer on this although I probably should have. I usually save sealers for stuff that's going to get a lot more wear & tear than this piece will. Anyhow, what do you think?


     Maybe someday, I'll be able to afford candles. I'm thinking gold metallic ones...